Eddie Irvine Sports Centre
Thomas Fegan, Centre Director, Eddie Irvine Sports Centre
“On the whole, our adviser’s insights and recommendations ran parallel with my own ambitions for the business- a sure sign of the initiative’s relevance and potential success. I would recommend this training to any small business – with someone to help point you in the right direction the only way your business can go is up.”
|Size||27 (full and part time staff)|
|Sector||Corporate and Family Entertainment|
|Location||Bangor, Co Down|
|Status||Completed MAP programme|
Launched in 2003, the Eddie Irvine Sports Centre is a family and corporate entertainment centre based in Bangor, Co Down. Employing 27 full and part time staff the centre offers a range of activities including the longest indoor karting track in Ireland, paintball, 3G football pitches, snooker and laser quest.
The team is led by Centre Director Thomas Fegan, who joined the business in early 2009. Thomas is responsible for the day-to-day operational running of the centre as well as business and staff development.
On joining the business, Thomas was tasked with evaluating the efficiencies of the centre and its management structure.
“As I familiarised myself with the business, the first issue I identified was our internal communications,” said Thomas.
“Given our staffing structure, it was often the case that a part time staff member could go for a week without seeing the same team, so maintaining consistent communication was difficult.” At a more strategic level, Thomas noticed that the centre’s corporate entertainment income had dipped over the past few years.
“Like any business the economic climate had affected certain areas of our operations, so to remain a competitive and viable operation we needed, as a team, to think more holistically about our services and how we could improve the business.”
Finally, for Thomas, it was important that his wider management team - an assistant manager and three duty managers - adapted and understood the new direction the business was taking.
Recognising the breadth of the task ahead and following up on initial approaches made by his predecessor, Thomas contacted the Department for Employment and Learning’s Management and Leadership programme, Made Not Born. He was matched with a specialist MAP (Management Analysis and Planning) advisor who analysed the business’s structure and operations.
“On the whole, our adviser’s insights and recommendations ran parallel with my own ambitions for the business - a sure sign of the initiative’s relevance and potential success,” continued Thomas.
“It was recommended that our wider management team participate in several Made Not Born MAP modules including communication, presentation skills, change management and financial planning.”
From pricing structure to joined-up communications, the team was encouraged to take a step back from the daily operations and think more strategically about the company’s development. The adviser also produced a full report recommending straightforward business tools which could be implemented to assist in this process.
“Within two weeks of completing these modules, I noticed a real difference in the management team,” said Thomas.
“For example, one early idea we had was to introduce a professional PowerPoint presentation for customers using the karting track – a small idea which has had a big impact on streamlining communications and improving our health and safety practices.”
Towards the tail end of last year, and following on from the set modules, the Eddie Irvine Sports Centre noted a significant upwards trend in figures across the board.
“The modules had really inspired the team to think more strategically about the business and their efforts showed in our figures,” said Thomas.
“For example, following the implementation of customer feedback forms we set up a karting school for under 15s, teaching the principles of the sport. This was really well received and we’ve now rolled this programme out to summer schemes and have operated it during school term breaks.”
Additionally Thomas was able to delegate some of the operational tasks to the newly skilled team, for example payroll and staff rotas – a huge benefit to him.
In pole position
The long term goal for the Eddie Irvine Sports Centre is to become the number one family and corporate entertainment centre in Northern Ireland.
Having been shortlisted as one of three possible locations to become the permanent home of the Ulster Sports Museum – estimated to attract 300,000 people per year - the centre is heading in the right direction.
“The Made Not Born training gave us the confidence and skills to work together as a unit and to believe in our capabilities. It certainly improved the communication and input into our pitch for the sports museum.”
“Whilst participating in the programme has taken an amount of ‘time invested’ on our part, the benefits by far outweigh this. Additionally as we were able to receive help towards funding, it meant that we were able to engage managers from across the business- from front desk to maintenance - something we simply couldn’t have funded ourselves at this time.”
“I would recommend this training to any small business – with someone to help point you in the right direction the only way your business can go is up.”