Minding our own business…

20Dec - by Tim - 11 - In Club talk

Yes, we’re living in
The love of the common people
Smile’s from the heart
Mama’s gonna love you
Just as much as she can
And she can

Paul Young – Love of the Common People

I thought I’d move away from the team’s success on the field today and focus instead on some of the many initiatives that the club is currently investigating to further promote Coventry Rugby Club off it.

If Cov is to maintain the progress that has been made over the past 18 months since Scott Morgan’s departure and the arrival of Rowland Winter, then it has to continue to look a new ways of attracting revenue into the club.

The income it generates can then, hopefully, be used to give the club the best possible chance of ensuring its place in the Championship is at first consolidated, before then enabling the Board to build towards providing a real challenge to the top three or four teams in the division.

The club’s marketing is not an area that most supporters have a real understanding of, myself included, but it is crucial to the long-term viability of Coventry Rugby Club and it’s not too far back in Coventry’s history that the club overstretched itself in an effort to escape the Championship back in 1997, failing at the final hurdle in that promotion play-off against London Irish.

The cost of building that team almost resulted in the club’s demise. A little more than 12 months later an emergency rescue package had to be put together at short notice to enable Coventry to start the 1999-2000 season.

More financial problems ensued and it’s only been since the arrival of Jon Sharp that Cov has slowly but surely built the foundations on which the club’s present achievements have been based.

With Championship rugby a probability rather than a possibility (in the sense that promotion is now a matter of Cov’s to lose rather any other club’s to win), I recently had a long chat with Lara Hunter, Cov’s Business Development Officer, just to find out a little about the many initiatives that the club is currently either involved in, or exploring, to bring in that much-needed revenue.

I should begin by saying that there is a massive amount being done behind the scenes – and whilst Lara is far too polite to say so, it must be frustrating at times when so much praise is being lauded on the team and the coaches, and indeed rightly so, as well as on Jon Sharp, and yet little mention is made of the sterling work being done behind the scenes by Lara and her team.

I’ve spent the last few months emphasising what is happening around the club, both in terms of the progress the team is making and the development of the immediate infrastructure put in place to support the players and coaches, including the medical and performance teams, the additional facilities being made available and so on. But only on a couple of occasions have I singled out the work done by the office staff, of which there are just 6, and  I think I’m correct in saying only 4 of those are full-time.

There is a huge amount of admin. involved in running a business the size of Coventry Rugby Club – and Sue, Tom, Jo, Dyan, Sharon and Lara thoroughly deserve the appreciation of the supporters for all they do.

They might not quite get the attention that the players and coaches receive and certainly when things are going as well as they are, they’re often the last folk to be recognised by supporters like myself, but nevertheless we really are living the love of the common people…

Those like Lara and Jo, who work so hard behind the scenes, have had a really  important part to play in the successes the club has been enjoying of late and I know from speaking to Lara that they are all immensely proud of what Coventry has already achieved and are just as excited about what the future holds for Cov as even the most ardent of supporters.

They really are minding our own business.

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Sorry for the slight digression…but it was a worthy one…

So back to some of the initiatives to bring in additional monies that Cov are either involved in or currently exploring…

In no particular order…

One of the two Rosslyn Park hoardings

The club are investigating the possibility of erecting a large electronic advertising hoarding in the car park that will face towards the busy Butts Road, similar I imagine to those at Rosslyn Park.

The company concerned would obviously pay the club a yearly ‘rental’ (I’m sure there’s a technical term to be used there but…) for siting it within the car park – and the sum involved would likely as not be a considerable one as Park highlighted this as being the method they used to obtain the initial payment needed to begin the process of laying the synthetic surface over at The Rock.

This is a no risk venture, as there is no monetary outlay required by the club and is typical of many of the initiatives currently being explored by Cov. It makes good sense to me as it takes up minimal space in the car park, doesn’t look at all unsightly and is a money winner to boot.

In addition, one of the companies that the club is in discussions with might also look at adding a scoreboard as part of the deal…

Many supporters will be aware that the club has leased out the right hand side of the car park as you drive in to Westway, the Nissan dealership, as an overflow.

It’s a really good example of how by bringing a company into contact with the club, further opportunities for sponsorship and/or investment can then follow.

With Nissan making good use of the car park and happy with the way things were progressing, Lara encouraged them to advertise on the outside of the blue railings that form the boundary of the ground and the car park at that one end.

Still believing that Coventry’s relationship with Nissan could be developed yet further, she has worked closely with Nissan at a national level, with the result that the car giants will now hold their next 4 national training days at Coventry, the first one taking place as early as next month.

It demonstrates how important it is to get potential sponsors into the club – once they are a part of it, by-and-large the partnership is a successful one.

It just requires someone with the tenacity of Lara.

I probably should have made it clear much earlier in the post that Lara was  fulsome in her praise of the current Board members who are all very proactive in bringing in potential clients to the club. With many of them heading established businesses and companies themselves, they have a range of contacts whom they have built up over the years and they are more than happy to get them involved wherever possible.

They have certainly played their part in helping the club to become almost self-sufficient following a long period where the club seemed to be haemorrhaging money at times

Advertising around the ground brings in a lot of money into the club, but this will increase greatly when we make it into the Championship. Mention tv coverage to potential sponsors and they’ll suddenly become a lot more interested and it means that areas like the back of the main stand, underneath the windows of the Vice Presidents’ Suites, become  prime spots – and areas where there is currently no advertising at all.

There would also be prime areas around the pitch, in what is apparently called the ‘tv arc’, depending where the camera(s) is situated – I wasn’t aware of this, but at Premiership clubs, every ground has exactly the same order of advertisements around the pitches, although in the Championship other than Greene King, it’s left up to each individual club.

Another area that Lara would like to see the club develop is that of automatic ticketing – especially the buying of tickets through the website.

And not just because it would make things that much easier at the entrances to the ground and mean match days become rather less cash-based than they are currently.

No, the main reason is one that hadn’t actually occurred to me but makes complete sense once Lara had given me the idiot’s guide…

With average gates of around 1700, of which probably 450 are season ticket holders (my guess rather than Lara’s figure), there could be up to 1250ish supporters about whom Cov know next to nothing despite obviously them having a real interest in the club (other than away supporters).

If supporters buy tickets online, you immediately have a database of fans to whom you can then send all sorts of information about the club as and when – from additional games played at the ground, to social events and marketing opportunities. For a growing business, that would seem to be pretty important. At the moment, once those 1250 supporters (or 2500 against Mose) walk away from the ground, all contact with them is lost.

Obviously, the club couldn’t be obtrusive in its communications with supporters who would have to agree anyway to receive information from the club as part of the process of buying tickets. But that would seem to be a far more effective way of communicating with supporters than having to rely on word-of-mouth and the vagaries of social media.

With gates likely to increase considerably in the Championship, online ticketing would definitely seem to be the way forward.

The plastic beer mugs appear to be going down well at the moment. For those not aware of the current system at the bar on a match day, you pay an extra pound for the mug when you buy your drink and when finished you can either return it to the bar and get your deposit back or take the mug home as a souvenir of your time there (bringing it back the following game).

However, Premiership clubs have found that where this system has been used for a while, after the game the kids are picking up all the mugs they can get their hands on and claiming a small fortune. Gloucester came up with the brilliant idea of having large dustbins around the ground into which supporters ‘post’ their plastic mugs – the unclaimed deposits are then given to a local charity or community project.

Seems a plan to me…

Apparently Gloucester use plastic mugs across all bars, other than in one VIP area.

The chicken wrap guy will be present at every home game for the rest of the season – he did extremely brisk trade by all accounts at the Moseley game. The club is also looking to get the food hut next to the Guinness Bar at the railway end leased out to an external caterer (Istanbul’s – get in, my son)…

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the club is also looking at the possibility of holding its pre-match hospitality in a tented area at the far left hand end of the car park and opposite the main stand – this would cater for around 180 covers and would free the two inside downstairs bars for the sole use of the supporters.

When there is a pre-match dinner going on and the downstairs bars are divided, it can be extremely cramped especially as attendances are on the rise and the club has taken to showing the previous week’s away game before the main event (an excellent idea, I hasten to add). And with an eating area outside of the main clubhouse, a ground always looks that much busier…Plymouth and Bedford are prime examples of that.

And of course there are the two musical extravaganza’s taking place over the summer. 1000+ tickets have already been sold for the Simple Minds concert alone, so it’s all looking very promising on that front – the club’s decision to rationalise a little makes complete sense and if it can become known as a music venue within the city during the summer months, so much the better.

Rather like the electronic advertising I mentioned earlier, there’s no risk to the club as it isn’t required to make any financial investment at all – and with the ground having a capacity of 14000 for such events, is a no brainer. Additional monies from the sale of drinks, car parking and hospitality means that the club could receive a decent windfall at a time when little revenue will be coming into the club from elsewhere.

The club has also twigged on the fact that the last game of the season will be a home one against Hull Ionians – one city of culture handing on to the next;  certainly an opportunity for some decent media exposure there I imagine

Lara and her team are working exceptionally hard to develop these and many other opportunities, so much so that I just thought it would be good to recognise in a post what is happening away from the rugby side of the business. She clearly loves being at the club and is just as committed to seeing it succeed as the players and coaches are.

I’m sure Phil Crossman will already have had a big influence in the direction the club is taking commercially, and he was very impressive when he spoke to supporters at the recent Fans’ Forum – he certainly has a team backing him that, like everyone else connected with the club, will do its utmost to ensure Cov achieves the success everyone associated with it deserves.

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Many thanks again to everyone who has so far voted in the Coventry Rugby Club’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) 2017 poll; a fair few voted yesterday and it has already achieved more votes than in either of the last two seasons.

I will keep it open for a couple more days just to give those who don’t read the blog every day  a chance to take part. Christmas Day will see the first of the announcements leading up to the overall winner on the 12th day of Christmas.

And if voting patterns continue, there still might well be a couple of surprises on the cards. Certainly it’s all quite tight at the top at the moment…

You have up to 4 votes…please just tick against the appropriate name(s). You don’t have to use all 4, but by using them you open the vote up to more players which adds a bit more interest. Please refer to Monday’s post for full details.

The players will appear in the poll in a random order, not one that I’ve come up with. If the software works, you should only be allowed to have just one set of 4 votes and once you’ve voted you won’t be able to revote on a different day or through a different post.

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Love of the Common People a song that is ultimately optimistic, urging everyone to keep their faith strong and to remain hopeful. And sometimes that faith isn’t just placed in those who make the headlines, but also in those who do the hard work that few notice…

…which is exactly what I’ve been writing about above.

Paul Young – probably one of the most enjoyable concerts I’ve ever seen was when he was with Q-Tips (remember – SYSLJFM – The Letter Song). Everything he ever did afterwards was a pale shadow in comparison. The man had soul back then…

He was also partly responsible for ‘Toast’ when with Streetband (who became Q-Tips), but I can forgive him that, just…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11 thoughts on “Minding our own business…”

  1. At our last meeting with PAC a couple of weeks ago, he raised the question of a book recording the history of Coventry Rugby. He had forgotten about JB being the club historian when we mentioned it, and he made a note to involve him. I would think it’ll be a local best seller

  2. Hi Tim, lovely to see the backroom team featured, whenever I have been to club office (usually only to order or pick up my season ticket) they are so friendly and helpful, and we usually end up chatting for a few minutes, which I love. As regards online ticketing, my experience with Wasps on the few times I have been, has been really good. Once they have your details, you get mails advertising games coming up, offers, news etc, but also a mail when you get back asking what you thought, what you liked, what you didn’t like etc. So I can definitely see the value there, and hope we can replicate the best bits of that. Overall feels like the off pitch activity is gearing up in line with the on pitch, great time to be a fan of our great club.
    Merry Xmas, and luckily won’t need the twitter this week as looks like we’re off to Mose on Saturday. Come on Cov.

  3. One thing i wish the club will do better is the raffle. In this day and age their is revenue to be made from this. Many people have stopped buying fo Euro/National lottery. A local one could be a money spinner. The Sky Blues launched a draw in the sixties with the slogan “Rocket into Europe” now theirs a thought !!!!

    Michael Carter

  4. Another informative and cracking blog. Personally I would rather see any unclaimed mug deposits to go back into the club perhaps you could have a club bin and a charity bin. I have voted in the MVP poll, a very tough 4 choices. Someone I would have liked to vote for is Kessell who I really think has kicked us on (no box kick pun intended) since his arrival. Finally, Lara is obviously working very hard behind the scenes and is a key part of Coventrys progress.

    1. Thanks, Alan…the Poll is definitely the toughest of the three with so many quality players all performing well this season – hopefully, the results will ensure that there’s a bit of interest over the what is generally a quiet part of the season!
      Just please to be able to highlight the excellent work Lara and the admin team are currently doing…

      Happy Christmas and a promotion winning new year…

      Tim

  5. Having not imbibed on my only foray to BPA this season thus far, are the plastic cups Cov branded? If so, that’s a cracker of an idea.
    There must be low-cost initiatives which will reap rewards, too.
    For a relatively cheap outlay, the club could introduce saleable items that could first be sold, offered, in the club shop and then online. What about a supporter’s tie?
    What about, if this is to be our year, a commemoration tie, mug, plate, who knows?
    The big guns in the world of rugby offer a decent template, including England.
    Saracens, for example, have a range of mugs, bedding, beach towels, flags, pens, bags, bears and even a radio and ref link!
    There’s key rings galore, badges – a whole range of stuff for their most ardent fans.
    That is not to say that Cov should go out and spend loads on stuff and then find they can’t sell. And these are small outlays, by comparison, that won’t bring millions of shiny plastic notes into the club.
    But it’s about growing the offering, and, I, for one, would love a Coventry Bear for my daughter and a Coventry outfit for her. At seven months, she’s growing fast, so I’d have to keep investing.
    For me, it’s about keeping the fans involved.
    Not robbing them or bleeding them at every opportunity, but being alive to options that would prove popular.
    I for one, would love a book charting the club’s wonderful history From start, the rise, the fall, and the 2017/2018 march to promotion.
    A

    1. There are definitely a number of items, like ties, that would prove popular amongst supporters but would the volume of sales would be enough for O’Neills to offer them. I thought they did a bear – will check next time I’m in the shop and forward one to you if there is.
      I know I’ve got one from a previous era!
      Not sure about a book, but a CD recording Cov’s road to the Championship, should it happen, would sell well! All the tries of the 2017/18 season…shouldn’t be difficult to do! I know a man who could do the voice-over too!

      Happy Christmas, Mark and thank you so much for your support of the blog!

      Tim

      1. You may well be right about the book idea, but I have several tomes on Coventry City – and I’m more inclined towards rugger than soccer, so I’d like one.
        Happy Christmas to you and yours. I’m so delighted to have found your matchday tweets and this blog, it’s keeping this exile in touch with my club.

      2. You may well be right about the book, although I’ve got several tomes about Coventry City – and me a rugger man.
        However, I’m so glad I found your match day tweets and then this blog. It has brought me closer to my team, which, as a long time exile, is a brilliant feeling.
        Thank you, Tim

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