Running a big indoor sports complex comes with big overhead expenses. Add in seasonal cash flow changes throughout year, and business management can get pretty tricky.
So when a three-person team opened Center St. Louis in a shuttered, bank-owned facility with eight volleyball courts, a fitness gym, and a 90-by-135-foot turf field, they knew they had to work hard and work smart.
Now a few years in, here are five things they’ve done to keep profits up.
1. Get Anchor Tenants for Each Space
Center St. Louis has an impressive list of clients who call their space home.
Over time, they’ve landed contracts with a volleyball club, basketball trainers, a roller derby team, a few mixed martial arts organizations, and even a fencing coach — all of whom all of them use the court space.
But they didn’t stop there. Unlike the previous owners, they worked to lease the entire fitness space to a personal training company, and they hired a consultant to help them start a baseball and softball academy in the turf field area.
This diverse set of tenant relationships means Center St. Louis can fill their courts and turf more easily and not rely too much on any one income stream. (Related Post: How to Diversify Your Sports Business)
They also work hard to keep their best clients, giving annual scheduling priority to the tenants who have rented the most space with them in the previous year.
2. Build Great Relationships with Neighbors
As they were opening, The Center St. Louis staff had one-on-one conversations with neighboring businesses and residents to address any concerns about the complex.
Then, they made efforts to FIX the negative impressions left from the previous ownership. They added 150 parking spaces to keep visitors out of neighboring business lots, built a privacy fence to keep visitors from wandering off the property, and began picking up litter after large events.
When you’re a new business trying to establish your brand, these types of details make a difference. A positive name in the community only means more and better business over time.
3. Take the Slow Season Seriously
Space books up months in advance for the winter months. The summer, of course, is a different story. To boost activity in those months, the Center St. Louis staff runs programs such as camps and clinics through the week, and hosts bigger events such as tournaments on the weekends.
However, even with a full weekend event schedule and plenty of summer camps, they know that cash flow will dip during the slow season. To prepare, they save surplus cash from busy months in an interest-yielding money market account, which they use to cover operating costs when they need it later.
This is such a basic idea, but it’s one that I’ve seen other sports facility owners skip over and over again.
You have to prioritize your operating cash to survive. As Brad mentioned, that also means resisting the temptation to sink money into the physical infrastructure right away and waiting to spend it when you truly understand what it’s like to run the facility all year long.
4. Create Multiple Uses for Each Large Space
As I mentioned in my post on baseball facility design, each space in your complex should have multiple uses.
One big change Center St. Louis made in addition to starting their own baseball and softball academy was to add six new batting cages to their turf field. They’re retractable for when the full field needs to be used, and they have added a lot more flexibility and revenue potential to the turf field area.
Their courts area also has some flexibility. In addition to standard volleyball and basketball practices and games, they can also be combined to host bigger events like roller derby games and MMA tournaments.
Center St. Louis uses eSoft Planner to manage the weekly scheduling of their turf, courts, and staff.
The staff uses the software to clock in, clock out, and easily view the complete daily schedule for the entire facility. Because eSoft Planner is web-based and updated in real-time, it also prevents any chance of double booking.
If you’d like to see how eSoft Planner works, click here and fill out the form to request a free demo.
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