Developing Strategic Partnerships for Your Tennis Club
By: Joey Hanf
You’ve hired a phenomenal staff, built out an all-encompassing program for adults and juniors, and have a stunning facility for members and guests to enjoy. But for some reason, you just can’t fill those courts. Everyone in your club’s circle wonders “how do people not know about this place?”
While some may have the fortune of ideal location, or past reputation, many clubs and facilities still struggle to attract and retain new players. One of the best ways for clubs, large or small, to build a strong community of players and advocates is through local strategic partnerships. Now, that’s certainly a buzzword of modern marketing, so what does it actually mean in the tennis-management world? Simply put, it’s finding people, organizations, businesses and any other key members of your community that can help amplify your brand.
These partners have a loyal audience that you can potentially convert to your courts. It won’t come easily, but if we bring value to the table, there’s almost always a win-win solution in partnerships.
Let’s dive into a few common strategic partnerships that can help take your club to the next level.
In every town, city, or locale, there are a couple local restaurants that are ALWAYS busy. They’ve built up a clientele of locals who keep coming back. Call, email, or just walk in to the restaurant and talk to the manager. The restaurant owner or GM will be there, more often than you might think. There’s a number of ways to partner, but one particularly effective option is to offer to host a pop-up event at either your club or the restaurant. At your club would be ideal, but maybe not as much so for the restaurant. Set up a mini tennis net in the parking lot on a busy Friday or Saturday and get kids and even parents playing. Hand out business cards and create connections. An even better scenario? They cater at your club and you offer a free clinic that all can attend. Who interacts with restaurant customers the most? Waiters and waitresses. A good way to get them selling for you is to invite the whole staff out for a company outing where you offer them a free, fun, tennis mixer!
Local Newspapers and TV Stations
While Social Media allows us to broadcast our message to the masses free of charge, there’s still plenty of value in having traditional media on our side. This one is pretty simple. Identify the paper or station's lifestyle reporter, and invite them out for a tour of your club, a free private lesson if they’ve never played before, or to a well-attended clinic that they can hop in on. Once you make that first impression a memorable one, they will want to come back, and naturally start covering your club. Instead of paying astronomical rates for advertising, get free press that will actually get your club noticed.
Gyms, Fitness Clubs, Recreation Centers
While you might think of them initially as competition, working with businesses that have a similar target audience to you can prove to be very effective. Create a dual gym-tennis membership that has reciprocal benefits at each location. Offer free cardio tennis as a group fitness option, or simply offer discounts on your tennis programs that your partner can pass along to their clients. Again, it’s never a bad idea to have personal trainers out for a free session on your courts to see what’s it all about.
Those are just a few of the strategic partnerships that can make a REAL impact on your club. The same logic applies for any relevant business. Just make sure that you are providing more value than you think you need to, and that your partner has a loyal clientele. It’s a winning combo, and one that will do the “word-of-mouth” work on its own.