How to rejuvenate your club

The eight Rs which will help grow your club – introducing 8xR

Rejuvenate, Recruitment, Retention, Renewals, Relationships, Resources, Research, Revenue

Step One – How to rejuvenate your club

1. to make young again; restore to youthful vigour, appearance, etc.: That vacation has certainly rejuvenated him.
2. to restore to a former state; make fresh or new again

Many community sports clubs and leisure centres have to confront a tough reality. The world has changed and many consumers are seeking sporting, leisure and social experiences that are markedly different from they have been offered until now.
For many people the commitment to train twice a week, week in week out, and then playing almost every weekend simply is not an option in world where 25% of us work unsocial hours, many have a somewhat complicated family life and disposable income is at best static.

It also has to be said that many (too many?) traditional sports providers blame external factors for their decline in membership and user numbers and find it difficult to accept that their attitude and behaviour has anything to do with the decline of their club or centre.

At the same time we are experiencing the growth of informal, community and commercial providers who are simply listening to people’s lives, providing a service and experience that really want and they are off!
The problem is complacency.
We have all seen it, yet we underestimate its power and how widespread it is. Highly destructive complacency is in fact all around us, including in places where people would vehemently deny its existence.
Complacent people are mostly content with the status quo. “Yes, the numbers are down but that is down to X-Factor, the Government, funding cuts or the Internet. Nothing to do with what we do, and don’t do here.”

There is certainly not a lot we can do, the Complacent agree amongst themselves. In the meantime everything around them is sliding downwards. Classes are closed, teams are disbanded, events are cancelled and the cash reserves are dwindling – but as you will notice in the definition above this is about feeling and self satisfaction. Complacency is very much a feeling that a person has about his or her own behaviour, about what he or she needs to do or not to do.

The Complacent never think they are complacent. “We are doing what is right – so why consider new opportunities or be concerned about hazards – we know what has worked in the past. If only others would change, all would be well.” And so the vicious spiral of complacency continues. “Crisis? What crisis?”

The way forward is to Rejuvenate and introduce a new culture, thinking and behaviour, keep the fire burning and fight complacency. Here are some tools:

1. Start somewhere. If you create a load of crap for a few pages, whether it’s creative writing in Word or sheet music, the brain loosens up and it’s easier to break through the barrier and come up with ideas
2. Do something new. Play chess. Read a book if you watch television and watch television if you read. Go outside. Sing in the shower
3. Meet new people from different walks of life. Gain insight into their perspectives on life. Strike up a conversation on the bus
4. Invite new people to your club/centre and ask them what they think, warts and all. Then act
5. Have conversations and listen and act. Now
6. Keep going. Initially some people within your club may be ridiculing or even back-stabbing you over the fire in your belly. Just keep going, increasingly people will be supporting you and you’ll gain momentum and reach tipping point
7. Remove obstacles to change. That friend who calls to complain about their life can wait until you can afford to get stressed about their problems.
8. Look at your club through the eyes of a never-been, a newcomer and lapsed member. What do you see?
9. Stop procrastinating. Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy
10. Stop believing that ‘it can’t be done.’ As Henry Ford (he of Ford T fame) commented: “When people say they can’t or they can, they are normally right.” Do the things you can do and gradually you’ll start having small successes and other likeminded people will want to join you in your quest.
11. Send people out. Visit outstanding clubs, leisure centres, community sports enterprises or even great hotels, leisure parks or community centres and learn from them. Attend one of SMN’s workshops (or talk to us about running one in your area) and keep learning and implementing new ideas.
12. Do not accept the limited what I/we know here (which leads to the way we do things around here) – that will be your downfall
13. Learn from your failures and successes – then your hit rate improves. Be honest with yourself and your colleagues as to why new initiatives work and don’t work. Gradually you will increase your knowledge and understanding and become more successful – which is great. But you have to set some ships into the sea, that’s what ships are for – not to sit safe in the harbour
14. Enjoy the challenge – try to have fun while you are moving forward; otherwise you are too easily de-motivated and thrown off course, when the sea becomes a bit choppy. I know – easier said than done, but that’s where continuous progress, however small and slow, becomes so important
15. Be patient and persistent – Rome wasn’t built in one day and this won’t happen by itself

Trust me – it’s fun to rejuvenate. But like many a journey the destination isn’t reached in one single step. But that’s where it must begin. Next week: How to recruit new members

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