This week the Tennis Foundation, in partnership with Raise The Bar, launched their new Business of Tennis programme. The course is aimed at managers and staff from indoor tennis centres to help them develop their tennis offer and to grow their business. I was delighted to be involved in helping put the course together with a team of colleagues from across the country.
The Business of Tennis programme will support current tennis managers and facility managers or those looking to apply for such a role in the future. The course will challenge all indoor tennis centres to look at their current offer and to see how they can grow participation and make their business more sustainable. This is certainly what we have been doing at Liverpool Tennis Centre over the past two years and I enjoyed sharing our learnings and experiences when helping shape the content of the course.
The ‘Business of Tennis’ is an interesting title for the course as it makes you realise that’s exactly what tennis is. In the current economic climate and with so many choices available for people’s leisure time, if you are running a tennis facility of any size, you are running a business, not just a tennis venue. If small outdoor clubs or large indoor centres are going to survive, then they need to run like a business. This is sometimes very difficult for volunteers who may have limited time or knowledge but all decisions in any tennis venue need to made thinking about what is best for business and this is sometimes not always what is the best tennis decision. We have these conversations all the time in Liverpool about what we need to do, as opposed to what we would like to do.
All community indoor tennis centres, of which there are 53 across Great Britain, are facing uncertain futures with increased running costs and the challenges that come from cuts in government funding. This is the battle we continue to fight in Liverpool and the Business of Tennis course helps venues think about how to do the best they can with the resources available to them with a focus on areas such as communication, teamwork, leadership and customer service.
Are we offering the best customer service that we can? How easy is it for people to find out about our facilities and programmes? Do we offer the right activities for our customers? Do we have the right people in place to be successful? Do the sessions we run fit with the needs of our business? These are some of the questions we ask ourselves all the time in Liverpool and we need to make sure that we continue to do so as we grow but also secure the long-term future of our facility. I don’t think we are the only tennis venue asking these questions.
I am delighted to have been involved in the building of the Business of Tennis programme and it was great to hear how much the first group of people enjoyed the course this week at the National Tennis Centre in London. I certainly couldn’t recommend it more highly and I would urge any colleagues from other venues to take advantage of the course over the coming months. The true success of the course will be the impact it has on the future performance of the venues involved.