Jason Schofield was just 24 when he took over the management of Bobby Valentine’s Baseball Academy in Stamford, Connecticut.
He had been an aspiring pro player until an injury cut his career short, and was excited to put his degree in the psychology of business management to use in the field he loved the most.
However, as anyone who has managed a facility can tell you, there was a steep learning curve.
“The first year was a mess. I had all these big ideas about how to improve the academy, but no idea how to execute,” he told me.
He describes many of those struggles in his informative LinkedIn posts. However, of all the issues he faced, marketing was one of the most difficult and persistent.
Sports Academy Marketing: A Common Struggle
Like many sports academy owners, especially at the beginning, Jason was focused on providing great services and assumed they would sell themselves. After all, Bobby Valentine had a stellar reputation locally, and the academy had a great staff and service.
But he soon learned what an expensive mistake it was to neglect sales and marketing: He estimates a 180K loss in potential revenue over those first 18 months.
Once he did start investing in marketing, Jason struggled to find which avenues would actually return his investment. As a small business, he had to make his marketing budget really count. That’s when Jason and his staff came up with a creative workaround: They partnered with other facilities in the area to run ads that listed many local facilities – sort of like a directory – and split the cost. That way, they all got affordable visibility.
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Over the following years, Jason lead the academy back to profitability. Then, he started helping other facilities do the same as a consultant.
However, as Jason helped more and more sports businesses, he noticed the same thing I’ve noticed myself: Most sports facility failures were caused by a lack of business acumen, specifically the same lack of sales and marketing efforts that Jason had struggled with himself.
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He kept seeing great coaches open on their own with a stable of solid relationships only to quit or get another gig months later.
“Even guys who seemed to have really busy academies would have trouble paying rent because of a lack of business management experience,” Jason explains.
The Birth of a Solution
Jason never forgot his success with shared marketing, and he began to envision a company that would solve sports facilities’ marketing struggles. He imagined a business listing web site for sports facilities and academies similar to OpenTable or even Yelp. The site would make it easy for sports academies to get visibility, and easy for them to track their return on investment.
Those ideas finally led Jason to found Sports Locate in 2014, followed by the site in 2015. Sports facilities can list themselves on SportsLocate.com for free and even post and sell special deals on the site, which gets a 20% commission on deals sales.
Businesses in the Stamford area can also opt to pay for help with email and social media marketing from Jason and his team.
Why These Tactics Work
I’ve been impressed with Jason’s success so far. He’s already been able to hire several employees, and the company is in the middle of another expansion now.
His clients have successfully sold many services through the site that they wouldn’t have without the extra exposure, and his consulting clients see an average 10% boost in sales after signing on with him.
I think they see such a big return on investment because Jason and his staff understand how sports academies run, are passionate about the industry, and focus on leveraging some of the most cost-effective marketing tactics available.
If you aren’t in the Stamford area and can’t take advantage of Sports Locate’s consulting services yet, you can still learn from Jason’s experiences. Prioritize sales and marketing for your business, and make sure you have someone on staff who is dedicated to leveraging social media and email marketing for you.
And remember to list your facility for free on SportsLocate.com. Every extra inbound link to your facility can help your web site’s search engine visibility.