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How to maintain Membership fees and win the Championship…

Monday 18th November 2013

It may sound like a dream scenario for Kent Cricket, but is it really possible? Well, in reasonably simplistic but realistic terms, yes it is.

What does it take to win the Championship or any major sporting competition? A very good team, a top coach, the right culture and some luck. Behind all this, coaching programmes, facilities, development plans certainly play a part in sustained success, but if you’ve got the team, the culture and some luck, you are well on your way.

There are exceptions and money does not guarantee success, just ask Surrey County Cricket Club; but it is no surprise that Premier Football is dominated by a few Clubs or that Durham have a great winning record in the County Championship. They are one of only two Clubs (our friends at Surrey again) who pay up to the maximum allowed under the salary cap. How can it be an even competition if there is massive variety in the capacity Clubs have to pay wages and hence recruit stars or retain those within their own structure? To be a winning team, to a large degree, the finances have to be in place.

Currently Kent Cricket does not spend anything like the allowed cap, but how do we get to the stage where we can spend to the maximum? Double our Membership fees? This is unlikely to work given the overall trend for people is moving away from extended commitments – apart from the obvious sensitivity to cost. Get twice as many Members? Great idea and one that we are activity working on but…not in keeping with Membership trends in cricket. Make money from ticket sales? Huge potential here, especially with the change to the competition structure in 2014, but there is still a large dependency on team performance and good old English weather. Generate new or improved income streams? Certainly working with clear evidence of new, guaranteed monies through the Lindley catering contract and Sainsbury’s store rental income. But is it enough?

Perhaps the most dramatic increase in sustainable, not at risk income, the Club has generated in the past four years has been the growth in commercial/sponsor income. In 2010, gross income was recorded as £200,000; unaudited 2013 figures calculate the figure as just over £585,000 – growth of 192.5% during tough economic times. So why are businesses supporting us and how do we maintain the growth? They want to receive commercial returns – profile, awareness, thanks but ultimately sales! Many of these companies are proudly owned and operated in Kent and are generous in their support. But to stay in business we have to be able to deliver to them results better than other forms of promotion and advertising. Here’s where you come in and don’t forget, this article is about winning cricket trophies!

Interestingly in our recent surveys, of the 918 people who answered most of the questions, only 442 replied to the question of – Who are the current sponsors of the Club? Encouragingly 48.1% thought sponsors were important enough for them to recall companies investing over £585,000 in their cricket club!A shame it wasn't 100%as this isa wasted opportunity, especially for Members who are the shareholders of Kent County Cricket Club, as they are failing to recognise this absolutely vital group of people, who may be the key to producing cricket teams to return us to First Division LV= County Championship cricket and ultimately Number One status. Would they be as indifferent to a suggestion of doubling Membership fees?

Question time:

1. When was the last time you rang or contacted any Kent Cricket Sponsor to thank them for supporting your Club?

2. If you are a Member, did you thank Shepherd Neame for providing you with a complimentary drink for the last few years?

The great thing about building our commercial base is that it isn’t actually going to cost you any more money – it is all about being polite and aware.

First, go out of your way to thank our sponsors. It will have a huge impact on them to discover they are appreciated. Drop an email via their website, a note in the post, or visit their office or shop. They are used to be being taken for granted, so you will be amazed what an impact this can have.

Second, be aware and work the network. Not only do our commercial partners support the Club but they usually also offer Members and Supporters better value deals. Check out the sponsor list on the Kent Cricket website before you make a purchase.

Need some insurance? Towergate

Legal services? Girlings

Some refreshments? Shepherd Neame products or pubs

Car sales and servicing? Barrett’s

Jewellery? Fitzgerald Jewellers

Bereavement support? Dignity

Fencing or building products? Jacksons Fine Fencing

Accommodation in Canterbury? Kent University

Fitness facilities? DW Sport

Clothing? Samurai

We have a broad and ever growing range of options. For those of you who operate your own businesses we also have a range of B2B suppliers. If you are going to be purchasing these products or services anyway, why not help Kent Cricket to win cricket matches at the same time? Similarly, if you know a company that you think might be a good partner of Kent Cricket, let us know and we will contact them and introduce them to the benefits of the association, with the most important being a pro-active Membership/Support base.

It is your Club and we all have the ultimate goal of winning the LV= County Championship cricket. Let us see if next year, 100% of the people who start the survey complete the question on sponsors and let us see if we can live our byline – ‘Together we are Kent.’

Pat Mellsop, Commercial Director