Leagues promote a sport as an inexpensive source of entertainment for players of all skill levels in a program that is professionally coordinated. Be fair to players and locations, be innovative, listen to new ideas and make a conscious commitment to bring new players into the league system to increase business by putting people in locations playing your games.
1. Get to know your players and develop a professional, working relationship with them. They are going to be around for years. I have been to a lot of weddings, funerals and graduation parties, along with hospital visits. I have players who began in 1980 when I started leagues and they are still playing today. It’s important that your league partners know you care about them as a person. A lot of our players may not have much of a personal support system. Your league may be their family.
2. Be diplomatic, not abrasive. “People person” is not just a catch phase.
3. Base decisions on what is best for the league, not one location, team or player. Your style will evolve if you stay consistent. Develop a system you can count on so you don’t have to re-invent the wheel for every situation.
4. Make sure players know that the league director, players and locations are all on the same team. Players need to learn and respect that you are the leader. Leagues have to be fun for all involved, including the director.
5. Respect the time and money commitment people are making to support you. Many players are willing to play on several different league nights. The low cost of leagues is one of our biggest sales points but we all know that players who like to get out and socialize can easily spend $30 to $100. Although we have a full range of players, the majority are blue-collar workers who have to watch how their expendable income is spent. They are subject to layoffs and job changes. Be thankful they decide to spend their hard earned money with us. Whenever I run into a group of players I often close our conversation with, “Thanks for playing.”
6. Build a network. Your excitement about the fun of playing will rub off on your players and location owners. They will get other people involved and sell your product for you. One of the biggest challenges is to light a fire under the location owners. They stand to gain the most with the least up front expense. Many bar owners pay registration and sanction fees, buy T-shirts, buy a complimentary drink and pay entry fees to extra tournaments. Location owners should be aware that league players need to feel wanted and appreciated; they are making a seven-month commitment. League players love good service and will tip accordingly. Set equipment with plenty of room to play comfortably. Make sure games are clean and in good working order. Anything you can do to help promote leagues in your location is money in your pocket.
Certain players have a knack for getting their friends to join the fun. Encourage the location owner to realize the business players bring in and to reward those efforts. Don’t discount the recruiting potential of a captain who is difficult. He often brings in good people who will soon build their own teams.
7. Be organized. Players look to us to provide stability and answers.
8. Don’t turn down good help. Make sure they are properly trained.
9. Learn all aspects of your product. This is ongoing.
10. Develop goals and a plan. If you are doing this as an eight to five job you had better give up now. This is a very demanding job with lots of rewards.
Lastly, never underestimate how seriously players take their entertainment.