Lundin Bowling Club

Family Fortunes - Lundin Bowling Club, Fife Case study background

Lundin Bowling Club is based in Lundin Links in North East Fife. At the start of the 2011 season the club had 79 adult members (many of whom were inactive), 0 junior members and 8 social members. It recognised the need to grow its membership and change the age demographics of the club in order to secure its long term future. The club contacted Bowls Scotland to seek advice on their drive to recruit new members before setting up a steering group with the specific remit of organising and delivering the club’s recruitment activity.

Following its meeting with Bowls Scotland the club consulted another local bowling club (Duffus Park, Cupar) about its successful junior development programme. Lundin was keen to establish a similar programme in its area so contacted two local primary schools and began providing bowls sessions to children aged 6+. After that initial programme in the summer of 2011 the club had managed to recruit 28 junior members. At the start of the 2012 season this had risen to 51.

Plan of action

Whilst launching their junior schools programme in 2011 the steering group was hard at work behind the scenes pulling together a recruitment event for 2012. The group was clear that it wanted to hold an open day at the club which not only gave people the opportunity to try bowls but which also offered other activities that would appeal to the wider community.

The date was set for the event so they set about utilising local marketing opportunities to promote the event and ensure that it was given widespread coverage. Over the preceding year the club started producing a club newsletter which it distributed to club members and around the local community. This was a great way of increasing awareness of the club and what it had to offer.

After a sluggish start the members bought into the event and rallied round to help make it a success. Not only did their planned event feature the opportunity to bowl but it also incorporated a cake and candy stall, a plant stand, face painting, a bottle stall and a BBQ. The club was clear that it would have a family focus to the event so tried to provide something that would encourage all the family to come along.

Two weeks prior to the event the club used its members to distribute flyers advertising their event to 1600 households in their area. In addition they got their event some coverage on the local radio stations and also had it profiled in a local newspaper.

Through word of mouth from all of the above news of the event spread throughout Lundin Links and into surrounding villages and towns. One of the key elements to spreading the word was through the existing members and the parents of the juniors. The approach to the parents of the juniors was very significant as many helped in the preparations for the event, some provided donations, and following their involvement quite a few joined the club.

Recognising the importance of using this opportunity to hook the visitors to the club the Steering Group proposed an introductory membership offer as an incentive for the attendees to take out membership with the club. With a single adult membership of the club normally costing £75 they offered membership to new members for only £20 for the first year. In addition they also offered a family membership for only £40 (up to two adults and two children).  

On the day the organisers ensured that from the start the bowling green was busy by getting the juniors playing fun challenges. This helped to put visitors at ease and encouraged them to get onto the green.

Outcomes

  • Fifty-three new adult members joined the club following the event
  • Fifteen new junior members were recruited
  • Positive feedback was received from all who attended
  • Eleven family memberships were sold
  • An initial increase of 20-30% on annual membership income. If all new members retain their membership for a 2nd year this will result in a 59% increase.

Next steps

The club has recognised the importance of fully integrating these new members into the club and has taken appropriate measures to ensure this is done effectively. 

As soon as the new members signed up on the open day and in the following week, they were provided with details of introductory sessions the club had specifically arranged for people who were playing bowls for the first time. As well as holding sessions on a Monday and Friday evening they also arranged a session on a Sunday afternoon to try to accommodate all their new members.

Due to the large number of members that have joined the club a Special Committee meeting was held to discuss how the club continues to integrate the new members during the 2012 season. One of the first activities the club arranged was a social event at the start of June to give new members the opportunity to meet each other and the existing members.

The event has helped to raise the club’s profile in the local community and it is keen to continue building on this. The club has created a website (www.lundinbowlingclub.org.uk) to promote its activities and events to all members and the wider community. The vast number of new members in the club will undoubtedly lead to increased interest in its activities and the website is likely to be a potential first point of contact for new potential members.

The Future

The club has signed up to be part of the Bowl4Fife junior development programme running in North East Fife. This has opened up opportunities for the club not only to continue increasing its junior membership but also to provide more opportunities for competitions and events for junior bowlers in partnership with other clubs involved in the programme.

The top priority for the club is to retain as many of the new members as they can. Their plans to integrate these new members will be critical in ensuring they achieve a high retention rate.

The club has also just begun a feasibility study to establish how best they can develop their clubhouse. They are investigating the possibility of grant aid and are having draft plans for any development prepared. They have engaged with Active Fife for assistance in this process.

Key Points

This case study is a great example of how many factors can be brought together to provide a fantastic event.

  • Target market – the club was aware of its target group (e.g. non-bowlers and families) and designed and marketed its event accordingly.
  • Existing members – members and, more specifically new members, are the cheapest and most effective way of attracting other new members. The club recognised this and ensured that they bought into the event and promoted it to their friends and family. The existing junior members and parents were key in this process.
  • Advertising – the steering group didn’t rely on one type of marketing working and instead used various different methods to promote their event.
  • Promotion – a well organised event attracted people to attend but the club ensured it made the most of the opportunity by offering an introductory membership for the first year. Included in this was a fantastic family membership offer which promoted the unique position of the sport as being an activity all the family can participate in together.
  • Integration – the club hasn’t just sat back and relaxed now that it has attracted the members, it has been proactive in organising activities to help integrate members into the club. This should help to retain those members once their introductory membership runs out at the end of the first year.
  • Planning and timescales – putting in place a ‘three point plan’ as discussed with Bowls Scotland proved to be the correct approach. Over a 12 month period the club worked at improving communication with the local community, developing a junior section, and planning a one off community event to attract people along to the club.

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