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Club Turnaround- out of sight out of mind

Summertime and the Living is Easy

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.

Premiership Thinking for a Successful Bowls Club

We can learn a lot from the Premiership’s problems

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

Bowls Club Survival-are you ready yet?

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:

  1. always sure of what you should be doing and what your club is all about
  2. confident that you have covered everything you need to do
  3. certain that you are spending the right amount of money on the right things
  4. positive that you are reaching your intended audience with the “right” message
  5. delivering an experience that wows your customers, user groups and/or members
  6. making money

My 10 Minute MBA helps you to:

  1. define your club’s future business goals exactly
  2. tell your members, customers and prospects about your offer in the most effective and efficient manner possible
  3. Deliver your offering to the market in the smoothest, most profitable and most integrated way
  4. Develop and retain the very best staff and volunteers who ooze your club’s philosophy from every pore
  5. 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.

Your Club Needs You!

Strong leaders emerge in times of greatest need.

I had an interesting conversation with a bowling club official last night that focussed mainly, not on the green for a change, but the club turnaround process that she hopes to take her club through starting soon.  Yesterdays post of course, emphasised the urgency of getting started on any project of this nature in the middle of the bowling season; so it was quite fortuitous that this was fresh in my mind, because she asked me a direct question which went some thing like this:

“John. If you were to lead the turnaround of my club, what would you do first and then how would the project pan out after that?”

She was looking for a step by step plan of course that she could apply to her situation.

My answer was emphatic, clear…and mercenary:

Step 1: buy my eBook: Bowling Club Survival and Turnaround; its under a tenner if you are a member of the Bowls Club Mastermind Network and it spells out in 7 easy steps what to do and exactly how to do it.

I was then slightly embarrassed when she said she already had the eBook and that she had read it cover to cover, several times and had made copious notes and was absolutely 100% convinced that it contained the answer to her club’s problems.

The trouble is that she is still having trouble getting what she called “buy in” from the rest of the committee of the club.

“They just can’t accept that decades of slippage, accompanied by the most unpredictable recession in a century, the smoking ban, the cost of living, the general reduction in interest in bowling etc etc could possibly be turned around, let alone by some eBook or other!”

BINGO! I said, that’s it! They are absolutely correct; it can’t be!

Confused looks ensued!

You see my eBook is a series of thoughts, of ideas, of recommendations of which I am convinced, but an eBook alone cannot possibly help your club to get out of its current mess and secure a bright future.

So Step 3 is to implement what you have read in the eBook and that means ACTION!

Step 2 by the way, in case you are wondering, is NOT to tell anyone that you have a new eBook by some geezer on the internet that is going to work miracles for the club!

And that is because it is the enthusiasm of a leader like you; a leader who steps up in a time of crisis, a leader armed with the correct plan and convinced that success is only a bit of blood, sweat and tears away that turns clubs around.

Bowling Club Survival and Turnaround is only the blueprint; it needs an inspired leader to drive home the value of its contents.

There is one such leader tucked away in every club I have ever visited!

From the mouths of babes…the 5 whys (?)

Anyone who has young children or grand children will know the delight and discomfort of the 5 whys. 4 year olds have a knack of getting to the truth quickly, simply by repeatedly asking “why?”

Lets try it:

Why1. Why is our once thriving club struggling financially?

Ans. Because we are losing members.

Why2. Why are we losing members?

Ans. Because fewer people are taking up the game.

Why3. Why are fewer people taking up the game?

Ans. Because it has an image problem

Why4. Why does it have an image problem?

Ans. Because we insist on enforcing traditions from another era on the game.

Why5. Why do we insist on this?

Ans. Because we are nostalgic for the old days.

That sounds nice, so why (sorry that’s 6 whys!) is that a problem?

Nostalgia is the biggest known killer of innovation!

Growing Bowls Club Membership

Now that most of the autumn renovation work is completed on the green and the winter green maintenance program is well underway I want to take a week away from agronomic issues and focus more clearly on how your club is doing. Of course if there are any pressing, green related issues, we can continue to discuss these through the usual channels.

So over the course of the next few days I will publish a series of articles on Bowling Club Membership Retention and Growth. These will look at the following subject areas:

  1. The Importance of Member Loyalty (today)
  2. Where are you with Member Loyalty?
  3. Understanding your Target Audience and their needs.
  4. Fulfilling audience expectations
  5. Delivering exceptional service to your members.
  6. Perpetuating your club’s vision through training.

These articles are extracts from my forthcoming eBook, titled as you might have guessed Bowling Club Membership Retention and Growth, which will be available here from 14th November 2011 onwards.  This builds upon the concepts of the “customer” or club “user” as discussed in Bowling Club Survival and Turnaround.

So to start off the week I want to take a brief look at Member Loyalty. I hope you enjoy these articles and get some positive outcomes for your club from them.

Member Loyalty

Customer loyalty is the single most important element to retain within any business relationship and readers of Bowling Club Survival and Turnaround will know that the single most effective strategy for any bowling club that’s serious about survival is to start thinking and behaving a lot more like a business.

So, as in any other business your bowling club will derive a lot of positive benefit from a well established and loyal member base.

In business and increasingly in bowling clubs, large proportions of the available budget (or other resources) are allocated to Read more

What does our bowls club look like Now?

Having a clear picture of your club’s current standing is essential before you can even start to thnk about the future.

Without this picture of the situation as it is Now, you can’t possibly decide where you are going in the future.

The winter months are a good time to be gathering this information, deciding on a vision for the future and developing plans for getting there.

When writing this up, think in terms of of finance, popularity, future costs and income, offers in the pipeline, projects coming up, green condition and maintenance requirements, clubhouse fabric condition and maintenance and upgrading requirements, rentals, rates, subscriptions, insurances, advertising and marketing, event hosting and event planning and membership growth and retention.

Once you have this snapshot its easy to move on to planning the future. Tomorrow we will look at that more closely.

Get the eBook here

Racing to the Bottom

Don't join the race to the bottom at your club

This morning I had to take my old jeep for its MOT.

We live in the countryside in upland Perthshire and it’s about a 10 mile drive to the garage in the nearest town, which in its heyday was a thriving market town and more recently a busy tourist destination.

Incidentally the town had two bowling clubs until recently, but sadly the public, council operated green has now closed.

This is in keeping with the town’s fortunes generally.

The arrangement was for my wife to pick me up from the garage, but somehow we got our wires crossed and I was left with enough time to have a coffee from the local shop and a leisurely walk through the town.

Its funny but when you’re driving you don’t see the finer details or get a feel for what’s really going on in a place.

The site I saw was quite a sorry one; I counted Read more

How are we going to get there?

The last two articles have looked at the Now and the Where of planning for the future.

Now that we have created a vision for the club, How will we reach our goals?

This is where you need a plan and as detailed in Bowling Club Survival and turnaround and fleshed out further in Bowling Club Membership, retention and growth I advise clubs to adopt the One Page Planning model.

This makes sure that every project required to achieve your vision of the future for your club is broken down into appropriately sized actions and that these are achievable, time-bound and identify who is responsible for their completion.

This is the fastest and surest way to success for your club.

To get started on your vision for the future download my Manifesto for a Thriving Bowling Club TODAY!.

The Future of Lawn Bowls

Bowling Club Survival and TurnaroundThe future of the game of bowls as we know it has never been in a more precarious position; whether there are too many clubs or too few bowlers is immaterial and we need to avoid being sidetracked by these issues.

Instead, we should be looking at the long term future of the game and decide now what needs to be done to secure that future.

We also have to be brave and avoid being too nostalgic for the golden years gone by; the future will probably look a lot different from the past.

In my eBook Bowling Club Survival and Turnaround I lay out a detailed formula to help any bowling club turn around its fortunes.

You can find out more about this eBook here.