100 up! Marple Squash Club Reaping the Rewards of Putting Members First
To encourage players to return to their courts post-lockdown, Marple Squash Club made a bold decision. Despite losing nearly six months revenue this year, the club cut membership fees when squash returned in August and after recently reaching a milestone figure, it appears their “members first” policy has paid off.
“We slashed our membership prices by 30%,” explains Club Development Officer, Hannah Hodgson. “The club is struggling financially but that’s not the members’ fault. It’s always been about the members, so we said we’d slash prices across the board.
“It’s been incredible. [Membership] has rocketed and members have loved everything we’ve done.
‘I spotted we were coming up to our 100th member and everyone was like 'Are you serious? We’ve not had that many members since the 1970s!’
“The members are spread across the board – it’s juniors, it’s women, it’s dads and kids, it’s beginners. This is the participation we were after!”
Despite the success, it hasn’t been easy for Marple who have had to contend with two rounds of local restrictions. However, Hannah believes the club’s emphasis on communication and can-do attitude are key to their resilience.
“We look at what the guidance tells us we can do, not what we can’t do,” she said. “When we reopened, we took a cautious approach and didn’t rush into it. There was a lot of listening to what [the members] wanted and we made it clear that we were here and open for anybody. If you want to come back, great; if not, we’re always here and if you’ve got concerns, come talk to us.
“We’ve suffered twice now in Stockport with local lockdowns. The first one took us a few steps backwards because our coach lives outside the area so he couldn’t come. Luckily, in the second phase he could!
“We just have to adapt, keep looking forward and celebrate what we can offer.”
Alongside the recommended squash bubbles, group sessions have successfully returned to Marple. Juniors, women’s and one-to-one coaching have been up and running for over a month and the club are feeling positive about what lies ahead.
“We’re really happy with how it’s gone,” Hannah concluded. “The response from the members has shown us what we already knew. We are a club on the up and by focussing on what we do well – communicating, teamwork, listening to our members – it’s paid off!
The club are now in a tier 3 area but are approaching it with the same positivity that has carried them through until now.
"As we've reflected on the last six months we've realised just how much we can do through smart decision making and adaptability, by drawing on the resources we have and focusing on engaging with our members in different ways. As a result, although we are reduced to household only court play for our adults, we can drive our 1-2-1 coaching programme with Nathan, and have already introduced weekly Fitness for Squash off court sessions, as well as linking members to other classes such as Junior Boxercise.
"What we are seeing is a fantastic response from our members in terms of their own social interaction and volunteer support. Squash bubbles have become the natural facilitator for social contacts and Strava groups; Juniors members have formed online Fifa communities; we have a growing volunteer base to support club task days and tackle anything from maintenance jobs to fundraising initiatives, such as our new Community Cafe. The members want to give something back, and in times of increasing financial pressure, that means so much. "
“If we can do all this when we’re restricted, just imagine what we can do when we’re not! For somewhere like Marple, which isn’t the biggest place in the world, we’ve got a great future!”
Inspired? Take a look at the Bounce Back campaign.