As I sit here writing this article (5 September 2020) I am looking forward to going back to watch a live Rugby game this afternoon – the first since the middle of March 2020. There have been a few issues with season ticket holders getting access to their tickets, and this gave me the topic for this weeks article on why it is so important to make sure we all plan – and that we plan well in advance as if we don’t, we are setting ourselves up to fail.

Over the last 33 years since I set up my advertising Agency, I am always amazed at the number of businesses – large and small – that plan nothing and they literally wait for the s**t to hit the fan before they do anything.

So lets focus on the issues with the Rugby Club. Now some of you may disagree with me – as a number of members of the club did on recent posts on facebook – but I am standing firm on where I stand.

All live sport of all sorts ended around the middle of March. Now, we all know that at sometime in the future, it would come back and there was every likelihood that it was going to come back with a reduced number of spectators to make sure that it was safe and to minimise the risk of spreading the virus. So effectively from the point that sport stopped right through to today, all sports clubs have had 24 weeks to prepare for this occasion.

My rugby club are the first to allow spectators into the ground and the decision was made to allow around 9000 season ticket to enter a ballot to stand a chance of being amongst the 3000 who would be allowed a ticket for the game. Every season ticket holder received an email on the 28 August to enter the ballot for the game to be played on 5 September – 9 days from receipt of the email to the game being played. Now I get the short notice of this process, but what I don’t get is the lack of back office planning within the club.

I applied for a ticket through the ballot and had an email confirming I had been successful on 1 September – 5 days after entering the ballot and 4 days before the game. Anyone who did not purchase their ticket in their basket by 5pm on the day before the game (4 September) was automatically cancelled. It was these 3 days following the date of acceptance that highlighted the real issues of lack of planning.

I could see from various FB and twitter posts that people were having issues seeing their ticket in their basket – me being one of them – and supporters were obviously and understandably getting pretty frustrated about it. I was told my ticket was in my basket and the club could see it. I told them and proved with back up pictures that there was nothing in my basket, and even with me supplying this info it still took another 2 emails back and forth before they reset my basket and I was able to see the ticket and print it.

I am finishing this article after the game and being sat in the crowd, I did an approximate head count of the number of supporters in the ground at kick off and reckon there were only about 1500 to 1800, so this means there were over 1000 supporters who did not sort out their ticket in time – or who were not as forceful as I was to ensure I received it.

As mentioned before, the club knew this was going to happen sometime and should have tested the back office well in advance and not try and sort every issue in just 3 or 4 days, so they didn’t just have one week to make sure everything ran smoothly, they had 24 weeks. Prior planning prevents poor performance and this was an unacceptably poor performance – on and off the field – as we also lost the game.

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This article was first published on LinkedIn by Richard Knight on 09/08/2020