By Jennifer Gelhaus, USPTA
In today’s world data is a currency that businesses protect, value, trade and utilize to make some of the most important decisions in their day-to-day operations. Our tennis business is no different. Our clubs, whether private or public, generate valuable data every single day. It is up to us as leaders in the industry to assign value to it and leverage its power.
Think about how you, or your staff, are making operational decisions at your club. Are you going by gut feelings or are you actually using your club’s own historical and current data analysis and reasoning to help you make those decisions? Think about how you made decisions when things turned in 2020!
Business Intelligence (BI) simply refers to different tools we can use to access data driven insights in real-time that will make an impact in our decision-making. We can source our data from our court reservation system, point of sale system, membership software, surveys, audits, and other data collection points. BI integrates all of these into one place where we can access dashboards and reports that give us the big picture of our club’s past, present and future well-being. To get the most out of BI we need to have a clear understanding of our club’s goals and vision. Public facilities, member-owned clubs, and corporate clubs will undoubtedly have different priorities. Here are just a few examples of how BI can help on our day-to-day operations:
|Facility/Court Usage||Hours of operation, programming needs, court reservation policies, discounted rates, staffing needs.|
|Program Success/ Retention||Program offerings, staffing needs, scheduling of tournaments and events.|
|Net Promoter Score (NPS)||Program quality, member loyalty.|
|Member spending, satisfaction, and retention||Members to market to, members to reward, new member onboarding.|
|Membership demographics||Programming needs, marketing strategies.|
|Staff Performance||Training needs, new hires.|
|Point of Sale||Pro shop needs, programs and events that may need marketing, sales and discounts.|
If you can visualize important insights monthly, quarterly or even annually it will help ensure that you are making the best decisions for your club. This includes decisions for your day-to-day operations as well for long-term projects. For example, with BI you can make predictions on how adding more courts, or removing courts to add the ever-growing sport of Pickleball, will affect your club’s finances and membership satisfaction.
There are online BI tools that tennis professionals can use but the most efficient option is for clubs to get in contact with companies that specialize in BI. Tennis directors and managers can do it on a smaller scale by using programs like Microsoft Excel. Few court reservation software offer the ability to run reports and data visualization to this extent, though this is something that may change in the near future, as software companies will see an increase in demand for these services.
Earlier this year, the USTA announced that in 2020 tennis saw a 22% increase in participation with a 44% increase in new players compared to 2019. BI will be key to understanding how to keep these players engaged and active in the sport in the upcoming years. Having insightful, useful, and easily accessible, big picture information readily available will be vital to the future of our industry.
Jennifer Gelhaus is a USPTA professional with over 12 years of experience of coaching and running programs in Florida and the Northeast. She is currently Director of Tennis at the East Chop Tennis Club on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in the summer and a tennis professional at Palma Ceia Country Club in Tampa the rest of the year.