How to maximize your "offseason" in sports

by Chris Sorrels - Director, Season Ticket Retention and Premium Services at Oklahoma City Thunder | February 04, 2020

As my mind was spinning on what service-centric topic to write about, all sorts of ideas came running through my head. Do I write about the differences between customer service vs. customer experience? What traits make a successful service person? How do you grow your book of business through service selling or how do you best embrace customer issues or complaints?

While all the topics above are key to creating a successful service professional, one topic continually came to mind – how do you best tackle your offseason? If you’ve been in the sports industry for any length of time, you have received this question from someone outside of our industry – What do you do during the offseason? This question used to drive me crazy, but now it gives me an opportunity to explain how all the business and budget planning going on during the offseason will ensure a successful season.

Here in Oklahoma City, once the season is completed, we take the time to meet with each Season Ticket Account Manager and help them customize their own summer business plan. This allows them to create a specific plan, set measurable goals and objectives around their portfolio of Season Ticket Members. This process includes addressing the following points:

Create a S.W.O.T Analysis

S: Strength/Core Competency

What do you do well in servicing your portfolio? What are your strengths personally and the strengths of your overall portfolio?

W: Weaknesses/Area of Improvement

Where could you improve the level of service within your portfolio?

O: Opportunity/Enhancement

What good opportunities are open to you? How can you turn your strengths into good opportunities for your portfolio?

T: Threat/Concerns

What trends could harm the performance of your renewed accounts?

Business Plan and Goals

What did you learn from this past season that will help mold your business plan? What specific, measurable goals do you have for this offseason? You can base your offseason goals on:

  • 1. The number of individualized touchpoints and appointments you want to hit.

  • 2. Being able to create and provide personalized and customized experiences based on what you know about each account.

  • 3. Continually learning about your accounts and collecting key data points.

  • 4. Creating segmented events and socials and ensure everyone gets an invite. Remember: sometimes an account getting an event invite is just as important as them attending.

  • 5. Perfecting your Rookie account onboarding process and keeping in constant contact with this newest segment of accounts.

Segmenting your Portfolio

Look to segment your portfolio of accounts into at least three different buckets. For each category, provide a detailed plan of action of how you will gain more account-specific knowledge and higher levels of engagement for each bucket by the end of the offseason. Pay extra close attention to these segments:

  • 1. Ghost accounts

  • 2. Less tenured accounts

  • 3. Business/corporate accounts

  • 4. Accounts with share partners

Professional Improvement

Take time for yourself and look for opportunities for professional growth. These could be training seminars, increasing your skills in department-wide technology platforms, continuing education courses or joining a professional or community network.

Success of your Plan

Lastly, if you can stick to your offseason business plan you should be able to answer this question: If this offseason plan succeeds, it will help to set up a successful upcoming season because…

The whole goal of your offseason business plan should be to enhance and maintain your client relationships, which should ultimately improve overall customer satisfaction. The processes you put into place during the offseason will hopefully pay dividends as you embark on the new season. Remember we are open 365 days a year, and it’s our job to keep our team’s brand top of mind for our season ticket holders.

-Chris

Chris Sorrels serves the Thunder organization as Director, Season Ticket Retention and Premium Account Services, joining the team in 2009. He leads the organization’s efforts to build and foster relationships with existing Season Ticket Members and to deliver an unparalleled professional sports experience through proactive, customized service. He previously worked as the Inside Sales Manager and Customer Account Manager for the Frisco Roughriders, AA Baseball Team for the Texas Rangers. Prior to his career in sports, Sorrels received his undergraduate degree from Oklahoma State University and his master’s degree from the University of North Texas. You can learn more about Chris by visiting his LinkedIN profile here