Featured Managing a Hockey Club

Discussion in 'General Hockey Chit-Chat' started by Stuart Burnside, Jun 11, 2015.

  1. Stuart Burnside

    Stuart Burnside FHF All Time Great

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    Hi all

    Couple of you suggested I start a thread on running a hockey club. I didn't see any similar threads, so it may be useful to have something about what happens off pitch. I'll try and generate a few thoughts on my own, a bit like a blog, and happily respond to queries you may have or debate whatever. Certainly not suggesting I am some sort of guru, just that I'm at the coalface and can throw a few issues out there and a few personal views too.

    Health warning: I may occasionally use analogies from politics or other things that you may have views on - remember these are analogies to make a hockey point so don't get offended if you don't agree. But if you don't agree with the hockey point, post away, and I'll try and discuss it with you when I have time.

    Stu
     
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  2. Stuart Burnside

    Stuart Burnside FHF All Time Great

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    @SportBilly44 if you have time, suggest you get involved with this one.
     
  3. SportBilly44

    SportBilly44 FHF Top Player

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    Yep, happy to help. Might be worth starting with a mention of the 7 factors identified recently by EH as critical 'ingredients' to a successful club? What do you think?

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  4. Stuart Burnside

    Stuart Burnside FHF All Time Great

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    Blog #1 – Methodology


    When first joining a club committee, many of us try and please everyone, try and make decisions that all of the members will like. Then someone has a moan. Then we get tired. Then a wise old head pats us on the shoulder and says something similar to “you can’t please everyone, the best you can hope for is to make decisions that the majority of members like.”


    I’ll term this “conservatism” (don’t take offence) – apparently we get more conservative as we get older / more experienced. The problem with this approach is that if you’re going to prioritise a majority, it then can leave you in a situation where you are unconcerned with the needs of minorities.


    Consider this highbrow example. John Stuart Mill proposed a philosophy called Utilitarianism. This is, in simple terms, that the decision that results in a positive outcome for the largest number of people is the right decision. I have seen many a club committee adopt this approach. One of the more famous refutations of utilitarianism is the sadist example. Let’s say you have 10 people, 9 are sadists, the 10th is not and is not a masochist either. If you follow the “prioritise the needs of the majority” model, then the right outcome is to let the 9 torture the 10th. *Insert joke about what if you have 10 sadists and 1 goalkeeper here* :D


    In running Wapping, I have explicitly rejected this model (and believe it or not, I did have JS Mill in mind at the time).


    Example

    Imagine you can afford 1 coach per let’s say two squads of 16, so 32 people. There are 30 outfielders and 2 goalkeepers. Therefore the coach should focus on the outfielders. This often results in a poor outcome for the goalkeepers, who have a poor training experience. This then results in a worse outcome for the club because either (1) the goalies aren’t as good as they could be and teams lose (possibly then blaming the goalie); or (2) the club doesn’t have enough goalies because they go to a club with better training, or because their youth training isn’t producing enough goalies. In rejecting utilitarianism, that caused me to make a decision to find a way to deliver goalkeeper training (ultimately leading to our goalkeeper academy, see threads elsewhere).


    So, theory 1 – it is important when running a club that you do not, in a misguided attempt to be “democractic”, only worry about the interests of the majority of the club. Find the time to think about what minorities may need too.


    I have more, which I’ll write up as I keep going through this.
     
  5. Stuart Burnside

    Stuart Burnside FHF All Time Great

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    A good idea, can have a rummage around on their website for that (or please post it if you've got it to hand :)). I wonder if we started with that though that we will end up defining our conversation under those 7 headings.
     
  6. SportBilly44

    SportBilly44 FHF Top Player

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    I do have it to hand, but agree, let's hold back whilst you download your anecdotes ;)

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  7. SportBilly44

    SportBilly44 FHF Top Player

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    Just adding my thoughts onto what Stuart has said above - I recently had conversations about improving our club coaching structure and had one committee member inform me that 'we were not at that level' to warrant the structure I was proposing. However, in order to maintain and then hopefully grow your club, always think about the club you want to be, and not simply about the club you currently are. Too many clubs sacrifice the time spent to create a vision because they have to spend too much time simply making sure the club survives.

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  8. SportBilly44

    SportBilly44 FHF Top Player

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    If you don't think about the future vision you will always spend your time worrying about how to survive - look for what you can influence quickly but always with a view towards the end state you want to get to.

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  9. phi11ip

    phi11ip FHF Top Player

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    Not too sure if I'm taking this thread off in a different direction too soon, but I was going to raise a management-style question and this place is probably a good place to put it!

    Subs. More specifically, annual subs. How do you collect them? What works, and what do you see as being slightly too optimistic?

    At the moment we're mainly using the manual options of cash, cheque or standing order, but obviously with it being the year 2015 we'd like to use a slightly more 'technologically advanced' method. I can see that there are websites that take a % cut in order for managing this for you, but does anyone else know of any tried and tested methods of attacking this with the lowest overheads? Direct bank transfers are obviously a fairly simple way of moving the funds across, but it just requires someone to manually check back every payment received in order for it to work and also places the member under a bit of risk...

    Does anyone have any good advice regarding this?

    P.S For many obvious reasons, Paypal will not be touched with a barge pole!
     
  10. Monkey81

    Monkey81 FHF Newbie

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    Stuart,

    I think this is a great idea.

    From someone who has been involved at many levels across my club (Men's club captain, 1st XI captain, 3rd XI captain, development and treasurer) the need to try and appease the majority always seem to overtake the need for clubs to develop.

    With a club the size of yours how do you address the balance between the need to push the top of the club and ensuring that the rest of the club don't see that desire to grow the top as a reflection on the lack of investment lower down and feel left out? Or guess another way to put it, should clubs focus more effort / resource on top level or should it be equitable?

    As you say you can't please everyone!
     
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  11. Stuart Burnside

    Stuart Burnside FHF All Time Great

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    Feel free, I'll bring it back with next blog post (hopefully next week), but I do think posts like yours are great because then we get a thread with all the management stuff together. We don't do anything fancy with our subs. Our membership secretary works to maintain a spreadsheet of everyone in the club. That goes to the treasurer who works to update it with everyone who has paid. We only accept payment by bank transfer or standing order, with name in the subject line. This goes into a dedicated subs account to make it easier to pick the payments out.

    Separately, we charge match fees. Again, this goes into a dedicated account, by bank transfer, from captains. The captains take the job of collecting the cash.

    I personally think sub collection systems are a way to rip clubs off and don't provide anything you can't do yourself.

    I'd suggest you get away from cash and cheque as soon as you can. Surely everyone can cope with online banking now?
     
  12. Stuart Burnside

    Stuart Burnside FHF All Time Great

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    By investing at the bottom upload_2015-6-12_15-20-0.png


    Let me try to explain:


    One of the most persuasive things you have in terms of getting sponsorship is the size of your membership as that membership pool is in effect the target market for that sponsor. Bigger also means more subs flow into the club. I'll write more on this as deserves a blog post in its own right, but for present purposes, assume that keeping the lower end happy means you're bigger, meaning you can afford to do more with the upper.


    That assumption made, then turning to your actual question.


    The guiding principle we have is that we are trying to give every team what they need to win the league. On that basis, we would say we are treating all teams equitably. The difference is that the higher up you go, the more that is needed to try to win the league. So different requirements for different teams and fair does not need to mean exactly equal. However, if this first sentence is understood by all at the club, then that explains why e.g. upper teams may need more pitch space, because they need to do more technical drills, because if they don't, they can't win the league. Whereas lower team may have more emphasis on core skills which doesn't necessarily need full D to attack every time or whatever. For similar reasons, upper team might get a more convenient training night, because the impact of players missing sessions is felt more keenly by an upper team, meaning less likely to win the league. Conversely, whilst we might have less pitch space per player lower down, we often have a lot more assistant coaches lower down (drawn from upper section) to give better ratios for core skills work – as the more you’re working on skills rather than tactics, the better the ratios need to be.


    Slightly different reasons affect match time scheduling. Whilst there are also league rules in play here which cause this to an extent, generally, I think it is a good idea to schedule the upper teams at the most convenient time for the most number of people to watch. Not because it is better for them to be supported (though it is) but because it is better for the lower players to watch upper players play, as that helps them develop.


    Where it can go wrong and people get the hump is in things like recruitment. If you prioritise performance recruitment, you’re going to give the lower teams a bad impression. If you prioritise recruitment across the board, and have a particular emphasis on things for beginners, back to hockey and so on, you’re showing the lower end you care about hockey at all levels.


    That all said, I don’t think we have materially different spend on our upper teams than lower teams. Upper teams tend to have a match day coach, but any team that has a match day coach is self-funding that from their subs. Maybe a little more spend to give pitch space, but then there’s an expectation of some give back in that you’ll get coaches from the upper section to help with the lower section. Similarly, our upper teams will watch lower teams as part of reciprocal support, which is great.


    But again, if the guiding principle is trying to give every team what they need to win the league, that means you engage at all levels and no one feels left out. Now some contrarian will say they are not bothered about winning the league and don’t want to train and I’m fine with them not training if they don’t want. But everyone playing in a match is trying to win, and everyone playing in a league would like to win a league if they could otherwise what’s the point.


    Does that help or did you mean something slightly different? I will keep returning to these themes but as expected this thread’s generating quite the word count.
     
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  13. Mac

    Mac FHF Legend

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    As someone who asked for the commencement of a Fred like this, I'm pleased to be able to take part and share experiences.

    So you run a series of bank accounts? Match Fees; Annual Subs; Capital Savings(?); Current Acct (?) and any others? I can see the premise - how, on a broad brush basis, do you deal with expenditure - all from one account, by moving funds as necessary? Financial transparency and the need to be able to build capital reserves are just one of the issues concerning me currently.

    EDIT - Also agreed on Subs collection systems!

    2ND EDIT - I'm interested in views on appropriate bank accounts: Commercial, little to no fees; respectable (allowing for market conditions) rate of return. Any ideas?
     
  14. Stuart Burnside

    Stuart Burnside FHF All Time Great

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    I'd have to ask our Treasurer exactly how it works as I don't look at them, but yes we have several accounts along the lines you're talking about. I suspect payments are made from a single current account with monies transferred across from various reserve accounts. The big thing I think is having separate collections accounts. The point of doing this is really in trying to minimise the time it takes the Treasurer to identify individual payments, which can otherwise be a headache if using a single account. It does also allow you to move off funds for specific projects.

    It is particularly helpful if you're taking donations or sponsorships for specific line items as well. So e.g. if someone is giving you money to use for disability hockey provision say, but you need a few months before you set that up, you don't really want to commingle that with your general funds as it's not supposed to be providing you with general cash flow.

    The other thing this approach can help highlight is where you have a cash flow problem. E.g. if everything is in one account, there's always loads of money in there and you don't know that you've got a debt collection problem or similar as quickly.

    Separately though, your point is perhaps more about how you do your club accounts than it is about how you do your bank accounts. If you want to grow capital reserves, then your budget needs a line item in it for saving to capital reserves rather than hoping for leftovers. If you've got someone competent doing your accounts and projections then you know what cashflow you need and can take action before you have a problem.

    This then can allow you to take risks. An example from us was that we knew that moving to Lee Valley would mean our pitches cost more than we were used to. This gave us a choice, either put up subs, or grow. We kept subs flat, and introduced incentives like refer a friend, for members to help us grow. This led us from a projected 5 figure loss to a surplus without having to change subs levels, meaning we remained financially inclusive. However, if during the year, we were off the projected growth plan, we could have taken other actions, e.g. fund raising, or whatever, to ensure we didn't finish in deficit.

    However, you can't take risks like that without having someone rock solid doing your accounts and cash flow forecasts.
     
  15. Mac

    Mac FHF Legend

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    And this is, hopefully, now the position we find ourselves in. An Accountant has taken over our Treasurer role, rather than a willing volunteer as in previous years, so hopefully this sea-change will result in the financial projections needed to be able to build successfully.

    The ease of accounting offered by using various collection accounts is an issue I hadn't considered before now but is, in retrospect, blindingly obvious!
     
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  16. phi11ip

    phi11ip FHF Top Player

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    Thanks for the replies by the way, definitely an interesting read. We've got 10 teams plus a colts section so definitely a lot of ins and outs in terms of cash. I'm not sure how many accounts we have but I like the idea of at least two accounts if you've got lots of membership fees coming in alongside expenses.

    Looks like transfers are the way to go too; they're definitely better than cheques! My only worry about these are the lack of security for members, in that if someone does make a mistake then their funds are potentially long gone. We'll be discussing our methods of managing membership etc over the next few weeks though so hopefully we'll get something drawn up.

    Cheers!
     
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  17. Stuart Burnside

    Stuart Burnside FHF All Time Great

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    Glad this is proving of some use. I'll generate a new blog topic soon. In the meantime, please do feel free to chuck more questions or suggestions in.


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  18. SportBilly44

    SportBilly44 FHF Top Player

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    Stuart - do you want me to write something about raising funds?

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  19. Stuart Burnside

    Stuart Burnside FHF All Time Great

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    Suggest draft it so ready but hold off on the post as quite a wide topic, then we can do a blog to intro. I can think of 4 or so funding models so we should perhaps do macro then drill down on each.


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  20. Stuart Burnside

    Stuart Burnside FHF All Time Great

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    :eek:

    Blog #2 - Income


    It's very tempting for those not on the committee to only think about hockey clubs as primarily about playing/coaching hockey and a bit of ancillary social and forget that money underpins that. "Can the club pay for X" is something we get all the time, with less thought about how.


    Those of us who are managing it though do need to think about it. However, sometimes the approaches offered to this are questionable. E.g. "can England Hockey pay for X" - often X is a long term commitment with minimal cost / benefit analysis e.g. "we have some poor kids, can England pay their subs / buy them kit / whatever". Or swap in "the Council" for England Hockey. No, no, no! This is taking the same attitude that your members are taking with you. Take responsibility and show you can generate your own revenue and then you will find asking others for money a LOT easier.


    Here's the income streams I can think of, if you have more, add them, and then maybe we can talk about some practical examples:


    1. Subs - from members

    2. Match fees. Some clubs separate these, some don't. I think it is fairer to separate them, others might think all in subs ensure you get commitment to matches.

    3. Philanthropy 1: a wealthy patron or group of patrons.

    4. Philanthropy 2: grants

    5. Sponsors

    6. Ticket & programme sales

    7. Harnessing member /spectator spend

    8. Commercial deals, brand licensing,


    Examples


    1, 2 Surbiton, are, I think, the largest club in the country with over 1000 members, maybe over 1200, I lose track. They can therefore generate quite a lot of revenue from 1 and 2. They are also in an affluent area of the country (and are very good) and can charge a fairly significant subs level, including for their Colts. That model would work less well for us in East London. Assuming you have a profit margin though, 1 can be a very good source of revenue if you grow. I’d say be careful about using 2 as too much of a source of revenue, it can cause a temptation to run larger match day squads which is detrimental to player experience.


    3 is well documented elsewhere. Mr South and Holcombe chat ad infinitum. But there have been lots and lots of others before him. Mr Higgins at Loughts for one. There are also clubs where you get a group playing this role, I think H&W works like that. That was (and probably still is) a common model for rugby too, a "patron" tier of membership. How do you attract this? Well, you’re going to need to develop a sense of ownership here to encourage spend. Plus, stay in touch with older members - some might get rich!

    4 is something others can speak more to but there are plenty of examples out there. Having a good relationship with your local council sports team is helpful here as they can often flag new opportunities to you. Grants are either from corporates through corporate social responsibility (e.g. the Aviva grants) or to support specific activity or investment. E.g. we supported a Council bid for Sport England funding to invest in our Council owned facility. We also benefitted from a mayoral initiative to provide free sport aimed at semi-actives, which provided top up funding to allow us to provide back to hockey for free. The key though is to have a specific timetable for delivery, and also to be able to contribute your own support - e.g. the mayoral funding covered pitch hire but our coaches are working as volunteers.


    5 can sometimes appear as a condition of CSR grants under 4, e.g. company X gives you some money but wants name on a shirt. However, I think a true sponsor is attracted to you by two things. 1. The opportunity to sell to your members. 2. Your marketing reach (social media helps evidence this, a video with a crowd scene doesn’t hurt either – there was a reason Wapping made this
    What helps then demonstrate these 2 is a professional attitude – handle them like an account, like you would if it was your day job. Produce quality content that they can use, e.g. this search for a new home video was to launch a sponsorship by an estate agency – it’s subtle, it’s classy and it is something THEY can use, not just us. That’s the key:



    That said, any club, no matter how small, can get something from its spend. A single team can get a set of shirts from a curry house by agreeing to eat there. Go up in size a bit, and you’re looking at things like pub deals, plumbing firms, etc. anyone that needs to advertise and benefits from “affinity”, i.e. can’t just rely on google.


    Two important pieces of advice:

    1. Present it as what they will get. Unless it is CSR (which I put under 4), assume that “kids get to play hockey” is not an outcome a business cares about. Show how they get sales. Show them the money. What are you doing that makes this a sensible commercial deal for them. What can really help you here is contra-revenue deals. I.e. don’t ask them to give you a wedge of cash, ask them to give you a % of spend attributed to you. So if it’s club money your spending (e.g. on kit, equipment), that could be a discount on larger orders / for exclusivity. If it’s member spend, then that could be a % payment to the club. If is cash, then spread it out. E.g. we use Cape as our clubhouse, they sponsored our home shirts, originally this was cash (spread over 12 months), in the subsequent season I moved it to a % of spend deal. Members benefit because they get a discount on food, and they know choosing that venue helps the club. Win win. Different answer if you’re an asset owner, but again, you should be making a profit off your bar.

    2. Leverage. Can you bridge between sponsors to deliver both more value by a joint deal?

    6 not massively relevant for us, but NL clubs can make some money here. Personally, I’d rather not charge or charge less and then use the hopefully bigger crowd to target 5 and 7


    7 this can be things like the bar deal I’ve talked about under 5, but the reason I separate it off is to include things like http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/ and all the other ways in which you can make some money from setting up as an affiliate marketer (which is why businesses like wowcher and so on exist).


    8 lots of ideas here. This could be things that you sell to your club (hats, mugs, all that other merchandise) or things that the general public will buy. You can be the retailer, as clubs often are, or you can simply license your brand in, i.e. take product A, get the manufacturer to put your logo on it and supply it to retailer B, and either A or B pays you for the use of your brand.


    I have more on this topic but that’s perhaps enough to start us off.
     
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