Fencing Club Business Development Series

Discussion in 'Club Corner' started by Samuel N Lillard, May 9, 2018.

  1. Samuel N Lillard

    Samuel N Lillard Rookie

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    Dear Fencing Club Entrepreneurs:

    In conjunction with the USFA, I am presenting and posting a series of presentations on best practices for starting and running a fencing club. The next session will be held at the Summer Nationals and will discuss limiting liability, forms and managing coaches and staff. The following is a link to the first presentation. Welcome any feedback - https://spaces.hightail.com/space/joblBMrRPs
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2018
  2. Strytllr

    Strytllr DE Bracket

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    Sounds great. What day and time are you doing your presentation?
     
  3. K O'N

    K O'N Podium

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    I think this looks great. Since you ask, I do have a bit of feedback :)

    * "The # 1 limitation on the growth fencing is the availability of qualified fencing coaches" Totally agree. So perhaps lean on your audience to lean on US Fencing to start up coach training again, commit to its continuation, and put some resources into it. Coaches' College or something similar is an enormous asset, and an enormous loss when it's not being run. We should all be clamoring for it to be a major part of US Fencing's plans for the future. The most difficult part of your bootstrapping plan IMO is generating a real coach out of whole cloth.

    * You might consider adding community colleges to your list of startup community assets. I've run a club (Dallas Fencers' Club) out of a rec center in Dallas, and for the past dozen years or so I've run a club through a community college Continuing Ed program. The CC class has a lot of advantages. There are a lot of community colleges out there with big, nice, empty gyms. They were built in an era when PE was mandatory. PE is no longer required or even offered at most community colleges, and they're hard to repurpose. Maybe they're used a couple of times a week for open basketball or a dance class or something. Mostly they're empty. IME you're in much more competition for real gym space at a rec center; very often at rec centers we get relegated to tile-over-concrete general use spaces while people play basketball on the basketball courts. Understandable from the rec center's point of view, but there's usually a CC a mile down the road with an empty gym and a Continuing Ed coordinator desperate for new classes. It really is an underused resource.

    A reasonable course setup is meeting twice a week for 1.5 hours per class. The students will pay something like $200 or $250 per semester, minimum of eight students to have the class make, so the school is taking in about $2k per semester. You'll generally get something like $25 a contact hour, 3 hours per week for about 12 weeks, so they're paying you about $900. The rest you can consider rent for the gym. If you have a large class you can split it into separate classes, one MW and one TTH for example, to keep the equipment needs down and to keep the school/instructor financial spit at about the right level. They won't give you a raise for a large class, but they'll schedule two classes.

    You don't need a sequence of classes called Beginner and Intermediate and whatever, just call it Fencing and have them sign up for the same class every semester.

    I'd recommend you not ask the school to buy all the equipment for you; your goal, probably, is to build up a club and then move into your own space. If that's the case you want to own the masks and weapons and so on.

    At my school the structure was already in place, from music classes, to offer private lessons. The school takes a small cut of that too, but an added advantage is that it lets you reserve the gym outside your usual class time, on Friday afternoons for example. And if I'm giving lessons in the gym I might as well open it up to free fencing for my intermediate students. This gives them three nights of fencing a week, MW classes and Friday free fencing. Obviously this is only for students who are safe to fence while I'm not standing there watching, so usually after a year or so, but it increases the value of the class quite a lot to the student.

    This is a little specific, but if you're running a CE course the IT people will usually be glad to help you. Once I figured this out I got a stack of old laptops to run VSM on and a kid to set them up for me with a minimal Windows install, and support if they crash. If I ever moved I'd have to give them back, I guess, but until then it's a nice money saver.

    I've come to the conclusion that a course like this is a much better option than a rec center. Once you build up a large enough roster you can look into starting a private club and renting a space, if you want to do that.

    Sorry for the wall of text, if I had more time I'd go back and edit it :) Please feel free to message me if any of this is unclear.

    And thanks for doing this! It's a good idea. We need more clubs. It's a bit maddening that we have this great product and our NGB so often seems so indifferent to actually growing the sport at a grass roots level.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2018
  4. Samuel N Lillard

    Samuel N Lillard Rookie

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  5. Samuel N Lillard

    Samuel N Lillard Rookie

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    I just realized that I linked a incomplete draft of the presentation and have just now updated the link - so there is more to review: https://spaces.hightail.com/space/joblBMrRPs
    Thanks for the feedback and I will respond shortly.
     
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  6. Allen Evans

    Allen Evans Podium

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    Holding these at Summer Nationals is great,but not all of us can get to seminars during the course of the event. We're either coaching, or fencing, or we can't afford to spend three extra daysi n a hotel because a meeting is scheduled after our activities are done. Please look into having someone video tape this at a reasonable level of expertise and putting it online!

    A

    PS - I know we're always "looking into doing this" as an NGB, but lets make this happen this time!
     
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  7. Samuel N Lillard

    Samuel N Lillard Rookie

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    The programs are audio taped by US Fencing. Bob Bodor <[email protected]> may provide a copy if requested.
     
  8. Allen Evans

    Allen Evans Podium

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    "May", or "will"?

    If these are available they should be promoted on the US Fencing web site.
     
  9. Samuel N Lillard

    Samuel N Lillard Rookie

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    I doubt its "will not" but I would ask.
     
  10. Allen Evans

    Allen Evans Podium

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    I'll bring it up with Bob when I talk to him next.

    As an aside, and not directed to you personally, but business development information for fencing clubs is something I get asked about all of the time. Putting together a good package is not an easy task (I understand that) but even when US Fencing does put information together, like these seminars, there seems to be a huge aversion to making the information easily available and public.

    Frankly, it's annoying and self-defeating.
     
  11. mfp

    mfp Podium

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    When will you be doing your presentation on "Compliance"? I'm guessing that could be a good one after seeing the "On the Frontlines of Workplace Law" tagline on your title slide.
     
  12. Samuel N Lillard

    Samuel N Lillard Rookie

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    Shooting for Sunday July 1st at the Nationals.
     
  13. Samuel N Lillard

    Samuel N Lillard Rookie

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    I would not be annoyed with Starbucks for not being able to repair your laptop. Its not what Starbucks is staffed or set up to do. The same with US Fencing. Fostering private fencing clubs is not their expertise. Private Club owners can assist however, and there is a mutual interest supporting other private clubs and share best practices. An association of private club owners is where we may be headed.
     
  14. mfp

    mfp Podium

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    Cool. Many fencing club board members and owners seem underinformed (or completely oblivious) when it comes to Compliance issues. Hopefully your session on the topic will help change that.

    Along with all the potential issues involving zoning, building, employment, labor, tax, licensing, ADA, etc, laws and codes, people don't realize fencing clubs in several states can fall under the definition of Health Clubs or Health Studios and their regulations.

    For example, in California those regs specify items that must be in all contracts for health studio services in California -- down to the specific wording and point sizes for some items. I have yet to see a fencing club membership agreement in California that comes anywhere close to complying with California's Health Studio Services Contract Law.

    Also, California "Health Studios" have requirements for AEDs that many CA fencing clubs don't seem to know about or meet.
     
  15. Allen Evans

    Allen Evans Podium

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    Perhaps I didn't make myself very clear, sorry. I'm not asking for US Fencing to to develop expertise in club development, but it would be nice that when US Fencing DOES take the effort to put together informational meetings (like the ones held at Summer Nationals and occasional NACs) that they make the information they've tried to collect available to the membership as a whole, rather than just the people who can attend the event.
     
  16. Zebra

    Zebra Podium

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    Child abuse prevention laws like Pennsylvania Act 10 are also overlooked.
     
  17. Zebra

    Zebra Podium

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    Maybe after we get through with seminars for club owners, how about seminars on legal issues and tax issues for referees? I've been to some very useful presentations at my annual hockey referee seminars.
     
  18. Samuel N Lillard

    Samuel N Lillard Rookie

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    Good point. I'm not aware that the law has been interpreted to apply to instruction in or classes for training in the Olympic Sport of Fencing. Would be interested if you have knowledge that it has been. But it would seem to be triggered if the club also provides membership for fitness or body building or other such non-fencing training. There can be a sales tax difference in many states between membership fees to a health club and fees for fencing instruction and classes (lessons).

    California Code, Civil Code - CIV § 1812.81 As used in this title, “contract for health studio services” means a contract for instruction, training or assistance in physical culture, body building, exercising, reducing, figure development, or any other such physical skill, or for the use by an individual patron of the facilities of a health studio, gymnasium or other facility used for any of the above purposes, or for membership in any group, club, association or organization formed for any of the above purposes;  but does not include (a) contracts for professional services rendered or furnished by a person licensed under the provisions of Division 2 (commencing with Section 500) of the Business and Professions Code , (b) contracts for instruction at schools operating pursuant to the provisions of the Education Code, or (c) contracts for instruction, training, or assistance relating to diet or control of eating habits not involving physical culture, body building, exercising, figure development, or any other such physical skill.
     
  19. Samuel N Lillard

    Samuel N Lillard Rookie

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    Don't forget on February 2018, Senate Bill 534, Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017 was signed into law, becoming effective immediately. The bill imposes a duty on amateur sports organizations, including US fencing and its members, to report suspected sex-abuse to local or federal law enforcement or to a child-welfare agency designated by the Justice Department, within 24 hours. Failure to report is subject to criminal penalties.
     
  20. mfp

    mfp Podium

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    When researching this a few years ago, the info we were given was that this code is "part of an overall California legislative policy designed to enable consumers and others who may be in a disadvantageous contractual bargaining position to protect their rights" and that various California city and county Consumer Protection Units have interpreted it / taken the position that "speciality exercise clubs" such as boxing, martial arts and (iirc) a rowing club are subject to it. We were cautioned that while no California cases specific to fencing clubs were found, disputes involving California's Health Studio Services Contract Law typically end up in small claims court.

    Other states of course have different laws, with different courts and different results.

    NY has a fairly extensive state code for Health Club Services with "sports" clubs included in its definition of "Health Club".


    Wonder what's the level of compliance with it for fencing clubs in NY.

    Pennsylvania also has its own Health Club Act. But there some club owners were successful in arguing a case before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania that their karate centers are not “health clubs” for the purposes of the Pennsylvania Health Club Act.
     

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