Building an experience-driven pickleball club

Enhancing your court facility with amenities like seating areas, food and bar, retail and other games can dramatically enhance the business potential.

At one end of the spectrum is the “court-driven” model.  A pickleball business focused primarily on court rental, memberships, lessons and related services.  At the other end of the spectrum is the “lifestyle megaplex” where pickleball is at the core of an ‘eater-tainment’  business that includes, courts, restaurants, bars, other entertainment, retail shopping, community events and more.  There are of course multiple variations between these two extremes.

Founders of the court-driven model are often turned off by the complexity and perceived risks of food and beverage.  “I don’t want to get into the restaurant business” is a common refrain.  This is somewhat understandable, especially if you can generate a nice profit using creative programming.

On the other hand, this position could also limit the business potential.  A successful pickleball club with a well-run bar and restaurant gets several interwoven benefits:

  • A more diverse revenue stream
  • A more diverse customer base (pickleball players AND non-players)
  • An experience-driven environment that drives customer loyalty
  • As a result of the above, a much bigger potential profit
  • HOWEVER…at a larger financial risk and a more complex operation

Ask any microbrewery business (a similar explosive craze business) about the profit margins of creating an experience driven business, and about the profit margins in selling alcohol.  Craft breweries are an interesting parallel to pickleball centers.  They’ve exploded on the scene, they build community and they’re experience driven.  Pickleball clubs have the same appeal, but are centered around exercise, AND attract a broader customer base in terms of age.

Successful Pickleball businesses are using the core product of court-play as the center of a complementary family of diversified offerings.  

The quintessential customer pays a monthly membership fee, buys court time, joins friends for drinks, grabs a quick meal, buys the latest gear, and rents the venue for his wife’s birthday party.

Pickleball Business Advisors is brothers Bill and John Pryor.  We provide a variety of consulting services based on extensive experience in fitness business development, and research into the fast growing pickleball marketplace.  To initiate a feasibility assessment for your pickleball club, or for other consulting, contact us so we can learn about your project.

Author: Bill

Passionate pickler, entrepreneur, experienced fitness industry executive, startup specialist, business model consultant, mentor and advisor. Contact me to brainstorm, discuss or commiserate! .

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