Episode 51: Attracting New Members (Part 2)

Your Sports Resource

Join Matt in this exciting 2nd part episode of “Attracting New Members”! With insightful strategies and real-life examples, this episode is a must-listen for anyone aiming to boost their membership game. Tune in now to supercharge your growth journey!

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This is the Your Sports Resource podcast where each week you’ll learn actionable strategies that you can implement so the operations of your club support your coaching staff and the direction of your organization. We are committed to excellence in youth sports leadership.


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Hello, and welcome to the Your Sports Resource podcast. I’m Matt Bos, a consultant with Your Sports Resource. And today I’m flying solo for the first time. We’ll see how this goes.


We are going to talk about membership growth and creating a retention and recruitment plan. We covered the retention part pretty heavy in our last episode with Renata and I.


And today I want to recap a little bit about that and then get into a little bit more on the recruitment end. Remember, growing your club, it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight.


There needs to be a lot of focus on planning and a deep understanding of what your club has to offer potential members, who to target, and the best way to reach these people.


So, let’s kind of go back a little bit and go into that retention piece. In case you didn’t, I recommend if you didn’t listen to that first episode go back.


I think it’s just important to touch base again on oftentimes the largest group of potential athletes we have available to come into our club. Could be, hopefully not, but could be the people who are thinking about leaving your club.


And this could be for various reasons, but kind of understanding that can give you some great insight into your organization, what your members want, what maybe they like about it, what they don’t.


But this will give you that insight. But then it also kind of goes to how am I going to recruit new members, right? So, understanding what you’re doing well and not doing well will help you also build your recruitment plan.


So, the first recommendation is to make sure you’re doing a yearly survey. If you are not doing a yearly survey with your current family members, highly suggest that you start doing that.


Another step could be is hey, almost like an exit interview. If you’re leaving our program, surveying those people to kind of see what the reasons may be and those may surprise you, it could be as simple as time commitment or we’ve got some other family things going on.


But understanding that it’s a really good idea to see what’s going on within your current programming and seeing the areas that you can improve upon, hopefully, this helps to boost retention.


But then again we’re looking at then growing, so it’s going to give you that information to be able to use looking forward as well. Another thing, if you’re not doing it, and I don’t think a lot of clubs are, this is going to take some work.


I suggest finding what your retention numbers are from year to year. If you don’t have this kind of go back and kind of look and if you want to start kind of with the current year moving forward, it’s a really good idea, I think, to track those numbers, to understand like,


Hey, are we retaining 85% of our athletes from year to year? Or is it something like, hey, it’s a really low number and something’s going on and we need to kind of look into maybe what’s happening? 


So really good idea to know what your retention is from year to year. So that’s kind of just kind of the quick recap on what we talked about and why retention is important and kind of understanding what that can do for you moving forward.


So, recruiting, what we’re going to talk about is a recruitment strategy. So, understanding what your club has to offer potential members is kind of the key first step when you’re going to create a recruiting plan.


You want to consider what are the needs of the community, the area that you’re pulling people from. Understand what motivates those people within your community to kind of know how you’re going to go about attracting them into your club.


So, over the past few decades, trends are showing that more and more families are looking at different reasons to get their kids active.


So as a competitive club, I’m not saying you should not be focusing on producing competitive athletes and marketing your club as a competitive club, but in terms of growth, there could be opportunities there to consider than previously on potentially what people are wanting.


And this is just a good one example. There’s more and more parents out there looking just to get their kids physically fit rather than potentially focused on heavy competition.


So, there’s a lot more clubs out there now starting to offer more noncompetitive training groups that are focused more on fitness rather than competition. Again, this is kind of just one example. 


So, this is kind of surveying your club, seeing what you can offer, but also just knowing what the community, what the people want within your community. You know, other things that I’ve kind of thrown out with teams or we’ve talked about you know, triathlon training groups.


Triathlons, that’s a huge growing sport within the United States, and I know internationally, water polo is kind of spreading throughout the know from the coasts and kind of coming in.


So, there’s opportunities there. If you don’t have a master’s group and you have adults that are looking for a place that’s another avenue. So, you’re really only limited by your pool space and your available staff.


So, look at what’s available out there. So, here’s kind of a four-step guideline, if you will, to kind of determining how to grow. So, if you’re in a situation where you’re like, hey, we want to grow, here’s kind of some steps to kind of go over.


The first one is focusing on that retention. What does your current membership think of the program? What do they want and I’ve hit this, I think enough right now. Create a great experience is the second thing.


Look at your current programming. Understand if that’s what your members in your community want. The third thing within just is to build that recruitment strategy and then consider what your participation options are.


So, we’ve hit the first two pretty good. Let’s take kind of a deeper dive here into the recruitment strategy part. So, kind of questions to start asking yourself. It’s like, hey, we want to grow, so who are you looking to recruit?


Where are these people currently at? And next thing is, how do I connect with these people? So how am I getting messaging out to them? And then when I get that messaging out to them, kind of ask, what am I inviting these people to do?


So, if you’re kind of canvassing the community and you need to know, you’ve identified who you want to try to bring into your program, then what are you asking them to kind of do? Or what are you inviting them to come in and do?


I think maybe it makes sense to kind of go through an example here because it seems like I’m throwing this out there. Everybody’s going to be a little bit different, right? Because what you’re going to do are identify what works for your club, right?


So, if you’re looking to recruit and is it elementary-age kids, is it high school kids, is it adult athletes, you’ve got to look at your resources and what you’re available as far as pool space and the coaches you have.


So, let’s kind of take you through a quick example here. I’m going to kind of step back here before I do that. One of the other factors I want you to think about is everyone’s going to have a barrier to entry.


So, meaning that there’s going to be something that may scare them off or limit their ability to participate in your club. And that’s also something to think about as you’re kind of starting to build your recruitment strategy.


Maybe it’s cost, time, commitment, a lot of times lack of knowledge with younger kids or families coming in. So that’s something to kind of look at prior to as well. So, you can kind of address that as you’re going through your process.


Okay, quick example. Let’s go through. Say I am a USA Swimming club, a 501(c)(3). I have kind of determined, we’ve sat down and talked, and we need more age group kids in our program.


So younger kids who are just starting out, we’ve got plenty of space, say, for kind of developmental kids to bring in. As far as we’ve got the pool space, we’ve got the coaching staff.


Okay, so I’ve identified who, right? I’m going to target elementary-age boys and girls. So that’s the first step. Step two is how do I reach these kids? So, I am going to look at where are these kids and how do I reach their families.


And it’s pretty easy there to say, okay, let’s go to the local elementary schools, and maybe I’m going to put information in a newsletter or in one of the parent organizations.


Maybe there’s a local swim school where I know there are a lot of kids who are taking lessons, so I can put up flyers there. So, I’ve identified now who and how I’m going to reach those people. Actually, I’ll come back to this in a little bit, too.


If you have something like a local swim school, that’s also an opportunity to create a partnership, and I’ll touch on that after I go through this example. So, I’ve already identified the who, right, and how I’m going to reach them.


So now it’s what am I inviting them kind of to and what information am I giving them. So, we’re going to say this is an introductory group into competitive swimming. Give them some specifics.


Like this group is going to train three days a week for 60 minutes. And the focus is kids building the fundamental swimming skills to prepare them for future in being able to swim in USA swimming competitions.


Maybe try to throw in something else as far as what else they may learn, such as, like, goal setting. They’re going to learn teamwork responsibility that’s going to help them in school and in life.


So, trying to kind of pull them in now, right? As I kind of spoke earlier on the barrier of entry, so understand that something’s going to be there, right? So, if I’m going to the local swim school, these are kids who maybe know how to swim a little bit, but they don’t know a whole lot about competitive swimming.


So now I’ve given them the information. And what I’m specifically going to invite them to is I’m going to send this information out with those specifics, and I’m going to invite them to an informational session at my pool.


They can see maybe some of our current members swimming. They can hear about the club and what our mission, our vision, what we value as a club, and then they can ask questions and hopefully they sign up.


This example, I’ve determined I need to grow. I’ve figured out the best place and how to do it. I’ve figured out who I want, how to reach them. And now I’ve invited them to come in and have an informational session with my club.


When you do that, so you have this informational session, and this works as well for your beginning-of-the-year meetings or say, new swimmer meetings. Have some of your older swimmers that are currently in your team there at the meeting.


They could just be there to hand out paperwork. You know, it could be as simple as that. But families are going to love to see that you have kids in your program and they’re invested in your program in your organization.


So that’s always a good thing. Another could be to invite an Alum of your program or a parent of a former swimmer who’s gone through your program.


These are awesome ways for those families to provide first-hand knowledge of what their experiences were and what these parents can expect and what being part of your team, what impact that had on their kids.


So those are always good steps when you have any types of meetings, especially with new parents.


The partnership thing I want to go back to because I think it’s kind of also important that this is also a step where partnering with local businesses or people within your community that share mutual goals in a mutual mission is a great way to not only send out your message, but it can also create a pipeline of athletes coming into your program.


So, I suggest getting out there, talking to people, seeing what other organizations you can kind of pair with. That is a fantastic way to be able to get your message out and heck, if it can bring more people into your program, that’s fantastic.


So now, you know, admittedly, I’m not great at this. I think the next thing I want to talk about is social media. We all know how powerful social media can be. Personally, like I said, I don’t like it, I’m not great at it, but I do know how well it works.


And with your social media as far as recruiting goes, tailor your message to make the biggest impact.


If you have registrations coming up, then make sure your messaging is very specific about the event, what’s going to happen there, get your friends, your contacts, your families, get those people to share that message.


You know you’re going to be surprised with how many people within your current membership, how much impact they have with other families, and who’s seeing their stuff.


Your Alums here too, get former people of your programs or sending this stuff out. And one of the things I think you can really use there as far as the recruitment part goes is have Alums of your program do video testimonials.


These are organic, they’re super effective. People really love seeing that kind of stuff. Then you have stuff as far as target marketing like you’re on Facebook.


You can target specific audiences, know the groups within your community to kind of get those messages out. So be savvy with your social media. Get it out there. Make sure that your messaging is spot on with what you’re trying to do.


Remember, you’re only limited here by really your pool space and your coaching staff and then your imagination. So, find what works for your program to grow. If that’s what you need to do, there’s going to be different avenues to do it.


Just look at your current offerings, look at what you think people may want and then you got to go out and find these people you’re trying to create a great experience for people.


And the more you get involved with your community, the more kids you reach, obviously, the better it is for your organization, but the better it is for all the people around you.


Yeah. So, this has been fun. Thanks for joining me today in our kind of two parts on retention and recruiting. I look forward to next time. If you need more information, you can find us on the web at yoursportsresource.com or you can write us at info@yoursportsresource.com and we’ll look forward to next time.