Worried that I had forgotten all about paintball clubs? Or afraid that I hadn't and that this day--and post (with others to follow)--was soon coming? If it's any consolation I almost wish I had forgotten or become bored with the idea and moved along. Mostly because I'm still not exactly sure how to proceed. What I am sure of is that the potential of the paintball club is bigger than the boxes we are so far trying to limit ourselves to. For example, I write "paintball club" and our Euro friends automatically envision a European style club structure from the grassroots to the international federation. Which is fine--but not really what I had in mind. (Although if it works and a particular area, region, country whatever is receptive to that particular idea then I'm all for it.) Nor am I in favor of replacing the local tourney scene with club competitions. Among other reasons I don't see enough clubs forming, but ...
Hang on. Did you miss the first post--and especially the comments that followed? If you did it would be worth your while, assuming this topic interests you at all, to go back and catch up. Go here. (I'll wait.)
Up to speed? Cool. Let's continue. The paintball club concept I want to focus on today is an adjunct to an existing paintball field. This paintball club is something the field owners and staff organize and offer to their regular customers and as a different way to attract new (regular) customers. Okay, so what does the club do? Anything and everything you want it to.
What are the impediments to enjoying playing paintball as a newbie? No friends playing with you maybe? Lack of experience, don't really know what you're doing. Gun doesn't work all of a sudden. Nervous? Timid? The club can deal with all those. Join the club and get free access to special monthly classes. What should be in your gear bag and why? Routine maintenance. Playing paintball--in the woods--on the speedball field. Intro to tournament paintball. Beginning skills. Intermediate and advanced play. This Saturday is the routine maintenance class and then you can play the rest of the day.
Perhaps restricted games and reserved field and play times for club members. Want to open the facilities weekdays or evenings but don't know what to expect or how to get people thinking in terms of playing some paintball during the week? Try it out by offering some club only activities first on a trial basis. The club can be as simple as a positive proactive way to assure that as many of your customers have a good time as possible and want to come back to your field again and again. But there's no reason the club can't include teams & competition too.
Couldn't all these ideas be incorporated into the services the field offers without calling it a paintball club? Well, if you're hung up on the club being a specific thing then sure, why not. What this club does do is provide a unique place to be a part of. How many times do you see a couple of kids show up at a field because they had a good time at a birthday party event but on their own are isolated and lost? And what sort of follow-up does the local field make, if any, to get that first timer or party participant to come back again? To feel welcome and like somebody made a special effort on their behalf? The club provides not only a place to fit in but also guidance, structure and a controlled environment to learn and play in.
Maybe, you're thinking, but I ain't doing all that for free. Of course not--you're doing it to grow your business but nobody really appreciates anything that's simply given to them. Joining the club is an option not a requirement but it needs to be an attractive option (keeping in mind one of the goals is to keep that customer coming back.) Offer basic memberships on a trial, bi-annual or annual fee basis. Have a ready calendar to show class schedules, club play days etc. Kick in a "free" T-shirt (like the 'Property of ' assorted sports teams) that prominently displays your field, location, contacts and featured relationships you may have with various distributors. Maybe you kick in free air too or maybe you have levels of membership that offer different perks like discounted entries or discounts on pro shop purchases or airsmithing services. (The kinds of things that get players coming back to your field, not just playing more paintball somewhere.) Whatever and however you do it the club needs to be special and make your customers feel special. And of course add to their enjoyment every time they come out to play some paintball.
There's a nearly limitless number of possibilities available to encourage people to play paintball and get as involved as they want to be in the way they want to whether you call it a club or not. Is it right for your field? Start small, keep it simple and find out.
Next time, paintball club and local field working together.