Make sure you’re a valued asset at your facility
As a tennis professional, you should determine how valuable you are to your facility, manager, owner or board. As we all attempt to return to what will be a new normal for our sport and our facilities, you need to consider this question: What do I bring to the table that makes me a valuable asset to the club and to management?
Your return to tennis will not be as you left it. Your club’s management will not be returning to business as usual, either. Their priorities may not have you at the top of the list. They have to be concerned with membership, dues, bills, accounting and all the other aspects of the business. There may be food and beverage, swim, fitness, front desk, maintenance and more. Where will you fit into this list of priorities?
Be prepared for this new world. Make a list of all the assets you bring to tennis and to the business. It’s not about how popular you may be, or think you are, with members—it’s about how you can make management’s job easier. How will you be part of the team that will rebuild the new club and new tennis program going forward?
The key here is to be ahead of the curve. Have information ready for management; don't wait to be asked. You want to be seen as a team member who does not require a lot of supervision and maintenance. In getting the facility back in shape, management will have plenty of challenges to deal with, and you don't want to be one of them.
For example, take the initiative and create new protocols for how members will make tennis reservations, or for how the return to league play will be handled. How about group lessons, ball machine use, how to handle loaner racquets (if at all), how many staff members you’ll need as things ramp up? And importantly, how will you adjust budget projections to make this happen?
Think like a boss, anticipate what he or she has to deal with and have answers ready ahead of time. Management needs to see that you are an integral part of the process and extremely valuable.
Also, anticipate questions regarding your own position, such as, will you return with your full salary and benefits? Will your staff be rehired? Will you have enough business for you and your staff? Should you adjust your lesson prices? Then be prepared to sit down with management and let them know what you have in mind to make their jobs easier and how they can count on you as a valuable team player.
When I would return to the club after attending a tennis conference, I would meet with my manager to discuss what I learned and how it can make a difference in our business. How could my new knowledge and insights affect programming, staffing, events and bottom line? I knew management wasn’t into tennis specifically and might wonder what I was doing at these conferences, so taking the time to update them helped to make me a more valuable resource. The same is true now, as we return to tennis from this pandemic.
In the business world, generally those who get promoted have already demonstrated they have the skill set to fulfill that higher position. Most people who keep their positions in time of distress are the ones who have anticipated what needs to be done. They take decision-making away from management, or at least make it much easier for management to make their decisions. These individuals are seen as an important part of the team that can manage by themselves and not require a lot of special attention.
You want to be prepared to be a leader, and you want to be someone your facility can count on as a valuable team player.
Ken DeHart, the director of tennis at Silver Creek Valley Country Club in San Jose, Calif., is a PTR International Master Pro, USPTA Master Pro and USTA High Performance Coach.
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