Tag Archives: Sports

The top books for sports coaches and entrepreneurs

2 October 2018 openplay Leave a comment Operations

If you’re searching for inspiration to lift your entrepreneurial spirit, why not pick up a book? With so many inciteful books written by experts in their fields, it is difficult to know where to start. For every well-written book, there are plenty of useless ones that will only waste your precious and limited time.

We’ve created a list of our top books for sports coaches and entrepreneurs to help you get stuck in.

Here is our round-up of the best titles out there to help you on your way to sports business success.

Black Box Thinking: Why Some People Never Learn from Their Mistakes- But Some Do


Matthew Syed ’s in-depth exploration of creativity, determination and marginal gain is a fascinating read for any entrepreneur, sports coach or student.

It turns on the notions of blame and the fear of failure, seeing both as hindrances to progression. Syed cites athletes as the masters of embracing “failure” and learning from mistakes as means of propelling ourselves forward.

Black Box Thinking is a very accessible read, even for those that wouldn’t typically pick up a non-fiction book. It uses countless examples from a plethora of industries, including sport, to discover what drives success.

Matthew Syed has another book called Bounce which touches upon the author’s own tennis career and the success of the Williams sisters, Tiger Woods and Mozart, through the 10,000-hour rule. His children’s book, You are Awesome aims to instil confidence and resilience in its young readers.

At the heart of each of Syed’s books is the promotion of the sportsman’s mentality: hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

Call an Audible


This inspiring story is for anyone nervously making a career switch from office slave to sports coach or perhaps tentatively pursuing their startup dream.

Daron K. Roberts quit Harvard Law to pursue a career working as an NFL coach. He argues that starting at the bottom is perfectly acceptible so long as you have ambition.

Call an Audible is an inspiring against-the-odds story that will encourage you to pursue your goals.

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

A curveball that may not seem immediately relevant, but once you read this book you will realise that sleep is paramount to everything you do.

As an entrepreneur, you may sacrifice sleep in order to achieve your business goals- many CEOs and presidents have claimed to survive off little more than a brief nap- but this can be detrimental to your health, mentality and ultimately your career success.

Were you aware that a lack of sleep was more impairing to your alertness and concentration levels than intoxication?

Did you know that we catalogue memories in the first four hours of sleep, while the latter four hours develop creativity?

Neuroscientist and sleep expert, Matthew Walker, shows how you can harness sleep to improve learning, mood and energy levels. The right amount of sleep prevents diseases and boosts efficiency, success, and business productivity.

The audio version of Matthew Walker’s book is particularly engaging and, ironically, will keep you awake because it is so fascinating.

Fever Pitch: A Fan’s Life

For anyone who needs a reminder that their sport has a big impact.

If you find your passion or enthusiasm slipping, Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch will reinvigorate your dedication to your sport.

Novelist Nick Hornby has been football mad since birth. In his funny and entertaining memoir, Fever Pitch, he looks back at his lifelong obsession with the sport. But even if you are not a diehard Arsenal fan- or football literate for that matter- when boiled down, Hornby’s collection of essays are about passion, fandom and the sense of belonging and purpose that sport can bring.

100 Things Successful People Do

Filled with one hundred random but helpful tips, Nigel Cumberland’s guide draws upon the advice of people who have made their dreams happen. Simple and to the point, this book can be read in small doses- the chapters are just two pages long- for continual inspiration.

Part instruction manual, part inspiring tales, 100 Things Successful People Do will change your mindset, uproot old habits and provide you with helpful strategies to drive the results you want.

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Customer Relationship Management (CRM): What is it and do you need a system in place?

27 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Analytics, Booking System, Marketing, Memberships, Operations, Technology

In 2018, customer relationship management (CRM) software became the leading and fastest growing software market, with a growth rate of 16%, according to research by Gartner. Worldwide, CRM software revenue reached $39.5 billion at the end of 2017, surpassing that of database management systems (DBMS). With such rapid growth, people have been given little time to get their heads around what CRM actually is. Many people use the word, sounding impressive in emails and board meetings, but frequently they confuse its meaning with more general management software. So, what exactly is CRM and should your wellbeing business use one of these highly complex systems?

What is it?

Simply put, CRM is a way to manage and improve your interactions with customers and potential customers. Sometimes it refers to a company’s theoretical strategy or process. In its most recent format, it is a software product, usually stored in the cloud, that records, reports and analyses every interaction between company and customer. It sounds very Big Brother, but it is intended to serve both the service provider and the consumer.

The Benefits of CRM

  1. Personalised marketing: CRM allows for a more personalised approach to marketing. Think of targeted ads that follow you around the internet; CRM refines this personalisation further. Customers or potential customers are only advertised to about products or events that are highly relevant to their interests.
  2. Automated sales: Salespeople cannot afford to waste time rooting through spreadsheets and notepads to remember their relationship with a customer. CRM puts this information directly onto their dashboard allowing for a much smoother and more effective pitch.
  3. Higher retention: It is proven that retention rates and member usage are directly correlated. For each additional visit by a member in any given month, the risk of that member cancelling in the subsequent month is reduced by 33%, according to research by IHRSA. With a fitness CRM system, you can monitor and reach out to inactive members who are most vulnerable to cancellation.
  4. Customers feel valued: A mother might call with a query about her daughter’s tennis group. With an efficient sports CRM system, you can quickly search her name and load every previous interaction. With the facts laid before you in your dashboard, you will be able to provide a more personalised customer support service. Member care is a journey; it evolves as your members change.
  5. Happy Birthday: Automatic birthday wishes can be sent to every client with the gift of a special offer. For many activity providers, kids’ birthday parties are a big chunk of their income. An effective CRM system could decipher appropriate clients and send a promotional email in advance of the child’s birthday.

Budget for change

CRM systems for sports typically contain vast amounts of sensitive personal data, such as customer contact information, date of birth etc. This information increases in value over time, as a customer’s profile builds up. In its very nature, CRM is prone to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) non-compliance. CRM budgets are expected to increase as companies follow GDPR procedures.

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Should your sports centre offer dynamic pricing?

25 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Marketing, Operations

Dynamic pricing has been a part of flight sales for years. You check the amount, think about it, then return to book the next day and find out it has doubled in price. Now, many leisure centres, fitness studios, and sports courts are using dynamic pricing to increase usage and maximise profit. It makes sense; isn’t it better to have a tennis court filled, even if the profit margin is slimmer? Does dynamic pricing solve the gym’s most prominent issue of being either too full or not full enough? The answers are not as straightforward as you might think.

How does it work?

There are many software products that each have their method of determining price points. First off, the studios themselves set their price margins: the minimum and maximum they are willing to charge for a class. Then the algorithms kick in. The method works by taking the actual capacity utilisation of a studio. Let’s say a studio is, on average, at 60% capacity. Dynamic pricing aims to increase this figure while also growing revenue. However, it is possible for this studio to improve its capacity utilisation to 70%, yet revenue stays level or decreases, due to lower prices.

Who will benefit?

Dynamic pricing is particularly useful in the boutique fitness market, where customers will pay premium prices for premium slots. Then there are the many people who cannot afford to participate unless the price is lower; dynamic pricing gives them access to slots depending on when they book. Facilities that are in high demand (such as squash courts) can also do well from a dynamic model, as space will only go to waste if a timeslot is left open.

Will dynamic pricing put people off advance purchasing?

A tool like Zenrez offers a pricing structure that decreases the value of a class as the starting time nears. A descending model may seem like a positive move; that empty spot gets filled- fantastic! Ultimately Zenrez’s programme discourages early-bird bookings, causing a last-minute flurry of activity and studios struggling to predict and manage class numbers. Your class might be full, but your margins are squeezed and your customers are less loyal. People who wait until the final moment to book your classes have proved that they could take or leave your service. They are an unreliable customer that could very quickly jump ship.

What about an ascending price model?

Perhaps more useful are the systems that turn this algorithm on its head, rewarding early booking and slowly hiking the price as the time nears so that a reservation made the final hour costs up to £6 more than one made a week before. This system is more effective than a descending model and is proven to be useful in the airline industry. However, an ascending price structure can dissuade some people from booking at all.

Introducing your customers Jane and John. Jane is delighted she bagged herself an early deal for Boxfit and views your studio favourably. John doesn’t know what his plans are in a week’s time and cannot commit to a class seven days in advance. It comes to the day of, and John resents paying more than Jane for the same service. That bitter taste makes John spiteful. Maybe he is a spiteful guy? Or, quite possibly, many more of your customers are a little miffed. Jane, on the other hand, is a loyal customer who prioritises your classes, instead of offering Jane a discount on individual courses, you should be focusing on promoting class bundles or a membership.

Will it encourage more pay-as-you-go purchases and discourage memberships?

The short answer is yes; well, probably. With an abundance of choice in studios and gyms, pay-as-you-go is very popular, particularly amongst the younger generation who enjoy varied workouts. At the end of the day, each venue wants you to train with them and them alone. So if you bring dynamic pricing into the mix, aren’t you encouraging people to earn discounts by paying for individual classes?

In Conclusion…

By all means, experiment with your pricing; perhaps a dynamic model will work for your studio. However, if you want to build a loyal customer base, maybe it makes more sense to provide value for money memberships. Regarding pay-as-you-go, peak and off-peak is a tried and tested method that few customers seem to begrudge.

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Website Tips for Sports Businesses

13 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System

It is essential that you invest in the front end of your business. We provide booking software for sports providers big and small, so we have seen and worked with our fair share of websites. Sometimes, it is not the flashiest, most expensive site that stands out (or indeed that takes in the most bookings). Having said that, nobody ever built a website out of peanuts. Hiring a website developer is a significant investment, costing upwards of three grand. Of course, this would give you a bespoke, glossy finish and a highly functional site. Many people choose to go with a DIY site builder, such as WordPress. Using such templates result in a more generic, less professional looking website, which often struggles to integrate with other software. Whatever route you choose, you must have a clear idea of the look and feel you want from your site.

Prioritise the visitor

You may want to get lots of useful marketing information from your customer via a booking form: How did you find us? Would you recommend us to a friend? Resist that urge. These questions are irritating and may lead to a customer dropping out before purchasing. Perhaps you want to hammer home your mission statement and flaunt your qualifications and triumphs. Yes, your business must look successful, but avoid slipping into the realms of boasting. Your website is not about you; it is about what you provide. So be generous; give them a taste of what you offer. Your site should be a virtual representation of your business; show what you provide, rather than telling them. Which leads us to the next point…

Photos are essential, but videos stand out

Most activity providers have lots of pictures of children having fun at their camps and courses. Instead of having a “Gallery” page, scatter these photos throughout your website so that every page is brimming with smiling students. Videos of practice or matches give potential customers a glimpse into the experience they will get if they sign up for your club.

Keep things simple

Start with a simple navigation bar, with clear headings, so your visitors immediately know which section to click. Nobody likes clutter: you only have to think about Ryanair’s jumble sale of a website to consider cancelling your holiday plans. Don’t have a master’s degree in the English Language? Don’t worry, because customers favour conversational English over stuffy technical jargon.

Mobile-Desktop View

Mobile is fast becoming the surf medium of choice. It is vital that you consider how your website looks on both a desktop and a mobile. The mobile view is not merely a smaller version but must be explicitly designed with a phone screen in mind. Text should be clear and large enough to read, without having to zoom in. Include a slick, pop-up menu bar for easy navigation. A nice touch is a click-to-call feature, so customers can ring without having to dial the number.

Online bookings

This is the most important element of your website. Yes, we may be biased, but what is the point of your site if not for people to book your facilities and courses. OpenPlay’s bespoke booking system provides a streamlined booking experience. People can book on a desktop or via their mobile, meaning that your booking window is 24/7 and accessible from anywhere in the world.

Up to date information

So this is obvious, but make sure that everything a customer needs to know is there. If the last event advertised is for a summer course in 2005, they will assume you’ve closed up shop and will look elsewhere. Include a news section, so visitors can see that you have activities and events happening all the time. Age groups or available course are the first things that your customers will look for, so make this information easy to find. We would recommend having these available on your homepage as well as on their specific TAB so that visitors can click directly to a booking.

Connect your social media

People engage 25% more with brands that are on Instagram. Make sure to connect your social accounts with your website. Whatever platform you engage with most should be featured on your site; whether that is a rolling Twitter feed or an Instagram tile display.

Good grammar

Bad grammer makes you’re websight look amature. Grammarly is a desktop plug-in that will check your text for any mistakes. It is more thorough than the simple spell check of Word or Pages. It will help you with punctuation, turns of phrase, and even suggest alternative words for when it thinks you have not quite nailed your word choice.

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Reducing Paper at Sports Centres

11 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Marketing, Operations, Technology

Whether it’s the rising threat of global warming, the stress of sorting through mounting documents, or simply a fear of papercuts; in the age of digitisation, paper and printing products are edging towards extinction. People are discovering that printing is an unnecessary expense, with the average small business spending £14K per year, according to research by software developers Reckon. Paper and ink are just the tip of a melting iceberg; hidden beneath the surface are the costs of keeping traditional filing systems, employee time, and machine maintenance.

Switch from paper bookings to online bookings

Paper is fiddly to manage and far from secure. Storing your data through a booking system like OpenPlay means everything is in one place and nothing gets lost. More importantly, no private information can be misappropriated (GDPR alert!). Our venue management software caters to block bookings, recurring payments, voucher codes and lots more. There is no longer a need to scribble or score out mistakes. Quickly alter, cancel, or refund a reservation and issue automatic confirmations to the customer. Unlike manual paper methods, our CRM (customer relationship management) system records your client interactions, so all information is up-to-date, relevant, and personalised. Ditch the Filofax and paper spreadsheets; a quick glance at your OpenPlay dashboard tells you your facility’s usage rates, financial information, and demographic breakdown.

Digital Registers

Digital registers not only reduce your printing needs, but they are kept up-to-date. Any last minute changes to registers are instantly registered in the system, meaning that instructors have an accurate register right up to the moment they begin their class. Bookings are coordinated with registers, so you can sign attendees can sign and out via the OpenPlay app, or instructors can sign them in via the coach app. You can also add notes, such as illnesses or allergies, to a client’s name, so your coaches and staff will be automatically updated.

Read more: Eliminate single-use plastic at your gym

Implement Recycling Bins

Sometimes paper needs to be used. The polar bears will forgive you for the odd printout, but only if you print back to back and only if you recycle. Create a recycling hub behind reception and print out posters to remind employees and guests to recycle… or don’t actually. Scratch that last point.

Other ways you can help the environment…

  • If you sell plastic bottles of water, why not swap to reusable bottles and provide water fountains.
  • Switch from paper towels to hand towels or energy efficient hand dryers.
  • Perhaps instead of music for classes, you can have your coaches sing or beatbox in between instructions.
  • Ban wrapping paper from the company’s Secret Santa; it is never a surprise anyway.
  • Switch off air-conditioning/ heating. Tell clients this aids muscle recovery and hope they don’t know any better.
  • A popular environmental fitness trend straight from LA is to drain your swimming pool of water and hold mock swim classes instead. Students have found that imagining the resistance of the water means that they are not only working their muscles but also exercising their creative minds.

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Sports coaches- Is admin keeping you off the pitch?

9 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Operations, Technology

Most sports coaches enter the profession because they have a passion for the game they play. It is the smell of the grass, the feel of a ball, a glove, a racquet in their hands and the joy of passing on their enthusiasm to fresh faces. Despite this idealistic vision, many find themselves stuck inside beneath a mountain of forms, blurry-eyed from excel spreadsheets, ears ringing from relentless calls. Admin comes with the territory, but not to the extent that the majority of coaches find themselves. You can make just one simple change that eliminates up to 95% of your admin, improves the service you provide, and gets you back onto the pitch.

Switch to an online booking system

Face-to-face and telephone bookings are drawn out, expensive and much less efficient than online reservations. Someone needs to be “on call” or in the office to process bookings. Bookings not only need to be online, but they need to suit both desktop and mobile. At OpenPlay, we provide bespoke booking systems that not only increase your sales and revenue but also a detailed back-end management system featuring a host of time-saving features.

Keep track of payments

The OpenPlay system flags any unpaid invoices, so you can quickly send payment reminders. Customer fees will be processed through payment gateways such as Stripe. We integrate with world-renowned services, which are safe and secure. With less cash on site, the risk of accidental or intentional loss of funds is virtually eradicated. Online payments also sync immediately with your OpenPlay venue management system, so you no longer have to log transactions manually.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

OpenPlay’s CRM system keeps track of your interactions with clients. Each time you converse with a client, you can be confident that your information on them is up-to-date, relevant and tailored specifically to the individual. CRM adds a personal touch that clients love. It makes such a difference when you can recall your last phone call with them and immediately reference their previous queries. It lets customers know that you value them.

The OpenPlay Pocket mobile app

Even with all the technology in the world, you cannot escape admin entirely. With the OpenPlay Pocket mobile app, you can at least take this small bit of work out onto the pitch. Take payments directly through your OpenPlay Pocket mobile app. Manage your coaches and employees via the app and only grant them access to their classes. Each coach receives their own registers, so they can tick off attendees and instantly see any essential health conditions. An important safety feature OpenPlay has devised and implemented is the unique pickup code for children. When parents cannot collect their child, they digitally sign the coach’s app, granting access to another adult.

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Why Public Bodies Should Work Alongside Private Companies

8 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Technology

When we think about private companies taking government funding, images of corporate greed and unaccounted for money spring to mind. Government funded bodies, on the other hand, are viewed as public knights that battle heroically against their limited budgets. They scrape by because their crusade is viable: but their vision is sometimes lacking. Entrepreneurs live and die by the success of their ideas. If their business fails, they lose their job, their mortgage, and their dreams. Public bodies must relinquish their need to control every minute step, and learn to delegate niche tasks to people with in-depth knowledge of the subject. If they can ride atop the expertise and creativity of private companies, they are much more likely to win the battle.

Passion

Tech is always best developed by hungry entrepreneurs; people who make substantial financial, personal, and, possibly, marital sacrifices to get their business off the ground. Their business is their baby. They will nurture it, stay up all night for it, and do everything in their power to help it grow. Their passion allows them to develop a strong niche. They may spend years perfecting their specialism. They will not claim to know everything, but when it comes to the exactitude of their niche: they are a walking encyclopedia.

Innovation is key to progress

Tech defines our era and is continually evolving. It solves problems every day (and sometimes it creates new problems). There is a constant need to discover better, faster, smarter ways of working. What is relevant today may not be tomorrow, so it is crucial that a company innovates to avoid stagnation. Take Richard Branson, who founded Virgin Records. If he had been comfortable with his original business, he would be virtually bankrupt (like HMV) by the introduction of CDs, mp3s, and now Spotify. Instead, he has transcended genre; progressing to transport, to condoms, to cola, to trains, to media, to gyms, and now to space. Some of these ventures have been more successful than others, but he has undoubtedly stayed relevant and rich.

Room for creativity

Government bodies are shackled by regulations and restrictions, meaning that ideas that are “out there” remain “out there.” Branson claims successful companies “start small and think big.” A start-up has nothing to lose but hopes and dreams. With no rule book and no governing body to adhere to, entrepreneurs are free to experiment. In fact, it is their individuality and creative thinking that makes their ideas viable and successful.

Targets are ambitious

When public bodies receive a sum of money, they frequently see this as a prompt to spend the entire amount. The government monitors their spending, flagging any move that seems too radical. The result is that money is invested into tried and tested routes that will provide safe results. Private companies usually spend excess profit on new developments, with success triggering further success. Private companies give their employees ambitious targets, keeping them engaged and enthusiastic. When spending your own money on your business, you make damn sure that you are maximising profits.

Calculated risks

PayPal co-founder said to a humble tech entrepreneur: ‘In a world that’s changing so quickly, the biggest risk you can take is not taking any risk.’ That entrepreneur went on to create Facebook. Businesses take risks every day: some of them pay off, and some of them set them back, but it is the nature of survival and growth. For public bodies, outsourcing may seem like a big gamble (as funding could be pulled if a strategy fails). Nonetheless, if a company is expert in their field and appears to have the solution to a problem, is it really such a daunting risk? If you discovered a tumour in your leg, would you try to remove it yourself? In our opinion, choosing to outsource is the less risky option.

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Managing Peak Times At Sports Centres

5 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Marketing, Memberships, Operations

Members pay premium prices for peak-times, yet overcrowding often hampers their experience. For many people, psyching themselves up for the gym is a hurdle in itself. Once they have made it through the doors, the last thing they need is further blockades between them and their workout. All too much is the queue for a treadmill, the claustrophobia of a rammed group exercise class and a bruised back from doing sit-ups on a hard floor because there are no free mats. Fortunately, there are a few ways to reduce overcrowding and keep your gym running smoothly and efficiently at these busy times.

Eliminate reception bookings

There is nothing worse than arriving at the gym only to find that the reception is blocked up with customers and all of the staff are either on the phone or clicking away at computers. Priority needs to be given to those seeking access, needing towels or who have a general query. Move your class bookings online with a bespoke system like OpenPlay and increase reception efficiency.

Off-peak memberships

Anyone working 9-5 cannot avail of the luxury of off-peak workouts. However, for freelancers, stay-at-home parents, retirees, students, and children, a reduced price membership could be tempting. An off-peak membership restricts the user’s access to less popular hours, such as mid-morning and late afternoon. Make sure to introduce some off-peak classes, so these members can also benefit from the timetable. With any luck, some of your current members will opt for a quieter workout and new members will be able to join.

Digital sign-ups and registers

It is essential, first of all, that you have some form of a sign-up system for your group classes. People will lose faith in your venue if it is a constant lottery where they must turn up 30 minutes before the class to have any hope of making the cut. Encourage people to sign up online, so at least this booking race is digital. Now that you’ve asked people to sign up, you need to follow through on your system and implement registers. Most clubs print off class lists, which takes up the time of receptionists, adds to printing costs, and creates a general faff for everyone involved. The OpenPlay Pocket mobile app gives each instructor access to their classes so that they can check off students in the studio. No middleman is needed; registers automatically sync with bookings and cancellations, so they are up-to-date and digitally stored.

Enforce Time Limits

Many clubs ask their members to limit time spent on each machine (usually 45-60 minutes max per person), in an attempt to democratise the gym. Time limits are useful to a degree but even waiting 45 minutes for an exercise bike is a big ask. Ensure that PTs and instructors are on the gym floor offering workout advise to customers. They can show people the benefits of less popular equipment and encourage runners and elliptical trainers to increase sprint times, so they train in shorter, more intense bursts.

Efficient Access Control

The majority of fitness centres already use a version of access control; typically this is by way of a membership card. At OpenPlay, we integrate your booking statistics with your access control system. Alternatively, we have developed an access control app that fits seamlessly with your OpenPlay account. Instead of a card which can be forgotten or lost, a barcode system works straight from mobile and operates even in offline mode. This barcode system is particularly efficient for guests or external users who have  a squash court booking. Their unique barcode can be programmed to allow them access through reception, the changing rooms and the squash court they have booked.

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The Financial Benefits of Running a 5-a-side League

29 May 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Marketing, Operations

Among adults, 5-a-side is the most popular version of football, because, compared to larger games, it is easier to organise. Everyone can find four friends (however skilled) to cobble together some sort of team. The rise of leagues and high-quality artificial pitches across the UK mean that 5-a-side’s popularity has snowballed. A 2015 Sport England Survey estimated that 1.5 million people play the game in the UK each week. 11-a-side used to be part and parcel of a football enthusiast’s Saturday morning, but it has suffered a devastating defeat against the smaller, nippier game. Powerleague, the UK’s leading mini-league provider, made a profit of 3.7 million pounds last year, proving that there is big money in the little game. Organising a 5-a-side league has its challenges, with plenty of competition out there; but if done right, you will be reaping financial rewards.

Weekday evenings sorted

Monday to Thursday evenings between six and ten will be your bread and butter. These times have the potential to be booked back to back, week on week. Provide a variety of start times as some people will come straight from work while others choose to eat dinner first. Be wary of the Friday night trap. The UK has a *cough* active drinking culture. Many leagues have flopped because players swapped toe shots for tequila shots. This is not to say that weekend leagues won’t have their draw; a Saturday morning can be a success, but it unlikely to be your prime money earner.

Sponsors are keen

If you look at Powerleague or Goals Soccer Centres, the two leading small-sided league providers, their pitches, website, bibs, and goalposts are plastered in sponsorship advertising. Their astroturf may be electric blue (thanks to Lucozade Sport), but they are all in perfect condition and the latest generation rubber crumb. You don’t have to paint your pitch pink anytime soon; sponsors may be able to supply your goalposts or help with your marketing campaign.

Suitable for all levels

For those who have never so much as grazed their knee on a football pitch, requesting to join an established team can be unnerving. That’s why 5-a-side leagues are the gateway into the addictive game. Although many people enter a league to keep fit and enjoy themselves, there is no doubt that the notion of winning is an enticing element. The tighter the match, the more adrenaline and excitement, so be sure to provide divisions for the tenderfoots, the dab hands, and everyone in between.

Space Saving

Larger Pitches can be divided in half or thirds for multiple games, giving you, the organiser, more buck for your bang. Having various games played at once can also create an intimate, sociable atmosphere that enhances the whole experience and keeps players coming back.

People sign up for the season

Most leagues run throughout the term time or seasonally. This means that your pitches are block booked for months at a time. One of the downfalls of this is that people’s enthusiasm may start to wane as the season draws to a close. It is your job as an organiser to keep energy levels up (maybe your sports drink sponsor can help you there). Referees should be on the ball during play to keep the game tight. Send text reminders the day before sessions, so players have no excuse to back out last minute.

Selling a package deal

When running a league at your premises, you are selling more than just a patch of grass; you are providing the whole game. So long as the experience is top notch and the players come away satisfied, people will be prepared to pay more than they would to rent a pitch. Of course, you must factor in referee costs and your fee for the organisation, but the numbers add up.

5-a-side is profitable; the success of it can be seen by the many triumphant leagues and by the plethora of high quality, artificial pitches that are sprouting up in almost every town in the UK.

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Tech and Sports Venues: What tech will increase efficiency?

23 May 2018 openplay Leave a comment Operations, Technology

“Time is money”- So I’ll keep this brief.

Tasks that are performed by hand can be slow and filled with human error. Technology not only makes actions quicker, but can keep information regimentally categorised and constantly updated. In some cases, tech can reduce or even replace manual labour and will certainly increase efficiency. Let tech take care of tedious tasks, so you can put your energy and money into improving the customer’s experience.

Accounting Software



Let’s face it, unless you live and breathe Excel spreadsheets and number punching, doing your accounts is a pain. Xero, Sage, and QuickBooks are tools that will reduce both your paperwork and your time spent on a calculator. Their services are cloud-based, offering automatic invoice chasing and accounting from your mobile. They can be used by experts or novices and can work in tandem with an external accountant.

Online Booking System



OpenPlay provides bespoke booking systems that are specifically geared towards sports venues and activities. Our venue management software suits block bookings, recurring payments, voucher codes and more. Memberships can be managed via your dedicated members section, with integrated direct debits and invoicing. You can easily amend, cancel, or refund a booking and issue automatic confirmations to customers. Cash bookings will integrate with your OpenPlay account, enabling you to monitor your facility’s usage rates, financial information, and demographic breakdown. This leads to better scheduling and pricing plans which, in turn, results in maximised footfall and profit.

Internal Communication



Team meetings are not always possible, and emails are easily ignored. Slack offers a Watsapp style messaging service, that is designed for professional use. It streamlines communication within a company and allows for instant alerts, updates, and scheduling. The service is categorised by “channels” that you and your staff create. For instance you can create a “reception channel” that allows staff to swap shifts and keep on top of the rota. A “good reads channel” keeps your employees up to date with everything relevant to your business. With better in-house communication, goals are set quicker and employees remain on the ball.

Access Control



Gone are the days when people sign their name to enter your facilities. We have been using membership fobs and key cards to access facilities for many years now. But what about drop-in customers? Do they still have to sign a paper form? At OpenPlay we are developing an app that increases the flexibility of your access passes and decreases the queue at reception. The app automatically syncs with a customer’s OpenPlay booking, so access can be restricted to the day or even the hour of play. Not only can you adapt the time but also the area of the facility. For example someone who has booked a game of squash could get restricted access to the changing rooms and the specific court. We believe that the membership card is in its sunset years. It is only a matter of time before venues realise the potential of digital access.

Social Media Management



Buffer is a management tool for social media marketing. It links the various social platforms together in one neat hub. When trying to increase your online traffic, it is important that you post the right content at the right time. Buffer lets you schedule and queue posts days, weeks, even months in advance; helping you to increase efficiency. It realises that you may not want to post the same thing on Facebook as you do on LinkedIn, so you can tailor your posts to each platform. One of the best aspects, is that data recording is easily readable through your Buffer account. Track interactions and engagement on posts you have shared, so you can improve performance and greater understand your market.

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