How to save bowls clubs and grow the game by changing the role of our bowls clubs in our communities. Although it seems futile to think we can make a drastic change to the way things are in many bowls clubs, I know that many clubs are overlooking or possibly ignoring golden opportunities on their doorstep.
Further to my recent post about the success being experienced by Bowls Victoria in recruiting members from the junior to 30 year old age bracket, here is a video that shows one way in which this success is nurtured. Can this be used to good effect in the UK?…of course it can, and all year round into the bargain.
Have a look at the Bowls Victoria website for more great ideas like this from a very forward looking and pro-active Bowls Association
Bowls Central, although very popular now in relation to when I started the site 5 years ago, is still what could be termed a “niche” website. The audience for a site like Bowls Central is never going to be easy to find online. Due to this fact, I now spend a lot of time promoting the site on social media such as Twitter to get the site in front of new readers.
To monitor the success (or otherwise) of these campaigns I use software that allows me to see how many people interact with the messages I put out there. When I tweet about an article on bowls central I can usually be sure of between 5 and 10 people clicking through to read the article, some of whom might become regular readers or maybe even join as a free member of Bowls Central which gives them full access to nearly 300 articles on the site.
I also monitor the news being released about lawn bowls and sometimes tweet links to articles that I think my Twitter followers might like.
Imagine my surprise then when Read more
Now that the green is closed for winter (but not forgotten I hope!), thoughts inevitably turn to the condition of the club itself.
How is your club doing?
How are the membership numbers looking?
How can we get people in to spend some money in the winter months?
I’m a bit of a Twitter enthusiast and I find that it’s a good barometer for seeing how things are going in the bowling world, even though only a tiny percentage of clubs seem to be using it so far. Same goes for facebook; not many clubs using it for club communications and/or marketing.
Yesterday on Twitter I saw this tweet:
That seems like a terribly good deal. Membership for a whole year for just £20 or £40?
But is it a terribly good deal for clubs to be giving away membership for such low fees? Let’s speculate that an imaginary club with similar fees to this one has 50 Ladies and 80 Gentlemen members. That’s a total membership income of just £4200 for the year. Now I know that I’m dreaming here because a high percentage of clubs have far fewer members than that, but even allowing me my poetic license this is barely enough to cover the costs of maintaining the green and having the lights on in the clubhouse of an evening. Of course there are other income streams, like the bar and social events but many clubs are in borderline survival mode.
Rethinking the Role of Your Club
I know the pressure is on to keep membership fees low and I know that many members view these fees as if they are for the summer only. I also know that members have to bear additional costs to participate in the sport such as petrol, equipment, competition fees etc, so I’m not advocating any drastic increases to membership fees.
So what does that leave? It leaves the fundamental way in which we think about our club’s role in the community. Is it the damp, cold place that the old fuddy duddies go to in the summer, to be avoided at all costs, or is it a vibrant, bright hub of the community where the members will welcome you to participate in their sport or even bring your own interests along to share with others? Is it a place that seems off limits to me as a non-member or that seems to be closed up all winter long, or is it a magnet for locals, who relish the warm and buzzing atmosphere in the dark, damp days of the closed season?
At this time of year many clubs slip routinely into survival mode. Put the green to bed, batten down the hatches, set the radiators to “snowflake”, cross fingers and hope all the members come back next year.
It doesn’t have to be like that.
Let me know how things are going at your club.Meantime I’ve popped two of our most popular winter reads into a special offer so that hopefully clubs can make a start on getting the ball rolling on change.
Get them now and start the march to abundance for your bowls club this winter.
Historic England have published a new, lavishly illustrated book by bowls historian Hugh Hornby that is the first study of its kind. The book explores the history and architecture of some of the UK’s oldest bowling pavilions.
This fascinating book chronicles the the game over the centuries and looks at the emergence of the different codes that are followed around the UK.
Get the book here:
Our eBook Bowling Club Survival and Turnaround is now available.
In this much awaited text John breaks down the process of saving your bowling club from financial trouble and moving on to great success into 7 clear steps:
- How to stem the flow of cash out of your club starting today and how to prime a pump that will see more cash flowing into your club effortlessly.
- The remarkable 10 Minute MBA or how to build a business model that works for your club.
- An amazingly simple but powerful formula that will ensure your club stands head and shoulders above all of your competition.
- In a revolutionary take on the Marketing of your rejuventated club we turn the commonly accepted view and perceived “wisdom about Marketing firmly on its head! In this remarkable section we demonstrate “paint by numbers instructions for achieving all of the members you want with a vastly reduced Marketing budget.
- Step 5 provides what can only be described as ABC style instructions and guidance to turn your club into a smooth, efficient and profitable machine.
- In step 6 you’ll discover a remarkable system for adding 20-30% of your current income straight onto your bottom line profit!by dealing with waste in your club.
- “Step 7 is essentially a method for bringing all of the previous steps together into an automatic club improvement system. Even after you’ve applied the first 6 steps and have a thriving, profitable club; this step pretty much guarantees that even a very efficient club will improve bottom line performance by at least 10% every 3 months
The ebook is available now just click here
At this point in the season, when the club is buzzing with life and the match secretary is running around like a decapitated chicken, the bar is busy and there is a general air of optimism…it is easy to overlook the longer term planning needed for club survival and turnaround.
One of the main action points from the Club Success Manifesto was to:
Define your club’s unique position in your community
…there can be no better time to get started on this. If you were a prospective club user or customer or member what would you rather see? A buzzing hive of activity and sociability now, or an empty, poorly heated clubhouse with very little sign of life in the dead of winter?
If your club is struggling, if survival over the coming 5 years isn’t assured, you can’t afford to not be doing this; introducing your club to the wider community and making sure you start the transformation of your club’s fortunes through the softer, people focussed actions, long before you do the easy stuff with trowel and paint brush!
The Manifesto is still available for free here.
A BBC2 program “Lord Sugar Tackles Football”, exposed the failures in the English Football Premiership. In a nutshell the program argued that although the creation of the super league of top clubs had resulted in the generation of vast sums of money for football, the overall result has been to create a mountain of debt and indebtedness.
Lord Sugar’s conclusion was that something had to be done about player salaries to stop the rot and that the Premiership should allow one or two high profile clubs to go under to illustrate the dire nature of the situation to the Saturday afternoon faithful, who, after all, actually supply the vast sums of cash being dished out to the top talent.
What on earth has this got to do with your bowling club?
Well although not directly linked (unless of course a Premiership failure would free up some punters to come along to your club next Saturday!) the action required to start the turn around of the premiership’s fortunes is very much the same as that required to turnaround bowling clubs.
Now I know that there aren’t any bowlers, professional or otherwise earning £20,000 a week, but Read more
Yesterday we looked at one of the biggest barriers to a successful bowling club turnaround: procrastination;
Ok so it’s hard to get yourself motivated and started and ready sometimes, but there comes a time when you really do have to stop “getting ready”. Some people are even now getting ready to…”get ready”.
One of the biggest excuses I hear from bowling clubs is that they must have someone with proper qualifications behind them before they can tackle the turnaround of their “business” properly; and a whole lot of them think they need some guru with an MBA.
Now, the MBA or Master of Business Administration is a very useful degree and a lot of people spend a lot of time and a lot of money getting one and I admire those who do; but you know what? A lot of time and money spent studying what is essentially a very simple subject does not automatically make good business people.
I have created my own MBA program to help club committees get to grips with what they need to know about turning around their bowling club (business) in 10 minutes flat. I have imaginatively called this, (pause for fanfare and drum roll):
The 10 Minute MBA
My 10 Minute MBA is obviously a very short version of the original, but once it’s in your head, its in there forever and you can apply it to any business situation to get straight to what is important.
My 10 Minute MBA is essentially a diagram or a method for structuring your approach to club business and the actions you take within it everyday to make sure you are:
- always sure of what you should be doing and what your club is all about
- confident that you have covered everything you need to do
- certain that you are spending the right amount of money on the right things
- positive that you are reaching your intended audience with the “right” message
- delivering an experience that wows your customers, user groups and/or members
- making money
My 10 Minute MBA helps you to:
- define your club’s future business goals exactly
- tell your members, customers and prospects about your offer in the most effective and efficient manner possible
- Deliver your offering to the market in the smoothest, most profitable and most integrated way
- Develop and retain the very best staff and volunteers who ooze your club’s philosophy from every pore
- Innovate in a way that will leave your competition in a pool of sweat.
Is it expensive? It makes up one section out of 7 in my eBook Bowling Club Survival and Turnaround and at the moment you can pick up your copy for under £20!
How long will it take to learn it? Well there is a clue in the title; if you can’t work it out from there it maybe isn’t for you at this moment.
I do hope you can make the sacrifice in money and time to get your 10 Minute MBA. I promise it will accelerate your club turnaround and cast a whole new light on running your club as a long term successful business.
There has been a lot of speculation of late about the decline in bowling memberships and the subsequent impact on individual clubs and their chances of survival.
Its true that bowling club membership is on a sharp decline and that many clubs will suffer or close as a result of this. After speaking to many clubs across Scotland it is clear that the ones that will survive and prosper will exhibit two very clear qualities:
- They will exceed their members and prospective members expectations for quality.
- They will squeeze every last bit of value from every pound spent by applying strict cost control .
Since the green is the biggest cost centre at any bowling club and of course one of the biggest assets (we think there is a bigger one and you can read about here), without which there would be no club, we talk a lot on this site about getting the greenkeeping right. However there are many other aspects of club management where you can make changes to improve your club’s finances and future prospects.
Club Optimisation is the process of evaluating every aspect of your management processes and making small incremental changes and measuring the results. When a change brings a benefit, try tweaking it again.
Some aspects of your operation you might want to start thinking about are as follows:
Essential supplies like beer, wines and spirits, food, cleaning supplies and stationery can all be re-negotiated or sourced through new suppliers.
Essential services like electricity, telephone and gas can be switched to new suppliers for better deals.
Some less obvious items are collecting email addresses from all members to cut down on postage costs, direct debit subscription payments.
Then there are staffing issues. Its important to look at every wage or payment to ensure firstly that it is absolutely essential and secondly that it represents best value for money. Can jobs be combined to make best use of resources, e.g. bar work and cleaning.
We then come to the question of value to customers. Until now most clubs have had the luxury of not having to try too hard to retain members. It is now very different with many clubs struggling to maintain membership numbers and needing new strategies for sustained club growth and prosperity. This I would suggest requires a “business like” approach to club management, and thinking of members as customers.
This means thinking like a business in all of your management decisions for your club.
By engendering a feeling of belonging and by adding value at every opportunity, you can offer your members something they can’t get anywhere else.
Finding ways to add real value at low cost needn’t be difficult, it just requires a bit of lateral thinking in many cases. For example, some of your members will operate their own businesses, it might be possible to work with them to add special offers to the membership package. This type of arrangement can be very beneficial both to the club and the vendor.