By Ed Shanaphy, Director of Tennis
Every March, after I have selected my team for the upcoming summer, I send out an email asking new staff for sizes. This year, with three new professionals joining a team of nine, I have a bit more to order.
I usually order two sets of whites for new staff members and senior team members, and a single pair of whites for returning staff. Oh, and my own… I seem to get the dredges of the box! I say to myself, each year, that I won’t allow that to happen, but one short doesn’t fit or the style doesn’t match the top. You know how it goes. Clothing is never perfect.
But, I do think that staff clothing is important. It creates a sense of belonging to something for your staff members. It creates a team spirit, which each staff member will need to fall back on at some point during the summer. A team spirit, or sense of belonging to a group, will help pull each member and the group as a whole through a summer of hardship.
The summer season at a busy club is a grind. We in the industry actually use that term frequently to describe the three months between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It’s just 12 weeks, but it seems an eternity without much time off, if a day at all, in reality. Staff can’t socialize with membership while “concierging” those same people, and seasonal professionals may feel isolated in a remote part of New England or Michigan without a friend or family. And at some point, maybe under the heat and humidity of a midday sun each staff member is going to ask him or herself: “Is this worth it?” For only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
I think the most coveted part of my tennis wardrobe are my old, beat-up caps from previous positions. Those baseball caps from the early 90s when I taught in Greenwich, CT still adorn my closet’s top shelf. They bring back fond memories of summers in the sun and collegiate years when the world seemed enormous and less stressful.
Depending on terms with suppliers, it’s not a bad idea to offer racquets, accessories, and especially shoes, either free or below cost to your staff members. They appreciate the financial help, but even more, they will truly appreciate the thought. I know I appreciated it when I was a Head Pro and Adult Director. I had new “feet” for a week and it felt like I was walking on air. Just 5 or 6 days through a busy summer can really bolster confidence and energy in a professional.
Yes, there is a cost to staff clothing. You can work with your club or facility to share the cost. Many clubs assume the cost in entirety as they too believe it’s an important factor for a member-focused team. Many clubs like the delineation staff clothing creates between member and staff.
Please visit our Patron Page where we have created a spreadsheet and cheat sheet for your staffing uniforms – we do all the budgeting for you so you will know exactly the cost and the commitment before you put in your staff clothing order!