October 5, 2011 | Categories: Blog
By Chris Beerman
The organizational foundation was in place for Lexington United and now I needed to answer the bricks and mortar questions of what, where, who, and when as it related to the structure of the club. Number one on the list was determining what kind of programs we would offer. As I mentioned in the last blog, I wanted to have something for everyone and make sure that an emphasis was placed on the grassroots youth, beginner level. I had an overall generic idea of what I wanted to present to Lexington, but now I needed to get specific.
As the hub of the club, I wanted to offer an elite program for the kids who have really big goals and all share similar competitive attitudes about playing volleyball after high school. As part of the "United" idea, I wanted all of the elite players with similar goals playing together; that is exciting to me, as I feel there is a high probability to be immediately competitive at a high level if that concept can be realized. I also wanted a regional program that allows kids to play with less of a time and financial commitment, and for players who are new to the sport and need to develop. There would be a competitive training program for 10 and 11 year olds called the LUV Birds, and finally a beginner program for children 6-9 years old, called the LUV Bugs. These competitive programs offer an option for almost every girl at any age and commitment level who is interested in playing club volleyball.
There was still one group, that traditionally never has an opportunity for club volleyball and that's the multi-sport athlete. I've always wondered how many basketball players, if given the opportunity and time, would also play club volleyball in the spring. I decided to not even try to compete with their basketball season and instead offer what I call a Short Season program that would begin in March and conclude at the end of May. Basketball players who finish their season could then play volleyball until their AAU season begins. I felt this eclectic approach to club volleyball programming allows for the maximum amount of participation.
Next, I tackled pricing for each program. Pricing would be determined by what the clientele in the region has been used to paying, the length of the program, coaching salaries, apparel packaging and court rental fees. Pricing is critical when introducing a new club to a region. I believe it's very important that after reviewing what's being offered, parents feel that the price makes sense financially and they are confident they will get what they pay for. This is first and foremost a customer service business, and that needs to be a front and center vibe that the parents feel upon first impression.
Besides the club programs, another focus that could begin immediately were camps and satellite camps. They could help launch the club name, and if run well, could spread positive word of mouth. I decided in late spring to advertise satellite camps under the Lexington United name and the response was great. In the summer I was able to schedule 7 camps and get the Lexington United ball rolling. That exposure was invaluable and led to a public perception of legitimacy prior to the beginning our first club season! I was also able to run an in-house camp in Lexington to start introducing the club's style of training and generate excitement about the new club to local players. The best part of running this many camps so early in the process was handing out Lexington United t-shirts to the over 250 total campers who then began wearing them to other volleyball events...free marketing! The best advertising to this day is those proud kids wearing Lexington United's new logo around town.
Positive word of mouth is absolutely the best advertising! I felt we had a great club launch and an awesome summer of volleyball camps. I was getting to know every high school and middle school coach throughout Eastern Kentucky and Lexington, and they were getting to know me and what I am about. The next step was figuring out where our club would practice and who would be coaching...