The importance of budgeting and managing finances in youth-sports programs

All league administrators should have a budget in place before taking a single registration. The budget should estimate revenue and expenses and separate them as individual line items. Estimate revenue low and expenses high in order to provide for some margin of error. Once the budget is set, keep the spending within the budget unless there is additional revenue that might justify additional spending.

A budget serves as all of the following:

  • Operations guide: A budget will dictate how to operate a league based on anticipated revenue and expenses. It will explain how the organization is divided by roles and how they operate.
  • Financial plan: Sound budgeting will keep finances in order and identify any areas where you can fine-tune spending or save money. It should show sources of revenue and allocated expenses.
  • Communications device: A budget provides an understanding for others in a league or the overall organization as to the forecasted revenue and the plan to allocate funds for expenses. It helps stakeholders understand why only certain funds are used for certain expenses.

The purpose of a budget is to allocate resources to achieve financial goals and objectives. If a league or organization is large enough to be separated into departments, each department will have its own budget with the total contributions to the organization’s annual operating budget. A budget should be divided into line items that reflect every aspect of an operation:

  • Staffing and referees
  • Rent/lease/ownership expenses
  • Operating supplies
  • Jerseys and uniforms
  • Equipment
  • Awards
  • Concessions
  • Repair and maintenance
  • Marketing/promotion
  • Background screening
  • Facility improvements
  • Training
  • Insurance.

Budget categories are based on the league’s operation and should be flexible and monitored regularly. Here are five ways to manage a budget and finances:

Breakeven: Find the breakeven point to determine how much revenue you have to bring in to sustain the league. If the only source of revenue is participant registrations, then simply figure out how many participants are needed to run the program. If you have significant revenue in sponsorships, concession sales, etc., include that so you are not dependent on participation alone.

Cost recovery: Similar to the breakeven, cost recovery goes one step further and shows exactly how the total expenses were recovered, based on the revenue brought in. To determine cost recovery, separate all revenue and all expenses. Then divide the total revenue by the total expenses. Hundred-percent cost recovery means you broke even. Anything higher than that means the league made money. Anything less means it lost money and will need to subsidize losses with additional revenue sources.

Expense tracker: Track every league expense to the penny. It can be as simple as entering items onto a spreadsheet. This will help keep track of all funds and ensure you stay within the budget. If you control the league’s bank account, you can reconcile expenses to the account. Tracking expenses will also force you to fine-tune spending and identify places to save money when needed.

Cash-handling: Anytime you are taking in cash, or managing any finances for that matter, more than one person should be involved for accountability and for checks and balances. Decide who is allowed to take cash, determine how it is to be counted, and decide where it goes. If possible, consider going “cash free,” or work toward it.

Contingency: Contingency is more for those who have complete control over league funds, such as a non-profit Little League or Pop Warner team. A larger organization, such as a government agency or larger YMCA association, generally will not have control of this at the league level as they have their own finance departments. If yours is a smaller operation, always have some type of contingency or savings fund. Take a small portion of each registration and put it in a contingency. If things go south or there’s an unexpected expense, it can be handled without being detrimental to the program. As this fund increases, you can also use it for items like scholarships or capital improvements.

All youth sports programs, regardless of the size of the organization, should have some level of budgeting and financial management. Having a plan to manage finances will ensure you can run a viable program.

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How to Efficiently Manage Hotel Bookings

Booking and managing all of the hotel rooms for your team or club may seem like a terrifying and pressure-filled process. As long as you keep on top of everything, it’s a fairly easy process!

Timing

One of the most important aspects of this entire process may not be something you would have thought of; it’s all about timing. Timing plays a huge factor throughout this entire process, and once you understand that, the easier your job will be. Booking hotels for tournaments is not something you want to do one month or a few weeks before an event. This needs to be handled and planned out months ahead of time. Booking agencies tend to coordinate with tournaments long in advance to prepare their hotels for the event. Waiting until months after they are released will leave you with little to no options. Preparing months in advance and getting your dates straight is even more important for lacrosse clubs participating in Stay-to-Play events.

Organization

Keeping everything organized and filed correctly will save you a lot of headaches and frustration. An up-to-date spreadsheet outlining events, dates, locations, teams, and everything else will help you easily identify and stay on top of everything. Take an ample amount of time weeks before the season starts to get as much information as possible laid out in front of you. Once you have everything set up and organized, it’s on to the next step.

Finding a Plan

Going into the hotel booking process blind or without a plan will lead to failure. When trying to get a large number of rooms or blocks, you need to know dates, timelines, and how everything works. Take time before the season to learn who will be the hotel booking agency, find out release dates, and know when you need to book. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the booking agencies directly. A lot of times they can provide you with the information you’re looking for, including release dates.

Managing and Tracking

Once you got everything straight, blocks reserved, and deadlines marked; you aren’t in the clear yet. There are two more big steps to ensure you, and your parents have the easiest process.

First, be sure to track those expiration deadlines. When using a booking agency, block reservations are only held for a short time. After about 1-2 weeks, most blocks will be released back to the public. This is not always the case, some tournaments and agencies give you a long window. But, be sure to note when that deadline is. You can always reach out and attempt to get extensions, but this is not always guaranteed. Some agencies have restrictions on their extensions or don’t offer them at all. Tracking those dates as well as how many rooms your parent’s book is important for moving forward in the process.

Secondly, is distributing those booking links and information. Once you reserve a block, you’ll receive a confirmation with all the necessary information for parents to book. Getting this information out to them can vary based on the club. Some prefer to post on their team pages like Teamsnap or LeagueApps. Others would prefer to post it on the website. Whichever option you chose, be sure to fully post all relevant information and have parents book as soon as possible.

Coach Rooms

When it comes to reserving coach’s rooms, most clubs like to give their staff a different option so they aren’t staying with all the teams and players. That’s not something required, you can always have coaches pull rooms from the reserved blocks. If you decide to have them stay elsewhere, the best thing to do is make sure you reserve with free cancellation. Booking months out and getting the cheaper non-flexible rate may seem great at the time, but you never know what could come up in the future. Booking the flex rate is going to be your best option, just be sure to set reminders to cancel ahead of time if needed.

As the season approaches and parents are all booked up, your job should be relatively complete. It will then just turn into a maintenance role. Helping parents with one-off rooms, and troubleshooting issues as they appear. The whole process may seem very daunting, but as long as you keep everything organized and marked, it’s a fairly easy process!

If you still feel that your hotel booking procedures are too much, Sports Office 365 are experts on the hotel booking process and can take that task off your hands!

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How to Improve Your Club’s Social Media

Social Media: Getting Started and Creating Accounts

Before being overwhelmed with the idea of having to manage a variety of social media accounts, your first step is account creation. Just this first step alone can take some weight off of the time-consuming task that is social media. You may feel overwhelmed at the idea of getting into new social platforms, especially if it’s for the first time.

Getting started can be easier than it seems. First, you’ll need to answer the question: What is your goal with each account? The most common goal is to get club information in front of more people or to act as an information portal for your current players and their parents. Maybe its purpose is a step beyond– to attract more followers
in the community to grow your club. Whatever your goal may be, there are different ways to approach your social setup.

In order to enhance your social media and achieve your goals, you need to understand the different types of content and posting.

  1. Videos, Photos, and galleries- Using imagery is a great way to really engage with your club. By showing off your players, coaches, and parents; it shows that you as a club are thankful and proud of who you are.
  2. Information and Content- On the other side of the spectrum is the pages that operate soley to inform. From marketing programs to broadcasting information about delays and cancellations.
  3. All of the Above- While it may require more effort and more commitment, some social pages do a little bit of everything; which is great! The more content and engagement you get on social media, the better!

What Are the Next Steps?

After you have your accounts all set up you are ready to start engaging with your audience. Engagement is the key to any good social media profile. While you are connected with your immediate audience, it’s important to continue looking to grow and engaging in those outside your primary community. Start implementing some of these ideas to build a bigger presence online:

  • Get some short video clips during practices and games to share as a “Story”
  • Stay consistent with your photo posts! 1-3 per week
  • Be responsive with questions, comments, and inbox messages on your social pages
  • Set some ads to promote your upcoming programs!

Remember, having a good social media presence takes time. You need to stay consistent and engaged throughout the process. Don’t be afraid to market your club and social media either. The more people that notice your club and engage, the better!

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How To Perfect Your Registration Setup

Setting up a registration can be a daunting task. There needs to be a lot of information collected, waivers signed, payments, and more. Many times, there are details left out of registrations that just make your job harder in the future. To some, a simple registration that collects payment and the name of a player will be all they need. But, every registration is different. Here are a few tips on how to perfect your registration setup!

1. Take your time.

Building a good registration doesn’t need to be a one-and-done task. Stretch out the building process over a few days, give yourself time to think of new data points and information that you’ll need to collect. This can also ease the stress of rushing and trying to quickly build a half-fledged registration. Setting some time aside and using the Sports Office 365 Registration Checklist is a great way to stay on top of your job!

2. Think of past mistakes and missing information.

It’s very easy to build what seems like a perfect registration that can be used over and over again; until the time comes to order uniforms and you realized you didn’t collect sizes. Look at past forms you’ve built and learn from what you’ve done in the past. Another option is reaching out to others or consulting online help to see what some of the most simple yet important information is that you may be missing.

3. Marketing your registration

Building a good registration is more than just adding in a few forms and then letting it sit. Registration is a constantly active program. Marketing your registration is going to be more in-depth than building the actual form; and arguably, more important. Marketing, whether it be social media, email, or any other preferred method: is an easy way to boost up your exposure. The more people you market to, the more registrants you’ll get. Be sure to set a good amount of time aside and plan to market far in advance.

4. Keep it simple

A well-designed registration is simple. There is no need for elaborate steps or forms that take more than 10 minutes to complete. The more user-friendly, the better!

5. Run Tests!

Perhaps one of the most forgotten about steps in this process is testing the actual process. The last thing you want is to go into your registration platform a week after it opened only to see nothing has been working the whole time. Set time aside to run through it yourself, have friends, and others test it for you. The more testing and tweaking you do, the easier it’ll be on you in the end.

Building a good registration doesn’t need to be hard. Set some time aside market, run tests. The more time and attention you set aside to building a good form, the easier it’ll be on your parents, and your future self!

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The 7 Day Registration Checklist

Building a registration form can be difficult, especially if you’re doing so by yourself. Check out our 7-Day checklist inspired by TeamSnap!

1. Find a Good Platform

Finding a good platform to set up your registration is the most important step in staying organized. A good platform will allow you to collect as many data points as you need, collect a payment, and track all the happenings of who is registering and when. Getting a good system in place will save you a lot of time and effort in the end!

2. Find out what needs to be recorded

Data is the quintessential piece to your registration setup. Without the appropriate information, you’ll get disorganized and things will start to fall apart. It’s important to take some time to think about what you may need to do with the data in the future and set out some of the major data points you need to be recorded.

3-4. Begin building your form

Once you have found a good foundation and set some time aside to take notes on your registration fields, it’s time to get to work building it out. Take some extra time to really make sure that you hit every point when building this out. Incomplete or difficult registration will only make the lives harder for yourself, coaches, volunteers, players, and parents. Building something simple and easy for parents to complete is the ideal goal when formatting. There is no need for anything too flashy on the registration side of things.

5. Run Through Tests

Now that your registration form is complete, have yourself and a few others run some tests. You may find you missed a data point or find you want to add or remove certain items. You also want to make sure someone other than yourself can run through these tests to get a good outside perspective on the ease of the process.

6. Begin Marketing

After the registration building process is complete, you aren’t done yet. Marketing your program is just as important as the initial setup. Marketing your program can be done either through social media, email marketing, flyers, or whatever your preferred method may be. The more your program is marketed, the more traction it’s going to get.

7. Launch, Promote, and Track

You’ve built out your registration, marketed it, and now it’s time to launch. Once your registration is active, it’s not time to slow down. You’ll want to keep active on things, especially in the first few days to make sure everything is running smoothly. Keeping a watchful eye on things as time passes will help you prepare for the actual program you run. This will also give you a good idea of things you may want to change in the future the next time you set up your registration!

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