Facility Management: 34 Ways To Grow Tennis Club Membership
By Rich Neher
When it comes to facility management, three issues are at the top of every tennis club owner’s or manager’s list: membership growth, member retention and bottom-line profitability.
Membership growth is, of course, one factor to drive your bottom line. Attracting prospective members is one of the essential activities every club owner and manager should be engaged in on a regular basis.
Here are 34 creative ways to attract new players and grow your tennis membership, divided into groups based on the budget you may have available.
The cost for these choices is mostly your time, if you can do these yourself. Or, consider hiring a student to help you.
- Attractive Website: Since your website should hold all the pertinent information about your club, make sure it is constantly updated with the latest information. Post press releases and email blast content so your URL can then be posted and shared on social media. Wix.com and Weebly.com are examples for free website builders. Ask your Internet Service Provider for other choices for free sites.
- Focus on Mobile: Make sure your website is mobile-friendly, since many of your prospects use smartphones and tablets. But also, Google is putting much more emphasis on mobile-friendliness when ranking web pages.
- Be Engaged on Social Media: Use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. to promote events, post videos and news, and drive people to your website. All these social media sites are free.
- Maintain and Support an Active YouTube Channel: Make sure videos are always displayed with the website domain name, Facebook page name, etc. visible. YouTube channels are free to use.
- Word of Mouth: Still very important as a high-quality, effective and free marketing tool.
- Email Blasts and E-newsletters: Follow generally accepted guidelines on what you can and cannot do. No more than two email blasts per month. Remember that the most important content has to go in the first paragraph. Make the headline interesting so recipients will open the email. Although there are exceptions, the industry norm is that only 20 to 30 percent of your recipients will open your email blasts.
- Cross-Promote with USTA Programs: The parents of JTT or NJTL kids may be interested in adult memberships, leagues, clinics, lessons. Your adult league players with kids may be interested in junior programs.
- Cross-Promote with Other Non-USTA Programs: WTT, Pickleball, Padel Tennis, Ping Pong, Beach Tennis — we can all coexist and help each other.
- Cross-Promote with Vendors: Allowing vendors like the local grocery store or local realtors to
advertise on your website can give you cross-promotion opportunities on their sites, in their newsletters, etc.
- Cross-Promote with Other Tennis Vendors: For example, Babolat has a huge percentage of the under-30 racquet market; teaming up with them may make sense in reaching millenials.
- Cross-Promote During Professional Tennis Events: Send out e-blasts and use other tools to promote professional events, in return for a booth at the event or being featured in the promotional material.
- Cross-Promote with Tennis Vendors in Sporting Goods Stores: Team up with manufacturers for in-store promotions at sporting goods stores, have a booth or table there on a busy Saturday morning.
- Link to Other Websites: Reciprocal links drive traffic to your site.
- Exchange Banner Ads with Other Websites: Reciprocal banner ads drive traffic to your website. It’s a great way to allow vendors to advertise and give you cross-promotion opportunities.
- Promotions in High Schools, Colleges, Fitness Clubs, Health Clubs: Future tennis members, existing tennis players, latent demand players can be found here.
- Direct Membership Promotions in Sporting Goods Stores: Offer a membership discount to all players buying a tennis racquet, for example.
- Promote Players and Captains in Local Media: Give really BIG shout-outs when players or captains are written up in print media or reported about in local TV and radio.
- Have Events and Programs Covered in Local Media: Send content and story ideas to the editors. Make it interesting, add some buzz.
- Get Live Radio or TV Coverage of Events: TV or radio are interested when the event is newsworthy or when a charity component is attached to it, especially when that charity lines up with the station’s charity goals. Research your local radio and TV stations’ charity involvements and goals when planning a charity event at your club.
- Speak at Community Groups, Service Organizations, Schools: From Rotary Club to YMCA, lunch speakers are often needed. It’s a great way to get the word out about your club or your programs.
If you have a small budget available, such as a few hundred dollars …
- Advertising at Fitness Clubs: If they don’t do reciprocal promotions, they may let you advertise your club or program fairly cheaply to their members.
- Smaller Open House: Try free clinics and match play at your club for one day. All pros need to chip in because they will be featured, too.
- Small Recruiting Events to Cross-Promote Local Businesses: Sponsor a celebrity speaker in a restaurant, for instance. It may cost you the price of a meal, unless the restaurant is willing to discount it or provide for free as part of their promotion.
- Short- and Long-Term Contests: Short-term contests can be featured on your website and in social media for winning shout-outs and small prizes. Use long-term contests for bigger prizes. The goal is to recruit new members and market your club and programs.
- Start Meet-Up Groups: They’re great feeder and recruiting events for club memberships. Match play for groups with all level players.
- Free Beginner Programs: Start a Beginner Program, with buy-in from one or more pros. Subsidize program costs as part of the promotion. Possibility to create a pathway to starting a 2.5 league team. Use the industry-supported Try Tennis Free (trytennisfree.com) program, and use the free collateral marketing material available to tennis providers.
SIGNIFICANT ADVERTISING BUDGET
If you have a few thousand dollars available …
- Print Advertising: Select your print media carefully. Identify the target and advertise in the media that your target audience reads. Pro: Local media may not be too expensive. Con: Only a fraction of the targeted readers may ever see the ad.
- Direct Mail: Only useful if recipients have a reason to keep the material, like a calendar, rule book, etc. Pro: Can be targeted to area, income, etc. Con: Expensive.
- Side of Bus: Costly but reaches a good number of people in your local area.
- Large Billboards: Costly but could reach a lot of people, maybe not all local, though.
- Ads on Extreme Sports Sites: Can be costly, but allows you to target the growing group of millenials.
- Large Recruiting Events like Super Sonic Tennis Night: Tennis clubs can profit from such an event by showcasing their facility for prospective new members. Their pros have the same goals. Local restaurants may be interested in having a big group of people sample their food. There are bands that may play for free or for little money.
- Charity Events and Fundraisers: Use charity events for showcasing your club and/or programs. Pro: Great promotional value, free advertising possibilities. Con: Heavy staff, volunteer, financial commitment.
- Larger Open House: Free clinics and match play at your club for one day. All pros need to chip in because they will be featured, too. Games, balloons, face painting for kids. Food, vendors, raffles.
Rich Neher owns Tennis Media Group (tennismediagroup.com), a consulting and marketing service for tennis clubs, tennis organizations, and coaches worldwide. He is also the founder of the California Social Tennis Network and the San Diego Tennis Network. Before managing the Toluca Lake Tennis and Fitness Club in Los Angeles as General Manager, Neher worked for The Active Network in San Diego as Team Lead for Adult Leagues and NTRP Ratings on the USTA Tennislink Team.
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