Is the Location Right?

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By John Brannon, Club Director, Carolina Union VBCI ended the last blog by asking, "Do I want to let the perfect be the enemy of the very good." For about a week after my first visit, I kept going back to the building at all hours with some of our coaches to get their opinion. They all loved it! But coaches don't pay the bills, they are the bills, so I knew that it was imperative to get the opinion of some of our club parents who I knew, who I trusted, and who lived in the south side of Charlotte (where about a third of our players live). This was a fascinating exercise, because each of them had the same reaction when I first mentioned the location; they winced. I wasn't shocked by this reaction, because part of the difficulty with perception in the greater Charlotte area is the way the counties are set up; on a map it looks like gerrymandered political districts because there's no good explanation for the random county lines. In any case, a lot of the South Charlotte area parents live in Union County, the same county as our current high school home (Weddington High) and our former sports facility practice location. But getting to that sports facility from South Charlotte during rush hour is a nightmare, it's an easy half hour for most of our kids, the new facility is a few miles farther away, but the drive is about ten minutes shorter. So I asked them to drive during rush hour to really get the feel for what travel to a club practice would be like. Every one of them came back with the same answer: "That was an easy drive!" And all of a sudden, the shift in locations (southeast to southwest) was seen as a benefit rather than a detriment. Next, I told some of those parents to start talking around the idea so that we could get a read on our players and parents. While I don't believe that we should make all of our decisions based on majority opinion, in this case I did think it was important to have the majority of our customers on board. We place a high value on our players feeling like this is their club, so it was important not to move to a place that cut off most of those kids. But ease of access had other benefits long term. For a couple of years we have pulled several players from places as far north as Hickory, NC (about 45 northwest of Charlotte), and as far south as Columbia, SC (90 minutes from Charlotte). The new location is one minute off of the main highway that runs north and south through North and South Carolina, enabling us to draw more players from cities along this route.It was early August, and at this point all signs pointed to go. All we needed was our startup funding to come together ...


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