As club owners, we are experiencing the most challenging business environment in our careers. The last few weeks have been unprecedented and difficult for not only everyone involved in youth sports, but across the globe. We have faced an ever-changing influx of news, warnings, recommendations and uncertainties in every facet of our lives. As we try to make sense of all of this, those of us in the youth volleyball world are dealing with a wide variety of circumstances as each region of the country is at different phases in this outbreak.
While this is a very complex, ever-changing situation, here are some thoughts to keep in mind as you navigate these turbulent waters, and some steps your club can take.
Don’t panic and refrain from making rash decisions. Typically decisions made under duress can be detrimental to your long term success. Be realistic with how this is affecting your business and remember to take a long term perspective. There are undoubtedly a number of short term, high pressure decisions that have to be made; but keep an eye on the longer term if possible.
Hold off temporarily on taking any action regarding customer financial matters, refunds or credits. You have to have time to determine exactly how this all shakes out to accurately determine what a refund or credit would look like. Right now, there is so much influx regarding if/when practice can restart, when and which tournaments will be rescheduled or run, etc. that an accurate determination of a refund or credit would be difficult.
Have an open discussion with your banker and suppliers. Discuss any need to string out payments due to cash flow constraints. You could also talk to your bank about creating a line of credit to help get through the next few months if that will bridge the gap. There are also several governmental and business initiatives in process that will provide relief to small businesses. Click HERE to view more.
Get Creative! Now is a time to think outside of the box and look at ways to engage with your players and families through non-traditional methods. There are a number of ways to interact via social media and connect your players and families to online resources that offer a myriad of topics and learning opportunities.
Munciana Volleyball Club decided what they could control and what they could not control. Obviously, the virus is outside of our control so the club leadership is focusing their effort on club operations, which is within our purview.
The club then proceeded as follows:
Step One: Last week the club shut down all club activities until the end of March.
“We decided that we would do the safest and best thing for our families whatever the cost to us as a club. When this is over, it was important to us to know that we put our families before profit” shares Munciana Business Director Tim Kuzma.
Step Two: Munciana constructed a “worst case’ cash flow statement spanning six months in order to find out how long the club could fund itself on the existing cash balance.
Step Three: The club leadership then considered where the club could obtain cash if and when they ran out of money. The club will visit with its financial institution to share its findings and enlist their help if and when it is necessary.
There are two other sources you could consider.
- The Small Business Administration has a 7(a) loan program that can be used by existing businesses for a variety of purposes including working capital. Munciana once successfully applied for the Rural Development Loan Program through the local Chamber of Commerce. You can see if your Chamber has something similar.
- Some clubs even offer ownership shares to an individual willing to fund the club over a difficult time like this.
Step Four: Munciana then began the painful process of examining which costs in the club could reduce. Utility costs, repair and maintenance and supplies were pared back first.
“Since we were not practicing we had to consider laying off our coaches next. Finally, we had to look at our beloved full time employees who would be eligible for unemployment benefits. We have always had a no layoff policy but extreme times like these call for extreme measures.”
Step Five: To keep Munciana employees gainfully employed for as long as possible they asked them to begin aggressively pursuing a summer camp schedule in the belief that this virus would be behind us by summer.
Step Six: Munciana decided to be opportunistic. In extreme times, opportunities can sometimes present themselves. Maybe a club decides that it is time to pack it in and begins looking for a suitor.
We are all dealing with this type of situation for the first time and everybody will process this differently. Your players and families will appreciate your honesty and transparency. Share links to various local, regional and federal resources regarding how to stay healthy and how to deal with this outbreak. Be open about the steps that your organization is taking to deal with this.
It is also helpful to connect with other club directors and administrators to discuss the steps you are taking, and address your questions or concerns. It’s essential that we come together, lean on each other, and that you feel connected to other directors, because we are in similar situations. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or join the discussion on the Club Directors and Administrators FaceBook page.
Stay safe and healthy! We wish you all well and know that you will come out of this crisis stronger and wiser than ever.
This article was in collaboration with Steve Sack, Owner of Michigan Elite (Warren, MI) and Tim Kuzma, Business Director of Munciana Volleyball Club (Muncie, IN). Both clubs are long time members of the Junior Volleyball Association, an organization committed to improving the junior volleyball experience for directors, coaches, athletes and fans.