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Bucky Dent’s Keynote Address | Club Industry East 2010

What do baseball training facilities and fitness facilities have in common?  To hear Bucky tell it, A LOT.

I was really excited to attend Bucky Dent’s keynote address at the 2010 Club Industry East Show earlier this month.  Initially, I wanted to hear him share his experiences about running a baseball training facility.  But what I learned was this: A baseball training facility and a fitness facility operate in the same parallel universe.  The operational, educational, instructional and motivational challenges that facility owners/managers face are the same; just the names, “uniforms,” and venues are different. 

In this post, I want to share Bucky’s Thoughts (or BTs for short) in two major categories:

  • Staff Development
  • Operations

As mentioned above, BTs are generally specific to Bucky’s sport, and to his facility.  Many BTs also came out of a very spirited Q & A session he had with the audience.  Therefore, where appropriate, I have restated the question before paraphrasing Bucky’s answer.  Below each BT, I offer my perspective on his “thoughts,” as I see them relating to more mainstream fitness facilities, and fitness industry professionals and practitioners:


When Bucky was asked how he trains his staff to execute HIS mission, he replied:

BT:  We have teaching sessions where I show them (the staff) what to do.  They go through MY class(es) so I am comfortable that they can teach what I want them to teach (in terms of skills and fundamentals).

Let’s start off with a cliché: “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”  I’m assuming that Bucky is a strong link—World Series MVP, all-star, etc.  As an owner/manager YOU must be the strongest link.  Then the challenge is to be an effective teacher to your staff, and make them totally aware of your mission.  Take a little time to reflect on this one as it relates to you and your facility, and your ongoing staff development…


When Bucky was asked, “Is there a Bucky Dent” program that personal trainers at our club can use to train “baseball” athletes; specifically, pre-season conditioning?  

BT-We keep our program in-house.

Sorry, folks.  What happens at Bucky’s, stays at Bucky’s.  But I bet he would share some ideas if you asked. The bottom line is, be a student of ANY program/regimen that you like, believe in and respect.  Do a little cross-collaboration with colleagues and/or competitors that you respect.  Yes, I did say competitors—let’s all play nicely (together) in the sandbox.  After all, program development and improvement is for the benefit of the club members and personal training clients.  Learn, share, and pay it forward!


BT: I have 36 acres of outdoor fields and 3.6 acres of indoor facilities.  In the past, we were only open 28 weeks per year.  Now, to keep revenue flowing the other 24 weeks of the year, we’ve added lacrosse, football and soccer camps to our offerings. 

That’s 1,568,160 square feet outdoors, and 156,818 square feet indoors.  WOW!!  Relate his square footage to yours.  The bottom line here is, no matter what your “square footage,” you must do your best to maximize its usage and utilization.  Be creative.  Survey your members and staff to learn what additional programs they might like to see (indoors and outdoors, if you have that luxury) throughout the year. 

But don’t forget that with expanded utilization comes the added responsibility of maintaining the facility at the highest standards of cleanliness, functionality and safety possible.  It would be interesting to hear Bucky discuss the time, effort and manpower that goes in to keeping his facilities running year-round at (what must be) a very high level of quality.           


BT:  The one biggest mistake we ever made was to raise our prices.  We raised our prices because we thought we were the best thing in the world, and we could attract students at a higher cost!  We were wrong–enrollment went down 33%!  We learned that people have a limit as to what they will pay—regardless of the quality of the product.   

In our attempt to get our numbers back up, we decided to run specials and offer limited-time discount memberships.  We felt a few well timed specials might be all it takes to get more people (back) in the door.

 What business owner has not thought of raising prices to improve (profit) margins, and increase revenue and cash flow?  It is worth a try, but, after a set period of time, be ready to review your statistics and financials.  Make corrections where necessary!   

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