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Business & sales strategies in a new normal

Oleg Mironchikov | September 21, 2020

As we move deeper into the fall season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, there is still a lot of uncertainly about how to proceed with daily life. Kids—and parents—are adjusting to hybrid schooling. People have lost their jobs, and others are still working from home. Many businesses are still in survival mode.

 

It’s tempting in times like these to act on emotion. Business decisions, however, should never be emotion-driven. You need to rely on concrete data—and above all, don’t panic. 

Every tennis business is unique and needs to follow a business model best suited to its clientele. Facilities and academies that are heavy on adult league players, for example, structure and market programs much differently from full-service facilities that attract various age groups and levels of players. Seasonal facilities like country clubs may have a different approach altogether.

 

For tennis providers who cater to juniors, closely monitor the local school schedules—it may give you an idea of what to expect this season and as the school year progresses. Many schools are implementing a hybrid program that may create opportunities for kids to take private and group classes during the day. 

 

Some families may consider keeping their kids home altogether, and they may be interested in tennis and racquet/paddle programs that they can do at home. Safety should be the No. 1 priority for any good parent, but kids also need to stay active, socialize and engage in activities and sports. So be prepared to have a general plan ready for this type of crowd with suggested schedules, pricing and other relevant details, then you’ll want to customize each package to the needs of each individual player. Anytime there is a chance to form a group with kids of similar ages and levels of play, go for it—properly and safely distanced, of course. And make sure you promote your programs through email campaigns and social media blasts. 

 

Another smart decision is to limit capacity in certain group classes like 10&U programs. Make sure all parents are comfortable with your plans beforehand. If a parent sees something that they don’t like, the backlash could be huge for you and devastating for your programs. Always err on the side of greater safety for all, especially kids.

 

It may be best to cap red and orange ball clinics at four players. This, of course will probably lead to increasing prices, but parents who are willing to take their kids to tennis will probably understand and accept this new normal. They would rather pay a little extra and receive a certain comfort knowing that their children are at low risk, while getting more detailed attention from the coaching staff. 

 

Another big area to address is the overall daily schedule of your facility. Most facilities with a strong junior clientele have found that it’s most lucrative to have the 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. hours for junior programs. But this year might mean some modifications to that. You need to try to judge your demand when considering releasing courts that were originally reserved for group classes that may now be going unfilled.

 

Holding onto empty courts too long, of course, is not ideal. I suggest giving it a month into the indoor season for groups to fill up. Any court that has not been used for groups after that point can be offered for private coaching. To make up for lost revenue, you may need to increase prices by 15 to 20 percent for these prime-time spots. At many facilities, there is always a demand for private lessons in late afternoons.

 

Above all, be flexible and provide extensions to clients who were unable to get all the lessons in during the last few months. The last thing people want is to feel pressured or penalized for something out of their control. Consider offering the outstanding lessons/clinics on account as makeups, but never use them to prorate the next session’s enrollment. You don’t want it to affect your bottom line. 

 

Exceptional customer service will go a long way with your followers and solidify your position in the marketplace. 

 

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Oleg Mironchikov is the Assistant Director of Operations at Tennis Innovators Academy in White Plains, N.Y.

 

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