What do they REALLY think of your Club

All clubs and leisure centres produce annual accounts showing profit/loss and assets/liabilities showing the historic numbers and most produce budgets forecasting income and expenditure for the coming year.

SMN have for long been advocating that clubs and centres should produce annual Image Tables displaying how the club/centre is perceived within different groups in its community. The way people perceive you is vitally important to your future ability to attract members, supporters and sponsors/funders and thus to your earning potential. So this Image Table is important not just to ‘the marketing guys’ but also to the Treasurer (if you have a negative image amongst important stakeholders you will probably find it much more difficult to attract support and funding).

No, you cannot stick your head in the sand, neither can you rely on asking your friends and cronies what they think because they are not very likely to disagree with you.

Also, by undertaking annual customer surveys you are sending our clear signals that you actually do care about people’s perception of you. And, of course, you can improve on the areas where you image is weakest.

So how you do find out what they REALLY think – It is simple and can be quite exciting

First: Divide your target audience into seven groups
1. Members/season ticket holders
2. Lapsed members/season ticket holders
3. Casual users/supporters
4. Friends/parents
5. Sponsors
6. Opinion formers
7. The community at large
Second: Send letter/email to Group 1 explaining that you are looking for their opinion in order to be able to improve the service the club/centre provides. Include the table and question below
Ask them to rate from 1 to 10
1. Club/centre life
2. Facilities
3. Sound economy
4. Positive atmosphere
5. Good sporting experiences
6. Ambitions are well communicated
7. Open
8. Flexible and willing to change
9. Good managers/volunteers
10. Good coaches
Please describe the most positive and most negative aspects of the centre/club:

Word of warning: Don’t be tempted to add too many more questions. Response rates go down the more time you ask people to spend.

Make sure you mark the questionnaires with the number of the group you are researching. You’ll need that when you analyse the completed questionnaires.
People can stay anonymous if they want. If possible you can give an incentive prize (such as a free drink/club shirt) to be drawn amongst those who complete and return the questionnaire.

Third: Do the same with Group 2

Fourth: Train a few staff/volunteers to interview casual visitors using the same questionnaire. NOTE: Leaving questionnaires for people to complete at their own initiative is a waste.

Fifth: Depending on your database you either send/email the questionnaire to Group 4 members

Sixth: You could also send the questionnaire to lapsed sponsors as well as your current sponsors

Seventh: Group six would include MP, Councillors, the media, community leaders, heads of school, etc.

Eighth: Literally, go down to the High Street (staff/volunteers) and interview a variety of people.

Finally, you now add up the results from the seven different categories and you now have a great tool to help you improve your club.

Tip: Link up with local College/University. They will probably have business students who are looking for ‘live’ projects and could use a project like this.

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