These are unprecedented times. For most of us, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt not just in our lives but also in our livelihoods. Many businesses (Sports Organizations) have been impacted and are struggling to get back on their feet for 2021 and beyond. Many countries had imposed nation-wide lockdowns as a measure to curb the spread of the virus. In some cases, the lockdown lasted for a few days, but it went on for weeks in other cases. The lockdowns directly impacted the businesses as they had to remain shut, and only essential services were allowed to operate. It also had a significant impact on economies worldwide.
Though the lockdowns have been lifted in most places, it is hard to say that normalcy has returned. The new normal measures like social distancing and wearing masks have become a part of life. The daily number of COVID-19 cases being reported in the news instills fear in people’s minds, and rightfully so. Not many are still comfortable getting out of their homes unless it is for something important. Though some have accepted the situation and are learning to “live with the virus”, it is nothing like it used to be.
As you can imagine, the sports industry has also been affected by this pandemic. So, as the owner of a sports organization, what does this mean to your business? How do you keep your organization running with lower participation rates and low revenues? Will people start coming back to sports activities? How to recover from this situation? The situation looks gloomy, but do not lose hope. Many businesses across many industries face a similar challenge, and there are certain things you can do to take control of the situation and fight this crisis.
Gain customer trust
In these times, everyone is worried about being safe. People are reluctant to get back to their activities due to the fear of getting infected. We need to be sympathetic to the emotions of our customers. The safety of our customers should be our priority. We should take all possible measures to provide our customers with a safe environment. It is equally important to inform them about the steps you are taking to feel confident and motivated to get back.
Create a set of strict guidelines to be followed in your club or facility and make sure everyone adheres to it. For example, make social distancing and face masks a must for everyone. Limit the total number of participants at one time. Providing slots for members to attend can help in managing the number of participants at a time. Arrange for temperature checks for whoever comes in. Also, make sure to follow regular sanitization procedures. You should also be prepared for unfortunate situations and have a proper plan if someone gets infected on your premises.
Efficiency is key
In these cash crunched times, we need to look at all the resources which can add value to our business. There is always room for improvement, and you can find ways to cut costs and be more efficient. For example, you can find ways to get people to contribute through voluntary service or donations. Contributions can involve time or money. For example, parents can contribute by giving time for coaching or organizing fundraising activities for an event for their children.
Emphasize your value
Make sure your customers understand that sports memberships are vital for your business. Especially in these times, people are very cautious about their expenditures. Please focus on the value you are providing to them for what they are paying you. It is necessary to design great programs for your players and parents. It is equally important to price those programs fairly. You can check out similar programs offered by others in the area for reference. It is necessary to win back memberships that might have dipped during the lockdowns.
Inspiration from other businesses
Sports are not the only industry which got affected by the pandemic. Other businesses are also struggling. Some organizations have turned to non-conventional methods and even changed their business models. As an example, many restaurants started takeaway services for their customers. Many fitness centers are already offering online sessions to their members with daily workout routines and diet plans. Educational institutions are providing online training. Innovate and think out of the box to add value to your customers and to keep them engaged.
Focus on short term plans – Be agile
2020 is a year of learning for all businesses. 2021 will still be a challenging year as the effects of the pandemic linger. It might not be before 2022 when the situation might change, and businesses could get back to traditional planning ways. So, while long term plans are required, it is more important to plan our immediate next steps to deal with the current situation. Many businesses might have been in the middle of a transformation that was planned before the pandemic hit. It might not be wise to continue on the same path. The focus right now should be to survive.
Short term plans are the need of the hour for restructuring our businesses. It will not be easy to get things right always as the landscape keeps changing. Short term plans can provide you with the agility to revise your targets and strategies. More importantly, be transparent to your customers and stakeholders about your business strategies. It will instill confidence in them, and their support is necessary for your business in these times. Moreover, they will understand and forgive the decisions you make as they realize that the current situation is challenging for you.
Reposition your business for the future
While you are thinking of your business’s profit and loss statements to manage the regular cash flow, it is also necessary to consider the decisions you make regarding the growth and investment of your business. The decisions you make now might have a lasting impact post the COVID situation. It is necessary to re-align the vision you had to suit the current situation.
If your business plans involve investing more money, then you should carefully consider the options. Borrowing money can be a great choice if your revenue sources seem steady and secure. This way, we can retain ownership. But the surging interest rates post COVID is a factor to consider. Also, there is some risk involved in case things do not go as planned. Another option is to approach private equity investors who can provide you with the required funds while taking a share of your business. It is a good option as the investors would be partaking in your business, thereby sharing the risk. So, carefully choosing the investor becomes a vital aspect since his passion and dedication for your business could define its success or failure. Adopt the right sports management platform for the entire organization.
Our current situation presents us with unknown challenges. We do not have much experience to fall back on, and we are learning as we go. So, our focus should be to survive for the next couple of years and stay afloat. But, looking at the brighter side, this situation also allows us to take a step back and rethink the growth plans for our organizations. With good planning and a properly aligned vision, we can not only ride this out but come back stronger than before.