Scott Mitchell

Scott has been an Executive Director of Tennis with 30 years’ experience at private clubs, public facilities, and resorts.

Scott is considered an industry leader in first-class facility management, junior and adult coaching, and program design and implementation. 

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As CEO, Premier Tennis Consulting Scott is providing innovative and profitable solutions for clubs/facilities and professional tourneys. He has been involved in some of the largest and most prestigious facilities in the U.S. and many of the worlds’ leading professional tennis tournaments. 

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Why Customers/ Members Fire Us!

by Scott Mitchell

Have you ever wondered why customers leave a business, and stop visiting?  This could apply to any business but in this case, we are speaking of tennis and racquet professionals and facilities. The one thing that tennis professionals are good at is adaptation.  It’s in our DNA.  Well, in some cases.  For instance, when you are conducting a group lesson for 4 and only 3 show up.  You are extremely good at changing to the environment.  When it comes to changing how we run our business, grow our business, or look at ways to do things more efficiently or be more effective, we aren’t so good.  I typically hear the saying, “that is the way I have always done things”.  Do you remember Blockbuster?  They rented DVD movies and at some point, they were presented with the option to adapt and change their business to meet the changing environment.  They chose not to, and they went out of business.  Now everyone knows Amazon, but did you know that their original business model was to sell books?  They saw a changing environment and quickly adapted and now are one of the most successful businesses in the world.

 

My point is that our environment in the tennis industry has changed and we need to be able to adapt.  We have a huge opportunity now but if we don’t adapt, our customers will “fire” us as soon as all the competition (all activities) come back.  They will move on and spend their resources elsewhere.  So, will we be the Blockbusters or the Amazons of the tennis industry?

Business writer, Tom Peters did a study years ago on why customers leave or “fire us” in any business.  What he showed was that we can control 85% of why our members, our lessons, our customers leave us for something else.  

 

15% of customers leave because of technical reasons.  They moved out of state, they were injured, or they only had the membership because of their kids and now the kids no longer play. As much as we dislike any of our members leaving, there isn’t much we can control about this reason. Where we can control, is the 15% of customers that leave because of the price.  The perceived value that they have doesn’t match up with the amount of money they spend on the activity or membership. 70% of customers leave a business, or a tennis center because it is lacking in some of the most basic elements that connect the customer to the activity or facility and make them feel as if they belong.  They are missing the customer experience/ engagement portion and so they look to find that connection somewhere else.

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If we looked closer at the 70% of customers that leave because of some basic elements we would see some areas that we should spend time developing a strategy to combat.  It will save you some lessons, customers, or members.  Of that 70%, 20% left because of truly little interaction, communication, or engagement with the staff.  They felt as if they were not being cared for, heard, or had built a connection through staff communication. We know that in any social situation, joining a group, a tennis facility, a church… the sooner you get connected with other like-minded individuals the more likely you will stay involved in that activity.  The staff should be there to guide the process but not BE the only connection.  Look to get your current, engaged members connected with the new members to the facility.

Now the communication we are speaking about here is not only newsletters, websites, and such.  We are speaking on a deeper level and in a communication pathway that is not only in one direction.  As staff, we need to engage in our customers as they walk in the door.  Does our shop staff, front desk staff, and ALL our staff say hello to every customer that walks by?  Do we spend time with them while they are visiting the facility or are we too busy to stop and say hello?  Do we connect with them often about lessons, their family vacation, or about their newly fixed backhand?  It can be a simple text from time to time?  Our customers expect that they will receive a full customer experience and full engagement as part of being a customer or member.  They don’t always get that from us.

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Now back to our deeper dive into the 70% of why customers leave.  20% left because of lack of communication or too little attention. 50% left because the staff was poor in quality.  Let that sink in for just a minute.  As tennis professionals, we immediately think about the lessons, programs, and additional tennis professionals that need training.  My belief, this is only a portion of the concerns.  Remember, customers interact with everyone at the club in some manner.  Maybe not always in verbal ways but “experience” ways.  For instance, if I come to court and there is a light burned out on the court, or the trash is overflowing out of the receptacle.  Or when I call the front desk, I always get the answering machine, and then no one calls me back.  These are all part of the 70% but more importantly part of the 50% that state the staff is poor in quality.  As tennis professionals, managers, directors are we only looking at the tennis professionals and our programs?  My recommendation is to look at everything that your customers experience.  That is where I spend the bulk of my time these days, as I help clubs and professionals plan a pathway of experiences that customers expect.  Then we strategically put into place elements, and the training behind it to support our staff.

 

As you have heard me say quite a bit over the last year, we have a huge opportunity in the tennis industry to grow.  I’m concerned that the amazing numbers we are seeing won’t hold up when the competition returns.  Are we going to continue to do, and look at things the same as we have always done?  To continue to grow and attract new players to the game we should look at every aspect of how we do business.  We know we can control 85% (price, attention, quality of staff) of why customers leave us if we address the customer data in front of us.  I would be thrilled to work with any professional or facility that wants to address these particularly important elements of our business. If we get this right, we can really thrive in the years to come.  Our customers and members are demanding that we do, or they will continue to look for activities that meet their needs.  Our customers can spend their money and time anywhere, will we address the reasons they are telling us they aren’t spending it with us?

 

If you’d like more information on Tom Peters, visit https://tompeters.com/

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