Every year, the staff at Northern Virginia Volleyball Association comes together for a Strategic Planning Session to reset and plan for the upcoming juniors club season. On average, NVVA has 40 total employees: the coaches are W2, with some being part-time and some full-time. The Strategic Planning Session includes the full time executive staff members and takes place in a different location from the facility where they normally work. This year it took place from June 7th through June 11th for eight hours each day.

The main goals of the Strategic Planning Session are:
  1. To educate staff about new technologies and procedures: the first day and half of the second day is spent going over our processes and technologies.
  2. To connect with executive staff to build culture (includes a discovery session for each of the staff members)
  3. To update projects and task needs and timelines in the project management system: the third day is dedicated to staff personality discovery and project planning. Projects and tasks are added or updates to the project management system. Each project is carefully reviewed based on complexity, priority, due dates, and tasks involved.
  4. To allow each department to share the vision for the following season and take feedback from different departments: the last day is for each department to show what their plans are for next season.

For NVVA it is essential that the meeting happens in that order since each department will learn something new throughout the week either at the process sessions or in the staff personally discovery and project planning sessions.

Originally, the SP Sessions were shorter, but the team saw so much value in it that we increased the length over the years“, states NVVA President/CEO Rodrigo Gomes. “We started out focusing mostly on the training and process aspect, but throughout the year, we saw great value in adding the personality discovery and allowing each department to share not only their plans but also their struggle during the past season. Honestly, having departments is something that we have been working towards for years, and we’re able finally able to divide our organization that way. That was a huge improvement in our process planning.”E

Each training day is divided into four sessions: Finances, Productivity, Marketing, Customer service.

NVVA starts the training by discussing finances and how the processes work behind the scene.

“We focus on the moment a client makes a purchase, through how it gets processed on the back end, to finally how it gets booked in our finances. It is essential for our staff to understand how financial decisions happen, how the refund processes work, and any other financial process. I learned that our team often had no idea what was happening behind the scenes with finances and ended up having a hard time understanding why some things worked the way they did” shares Gomes.

During this session, Gomes shows his staff the procedures and tools we have available to be more productive throughout the year. Examples include: how to use internal direct messaging effectively (Slack), how to program the phone channels based on call volume, and how to schedule the days to use their time efficiently.

“It is important that my staff have a healthy work-life balance, and I am always looking for better productivity tools to provide as a resource.”

Marketing is more than social media, it includes understanding your demographics, their needs, and how to utilize all of the available tools to reach your target audience.

“This session always provides excellent results to our team, and we end up developing great ideas about how to keep customer engagement. I talk to my staff about the basics of marketing and communications.  During this session, we review the email marketing tools we have available and the type of automation we can create to provide a seamless experience for our clients. We mainly focus on the customer nurturing process during this segment” adds Gomes.

Customer Service
This is the final training session and one of the most important for NVVA. The staff takes their time here to review the customer journey within their organization. Examples are: how is the flow of the club’s website? How easy is it to register for a program? How up-to-date is the FAQ? What communication channels need improvement?

“I also take time to review with my staff how our customer service technologies work and provide them with new tools and ideas to better handle large volumes of communication while staying organized.”

Following the Strategic Planning Session, NVVA’s staff meets weekly to review upcoming projects based on the project planning that took place on the third day of the session. The project management meetings last a maximum of 60 minutes once a week.

There are rarely any changes to the strategy throughout the year since the staff deeply talks about each project during the strategic planning week.  The main goal is to update project status and review upcoming, in progress, or delayed tasks.  NVVA’s Strategic Planning has significantly evolved over the last several years as the club has grown and evolved. Start with a session that you feel will benefit your club the most, and be ready to make changes and adapt as you need. The key is unified organization and effective communication.

Additional Club Director Business Education

About the Author

Rodrigo Gomes is the President/CEO of the Northern Virginia Volleyball Association (NVVA), a JVA member club with more than 2,500 athletes ranging from toddlers to seniors. His company Bossa Sports Group specializes in improving operational efficiencies while integrating technology and processes in sports. He can be reached at rgomes@bossasportsgroup.com