The start of a new era
By Calvin Barnett, Chief Executive and Shareholder of Solihull Moors FC
Calvin Barnett joined Solihull Moors FC as Chief Executive and Shareholder in the summer of 2018 and the club began working with TicketCo soon after. Here Calvin reflects on the progress of the last year.
At the end of October, it will be 12 months since our initial trial of the TicketCo system at Solihull Moors and on reflection the club has come a long way in that time. In the past year we have staged an FA Cup tie front of more than 3,000 fans, have significantly improved the stadium and our matchday facilities, seen home crowds rise and have turned our turnstiles completely cashless.
The start of a new era
After successfully trialling the online system for our home games against FC Halifax and Boreham Wood in October and November last year we made the decision to go into partnership with TicketCo.
Our aims were to provide a better service to fans, minimise the risk of having lots of cash at the ground and be able to plan and react based on pre-sale figures and the trends of supporters.
For the first few games we had 30 to 50 people out of crowds of around 1,000 buying in advance, but the key turning point was the club’s FA Cup run which brought us a televised second-round tie at home to Blackpool.
Tickets for this game, which attracted 3,005 fans, could only be bought in advance using the TicketCo online system and it was a huge success. Moving on from that, we stopped cash on the turnstiles during the latter part of last season, so you either had to buy in advance online or go to our new ticket office on matchday. Every entry to the ground is now via QR code, so it’s all logged on the system. The club produced a tutorial video to show supporters just how easy the system is to use.
We are now at a stage where up to 1000 people pre-book (in addition to season tickets and hospitality) online to come to games, which is a huge upsurge from those early days and means we can plan in advance with precision. We know how busy to expect the car parks and when and if we will need more stewards.
Of course, there was a transition period, but the successful staging of the sell-out cup game with Blackpool helped introduce supporters to this new way of doing things. We’ve found that once they have used the pre-booking system and see how easy it is it quickly becomes second nature. Our last two home league matches saw attendances of 3,000+ and 2,000+ so, more than ever, it shows the capability of TicketCo which continues to prove its worth.
A usable database for the first time
When we joined the club there was no marketing database. There were some written contacts on pieces of paper collected from various events or at a festival we held in the town centre, but certainly no organised database of supporters.
What the TicketCo system has allowed us to do is build one up using the information provided by ticket buyers and then use that to inform supporters about what’s going on at the club.
We currently send out monthly marketing emails to push tickets and provide news from the club, and we’ve had a great response. It helps us to remind supporters of upcoming games, but it also keeps us connected within our community. In fact, the emails have been so popular we have even had one fan come to us recently and double check we had his correct email address because he didn’t want to miss the newsletters.
The online ticketing system has allowed us to offer supplementary items during the purchase process for the first time.
We started by offering our matchday programme, so people could reserve and pay for one and just collect it in the ground without a cash transaction. We have also offered car-parking permits, which have had quite a big uptake, plus matchday hospitality online. In the future we will be looking at the possibility of selling food and drink items in advance for improved service at half time or before kick-off.
We are striving to push this club forward on and off the pitch, with our aim of gaining promotion to the English Football League. The TicketCo system has certainly helped us along this path.