A few weeks ago, Harford Sports Performance Center in Maryland was buried in more than three feet of snow.
Owner Danny Taylor had to close the facility’s doors from Friday through Monday – typically some of his busiest days – until they were shoveled out.
Harford Sports was back open mid-week, but the local schools were still closed. That’s when Danny got a call from a parent asking to rent the indoor field for some stir-crazy lacrosse players. Danny didn’t typically rent his whole field to individuals, but there was nothing scheduled there because kids were typically in school at that time. He invited them in.
When he and Harford Sports’ Event Planner Bobby Ruse found themselves looking at almost 30 kids playing on their field during a time it was normally empty, they exchanged a look. They knew they were onto something.
Bobby came up with a plan: They would charge $20 a head for full access to the facility for four hours. They created an email and sent it to their client list, hoping a few dozen kids would show up the next day.
When Danny showed up to open the facility in the morning, there was already a line of people waiting at the door, and more were coming. Danny frantically texted the rest of his staff to come in, and it’s a good thing he did: More than 100 kids showed up that day, bringing in more than $2,000.
The Harford Sports staff ended up splitting up their indoor turf field several ways throughout the day for various sports and games, including kickball, dodgeball, flag football, capture the flag and relay races. Their batting cages were also full of baseball, softball and lacrosse players (they set one up with a lacrosse goal).
The event was so successful that as soon as they confirmed that schools were still closed, they decided to do again it the next day. They even came up with an official name for the event: Organized Kaos. (Danny got the idea for the name when one parent commented that that’s what it looked like. He designed a logo for the event and changed the spelling of the name “chaos” to create a unique brand.) The next day, even more kids showed up: 125. Danny scheduled another Organized Kaos event for Presidents Day – and more than 75 kids were already registered for it weeks ahead of time.
Danny estimates that his facility would have made $10K in revenue over the four days he had to close his doors due to the blizzard, but Organized Kaos went a long way to helping him recover. His facility recovered as much revenue in 8 hours of Organized Kaos as he had expected to bring in over two entire regular weekend days. Even better, the Organized Kaos event will now be a regular source of income and will relieve the stress of future weather-related losses.
Here’s what we can learn for our own facilities from this success story.
Anticipate Customers’ Needs. When Danny and his staff got a few calls from parents with bored and restless kids, he could have handled them individually and moved on with the other work he had to do. But he was able to step back and think about the big picture, which allowed him to recognize a big opportunity.
Stay Flexible. When he realized there was a chance to serve his clients and recover some losses from the blizzard, Danny didn’t hesitate to schedule the event for the very next day. Even though most events require weeks of planning to be successful, and even though he and his staff may have already had other plans, he was willing to adapt on short notice.
Take Advantage of New Events for Marketing. Danny collected contact info from all the Organized Kaos participants so he could let them know about other upcoming events. He also let older participants have free demos of strength and conditioning classes, and got a few sign-ups for the program as a result.
Have a Good Email System and Updated Client Database. Harford Sports’ email system and up-to-date client list made it possible for Danny to reach all of his contacts quickly. He also used a great subject line to get his clients’ attention: “Schools are Closed.”
Harford Sports has been using eSoft Planner, the scheduling software my company built for sports facilities, since 2010. He even told me it’s the “number one reason” his business has succeeded, which of course I love to hear.
Here’s a direct quote:
“This event, and events like this are made possible by our eSoft Planner system. With more than 4,000 clients in that database, we are able to reach a HUGE audience with one click of a button.”
Danny’s team also does really well with email marketing and social media, but the client management component of a professional scheduling software like eSoft Planner is essential for any academy’s sales and marketing. If you want to learn more about eSoft Planner, click here and fill out the form to check out a free demo.