I don’t think I’ve ever written about this story before.
So back in 2002 I’d left my job at the University coaching.
I wasn’t sure what was next. I was presented with a few opportunities in college baseball and two in professional baseball as well. I was offered a job as a pharmaceutical sales rep too.
But I was interested in business.
Really, either a baseball business, a sports performance business or a blend of both.
About then, a friend called me with an opportunity. There was a baseball facility that was looking for a General Manager.
The good news was that the business was in a good market that I knew pretty well and had strong connections…even a partnership with the Cincinnati Reds and one of their local minor league affiliates.
The facility was nice, the director of instruction was the friend who called me and the owners were good people (one of which I still connect with from time to time.)
The bad news was that while the business was solid in the Winter, it had lost $70,000 the previous Summer when the players were out participating in games and the facility was pretty empty.
My task was to try to stop the bleeding…and I was taking the job on April 1st.
So I took inventory of the assets we had – from relationships with youth recreation leagues to our database of past clients.
Then the race was on.
I went to a local little league and arranged a 1 hour hitting clinic with each time (there were 26) for $100 per team.
During each clinic (which I personally did) I offered the players the choice of two different packages of lessons.
From those 26 clinics I got over 70 new athletes.
(Sounds like an FEO right)
Then I went to 12 different local leagues and 4 different YMCAs in the area and offered to do 4-5 day camps for their groups and split the proceeds.
Of the 16 I got 7 takers.
So now 5 leagues and 2 YMCAs were marketing for me and between the 7 camps we had over 500 kids. Of those 500 kids we got about 40 in for at least some lessons.
Then I launched what we now call a reactivation campaign…which at the time I called ‘try to get as many former clients back in the facility’. About 1 of every 3 that I called would come back in for at least a couple lessons during the Summer.
I sent a few press releases to the local papers trying to get them to do a story on a former college coach taking the job at the facility and one got picked up, resulting in a story that pulled in more business.
Then I launched their first ever Strength & Conditioning program and used that as an excuse to reach out to everyone in the database over the age of 12.
I even did a close out sale on a bunch of apparel from the Reds in our team shop.
All in the quest to not lose $70,000 again that Summer.
So when September rolled around the verdict was in.
We had been profitable for the Summer…by about $1200.
A big swing from the previous year for sure.
The owners gave me a small ownership stake in the company with a plan to gain more over time. I was enjoying my time there, was making more than I’d made as a college coach and enjoyed the area.
Not sure what would have caused me to move on…but a few months later they got a really good offer on the building which they owned and the businesses leased from them.
They sold the building and closed the business. We looked at a few options to just move the business, but eventually passed – so I walked away with a little money from the profits and the bug to pursue entrepreneurship.
I also walked away knowing that you can do some big things in a short period of time if you’re focused.
You can take a struggling business to success.
You can generate business in a number of ways if you’re hungry.
And you can really shift the direction of a lot of things in your life too.
So if you’re not satisfied with the status quo…change it.
I’ve made some big shifts a handful of times…and while they’re scary for a bit…they’ve all been rewarding for me.
Thanks for allowing me to share that story with you…it brought back some fond memories and gave me a chance to reflect on the journey I’ve taken. It’s been a great ride and I’m honored to be able to help you learn from the things I’ve experienced.
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