Thursday, April 5, 2012

How clubs can ensure future survival and growth

How to overcome complacency and introduce real urgency (Steps 1 – 3)

In these difficult times it might not be the biggest or best sports clubs that will thrive but rather those who are prepared to make the hard decisions and adapt to the situation. In this blog, which is one of two, Gordon Clark, Sport Wales Senior Officer presents some thoughts on how sports clubs can ensure future survival and growth.

In a previous blog I talked about how sports clubs can learn from the business world. This blog builds on those messages and encourages clubs to think ahead, make small incremental steps and learn from others. In the next blog I will share some thoughts on being ambitious, learning from what works and what doesn’t and about keeping things fun

Step 1 - Real urgency not false urgency

Svend Elkjaer of the Sports Marketing Network says

“Real urgency is about getting things done and moving forward – day in, day out. False urgency happens when panic strikes due to some unexpected external pressure.”

Might I be brave enough to suggest that change in many sports clubs happens too late at a point when things become critical? Clubs need to deal with the opportunities and challenges now, not in 6 months’ time. Give people the hard facts up front ‘we are losing money, members and community support and here are my thoughts on how we can deal with it.’

Step 2 - Stop believing that ‘it can’t be done’.

If you or others keep saying “it can’t be done” then invariably nobody will try. You need only take small steps at first and once you have some success you will find others will be more willing to join the quest for change.

Make sure the club has a vision that the club as a whole are behind, and that these small incremental steps are contributing to delivering this vision. You need buy-in from as many people as possible however, don’t waste time on convincing NoNos (see step 4 in my next blog)

Step 3 – Learn from others

Seek to better your knowledge and skills as well as those within the club, the more up-to-date you are the more you are likely to embrace change. For example, if you don’t know about Facebook, twitter and other technological advancements then you won’t be able to spot the opportunities for your club.

Go and visit those who are already doing it well and don’t limit yourself to just looking at other sports clubs, what can you learn from other providers e.g. leisure centres, hospitality etc. If you don’t seek new ideas then your choice of routes out of the crisis are limited.

Thanks to Svend Elkjaer, Sports Marketing Network,, @Sportsmarketer who has given me approval to use some of his ideas.

Look out for steps 4 to 6 which will follow soon!