Pickleball business models

Hundreds of pickleball clubs will open in the next few years, maybe thousands. Many will crush it, unfortunately, many will fail — the ones that do not plan and execute well. That’s capitalism, that’s America, that’s business.

The stunning growth of pickleball has resulted in a shortage of courts and interesting business opportunities. Launching a successful pickleball club or facility means choosing a well-conceived business model. The sport is growing, the demand for courts is surging, people are congregating, there’s business out there!  What’s the best pickleball business model? We believe there is no one model that will be successful. Good entrepreneurs will adapt to create successful clubs based on their market, their strengths, their vision, their funding and their player needs.

Different approaches are emerging, clubs need to carve out a niche.

At one end of the spectrum is a center that is purely court-driven (meaning revenue flows primarily from actual playing time on the courts). At the other end of the spectrum is the experience / entertainment driven center where court revenue generates a much smaller piece of the overall revenue. The investment profile, profit potential and complexity of these models differ. There are dozens of hybrid models in between these 2 extremes

Considering a blend of offerings (there is more than one way to skin a cat)

In some models court rental and lessons are the driving forces.  This is how most tennis facilities operate.  Pickleball however lends itself to the development of multiple interwoven revenue streams depending on the size, location and amenities you choose to invest in. We spoke to a highly successful pickleball club in Florida where only 1/3 of their revenue came from court rental and open play fees. They had discovered a variety of significant other revenue opportunities. Questions that need to be addressed to carve out a viable niche:

  • How many levels of membership and what level of benefits for each level?
  • How much emphasis on tournaments and the emergence of pro-players?
  • Is food and beverage ancillary or primary?
  • Are community partnerships and sponsorships viable in your market
  • Does it make sense to have non-pickleball offerings?
  • What is realistic to expect from retail
  • Programming, Programming, Programming

No one approach is necessarily correct, and no club can do a great job at everything, but defining a strategy (which may evolve), is important as a starting point. This is what we help entrepreneurs think through in a systematic, pragmatic way.

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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