The first six weeks of the season have been very encouraging both on and off the field.
For the first three and a half months in the role, leading into our first game of the year, I wrote a weekly communication to give you an understanding of some of the long term objectives and initiatives that were being implemented at the Club.
In my last instalment, on the Friday prior to our away game against Melbourne Victory, I said I would provide an update every month - so here is November.
The first six weeks of the season have been very encouraging both on and off the field. Not just for the satisfying results of all of our three football teams but in particular the way the A-League Team and the Admin Team have gone about their business.
At the ‘Season Launch- we introduced our new Club values of Courage, Inspire, Be Passionate, Excellence and Family.
All at the Club knew that as we embarked upon this period of our evolution we needed to ensure that whatever we did was sustainable and would stand the test of time.
All are well aware that now is the time to ensure that we create a basic foundation that can endure the pressures of economic instability and the team going through periods of poor form.
All at the Club are fully aware that what we need to do will not be easy, they are fully aware that there will be roadblocks, there will be curve balls and there will be grenades from unexpected sources. That is part of the challenge of working in the emotion charged, high stakes environment of media & professional sport.
In order to succeed in such an environment you need courage. It is not only the type of courage that breeds resilience and enables you to deal with adversity; it is also the type of courage to do what is right.
It takes courage to confront your fears, it takes courage to not cut corners and it takes courage to confront those who are not mutual in how they go about their business. Courage is our first value and that has been clearly exhibited on the pitch.
Whilst six games don-t make a season, I urge all of you to take the opportunity to reflect on the manner in which the lads have competed:
Rnd 1 - Melbourne Victory (away) we faced a team that most of the experts picked as being the main contender to the Roar-s throne and 50,000 parochial fans screaming for our blood. We were able to fight out a draw when we were one man down for the last 20 minutes.
Rnd 2 - Brisbane Roar (Home) - against arguably the best Australian Football team ever we really took it up to them in the first half with the experts thinking we were the better team. In the end losing 2 - 0 was not a pleasing result however the team continued to fight until the end.
Rnd 3 - Adelaide United (away) - in searing heat and 1 - 0 down at half time, the lads maintained their composure, played to their structure and crafted a 2 - 1 victory against the odds.
Rnd 4 - Melbourne Heart (away) - fighting horizontal rain and a temperature difference of about 25 deg C from the week before, again the lads exhibited a never say die approach, didn-t panic, played with patience and snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat.
Rnd 5 - Gold Coast United (home) - after trailing 2 - 0 with only 30 min remaining SFC fought back in the last seconds of the game to record one of the Clubs most memorable victories. Brought back from the brink by a self belief that had evolved over the previous few weeks and supported by a crowd led by the Cove in full song it was evident that something was happening at the Club
Rnd 6 - Perth Glory (away) - one the toughest road trips, with one of the more passionate supporter groups, SFC were able to go into the break with a 1 - 0 lead. In the second half the Glory launched an aerial bombardment on our defenders that was unrelenting. We held strong and were able to claim a victory that epitomizes courage.
The reason why I have individualised each of these games is because I think that it is important to highlight that the SFC HAL team are currently a living, breathing example of our values - in particular that of courage.
From an admin perspective I couldn-t ask anymore of how dedicated and passionate the staff has been. All are working incredibly hard in an attempt to put quality systems and processes in place whilst trying to market and sell our main consumer and corporate products.
From a consumer perspective we have nearly 2,000 brand new members which is 20% more than our forecast. Retention of existing members is 10% below forecast at 70% which is disappointing. We have spoken to every member who hasn-t renewed (whose phone numbers we have) and the main trend for not renewing is last year-s performance.
Again I stress that we need to create a sense of belonging for our members and fans that is based on more than just wins and losses. Merchandise sales are 40% ahead of forecast and whilst we have only had two games we are more than 65% up on last year-s average.
Whilst this is a solid start I want to know more about what our stakeholders think about our Club and what, other than winning games, will enhance the belonging and passion associated with the Club.
To assist with generating a fact base to help us with our future strategies we have commissioned the most extensive piece of market research in the Club-s history to ensure that we gain greater insight into the needs and expectations of each of our consumer segments.
The Corporate Team have already passed last year-s sales figures for our corporate partnership products. Whilst this is a good achievement more work is required to achieve an aggressive budget target.
I have full confidence that they will reach the milestone especially considering that our new sales team only started three weeks prior to the commencement of the season. They should be proud of what they have achieved whilst casting an eye to the bigger prize.
In regards to sponsorship, the interest is still strong on each of the main assets however we need to practice our value of courage to get the right price. Whilst frustrating for some of our fans that there isn-t a logo on the front of the jersey, it is critical for our long term viability that we don-t sell ourselves short.
That is the perfect segway into welcoming our new ‘shorts- sponsor Caltex. They are easily no.1 in their industry in Australia and it is this ‘excellence- that excites us about an ongoing partnership.
Our media and communications team continue to deliver on all major metrics. Unique browsers on our website are growing as is time spent on the site.
Facebook friends and followers on Twitter have grown by more than 50% in the last five months and the viewing of video content has grown exponentially.
We have not received more support and coverage from our friends in the traditional media channels since the very first year of the Club which again is very pleasing. All in the Comms team continue to work with those in traditional media whilst evolving our new media channels to ensure that you receive desirable content.
Some housekeeping which I need to cover - the reason why we have moved our December 4 game v Brisbane Roar to Win Jubilee Oval at Kogarah is because there are concerts at the SFS on Dec 2, 4 and 8.
In the essence of partnership and to exhibit mutuality we believed that it would not be very honourable to prevent the SCG Trust from holding those events.
At the end of the day they have to make money to survive as we do and this was a wonderful opportunity for them which I am sure will benefit us and our members and fans in the way of improved facilities and other commercial opportunities in the future.
To close, one of the most exciting aspects of the last five months is that those who have been involved with the Club since its inception believe that the culture that is developing appears, whilst still very early in its incubation, to be the most positive in the Club-s history.
The term culture can be a bit of a business cliché however the values we have created are managed very closely and imbedded into the performance management processes of all.
Feedback from the players is that the value that seems to underpin their happiness which has allowed courage to be exhibited is that of Family.
They fully embrace the fact that all we do impacts trust so we focus on the example that we provide for our families. This has been exhibited by the football department blocking out one afternoon every week for all to undertake community work.
It is these types of signals that make it evident for me that we are slowly but surely moving from being a football team and an admin team to being a Club and that all within the Club is ‘family-.
Have a great weekend, best of luck to all our teams playing. Please hit our Facebook page to wish them well and Tweet until you can-t type anymore. I look forward to seeing you all at the SFS tomorrow night as we take on the Mariners. Good weather is forecast and ticket pre-sales are strong. See you there!