How to “ACE” your tennis summer camps- Part 1

How to “ACE” your tennis summer tennis camps- Part 1


“Tips from camp experts that can help you run better camps!

By Lille Krukrubo

Part 1: Your Revenue

Operating a tennis camp is quite an experience! Summer camps imparts special skills and values to young tennis players, and most of all, wonderful memories. Whether you run a full-day camp, Am/Pm or overnight camps, effectively managing the finances of the camp is extremely important because well, money plays a crucial role in the development and sustainability of your business. Since the expenses usually increase overtime, we must ensure that our revenues are also increasing; tracking and analyzing your revenue then becomes a must!

Below are some ways to improve your camp’s revenue:


Tip 1: Measure and Analyze your enrollment rate and your revenue

Retrieved from Dan Zenkel (2006), this method is one of the best ways to compare your current and prior year’s enrollment rates and see where you stand. Each year, analyze and calculate your camps re-enrollment percentage by using this formula.

  1. Prior year’s enrollment  number minus  the number of campers who are ineligible to return (e.g age factor, changed city) =  The number of campers eligible to return

  2. Divide and find the percentage for the following:

  • The number of returning campers divided by the number of campers eligible to return

  • Multiply value on  #2 by 100: this will provide you with your percentage

Note: You can calculate this for both the number of campers and the revenue they generated so you see where you stand both in terms of number of attendees and in terms of dollar value of those campers.

Please see a guideline below on how to interpret  the percentages calculated

Your Camp Type



Need Major help

7 or more weeks

over 88%


under 80%

3-4 weeks

over 80%


below 75-80%

2 weeks

over 60%


below 60%

under 11 years of age

over 65%


below 65%

up to 15 years of age

over 70%


below 70%

These results are standard, however it is important to gauge your results based on your camp’s historical performance. Each camp has it’s own characteristics, the most important factor is to see growth over the years.  A great and easy tip is to run these revenue calculations is by using an automated registration process and revenue reporting system. If you are still using paper and Excel spreadsheets, you can still run those numbers but it will be much harder. In any case, find an easy and reliable way to get those revenue comparisons so you can see your progress make educated decisions based on historical data!

Tip# 2:  Build Your Brand:

 If you’re everything to everybody, you’re nothing to anybody.mDaniel Zenkel

It is necessary to build your brand, just like  all successful businesses do. The essence of your  brand should be captured in a fun, catchy tagline that will help people remember you. We all know these popular ones: All State  “You’re in good hands” ,  Nike “Just do it” or Wal Mart “Always Low Prices “. Building a brand will allow you to stand out above the rest and position your business in the market.

But Zenkel warns us ” Most of today’s camps do not stand for anything unique. Scores of camps tout common catch-phrases like “Friendships for a Lifetime,” or “Building Great Memories.” Compare these to phrases such as ” A day camp as complete as sleepaway,” which is used by Camp Ramaquois in Rockland County, New York. Hearing this, a consumer immediately understands that her child will sleep at home yet have a sleepaway-like experience.” Make sure that your tagline captures the differentiating point of your brand.


Tip #3: Discover your brand positioning

Discovering your brand positioning essential for you to remain competitive. You need to know where you stand next to your competitors and how your current and potential clients view you compared to them . You will need to study the competition but besides that, you need to study yourself. Conducting surveys about your programs will bring light to how you are perceived and will tremendously help you  make improvements that will boost your revenues.

Zenkel recommends : Ask your parents and campers what makes your camp unique. Common themes will likely emerge. Latch onto those themes. Next, record various iterations of those themes and present them to your existing campers and camp families. Determine which ones they find appealing. Remember, you are not trying to be something you are not. You are trying to find the most appealing way to present what you are.

Here are some questions to ask your campers and camp parents to help you discover your positioning:

  • What do you like best about Camp X?

  • If you had the opportunity to tell our directors anything, what would it be?

  • In your view, what makes Camp X, Camp X? 

Provide parents and campers an open-ended opportunity to respond. Listen to the answers. Do not merely seek an affirmation. Though what you hear might hurt, always use the feedback as an opportunity to improve.


Tip #4: Live your position and communicate it effectively

After discovering your position, it is now time to pass this on to everyone! If you do not regularly tell people what you stand for, then people will have their own interpretation of your brand.  Make sure to include your positioning in all your communication with current and potential parents, on your website, posters, brochures, newsletters, etc.

Also remember that every contact and communication is an opportunity to market and everything about your camp speaks about your brand.  Below, Zenkel discusses some of the subtle, sometimes unintended, signals conveyed during a tour given by a resident camp for prospective camp families.

Everything Provides a Signal

Empty courts > Children don’t do enough

Mess and garbage > Camp isn’t safe or clean

Children are not sure where to go next > Camp isn’t structured

No central gathering place > Camp has no spirit

Not too many balls on the court > Kids are not hitting enough balls

I can’t stress it enough: in all aspects, make sure that your camp lives up to the brand you promised. If done well, your camp should generate increasing  revenue each season!

In sum, when it comes to increasing the revenue of your camp, first you need to know your numbers compared to the prior years. Then, build your brand, position that brand in the market, and make sure you live your positioning.  If you don’t practice what you preach, you will not be taken seriously and you won’t survive very long.  I hope this was helpful. The next set of tips will be about controlling your Operating Expenses.


Tips for running a better summer camp business, Dan Zenkel (2006):

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