Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Local Field Formed Club

Wow, the doubling-down has already begun. On the upside this post is gonna be short and to the point. In 'Paintball Clubs cont.' I apparently was unclear on a couple of things. (Or y'all failed to grok the obvious.) Either way I'ma help you out.
The principle objections are practically polar opposites. At one end there's the objection that the field formed club is throwing good money at bad or at least foolishly expending resources on a minority of potential customers. The other objection was that the field formed club isn't really a club, it's a gimmick. If I didn't know better I'd say the real problem was reading comprehension. But I digress.
Could a local field offer some or all of the suggested features without calling it a club? Sure but there's nothing disingenuous or gimmicky about packaging everything as part of a club. The focus of the field operated club is delivering a better playing experience thru education and training. Sounds like a club to me.
Nor does it need to be exclusive. If some regulars or recent players would like to attend a basic maintenance class put a price on it for those not in the club. You reinforce the value of club membership and provide extra service for anyone who wants it.
Which brings us to the idea that this club thing must be a big budget boondoggle. It's really very simple. Your typical smallish field has an owner or two, perhaps a manager and some part time refs. If the field has a proshop odds are the owner or manager have participated in some tech classes. Probably played a little tourney or scenario paintball and certainly knows more about playing the game than the peeps just being introduced into the game. Are we there yet? Not quite. But the small field operation also isn't spending money on any of this. It's adding value to the customer experience. Maybe charging a few bucks on top of the field fee or scheduling the classes at times or on days where they're trying to expand the business. It may not even be thinking club at this point but the rudiments are in place and the idea of providing services to your customers can easily grow--along with the field. Maybe it never grows into a "club" but that isn't eh point. At the same time a bigger operation might start bigger, might begin with the club concept fully formed (T-shirts and everything!) but it doesn't necessarily follow that it's gonna cost the field a lot.

Next time, the team-based club.


Kevin Hampton said...

I haven't chimed in on the other club posts, but the club concept is a great idea for sport growth and more importantly in the business sense. What you really are explaining is what most large companies call inside sales, marketing, and/or account management. Thinking business logic, it's easier to expand a current customer than it is to bring in new ones. So it actually confuses me more that I haven't seen some 'club' model over my 10+ years of paintball.

There is no denying that fields profit most from rec ballers and rightfully so, they should cater to them. However, as you have astutely pointed out, most fields are missing a huge opportunity by not designing a program (or club in this case) that can help bridge the gap from first time birthday party players to full tournament/scenario players.

There would be up front investments in planning and training, but fields really wouldn't need to hire sales agents. Field refs could easily promote the brand after leadership crafts the messaging. You could even give the refs commission for each membership purchased. Implementation to a steady state may require a program manager though. The best thing is that you are building a base for more consistent business and eroding what may have been large seasonality swings.

For more established fields, this could be an easy ROI argument to make. However, implementing such a program would involve a lot of effort, time, upfront investments and the willingness to take a risk for 3-5 years while the club model is adjusted to achieve the best results.

TJ said...

Where is the incentive to put in additional effort for customers that you make the least amount of money from and have the lower turn out, compared to the rec crowd?

Yes, you can grow your business by doing this but why put all the effort into speedball when you can make 2x as much money on a player that plays recball and is a hell of a lot easier to satisfy?

Baca Loco said...

Still, TJ? Where, in any of the club posts did I suggest the aim was to get players playing speedball or into tourney play?
When I first started playing with my son we knoew zip, zero, nada, nothing about playing or the equipment other than it sounded like fun. And if my son hadn't been determined to play the pitfalls of poor equipment and ignorance could have easily turned me off continuing.
Does helping a a kid learn the fundamentals of basketball mean your motive is to make him into an NBA star or simply provide the tools to enjoy playing whatever version of the game they want to all the more?

Kevin Hampton said...

TJ - The goal in my post was to build a repeat customer base. My point is that most fields only manage the recreational players as one-day customers with hopes that they are interested enough to come back based on experience alone. The question is, how do you best bridge the gap from recreational player to a consistent player, regardless if they are interested in tournaments or not?

Baca's argument is that a Club model could do that, and despite the planning and effort in designing a program and club benefits, I think the model has return on investment (ROI) potential for fields.

TJ said...

Is tournament / speedball paintball not the scope of this blog? I made an assumption - so shoot me.