Getting the Most from the Off-Season

Published on September 28th, 2017

A seasonal club is all too typically divided into a high-season and an off-season. While emphasis is placed on the glory of the high-season, it is the diligence and focus placed on the off-season that pays real dividends. Bill Roman, Edgartown Yacht Club, has advice on how to stay prepared.

I always joke that when we approach our high-season, a switch is flipped and we are sent into high gear, but, in reality, we press the GO button to initiate the comprehensive plan we developed during the off-season.

Many members might think that the off-season is a time for year-round employees to sit back and relax, but nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, the pace does not match that of high-season, but I struggle to keep my desk clear, even in the middle of winter. Below are some of the more important matters that should fill your off-season and keep you more than a little busy.

Calendar – As you approach the off-season, it is critical to set as many future calendar dates as possible. While programing is still fresh in the minds of committee chairs, work with them to set dates that will become the foundation of planning in the months ahead.

Assessing Equipment and Facilities – What has to be purchased, rebuilt, renovated, refurbished, painted or patched in the off-season? Talk to committee chairs and department heads about needs to ensure programing success in the next season. Start making your lists that will be vital to your budgeting process.

Budgeting – We are still busy and bustling in Edgartown, but the upcoming season is already on our minds. What initiatives and programing changes will require budget considerations? What capital projects will necessitate time and attention in the winter months? What projects can be completed in-house to keep maintenance personnel busy, challenged and, at the same time, save money? Budgeting monopolizes the greater portion of the start of our off-season and, done right, it should.

Maintain Engagement – It is natural for key committee chairs to disengage as new priorities creep back into their busy off-season lives. Take the extra effort to keep them engaged with their programs and planning that is underway. New committee chairs in particular need additional guidance and attention.

People, People, People – Probably the single most important job of the off-season. Your high-season will never approach any level of success without the right people in critical roles. No doubt, you will know before seasonal employees leave who is invited back and who is not. Establish commitments from department heads before they head south, or west or wherever. Be certain the other high performing employees within departments know they are wanted back.

Establish early commitment dates so you have ample time to fill vacancies. Recent restrictions with work visas have put quality employees in high demand. Seasonal businesses in particular have been hit hard by this change, demanding that department heads fill vacancies within their departments as early as possible. Waiting too long will inevitably put you behind and in a pinch for rounding out staff with the very best people as the high-season approaches.

Curriculum Review – During every off-season, review program curricula and update or adjust as necessary. New programs and significant changes in programming will require a significant allotment of time, so start this process early, allowing ample time for committee input and revisions.

Promote Your Events – Most clubs host regattas that attract sailors from within their region and often beyond. Promote your events early and often to be sure your regattas are on the racing calendars of as many sailors as possible.

Throughout the off-season, it is important to maintain the same sense of urgency that the high-season requires. Work and think well ahead – do all you can sooner rather than later. As fast as the high-season seems to fly by, so does the off-season. Programs will be starting before you know it, leaving you wondering where the time went!

A productive off-season will afford greater assurance that your high-season will run smoother, with less stress and with greater opportunity to celebrate your successes. So just press that GO button, smile and enjoy all that the thorough off-season planning provides.

Source: US Sailing Blog

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