Always on the lookout for great tools club owners and directors of tennis can use to improve their operation, we came across Tim and Ashley Owens, the North Carolina couple behind CourtReserve, our newest advertiser, that's taking the tennis world by storm right now.
CourtReserve founder Tim and Director of Sales and Marketing Ashley say they want to help tennis and pickleball professionals grow their clubs and programs through the latest innovative technology.
Today we wanted to know more about the couple. How did they meet, why did they start the app?
eharmony Match in Tennis Heaven
Tim Owens on his LinkedIn page: We simplify managing a tennis club! We help you become more efficient and profitable by providing you with a robust, easy-to-use platform to manage your courts, members, and events. Quickly becoming the go-to platform in the industry, we currently serve large universities, tennis facilities of all sizes, emerging pickleball clubs, and more.
Tim has spent his life devoted to software development and the IT space by starting at the ground floor of Lowes in NC and worked his way up to running and leading IT teams for startups in Charlotte. Ashley has enjoyed the relational side and developed her skills with the love of Sales and Marketing. They met, started playing tennis together and the rest is history. They have 3 teenagers and 2 dogs and live in beautiful NC.
QUESTIONS FOR TIM AND ASHLEY OWENS
TCB: Hi Tim, Hi Ashley. Where are you both from originally? TAO: Both born and raised in North Carolina. So we know southern hospitality and good barbecue!
TCB: None of you really has a background in tennis. How come you're in the tennis business now?
TAO: Actually we do have a strong tennis background. We are both high-level club tennis players (and successful HS tennis coaches) who played in leagues and tournaments and traveled around and met with enough clubs and players who kept saying there was nothing affordable that worked well for staff, players and management.
TCB: When did you start marketing CourtReserve and how did the industry accept your product?
TAO: CourtReserve launched in 2016 and will be 5 years old in August of 2021. Our core vision is to not force our product on people, but simply build relationships in the industry and educate clubs and tennis professionals on how to embrace the “digital” club age. Our company culture is to focus on retention over acquisition. Take care of your current clients and they will be your best salespeople.
TCB: When Pat Malone says your application gave him a 25% increase in revenue (see video here), do you know how he came to that number?
TAO: Pat was able to increase his revenue by simply using the CourtReserve platform to streamline his programming, lessons and other event registrations on the CourtReserve mobile app. No longer did Pat have to track down payments or upload his programming schedule to his own website. CourtReserve was able to handle all of that.
TCB: Why would a club owner or manager who has staff booking courts for their members want to choose CourtReserve amid a large number of competitors?
TAO: We don't really keep up with the competitors because our product is built by tennis, pickleball, paddle clubs and organizations that say, "Hey can CourtReserve do this or that? We need this to run our business." If we feel that it's a feature that would benefit all of our organizations we develop it and enhance our platform. This makes us a good partner for clubs who don't need a huge product or have the budget to pay a ton of money for functionality they won't use. We don't require contracts, always month to month with us. We also have a lot of seasonal clubs who use us for their outdoor season and when they are closed in the winter they close down and do not get charged.
TCB: Was it easy to adapt CourtReserve from Tennis to Pickleball?
TAO: Absolutely. We listen and develop features that clubs need and definitely the trend is incorporating or even ground up pickleball clubs. One of our features known as “combo courts” has really been adapting to those clubs that have the lines on the tennis courts to make it easy to separate tennis and pickleball reservations on the same courts. We are still the only platform that can handle this setup.
TCB: What are the biggest challenges for your business right now?
TAO: To be honest, making sure we can handle all the growth we continue to experience. We put such a high emphasis on supporting our clubs and partners, we never want that to be degraded in any way by us getting too big. So right now, the challenge is making sure we get the right people on the bus, by hiring people that share the same vision we have as founders.
TCB: What are your plans for 2021 and beyond?
TAO: Keep empowering our amazing partners and clubs and providing them with the things to help them to run every aspect of their clubs. We have quite a few new add-ons coming in 2021 including a brand new Tournament Manager, League Manager, and more. We also plan to do more with facility management and operating costs by integrating CourtReserve with outside systems to control irrigation, access control (doors), lighting, HVAC and more.
TCB: Thank you, Tim & Ashley.
Tennis Club Business is the only tennis business newsletter that calls out the failed policies and programs of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), the 17 USTA Sections, the Tennis Industry Association (TIA), and the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
Our motto: MAVERICKS DON'T TOE THE LINE.