We have been recently challenged by a couple of curling club managers to consider creating an online forum for club managers and/or Board members where they could share ideas and best practices. It is now generally accepted that facilities, especially in urban settings (where there may be more than one building in the area), are not in competition with each other. And that sharing of ideas is now a good thing!
In the past, there had been reluctance to share because we were so worried that other clubs might ‘steal’ the customers we worked so hard to get. However, curling has between 1 and 3 percent of the Canadian population actually playing which leaves a really big marketplace to attract and retain new customers; enough for everybody to successful and without being seen as raiding.
It seems there is also agreement in our industry that any and all good news stories must be shared. We simply need to find the proper vehicle to make it work, to get the ideas into everyone’s hands.
The power of the Internet and social media has already brought many success stories to prominence. The very neat things a number of clubs are doing today are not big secrets but rather proud accomplishments and deserve to be shared.
So what next?
A couple of ideas emerged from an informal round table discussion.
The first as suggested was some form of online discussion group open to all buildings and all managers/board members. This would/could be place to ‘chat’, post pictures, ask questions, talk about bonspiels and so on.
The second idea was to create a national conference or symposium for curling club managers and/or board members. Despite the power of the Internet, it was felt a gathering of the key decision-makers from around the country would have tremendous benefit to the sport. It would also allow regional and provincial/territorial curling associations and the CCA to gather consensus on a number of topics enabling everyone to move forward in development planning of tools clubs will need to be successful.
Finally, our curling clubs are the first contact for anyone trying the sport for the first time. Although it sounds very high performance-ish, curling clubs have a very important role to play in the Long Term Athlete Development model (LTAD): active start; FUNdamentals; etc.
After some quick brainstorming, we also came up with some ideas for professional presentations at this ‘conference':
- refrigeration experts & energy conservation;
- social media;
- property taxes;
- recruitment campaigns;
- food & beverage;
- learn to curl leagues;
- the curling club professional;
- writing and accessing grants;
- and so on……
As for logistics, it appears a site would have to be centrally located at least for the first year and then move it around the country. Properly positioned in terms of location, even the furthest club away should cost the club less than a $1,000 to send their manager/board member. Just the ideas alone that would be shared make this money well spent for any curling club.
So to end a long-winded sales pitch, we are proceeding with a ‘free’ online platform for discussion and sharing of ideas. The conference concept is still a ‘dream’ at this stage but it can be turned into reality if we hear from you at the club that you are interested and would be willing to attend. Drop me a line.