The following editorial is written by Dave Marcello, Chief Marketing Officer of PlayMetrics, youth soccer’s first all-in-one Club Operating System.
Running a youth soccer club is officially no longer business as usual. Call it the professionalization of the sport, if you like. Executives, directors, and administrators are facing higher expectations from, well, everyone. Board members expect sophisticated business management practices. Coaches expect fine-tuned development opportunities. Parents expect first-rate experiences on and off the field. Underpinning all of this is your ability to successfully navigate the choppy waters of the Digital Transformation Era.
Work isn’t moving to digital, it is digital. “Digital” used to mean “going paperless.” (Simpler times, indeed.) This movement is now stewarding the use of technology into all areas of running a youth soccer club, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to parents, players, and staff. It represents an opportunity to be better, faster, and more nimble than you thought possible. This isn’t about buying shiny new software; it signals a cultural change that requires club leaders to experiment, move quickly, never rest on the status quo, embrace failure, and persistently charge ahead.
You must start planning for your club’s future in the digital world, regardless of its size or status. When the smoke eventually clears, there will be a distinct separation between the forward-thinking first movers and the stuck-in-the-mud wheel spinners. In other words, you either buy into High-Performance Club Management, or you’re getting left behind by those who do.
The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the world as we know it, both personally and professionally. While nobody could’ve predicted this happening, there’s an important lesson to be learned. COVID-19 didn’t just throw a wrench into how work gets done for a few months, it exposed those who are prepared and those who are not. All of a sudden thousands of youth soccer clubs were forced to take their operational practices fully digital in the blink of an eye. If that’s not a wakeup call, then what is?
A BETTER FRAMEWORK FOR CLUB MANAGEMENT
What will ultimately make your soccer club better is getting a handle on the constant flow of information throughout your four walls and out onto the fields. Slow and siloed - different coaches using different messaging apps, Excel spreadsheets sent around willy nilly with no real controls on them, no single source for all your club data, physical file folders still being a thing - is no way to create an environment that keeps parents and players coming back, never mind one in which you are able to confidently grow your club year over year.
To begin adopting the High-Performance Club Management framework, consider these four guiding principles:
1. In a digital world, technology that does its job functionally is not enough. The best tools introduce advanced ways of doing things that compel club leaders to reassess their entire operational strategy.
As a club leader, recognize that technology in the Digital Transformation Era can play two roles. The first is straightforward; replace a laborious, manual task with software and watch it take less time and less effort while solidifying its reliability. Additionally, some technology is designed to go beyond simply helping you perform an existing task faster. These more innovative tools inspire an alternative approach to your work, often through methods you didn’t think possible. If you truly want to graduate your club to the next level, first-of-its-kind tech is a partner you want to have.
2. Long-term thinking is the only path to growing a truly sustainable business.
As Warren Buffett once observed, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” Thinking about tomorrow - or next month, or next year - is not an easy pursuit when you have problems that require solving today. But having a clear view of where you want your club to be in the future along with a strong grasp on industry trends will serve your business well.
This often starts by asking questions that might make you uncomfortable at first. “What would happen if my DOC left the club tomorrow? Would she take all the knowledge of our coaching philosophy with her? Would we be scrambling to figure out where season plans were stored and where to find all the drills she’s using this year?” Even scarier, “How would we continue to effectively run our club if we couldn’t meet in person? Do we have digital systems in place for sharing data across the entire club, tracking progress on tasks, and implementing training protocols virtually?”
3. Nurture a mentality of constant workflow optimization and you’ll never find yourself on your heels.
The push to modernize your club’s operations in the midst of the Digital Transformation Era is not a one-off activity. This is where the HPCM mindset comes into play. Club leaders must consistently analyze their operational structures and processes with a dogged desire to make adjustments where needed. This is the antithesis of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. Little improvements here and there can yield major impacts on your business and on player satisfaction.
4. Every move you make as a club should be powered by a healthy obsession with the customer experience.
Using tech tools to support your commitment to HPCM should be done with purpose. Ultimately, how you structure and train staff, hire for contemporary skill sets, organize your tech stack, and oversee your club’s workflow will have an impact on your coaches, players, and player families. Sometimes that will be obvious to all, like when you switch email providers or chat apps. Other times, you might revise an administrative task that won’t be immediately visible to players and parents, but the downstream result of that action will make for a smoother program registration process. These will all add up over time and contribute greatly to the brand you’re actively building.
A youth soccer club built on High-Performance Club Management thrives in a collaborative environment in which accountability and transparency are kings. Technology facilitates the free flow of information throughout the organization. Staff members are empowered by digital tools that enhance their abilities and skills. Directors and executives are confident in their ability to access and analyze data that helps them make informed decisions on a daily basis. Everyone is working toward a common goal.
This is achievable. Technology alone won’t do it. Your dedication to progress and development, even if that means becoming comfortable with discomfort, will be the deciding factor. It’s not much different from the way you engage players during training, is it?
The PlayMetrics Club Operating System unifies communication, session planning, coach oversight, player development, and club operations into one easy-to-manage hub. It’s been called “the best product in youth soccer” and “truly forward thinking.” Click here to request a free demo.