6 key steps to run a successful sports facility
Running a facility that is purely designed for sports needs a well-thought out blueprint and a solid plan of action. Regardless of the size or nature of these facilities, the best practices to run a sports facility remain consistent. In this article, we will try to understand the challenges faced by sports facility managers and the fundamentals of running a successful sports facility - the assets, offerings, processes, and trends that should not be missed.
Running a facility that is purely designed for sports needs a well-thought-out blueprint and a solid plan of action. Regardless of the size or nature of these facilities, the best practices to run a sports facility remain consistent. In this article, we will try to understand the challenges faced by sports facility managers and the fundamentals of running a successful sports facility - the assets, offerings, processes, and trends that should not be missed.
After all, for sports facilities, income generation is intertwined with creating conditions for delivering entertainment to their spectators and quality to the players and participants.
What are the top challenges of running a sports facility?
Most sports facilities face operational challenges that keep managers on their toes as they try to address them effectively. Here are some of the top challenges that keep sports facility managers occupied today.
- Managing programs
- Regulating costs
- Maintaining inventory
- Optimizing communication
- Time management
- Increasing operational efficiency
Facility managers can face these challenges in the short term, but without proper long-term planning and execution, they may continue to hamper operations even if they’re being addressed regularly.
To run a successful sports facility, managers will need to look at the above challenges with a more strategic lens and follow the recommended steps to improve sports facility management.
How to run a successful sports facility?
- Structure your programs
- Plan your budget wisely
- Optimize space utilization
- Empower your staff
- Regulate your operational costs
- Integrate intuitive technology
Let's try and understand each of these points in details.
1. Structure your programs
The first thing a sports facility needs is a well organized roster of programs that will help people understand the nature of its services. Considering prospective customers could be anyone from uninitiated beginners to seasoned athletes looking to keep their fitness up, you need to prepare diverse programs that can cater to everyone.
Structuring your programs effectively can be a strong driver of revenue for your business as focused and specific programs will attract a niche audience. You can also enable facility bookings, where members can book facilities to use on their own time and attract customers who may not be looking for long term offerings. Shore up your retention by offering sweet membership deals that make it easier and more economical to access your more promising offerings.
To best frame your programs, you need to begin by profiling your potential customers. Look at the market in your community and the audience you attract online. Note and analyze their interests and behavior, map out their pain points, and what is currently on offer for athletes around you. Understanding what’s missing in the market today will also help you recognize the programs that you can offer at your facility and stand out amongst your competitors.
While you work on your offerings, it is also key to analyze your team, their capabilities, and their schedules. This will help you assign programs efficiently and optimize your services for your customers.
2. Plan your budget wisely
Running a sports facility is not easy, with a lot of factors to bear in mind. Among these, it is especially important to plan your finances in detail before you get started. Right from arranging facility amenities and equipment, to paying the staff, spending on maintenance and replacements, and generating enough revenues to stay afloat, having a practical budget for your sports facility will support better decision-making at every step in your business.
For a sports facility attached under a community recreation center, the community that uses the facility is one of the major channels for operational funds. For this, you might want to reach out to your community at large. Facilities could even sell workout wear or other branded sports goodies that not only help in sales but also promote the facility within the community. Recreation centres are also the subject of funds issued by state and federal governments every year and exploring these in advance could also help you plan your own finances better.
Most importantly, cash flow depends on the clients and members of the sports facility. Membership fees, facility usage fees, food and beverage sales, running a clubhouse bar, spectator fees at events, commercial sponsorships during events are some of the ways that actually make a significant difference.
Plan for both annual and seasonal budgets accordingly - not all seasons are suitable for all sports. Planning for dry months beforehand will help handle membership cancellations or unexpected costs better.
Budgeting not only means identifying areas where money could be spent but also areas where overspending should be avoided. Achieving balance here is extremely important to sustain the business of running a sports facility.
3. Optimize Space Utilization
For a huge facility, first designing the layout for different kinds of amenities like gymnasiums, basketball courts, natatorium pools, volleyball courts, squash courts, tennis courts, and the like may be easy for dividing up spaces. But not all sports facilities might cover an expansive area. The physical layout of the facility or complex matters primarily when space utilization is considered. Yet, that is not everything.
Another significant aspect of managing spaces in a facility is scheduling well. Make sure that your facility is open throughout the year by offering diverse and quality programs. And for this, effective space management would be the best way to maximize your profits. But, how do you do this?
- Even facilities with limited space can juggle with schedules for different kinds of games, sports and programs since few of the programs are seasonal and not offered throughout the year.
- Secondly, there are members from different age groups and schedules that suit them more. So planning schedules according to facility space is crucial.
- Utilizing spaces for rentals or hosting fitness classes that involves multiple participants helps. Using similar spaces for a variety of programs at different intervals also helps significantly.
- You could also look out for individuals or organizations who are in the same business as you but either work out of their homes or do not have adequate space to accommodate classes and rent out facility spaces likewise.
4. Empower your staff
Every organization runs successfully because of the people who work tirelessly to keep your operations flowing smoothly. The key to running a successful sports facility lies in uniting and empowering your staff in such a way that their mission is aligned with the larger goals of the organization or a facility, in this case. For a start, it is important that everyone understands what the ultimate purpose of the facility is and work closely to resonate this.
A successful sports facility is one where the trainers don’t feel like mere cogs but like a more integral part of the organization. Being able to manage their schedule and easily communicate with their clients helps them be at their productive best.
Using the best sports facility management software in the market will empower your staff to manage their schedules and availability, avoid double-bookings, and minimize back and forth communication to improve both productivity and member retention.
5. Regulate your operational costs
Even as you set an annual budget and manage your finances with a long term view, it is essential to not lose sight of your overheads. Keep an eye on your upkeep expenses, your expenditure on equipment and other spending that can be regulated on a daily basis. You’d be surprised by the seemingly marginal expenses that can be avoided with a few tweaks to your operations and how much they could save you in the long run!
A constantly shifting rental market means there is always an opportunity to pay less or find a better facility around the same price. Reviewing your lease or rental agreement from time to time in context of the local market will keep you up to date and ready to move if such opportunities pop up at any point.
As for other costs, it may not be too surprising, but sports facilities consume a significant amount of power! Considering they are usually well-lit, use heavy workout equipment, and maintain air conditioning and thermostats, energy efficiency is one of the core areas that needs attention at any sports facility.
To reduce energy consumption and keep operating costs low, sports facilities should be designed to allow abundant natural light and ventilation that supports proper air circulation. Games and activities that could be played outdoors should be encouraged. Switching to solar lighting and turning off the lights in rooms when not in use will also go a long way in reducing the burden of electricity costs.
6. Integrate intuitive technology
Over the last few years, the conventions of doing business have changed considerably. Sure, many among us may still prefer pen and paper for familiarity and comfort, but today’s digital solutions enable easier and faster ways of doing business that will change the game for you!
When you have multiple trainers, multiple sports, and a growing number of members to manage, technology can give you the support you need to organize your business efficiently. From automating your bookings and managing your memberships to establishing a more personal relationship with your members, there is a lot that the right sports facility management software can help you with as you go about your business.
Use marketing automation software to build and manage relationships. Not only do these tools take over regular, hum-drum routine tasks, but they come with features that can help you cater to each member individually, according to their needs.
As your business grows in size, it will also be important for you to secure your member’s data. The more members you acquire, the more data you will need to store, process, and analyze. Protecting this data is essential to retain your members’ trust in your business and doing it well would enhance your reputation and increase both your member count and your retention.
Running a successful sports facility today means making smart decisions at every turn. Maintaining a long term vision for your business will help you map out your plan to improve your facility and execute it with greater efficiency.
By simplifying and automating your operations, you can look closer at the areas of your business that need to be improved and then focus your efforts on doing so.
Omnify has helped fitness and wellness businesses save significant time and effort in operations and deliver better services to their members. Find out what Omnify’s sports facility management software can do for your business and kickstart your facility’s growth. Start our FREE TRIAL today!
Study the challenges to running a sports facility with a more strategic lens and follow these recommendations to improve your facility management!