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Squash – Game On! A


While its heyday may have ended in the 80s, a squash program can still be a tremendous source of revenue BY MIKE MCPHEE


s someone in the club busi- ness for over 35 years, 24 of them as owner or manager of several fitness and squash


clubs in the GTA, I believe I have a unique perspective on how a squash component can be a viable business option in a commercial fitness club. In the 10+ years I spent as a club


design, marketing and management consultant and broker, I was often asked by clients if they should include squash courts at their new club or add them to their existing operation. My answer was, and is still, always


the same: “Where’s your bar?” and, “Who’s your pro?” Because kids aren’t exposed to


squash on television or in physical ed- ucation programs, it takes a pied piper to promote the game. I believe that squash pros who show a love of both the game and children, have done more to grow the game than any other single national or provincial game- growth campaign or initiative. In fact, you can trace all of today’s


46 Fitness Business Canada March/April 2014


best adult and junior players back to a relatively small collection of pro-junior squash professionals. These include Jeff Deverill, Rob Brooks and the late Dennis Goodfellow and Mark Sachvie. Besides grooming future squash


protégés, a club pro also plays an im- portant role in the retention of adult and/or junior players. The old adage, “Build it and they will come,” may ap- ply to baseball diamonds, but not to squash courts. Programming is a key factor in running an active and ener- gized squash venue and membership base. The best clubs offer a plethora of seasonal leagues, ladders, tournaments and special events that keep squash members (competitive and otherwise) continuously engaged and improving. Although it may seem contradicto-


ry for a fitness club to have a licensed bar, it is an absolute necessity for adult squash enthusiasts. Perhaps, the first thing to realize about most squash players is that they’re playing to satisfy their love of the game as well as to grat- ify their competitive and social spirits.


The fact that squash is a demanding


physical game is just an added bonus. In fact, I would even argue that while fitness members work out to get fit, many squash players play so they don’t get fat drinking beer. The challenge of course, is design-


ing and operating a club with both fit- ness and squash venues and doing this in such a way that all members co-ex- ist happily under one roof. In my expe- rience, this means creating an environ- ment that allows for squash members to have a post-game brew without overly exposing fitness members to this club dynamic. FBC


Mike McPhee is the general manager and a partner at the Barrie Athletic Club (www. barrieathleticclub.com) in Barrie, Ontario. He previously spent 25 years managing and/or owning several large and profitable clubs and also


started Club TeamWorks, a club design, mar- keting and management consulting service. Contact him at clubteamworks@hotmail.com.


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