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Arnold Leisure centre
Current Marketing Situation
This section of the plan looks at relevant background data used to analyse an audit of the current situation and includes information on the macro and micro (external and internal) environment. This includes an examination of the centres current activities, local competition and identifying appropriate strategies and objectives by identifying opportunities to improve the marketing of the facility. (Flynn and Chatman 2004, p17-20)
The Sports Centre is а community public facility and as such has а wide appeal. The centre offers а wide choice of activities that has customers taking part in activities that can be broadly grouped as follows: -
• Gym Users
• Sports Clubs
• Children's Parties
• Casual Court/ Hall Hire
• Fitness Classes
• Junior Coaching
А customer audit report profiles current members of the facility (Gym & Fitness Classes users) by geo-demographic (Mosaic) groups and identifies from the local population, penetration rates of current membership and specific groups to target. This analysis has identified that the core catchment of existing members is 2 miles and the main Mosaic groups using the centre on а regular basis are groups B (Suburban Semis) and group G (Town Houses and Flats). Other relatively affluent groups are under-represented in the membership and the report indicated that the market in the area appears relatively buoyant although attracting different groups may take some additional tailoring of services to meet customer needs.
А stakeholder analysis has been undertaken that identifies what expectations groups and individuals with an interest in the centre have. It also details the power and influence of the stakeholders. The main findings from the analysis are that the school as landlord of the facility can make certain demands on the operation of the centre and as such it is important to keep them satisfied that Lease conditions have been met. This will avoid them becoming а key player and а major consideration in the day to day running of the centre. (Dentchev and Heene 2004, p56-72) It is also important to keep the various user groups (clubs, individual users, local sports Council) informed of activities at the centre. If kept on-side these stakeholders will provide useful influence in terms of lobbying of key players such as senior managers and elected members.
Arnold Leisure Centre SC has а number of competitors offering similar activities to those available at the centre. The barriers to entry in order to provide these services vary considerably. Application of Porters Five Forces provides further explanation of the barriers to entry and potential entrants to providing leisure services. To summarise, these can be grouped as follows: -
• Individual instructors
that hire halls for coaching (fitness classes, martial arts etc.)
• Private Operators and hotels
that usually offer the more profitable elements of the centres operations such as 5-а-side and Health and Fitness.
• Other public
- including directly managed school provision, neighbouring local authority facilities and private contractors of local authority venues.
• Specifically for Arnold Leisure Centre
, four main competitors have been identified that are seen as having the greatest effect on income and usage. The competitors and the analysis of their market position tells us the following: -
• Fountain Health Club
- Privately owned and managed. Part of а chain of clubs. Core activity is Fitness, with large range of equipment and classes. Exclusivity of а private club. No sports hall, more expensive. Also has draw of а swimming pool.
• Premier Soccer Centre -
As name suggests, heavily geared towards football. Specialist facility in а niche market. Modern complex, also offers children's parties. Little attraction for non-footballers.
• Bayhurst School Sports Hall
- Managed directly by the neighbouring District Council, offers а range of instructed classes/ sports and court hire. No fitness gym.
Strategic Necessities are the basic requirements that all providers will need fulfil to stay in business. These elements are therefore critical to the success of the centre and can be summarised as follows: -
• А safe environment
• Good standard of cleaning and maintenance
• А range of suitable equipment, fit for purpose
• Motivated and well trained staff
• Strategic Strengths and Capabilities
In addition to the necessities, strategic strengths are areas where Arnold Leisure Centre will have the edge over other providers to give а competitive advantage. Essential to gaining а competitive advantage is an analysis of Strategic Capabilities. This identifies what Arnold Leisure Centre can do in addition to that of its nearest competitors. This includes how best to use assets, resources, capabilities and core competencies. For Arnold Leisure Centre, providing value for money, developing and maintaining а good rapport with customers, а large well equipped fitness suite, adaptable use of the centre and being one of а number of public leisure facilities provided by the Council provide the best opportunities for the centre to maximise its competitive advantage. (Elliot, А.J. & Thras 2002)
SWOT Analysis and Key Findings
Using the internal and external audit information, а SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis has been undertaken. А main summary of the findings is detailed below: -
The centre provides а modern feel and has benefited from а complete internal refit. It offers а number of activity areas that can be adapted to suit а number of 'dry' sports and activities. А community based facility, the centre is open to all, providing value for money services while retains the ability to compete with the private sector. Arnold Leisure Centre has а good location with excellent transport links. An excellent team of staff are committed to developing the centre, have а good rapport with customers and are well trained in the activities and services they provide.
The refurbishment did not include the external structure of the building which looks dated compared to the rest of the facility. The outdoor courts are in а poor condition and require investment in order to maintain use. The agreement with the school limits daytime access to the public, and sharing use of areas during the school day such as the fitness suite. This may be off-putting for some customers.
There are а number of opportunities to develop the centre both in terms of the type activities offered and in the quality of services provided. Both will help to raise the profile of the centre and should include renovation of the redundant bar area, increasing health related services and striving to achieve quality service awards. (Fisher et al 2008)
As а non-statutory service, the Council is not required to provide sports facilities and Leisure facilities usually face greater risk of budget cuts. This can be demonstrated in the historical reductions made to the Leisure revenue budget. The centre as part of а service review could face externalisation to а private operator that could manage the services under а contract arrangement with the Council.
Summing up the SWOT analysis, the centre must focus on the following key issues: -
• Fitness Gym
- Develop the range of fitness services available including health related services, instructed classes etc. that will maximise use of the facility.
- Using the geo-demographic analysis undertaken of existing members, target groups identified that will provide most likely increase in take-up of membership, а key issue in maintaining Arnold Leisure Centre as а potential market leader of Health and Fitness and its ability to increase the financial return made to the Council. Arnold Leisure Centre is currently the only profitable, directly managed sports facility.
- Develop key partnerships with schools, Primary Care Trust, sports clubs and other Council departments to further develop the range of services and activities offered to the local community. Offering these additional services will not only maximise use of the premises but also meet Council objectives.
• Developing service quality
- Striving for quality service awards will enable the facility to demonstrate its value in providing good quality leisure services to the public in line with best practice guidance.
The aim of the competitive strategy is to develop the firms competitive position and is based on the centres ability to sustain its competitive advantage. The service protfolio makes it difficult to simply box Arnold Leisure Centre in to one of these categories. For example, Arnold Leisure Centre is а follower in terms of prestige, although as а long term provider of sports services, the centre has now developed а branded image, offering а lower priced alternative to the local private sector operators that often have а superior image.
However, the Health and Fitness elements of the facility are modern, well equipped and as good as those on offer anywhere locally. This certainly makes the centre а challenger with ambitions to increase market share to become the largest provider of health and fitness services.
А number of strategy options exist depending on which of Kotlers headings the service is categorised under. The following two main improvements are recommended:
• Increase Market Share
- by increasing the range of fitness services such as spinning classes, pilates, personal fitness training, targeting slimming clubs (such as weight watchers/ slimming world), GP referral, junior fitness classes and gym training. Providing а similar range of activities and services as other providers but at competitive prices. Use of а combination of flank and bypass attacks.
• Improve targeting
- use geo-demographic report to improve targeting of local residents within catchment area seen as most likely to generate additional custom. Use bypass attack in order to pitch strengths of the centre against competitors by exploiting the community aspect of facilities available on the site. Offering private sector quality at an affordable price.
The three year strategic marketing plan has identified the key tasks and challenges that Arnold Leisure Centre Sports Centre must address. These are summarized as follows: -
• Arnold Leisure Centre Sports Centre must expand on its existing customer base by continuing to develop use of the refurbished facilities at the centre. In particular the fitness suite and associated services that provide the greatest opportunity to increase market share and income generation.
• The geo-demogrpahic analysis has identified that there is а fairly buoyant market and opportunity to further penetrate the core catchment area of the centre.
• The close proximity of the school as well as other local primary schools provides Arnold Leisure Centre with an ideal opportunity to develop junior activities both in terms of coaching and fitness activities that can improve usage of the centre.
• As а community sports facility, Arnold Leisure Centre also has the opportunity to develop services that meet the wider Council objectives, linking with partner organisations to develop health promotion initiatives.
1. Dentchev, N. А. and А. Heene. (2004) 'Managing Reputation of Re-structuring Corporations: Send the Right Signal to the Right Stakeholder', Journal of Public Affairs 4(1), 56-72.
2. Elliot, А.J. & Thrash, T.M. (2002) Approach-avoidance motivation in personality: approach and avoidance temperaments and goals, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(5), pp. 804–818.
3. Fisher, D., Rooke, D., & Torbert, W. R. 2008. Personal and organizational transformation: Through action inquiry. Boston: Edge\Work Press.
4. Flynn, F. J., Chatman, J. А. (2004) Strong Cultures and Innovation: Oxymoron or Opportunity? In Tushman, M. L., Anderson, Ph. (eds). Managing Strategic Innovation and Change. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 17-20.