1) Decide why you are running a merchandise program
It is important to decide early on in the process why the club is running a merchandise program, as this will guide a lot of the decisions you make. This decision should be made at committee level in consultation with members.
There are many reasons to run a club merchandise program. The most common reason is for fund-raising, although team-spirit and building a professional image for your club are also common reasons.
If, for example, you decide upon a fund-raising purpose, decisions with regard to the items you choose, how you operate the program and your pricing will be guided by the purpose of raising money for the club. For instance, because you want to increase the funds flowing back to the club, your investment in merchandise and the process you choose should be focused on ensuring the club ends up with more money than you started with.
2) Nominate a person responsible
The club should decide on one representative to run the program. This leaves a single person accountable for the purchasing and also eliminates indecision and duplication that can occur when multiple people are involved.
The person responsible should ideally have flexible work arrangements during the week to enable them to spend some time liaising with (potential) suppliers during business hours. The person responsible should also have basic business and accounting knowledge.
3) Gather feedback and prepare a shortlist of items
The person responsible should gather feedback from club members and other relevant people regarding what garments they want. From this feedback, a shortlist of garments you are interested in can be prepared.
The feedback process should be balanced so that club members are engaged in the process, but not too detailed that it can disappoint people.
When preparing a shortlist of items, there are 2 important considerations:
1) Purpose. Choose items in-line with your purpose. If your purpose is fundraising, you may want to include a range of promotional items that you can logo (i.e. stubby holders, hats, scarves) and then sell at profit. If your purpose is image, you may want to include premium clothing options that display a consistent look across the club.
2) How the program will operate. This is detailed below, and may affect how many items you include.
4) Decide on the how the program will operate
How do you want the merchandise program to operate? The main considerations are to decide how you want to carry the merchandise and how long you want the program to operate during the season. Again, you should be guided by your purpose.
Some clubs decide to operate their merchandise program on a pre-order basis only. This means that there is a ‘guaranteed’ sale and limited wastage. There will be missed sales by not having items available for immediate purchase, but this may be offset by having no wastage from unsold items.
Some clubs may only offer merchandise at the start of the season. This allows the club to dedicate time to other important functions of the club after this is organised. Other clubs may wish to offer merchandise all season long.
How your club chooses to operate your merchandise program should be based upon considerations such as volunteer resources and financial resources. Your club should then choose a supplier that fits in with this process.
5) Choose a supplier
When deciding on a supplier, it is important to enquire about their order process and company policies.
Some important questions to ask include:
How do you source the garments we order? Where are they manufactured? Are they available ‘off the shelf’? This helps you understand if the supplier may encounter unexpected delays.
What is the re-order ability? What is the minimum quantity order? This helps you understand their ability to meet your requirements for re-ordering small quantities throughout the season.
Where are garments decorated? Do you do it yourselves? What is your production capacity? This helps you to understand how much of the process is within your supplier’s control. If they outsource most of the work then you may be dealing with multiple chains in a process.
Also enquire about how the supplier will fit in with how you want to operate. For example, if you want to profit, will the supplier make samples available to you? This helps you understand if you will face any additional costs in administering your program through this supplier.
And, finally, ask the supplier for references from other clubs they have dealt with.
Ultimately, you should choose a supplier that you can trust to deliver the service they promise you on time. Also, ask if the supplier offers any sponsorship packages for local clubs.
6) Place order
When placing an order, ensure you confirm delivery dates and pricing. Check if there will be any delays (for example, due to product unavailability, overseas manufacturing etc) or any extra charges. Sign off on logo placements and details.
7) Manage and analyse
A club merchandise program should be run like a business. Treat the merchandise like money: you don’t leave money lying around unsecure, so you shouldn’t leave merchandise lying around.
Have a clear club policy on supplying the goods. I recommend that you supply goods only after payment, otherwise there is the extra responsibility of chasing people for money.
At the end of the season, analyse the success of the program from a member’s perspective, club perspective (i.e. image), and financial result to see how the program achieves your objectives.
Also, remember that a club doesn’t make money by selling individual items at a mark-up. Clubs only make money if the money expended is less than the money received.
Hands-on director Gerrard has been at Sportsmart’s helm since taking over the family sporting goods business almost 10 years ago. As an independent business, Sportsmart is uniquely positioned as a Melbourne sporting institution. Through its club and school business, Sportsmart Sportservice, Sportsmart has helped some of Melbourne’s largest clubs run a successful uniform and merchandise program.
For your club’s merchandise needs, email firstname.lastname@example.org