How to Establish a Profitable Sports Complex
If you own a big indoor sports complex, you know it has some high overhead expenses — such as uniforms, gear and your salaried staff. Add in seasonal cash flow changes, and business management becomes a complicated enterprise. So, making a profitable sports complex can be difficult.
Take for example Center St. Louis, which opened in a shuttered, bank-owned facility with eight volleyball courts, a fitness gym, and a 90-by-135-foot turf field. Such a facility would be difficult to manage with a large staff but for the three-person team of Center St. Louis, it required an almost devout level of hard and smart work to become profitable.
Here are four things they’ve done to maintain profits:
1. Get Anchor Tenants for Each Space
Center St. Louis has an impressive list of clients who call their space home.
Over time, they’ve landed contracts with a volleyball club, basketball trainers, a roller derby team, a few mixed martial arts organizations, and even a fencing coach — all of whom use the court space on a regular basis.
But they didn’t stop there. Center St. Louis worked to lease the entire fitness space to a personal training company. And, recognizing their limitations, they hired a consultant to help them start a baseball and softball academy in the turf field.
This diverse set of tenant relationships means Center St. Louis can fill their courts and turf more easily and not rely too much on any one income stream. They also work hard to keep their best clients, giving annual scheduling priority to the tenants who have rented the most space with them in the previous year.
2. Build Great Relationships with Neighbors
As they were opening, the Center St. Louis staff had conversations with neighboring businesses and residents to address any residual concerns from the previous owners of the complex. Then, they made efforts to fix those negative impressions.
Center St. Louis added 150 parking spaces to keep visitors out of neighboring business lots, built a privacy fence, and began picking up litter after large events.
When you’re a new business trying to establish your brand, these types of details make a difference. A positive name in the community only means more and better business over time.
3. Take the Slow Season Seriously
Space books up months in advance for the winter months. The summer, of course, is a different story. To boost activity in those months, the Center St. Louis staff offers camps and clinics throughout the week and bigger events, such as tournaments, on the weekends.
However, even with a full event schedule, they know that cash flow will dip during the slow season. To prepare, they save surplus cash from busy months in an interest-yielding money market account. These funds can be used to cover operating costs during the off-season.
A profitable sports complex needs to prioritize their operating cash. This means resisting the temptation to sink money into the physical infrastructure right away and waiting to spend it when you truly understand what it’s like to run the facility through all the seasons.
4. Create Multiple Uses for Each Large Space
Each space in your complex should have multiple uses.
One big change Center St. Louis made was to add six new batting cages to their turf field. The cages can be retracted when the full field is in use. This has added flexibility and revenue potential to the turf field.
Their courts also offer flexibility. In addition to being able to host standard volleyball and basketball activities, the courts can be combined to host bigger events, like roller derby games and MMA tournaments.
Center St. Louis uses eSoft Planner to manage the weekly scheduling of their turf, courts, and staff.
The staff uses the software to clock in, clock out, and easily view the complete daily schedule for the entire facility. Because eSoft Planner is web-based and updated in real-time, it also prevents any chance of double booking.