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Roadmap to Success: Map out your Program

By Jim Dahline, 09/19/19, 3:00PM CDT

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In our first article in the Roadmap to Success Series we talk about the importance of mapping out your program prior to the start of the season.

For most of us, we entered into the youth sports world as a parent and over time, stepped up to either coach, be a manager, or join the board to help run operations. More likely than not, you got placed into the role of SportsEngine administrator because you either like working with your computer or have some experience working in a role that required you to be really organized and not afraid to learn new things. Congratulations! 

The good news is, the club you are now a part of probably have their programs pretty well outlined. But, maybe it’s a growing club or an association that wants to create a new competitive league. No matter the situation, you’ll need to start your road to success by mapping out your program. It’ll come in really handy later.

The idea here is to make sure you understand exactly what, for who, and how much are the programs you are going to be running. 

Divisions and Levels of Play: Your planning probably starts here. What age levels will we offer programs for? How many teams are we going to have (based on signup estimates)? Do we want to add new divisions? All important planning decisions that need to be made. 

Number of participants: If you had 300 kids last year, can you support 350? What would happen if you only got 250 to register? Be sure to be honest and put in place a target for registrations. Use inventory management in your registration to cap your registrations, and waitlists to ensure you’re capturing contact details for those who want to get approved in the event of any cancellations. 

Cost to participate: The most important question is how much should everything cost. Very few things get cheaper over time, and youth sports programs are no different. It’s smart to look at how much things cost last year and look at your largest cost drivers. Be sure to take rising rates into account (for example ice rental) to be sure those are passed on. 

Registration open and close dates: A lot of variables go into setting registration open and close dates. What are our NGB membership dates? Do we have large pre-season bills upcoming? When do tryouts start? The smart move is to get it set so you can plan ahead. Consider adding late fees to drive earlier registrations (hint: more than likely, your registration open day and the day before your late fee kicks in will be your two largest registration days).
Pro Tip: open your registrations on a non-holiday Tuesday.

I often tell customers to start on their registrations as early as possible. Do not wait until a few weeks before you need to open it. Work with your account manager to make sure you’re set up with the latest features, and maybe even pick up a tip on how to improve how you’re collecting data and payments. 

Next time, we’ll discuss updating HQ and your website for the upcoming season.

Jim Dahline

About Jim

Jim Dahline is Director of Product Marketing at SportsEngine. He is active with many customers and specifically with tournaments. He is Commissioner for US Pond Hockey Championships, serves on the board as Mite Program Director for Edina Hockey, coaches 8U hockey, and helps coach 8U soccer for Edina Soccer Association.

Jim is a strong supporter of the American Development Model (ADM) and has completed SafeSport (05/2020).

USA Hockey: Certification Level 2, CEP Modules (MT08, SQ10), background screen (05/2020), CEP #481682.

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