These types of companies are so much different than a retail store, as when time passes and space is not filled within a program or you've not rented a certain venue, that opportunity to generate revenue is gone. If you have a personal trainer at your facility for 5:00pm today and are unable to book an appointment, you are not able to resell that same time slot tomorrow or next week. Another example is if you have 6 spots available in a class and are only able to fill 4, then you've lost the opportunity to sell those spots at full price when time passes.
This means the business owner or operator needs to pay close attention to every available time slot and/or opportunity to maximize available space. The business owner/operator should monitor daily what is available to be sold (your inventory) in the near future. The closer the time is to passing, the more work it may take to fill the spot and discounting and providing incentive is key to maximizing those dollars.
Marketing plays a huge role in filling these available time slots. Sitting back and waiting for the phone to ring often doesn't work and you must entice customers to book available spots and rent your available venues. As mentioned above, the closer the time is to passing, the more urgent it is to attempt to fill those spaces. Sometimes getting 'something' is better than 'nothing'. If you can offer a 50% discount and fill the space, that is much better than letting it sit empty and getting zero. There are several variables when discounting available spots in a program or rental times at a certain venue and each individual business owner must assess how much of a discount is fair and keep in mind others may have paid a different price.
Some ideas on how to promote and market any last minute availability would be to use social media or Blackberry messenger as clients who follow your or are part of a group will get this information regularly and for the most part instantaneously. Email marketing to your database works well at times, however if the time is fast approaching, not everyone will get their email right away. The big issue with email marketing for last minute offers is that you will be constantly emailing your clients and may have some who will unsubscribe. Blackberry messenger or promoting through text message can work very well as the clients will tend to see the offer right away and have the ability to respond.
It is not only 'last minute' spaces and time you need to fill, but looking ahead months into the future and planning in advance makes it easier to focus on maximizing your space and in turn, revenue. Depending on your type of business, some hours in the day may be more 'prime' than others and it is important you set those aside so that you can maximize those hours during peak times from a revenue perspective. For example, if January is your busiest month to book personal training sessions, you will want to ensure you have enough staff available and space set aside to accommodate those bookings. If your gym space was available for rent, it would not be wise to rent this space during January as then you wouldn't be able to facilitate the personal training sessions that generate the greatest amount of return.
In conclusion, it's very important business owners in the sports and recreation sector are aware of time sensitive opportunities to maximize time and space and generate revenue. Small business owners often wear many hats and it is important to spend as much time working 'on' your business as it is working 'in' your business. Remember that in many cases, once time has passed and space or availability in a program sits empty, the opportunity to capture that revenue is gone forever.