Andres Robelo loves tennis. He grew up with tennis. His parents played tennis. But he couldn’t find a game in Miami.
“I could run a business with technology. I could book a table at a restaurant or order a car with software. I couldn’t order a tennis game,” and behind this came the fruition of Play By Point and PlayByPoint.com. But during his journey, he’s found an interesting tidbit of information. Private members clubs have decision makers, but those decision makers are rarely the operators of the facilities.
Play By Court, Manage By Committee
He was shocked when he first realized how hard it was for a department head with a major disconnect between boards and committees. Committees may have wanted a lottery system, a patchwork, or set times for all courts. Whatever the committee wanted, Andres would create the software. However, Andres would find that the expert was the department head, and that department head wasn’t making the ultimate decision.
Education and awareness was the discussion at the beginning. We learned quickly that every club is different” and we had to slowly educate the decision makers how technology could be customized to a club’s needs. But, even with that patience and only four clubs in his first year, it’s been difficult.
Now boasting a plethora of clients, Robelo can comment on the private members club and home owner association industries.
“It’s how private members clubs are structured. The decision makers are not often the operators. The person who makes the key decision, I can assure you, doesn’t realize the impact or consequences that any decision will have.” The challenge is communicating how technology can help to the board of the club or the HOA.. “Its not their time or their sweat that the technology saves,” says Robelo. They don’t see the added values of having a second software, separate from golf or whatever software they may be using.
Boards, says Robelo, are getting better at trusting the system and the department heads they employ. Robelo has seen this more in the past two years during Covid and the rush on the courts. “As more people move to Florida, members are seeing their courts packed” and are using technology to maximize and optimize court usage, states Robelo. As board members skew younger, the younger members more often realize the impact of technology, and perhaps Covid was a catalyst for this shift.
Change Is Difficult
The industry has seen a move toward tee times across almost all golf courses in the nation as play on the course is up as well. Robelo points to other businesses outside the country club industry. “When you go to a movie theatre, do you tell the movie theatre when you want to see the movie? No, the business sets the rules.” Clubs need to understand that they are businesses in a competitive environment.
There are directors who also dislike change. Directors, left in the dust, are still using dusting off their paper-based systems for lessons and reservations. Robelo realizes that change is different, especially for these static and staid directors.. We think it might be that these directors rather not having members and committees know their schedule and incomes. Whatever the reason, the number of directors that are paper-based is being whittled down. Clubs are looking, these days, for transparency and are slowly realizing they are businesses.