Running sports facilities is both time consuming and expensive once you factor in staff costs, lighting, maintenance and so on. Probably what is most frustrating and challenging is filling up the dead time, particularly off-peak. Below are eight ways to help you increase revenue and usage through booking sports facilities.
1. Experiment with price reduction and rewards
Get your tenth cup of coffee free! Cafe Nero are doing it, so why aren’t you? Sixth drop-in session is half price; whatever deal will get them coming back. Print off some cards and invest in a football stamp so it looks fun and professional. Price reduction is a delicate balancing act and doesn’t need to be imposed across the board. Reduce the price for off-peak times or low turn-out sessions. Perhaps your Under 12s sessions are flourishing but you can’t get the teens through the door? Offer a ten percent discount for secondary school students.
2. Run drop-in sessions for idle courts and pitches
Tailor these sessions appropriately for different demographics. Friday evening is the ideal time for drop-in men’s football. Make it low cost and have something for after that is either included in the price or can be added on. Who isn’t interested in Football and beers? Football pitches don’t have to be used for football, why not run a circuits or yoga class for stay at home mums.
3.Run leagues and tournaments
Nothing gets people more interested than some healthy competition. It doesn’t need to be fiercely competitive (although that might be suitable for your venue). Make it fun. For example, run an “American Tournament” on Wednesday mornings during the summer. Kids will love coming down for sports and a hamburger and, if it’s drop in, they might bring extra friends along. Parents should be encouraged to hang around too (and even help) so you can make some extra burger and coffee sales!
Watch any sporting event on TV and the court, pitch, and players’ socks have advertising on them. You may still need to have the odd housekeeping poster dotted around the bathrooms, but local advertisers will pay for that little space on the back of a toilet door. They will also pay for a corner of your website, email notifications, posters and the sides and back of your pitches and courts. You could even look at having who pitches sponsored from start to finish both online and offline.
5. Coffee and snacks
The item with the highest margin in the world is cinema popcorn, with a 1,275% markup. With that sort of pricing, they hardly need to sell any movie tickets. It’s the same with sports venues: there are only so many kids you can fit onto one court, but there is no such limit on coffee sales. Some venues in London make more dough from cappuccinos than they do from coaching. It may not be your passion, but it can certainly fund it.
6. Monthly memberships
Many people have unrealistic fitness expectations. Take advantage of their beginner’s enthusiasm and get them signed up and locked in. You can offer lengths of time from a three day membership to yearly. The longer you can chain them down for, the better. Experiment with unlimited class vouchers. People may think they will go 27 times in one week, but reality and Netflix means they will most likely not.
7. Gate access and control
OpenPlay has exciting access control technology under development. Integrated within the OpenPlay system is an access pass that syncs to a client’s booking. For example, if someone books a pitch at 7pm, you can set their changing room and pitch access for 6.30 or 6.45; whatever suits your club. If you’re a sports centre that pays someone to man the doors, this is a massive financial saver. Not to sound too morbid, but that saves you a person’s salary and allows you to open up when you could well be shut. This could even be integrated with your lighting system to automate everything.
8. Off-peak times
Off-peak makes up a large proportion of every weekday, it is such a shame to let space go to waste. Get in touch with nearby schools and offer class coaching sessions or host their sports day. Retirees, stay-at-home mums or dads, freelancers, and night shift workers are most likely to be free during weekday mornings. Try running outdoor fitness classes such as ‘Tennis Bootcamp’, ‘Run Club’ or even ‘Parent and child’ sessions. If you have a clubhouse, rent out the space to a pilates or yoga instructor. These will be trial and error and completely dependent on the neighbourhood you live in. Have a look around your area and see what is already on offer, for what price, and where there is a gaping hole in the market.