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Survival of the Fittest

Delivering excellence and applying strict financial control will be key to the survival hopes of many clubs
Delivering excellence and applying strict financial control will be key to the survival hopes of many clubs

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:

  1. They will exceed their members and prospective members expectations for quality.
  2. 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.

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