Dear Squash Members,
There seems to be some confusion over the situation at the bar and after some feedback from squash members I wanted to provide some clarity.
Firstly to dispel some rumours:
1. 'The bar is only closing because it is making a loss' - this is one of the reasons but not the only one as I will explain in this email.
2. 'The BSC board don't care about the Squash members' - this is certainly not the case. As pointed out by our president (Mike Bentley - who is an ex-squash member) at the AGM, he fully understands the need for squash members to have a facility to socialise after a game of squash. Mike mentioned at least three times that the board is committed to ensuring we have a bar facility in place but currently we have some serious issues at the bar.
Why is the bar closing? 4 main reasons, Legal Issues, Efficiency Issues, Financial Issues and the need to modernise club/bar facilities.
1. Legal Issues
BSC bar is currently under licensing (and police) investigation following on from the issues that took place at the bar the weekend prior to the AGM. This is one of three bar evenings this year alone that have caused serious complaints. I personally don't believe we will lose our license but this is a risk and if not now it could happen in the near future unless changes take place.
With the current bar management we are in breach of other legal and compliance issues which relate to the method of payment of wages, accurate payment of taxes, reporting of stock/cash and sales at the bar.
The issues are generally caused by BSC being incapable of running a bar with the volunteers on the committee. We need a bar manager who can be dedicated to the task and held responsible to ensure the legal and compliance issues don't affect the wider BSC's mission which is not running a bar but providing sports facilities.
2. Efficiency Issues
As suggested above the board at BSC have spent a considerable amount of time this year trying to resolve issues at the bar. I personally have spent almost 80 hours developing new reporting systems at the bar and devising, communicating and enforcing new rules and procedures to try and get the bar back on track. This is to ensure we have a bar for the members who enjoy it. I am a volunteer at the club like the rest of the board so 80 hours just on the bar is excessive and is likely to be jeopardising other areas of the club that would benefit from our limited attention.
In addition to my efforts at the bar, our administrator has spent a significant amount of time trying to make sense of the reporting and also deal with several ad-hoc issues related to some bar staff. This is taking up time that could be spent on other projects such as the club house refurbishment etc.
My proposal to the board was to close the bar for the winter but the general consensus was we should try again to fix the issues until December and if we make progress we wouldn't need to close for Jan-Mar. This shows our commitment to the members in trying to keep the bar open for as long as possible.
Unfortunately the issues have exacerbated, the rules and procedures are not being followed, we are now under investigation and we have angered residents to the point where they will do all in their power to push for the bar to close permanently. This is also likely to hamper any planning permission or growth plans the club has.
3. Financial Issues
The bar has lost over £15,000 in 5 years. On average in the first 3 of those 5 years the bar lost £575. On average for the last two years the bar has lost £6,700. This is unacceptable and with an increase of 12 times the losses in recent years this is a significant concern that is likely to get worse.
The board has agreed we are happy to subsidise the bar so that the members get the facility they require, but I'm sure you will agree this is unacceptable and requires attention.
4. Modernisation of Club/Bar Facilities
As mentioned at the AGM, we have committed a significant amount of money to upgrading the facilities at the club house, firstly the showers and toilets but we are also looking to bring some life into the bar to help make it a more welcoming place to be. This should help to boast the customers at the bar and make for a better socialising atmosphere as well as reduced financial losses.
This modernisation will begin in January and will require builders in the club house which is likely to result in the bar needed to be closed anyway.
All of the above issues have meant that the board believes a temporary shutdown of the bar is required to ensure we fix the issues we have and ensure the bar lives on at BSC for years to come.
The board of BSC are not giving up on the bar, quite the opposite, despite significant issues this year and several failed attempts to resolve them the board is not closing down the bar permanently, we are putting in more effort to resolve them.
I am very pleased that we have a passionate Squash membership that is firstly enjoying BSC squash facilities, secondly actively using and enjoying the bar facilities and thirdly vocal and resourceful in saving the bar.
I look forward to some commitment from the squash membership in the coming months. There are two positions up for grabs:
1. Squash Director - Adam has done a tremendous job and I'm now much less worried about replacing him with the passion I'm seeing in the squash membership. Please let Adam know if you are interested in taking this position.
2. Bar Staff - This position is less clear. We don't know what the answer is yet. Is it a new manager? Is it new staff to serve drinks? Is it new staff to do the admin related to stocking the bar and reporting on performance?. We don't know but you are the customers and I'm keen to hear your thoughts and suggestions and even better actual commitment to saving the bar which you are so passionate about. Please email me directly with your thoughts on how we can work together to make the bar work.
The board looks forward to your continued commitment in the club and bar going forward.