10 Questions with Tennis Entrepreneur, Kane Dewhurst
Kane Dewhurst gained a world ranking in both singles and doubles before falling into coaching and then starting and building Vida Tennis into one of the biggest and best grassroots tennis programs in the country. Kane has gone from tennis player to coach and now to successful business owner and brand manager. As well as managing his own business interests, Kane runs business workshops for Tennis Australia to help educate and elevate tennis coaching businesses around the country.
Most of what I have learned about business has been from outside the tennis industry attending seminars and reading and learning about the fundamentals of small business. I have attended a few of Kane’s workshops and it is refreshing to have someone who continues to integrate world’s best practice into the tennis industry and educate others in the process. Kane is knowledgeable, passionate and a great communicator.
Rick – Kane, thanks for being a part of the Art of Tennis Blog.
What do you think is the single best part about working in the tennis industry?
Being able to have an impact on so many people who share a love for the sport of tennis. If you think back to when you were a kid, we all started tennis because it was fun and we enjoyed it. It is no different for me now, I love the sport and I love business, so it is great to be part of an industry that combines these two areas.
The tennis industry can be tough at times but it is very rewarding seeing the people connected with me achieve their personal best.
Rick – What do you believe are the key off court skills that a tennis coach needs to learn to succeed in the industry?
There are a wide variety of skills that a coach is required to have, especially with the change in technology over the past decade. I think first and foremost, a coach needs to understand his/her why, strengths and weakness and the area within the tennis industry he/she wants to become an expert in.
From there, communication is the key area a coach needs to excel in to grow their business and the game. This communication is not just face to face, but online through various means of connection. These include; website, social media, email. Communication is a key element to building relationships and this is what drives any small business. One of the key qualities of a good communicator is the ability to listen, understand people’s needs and create a relationship with an individual. These qualities help to retain people in the business and the sport.
Rick – What is your coaching philosophy and how do you ensure that your team are all on the same page with this philosophy?
Teach what’s essential, encourage what’s natural and allow for the individual.
Getting all your team on the same page starts with the recruitment process, ensuring all coaches have buy in to our vision, company direction and philosophy. From there we run a lot of internal education and knowledge sharing sessions. On top of this we have an internal online platform which has over 200 videos which cover all things relating to the on and off court delivery of our business.
Rick – Systems run businesses and people run systems. How do you ensure that your business doesn’t become so automated that it loses its personality?
This is something that was have need to constantly be aware of as our business grows. Tennis, and service businesses in general, are built on relationships and exceptional shared experiences. Ensuring each coach knows your processes and their roles in the system helps keep things on a personal level. We also put a lot of time into segmenting and tagging all people into our business data base so that we tailor the messages we send them to the programs and information that they need.
Rick – Outsourcing can be a smart way to delegate different parts of our business processes. What particular process or role do you see is the best opportunity to outsource and do you have any recommendations of how to get started with outsourcing?
I am a big believer in outsourcing. There are so many skill sets required to run a small business and if we think we are going to be able to them all to a high level, we are kidding ourselves. Getting experts in their field to help with certain tasks and jobs makes the quality and productivity rise.
The key to making outsourcing work, or just managing a large team, is having an internal platform where everyone can communicate. This includes all the tasks required, how to do them, when they need to be done by and who is going to do it. There are a lot of Task Management software out there that can help run this process. The world is so close these days with the evolution of the internet, so your team does not need to be in one place.
Rick – Technology plays such a big part in today’s business world. What are 2 technologies that you couldn’t live without?
I cannot live without my Task Management software, Teamwork. At the start of each year we plan out the major tasks for the year and then continue to add and amend as the year goes on. In January this year we added 1600 tasks which gave me and the team organisation to ensure we stay on track and implement.
The second software I cannot live without is Google Apps for Business. This suite of apps connects all our team, our documentation, runs our calendars, emails, video meeting, internal websites, videos, marketing and more.
Rick – This will be a difficult question but what is the best book you have ever read that has helped your professionally?
You may think this is a strange answer for someone who is a self-confessed “learning junkie”. I actually don’t really read too many books. I read a lot of online blogs but where possible listen to the podcasts as you can consume the information so much quicker and often in down times, like when you are driving.
Rick – Marketing has changed a lot since you started Vida Tennis. What do you consider is your most effective form of lead generation in 2016?
I don’t think you can get away from word of mouth being the most effective form of lead generation. But even with word of mouth, people will then go and look you up online, check your reviews, your programs and your social profiles.
Stats say that seven out of ten new business leads come from online in all industries so I believe your online marketing needs to be planned, measured and managed. Facebook and Instagram advertising can be really targeted to a specific market and we have seen very good results over the past few years. But the online space is ever changing and the shirt towards video and more live content sees platforms like You Tube become very important.
Rick – What would you consider to be the biggest direct competition to tennis lessons and grassroots tennis programs?
The tennis industry has many competitors from all the various other sports. But more than that it is anything that a family will spend their “leisure” dollar on. Families on have a limited amount of disposable income for activities and more and more kids these days are spending far too much time inside on technology.
All of us in the tennis industry need to continue to raise the bar, engage and deliver quality programs so we keep people in the sport. Tennis is culturally and historically significant in Australia and the majority of people try tennis at some stage in their life. The key for tennis business and more importantly the tennis industry, is that we engage with the consumer in ways that they want to consume tennis, so we can retain them in the sport.
It is great to see kids try lots of different sports and continue to live healthy, active lives. I just hope we, as the tennis industry, can deliver a great service and keep them in the sport for life.
Rick – You have expanded Vida Tennis to now include Vida Mind, Vida Fitness and Vida Footy. You also have other business interest including My Tennis Solution. Can you tell us more about that and how people can stay connected socially with you?
Yes as the brand has grown so have the opportunities to venture into different areas. We have a great team that runs and implements the various business areas.
If anyone is interested in connecting with me I can be found on Facebook on any of the business pages and I do post a lot of articles on these pages. I have also been lucky enough to do many presentations across Australia with Tennis Australia, so I am sure I will be back in most states in the future. I am always keen to connect with like-minded people, so if anyone is interested drop me a line.
Thanks for your time Kane and catch up again soon.
Art of Tennis