Once your new sports complex is open, here’s how to get people in the door.
A driving force for many entrepreneurs who open recreation centers and sports complexes is a passion for sport and activity. And this is great, as every business needs passion. However, it’s only a starting point. More concrete efforts are needed to get people through the doors. Following are three specific things every owner or manager can do to increase usage and/or membership of their sports complex.
Recognize the Business You’re In
What we mean by this is to realize that you’re not running a sports complex per se, you’re in the “facility utilization” business. Time is the commodity you’re selling, not your shiny batting cages or your gleaming basketball courts. Your job is to book the available hours of the facility for more than it costs you to keep the doors open.
While it may seem like some of the passion is lost when thinking about your sports complex in this way, cultivating this mindset reminds you that this is a business, not a hobby.
Cultivate Community Relationships
Keeping in mind what business you’re really in, now it’s time to put on your sports facility management hat and get people in the door. An obvious place to start is with the major players in your community who are in charge of sports leagues and tournaments.
Once you’ve tapped the obvious sources, it’s time to get creative. Make a list of all activities your sports facility could be suitable for. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, e.g.:
- Children’s birthday parties
- Paintball tournaments
- Corporate training conferences
- Family reunions
- Charity fundraisers
- Religious prayer sessions
- Health fairs
- Graduation parties
As this list highlights, the many uses for a sports complex extend far beyond sports. If you think of it more as a community recreation center, you widen the scope of the type of events it can host.
Think Seasonal & Plan
There are going to be months where it’s easy to sell out all the available hours of your sports complex. But what about the rest of the year? The slow season usually kicks in around spring, when the weather gets warmer and people prefer to take their activities outside. How can you compete with sunshine and flowers on a glorious spring day?
The key is to have a targeted marketing plan. For example, losing weight is a common New Year’s goal for many. But statistics show that 80 to 90 percent of those goals are never achieved. This would be the perfect time to run a six-week weight loss clinic.
Announce it six to eight weeks out. Post it on your website, on your social media accounts, in your newsletter, on flyers, on your voice mail message – in short, any place you can reach a potential customer.
That takes care of April and part of May. What’s coming up next? June and July are big graduation, wedding and family reunion months. Announce facility use centered around these events, e.g., graduation parties, sports-themed bachelor parties, family reunions, etc.
What You’re Really Selling at Your Sports Complex
Facility planning is key. Remember, the commodity you’re selling is time. If you keep this in mind and plan for it, your sports complex can always be booked to capacity.