If you’re like me, you’re about to embark on the busiest time of the season in your gym. For me, mid-February through the end of April is the craziest, most hectic, “trying-to-keep-up” time of the year. If you’re new to owning a gym, this might be the first time you’re experiencing it. If you’ve owned a gym for many years, you probably know what I’m talking about. 

The biggest reason this time of the season becomes chaotic is because you’re literally focused on the current season and the future season at the same time. Here’s what that looks like at my gym: 

    1. Focus Groups: Tonight is my second night of focus groups. I call this Coffee & Conversation, and there is a ton of information on what this is here in a previous blog. The feedback I get from our parents is literally the most important thing I do all year – and one of the few things I won’t delegate to my staff. Essentially, I gather the parents from each team and I ask them a series of questions to get their feedback from the season. We talk about how their kids have progressed, if they feel like we placed the right coach for their age division and level, if they felt practices were effective, and what they thought about competitions so far this season. (This year, some teams had only done 1-2 competitions, but I still got great feedback about what they liked and didn’t like.) This feedback allows me to make changes for next season. I can truly say it’s the #1 reason we have such a phenomenal culture in my gym. Parents know that if they provide constructive feedback, I’ll take it into serious consideration, and if it makes sense, I’ll implement it. If it doesn’t make sense for our gym right now, I usually follow up and explain why. You might be thinking this sounds like a recipe for disaster, but in nine years of hosting these feedback sessions, I’ve only ever had one or two that turned negative (and I knew it would happen in advance, so I had a plan to course-correct if that happened). At the end of the two weeks where I host these, I compile all the feedback and share it with my all star director, co-owner and general manager of our gym. We make a plan to decide what we will implement and then we add those things to our Tryout Informational Meeting, as a “Because of your feedback, here’s what’s new this season” slide.
    2. All Star Budget for Season 13: I’ve been working on this over the past week or so, and I’m pretty sure I’m 90% done. Dan recently did a podcast on this as well, so make sure you listen to that! If you’re in the Next Gen Academy, make sure you head to our Facebook group and watch the replay from the budgeting workshop I hosted last week! I know many of you are wondering how I do it without having my competition schedule set or the prices for those competitions. Essentially, I determine how many one-day and how many two-day events I’m going to have us compete in. Then, I decide, is this a non-travel (Kansas City for me), semi-travel (Branson, Omaha, St. Louis, and Tulsa are 3-4 hours away) or is this a national travel (Chicago, Dallas, and Nashville are about 8 hours from me). From there, I can look at what the cost was this season to attend that event. I mark up a reasonable percentage (like 10-15%) and add that amount to my budget sheet. One year I had planned to attend America’s Best in KC. The price shot up by more than $50 per athlete and crossovers were no longer a great deal. So, instead of eating it on my budget, I just picked a different competition. No big deal. You can also do like Dan does and build a budget that has some fluid numbers in there when it comes to competition fees. Then, you provide your parents a range of pricing, such as, “Your fees this season will be $800-950”. Either one works, but it allows you to get this out early and market your program.
    3. Season 13 Packet: I use a similar template each year and jazz it up a bit with new pictures and new graphics. Aside from that, I’m working on this packet all year long. As soon as it goes out for Season 13, I’ll make a copy and title it Season 14. Then, when I think of things I want to change or edit, I just hop in and either edit the item if I’m certain, or I make a comment for myself to review it. Before I ever look at that packet, my all star director has also taken a fine-tooth comb through it and commented on anything she thinks we need to clarify or modify for the season. My packet is geared toward selling the program, so there aren’t a lot of policies. Dan taught about that in a great podcast last year. So, we have an athlete handbook that links to my packet with things like attendance policies, injuries, practice attire, etc. Those are things that rarely change, so it makes our season packet a lot easier and faster to get out to parents. Mine releases Feb. 15!
    4. End-of-Season Events: This season I’m taking six teams to All Star Worlds (and then several of my staff and I are staying for the NG Conference in Orlando on April 22 #shamlessplug). I finished my budget and released it to parents last week. On Friday I also recorded a video where I went through a slideshow and gave them all the details of the event. Could I give them the super handy packet ASW puts out with all the information? Yes, and I do. But there is also info that is specific to my program, such as when we’re meeting for practice and what they should wear. We book ALL TRAVEL before we ever put out that budget. That does two things: 1. It keeps us accountable to get that stuff booked early at good pricing. 2. It allows me to have an exact budget. I even use last year’s receipts and add 15% to account for gas, tolls and parking expenses we incurred.
    5. Initial Prep for Banquet & Gym End-of-Season Events: We put out the date for our banquet last fall. I’m a big fan of save-the-dates. We also systemized how we do our banquets and do after-action reports. That means Caitlyn, my director, can begin reviewing them this week and propose any changes to the system so she can get started prepping for it. Last season I found myself ordering trophies and certificates at that last minute, and I wrote that down in my report. So this season, we know I need to put that on my to-do list EARLIER! We also host a lock in for prep and elite teams that begins after our banquet. Just like our banquet, it’s systemized, so it should be pretty easy, but this week we’ll get that stuff planned out so there are no surprises when May rolls around.
    6. Next Season: I always schedule our choreography and make my deposit before I put out my budget so I have guaranteed pricing. That doesn’t mean I always know how many teams we’ll have, but choreographers understand that, and the good ones will work with you. I already put out choreo dates for this summer to my families, have Dream Camps on their schedule and planned out for my elite teams, and they’ve had the dates for Team Placements since December. Because we put all that out early, I’m less likely to have kids missing for vacations or Scouts camp. That said, we’re always looking a few months ahead. We already began reviewing the documents we use for team placing and will make sure to have those done in the next few weeks.

I’ve talked to some gym owners who don’t believe we do all this so early. In fact, one told me, “I don’t want to rush this season by planning next season already.” Gosh, I get that! My daughter has cheered for 11 years and has four good years left before she ages out. The last thing I want to do is rush anything. That said, I also don’t want to see my gym families overcoming unnecessary scheduling hurdles because I didn’t prepare them soon enough. About 40 percent of my parents really like that we put out stuff so early. The other 60 percent know where to find it and start looking at it on their own timeline. So, the planners can plan and everybody else has the info when they are ready for it. 

If any of the items above are things that seem really overwhelming to you, maybe it’s time for a business mentor. The amazing coaches at Next Gen do all this stuff in their own gyms AND they have time to go on Spring Break vacations, coach teams and mentor other gym owners. The craziest time of the season will always be crazy, but with the help of Next Gen, it can be a whole lot more enjoyable. If you feel like it’s time to step up your game and provide a better all star program for your athletes, book a call today at the link below and chat with Justin or Dan. They can learn about your gym and see if our program might be a good fit for you!