Yesterday I took my friend to the gym. She was terrified! What to me was an everyday occurrence that I enjoyed, became for her a scary experience that took her right out of her comfort zone.
On discussing this further with her she asked me how I would feel attending her tap dancing class? Now for someone with two left feet and a total lack of rhythm I know that I would be shaking in my boots and very reticent to actually walk through the door.
How easy it is for us to forget that our passion is so much a part of our lives that we fail to acknowledge the fear it may conjure in others.
That got me thinking about our clubs and how important it is to create a great first impression to potential new members or parents (who may feel uncomfortable about being in a sporty environment). Whilst potential members to your club probably don’t have the fear of the unknown in terms of the activity itself, they almost certainly will feel some apprehension about meeting new people, finding a new venue, knowing the ropes and fitting in.
When someone contacts your club regarding joining what is the process?
Are you confident that emails and enquiry form enquiries are answered promptly? You can expect a potential member to approach a few clubs for information and are most likely to be attracted to the first one to make contact with them.
I would suggest that firstly a member of the committee speaks to that person over the phone. We are very reliant upon electronic communication but nothing can put your mind at ease more than a conversation where you can ask questions and receive answers.
Invite them to a club event or training session. Be clear about where they should come, who will meet them and what they can expect. I once joined a hockey club in Surrey (I will name no names!) and on arriving at training was promptly ignored by every player and the coach as they came out to the pitch. Not one nodded acknowledgement, gave me a friendly smile or asked “can I help you?” On introducing myself to a couple of players they failed to know who I should speak to. You may ask why I stayed? The one and only reason was that I was mad keen to play hockey, they were the nearest club to my home and work and they played in the league I wanted to play in. But are all your potential members so tenacious?
Make sure the person meeting the new member is fully briefed, a great time keeper and someone you can rely on. Try and give this “meet and greet” role to one of your more outgoing members who can be relied on to chat and listen.
Try and match the ability level of the potential member to the session you put them in. So when discussing joining with them find out a bit of background and the level they have been competing at. Nothing will put someone off more than being put into a session with beginners when they are county standard. Likewise putting a beginner in with your first squad may put them off for life!
Follow up – the great rule of sales. This may be a chat after the session. How did you get on, did you enjoy it, would you like to come back next week? You may want to give them a call a couple of days after the session to see how they are feeling and answer any questions they may still have.
Finally, don’t abandon them after that first session. Appoint a “buddy” to look out for them until such time as they have become established within the club and made their own circle of friends.
Whilst this is all simple advice, following it should help you to convert enquiries to members and ensure you retain those members throughout the season and beyond.