How to Hire a Tennis Professional
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USPTA position on promoting leadership roles for minorities and women
The United States Professional Tennis Association is committed to the policy that all people have equal access to its programs, facilities, employment and membership without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, marital or veteran status. USPTA is an equal opportunity employer. Founded in 1927, USPTA strives to increase interest and awareness in the sport of tennis and actively promotes new membership and programs for minorities and women.
Guidelines for professional conduct
USPTA Code of Ethics
The name "Tennis Professional" must remain synonymous with honor, service and fair dealing. The professional's integrity, fidelity to the game of tennis and great sense of responsibility to employer and employees, manufacturers and clients, as well as to other professionals, must be of the highest. In accordance with its ideals and purposes, USPTA enjoins upon its membership rigid observance of the following code of ethics:
- A member shall not play, solicit or give the appearance of soliciting lessons without informing the resident professional at the tennis club/facility,and shall in no way cause embarrassment to any resident professional.
- A members shall not accept a position or appointment at a tennis facility in any but an honorable and ethical manner.
- A member shall meet his/her financial obligations promptly.
- A member shall not be guilty of conduct likely to injure the reputation and standing of the Association or any of its members.
- A member shall not engage in any conduct which is contrary to, or inconsistent with, the policies adopted by USPTA.
IntroductionThe United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) has expanded the scope of its Club Relations Program to make this employment assistance booklet available to officials and owners of private and public tennis clubs and facilities. Its objective is to assist you in hiring the right professional to meet your particular demands.
This information is based on a continuing study of the needs of this country's tennis establishments. It provides guidelines to help ensure that you get both the best person available as well as the one who is right for your club or facility the professional whose talents and personality are compatible with the requirements and personality of your tennis establishment.
The publication would not have been possible without the close cooperation and help of the Professional Golf Association (PGA) of America who permitted us to utilize much of their research and extensive prior work in the same area. We are deeply grateful for their assistance.
This aspect of our Club Relations Program is without question one of the most important activities the USPTA has ever undertaken. It is a natural by-product of the Association's continuing program to train its members to be more professional in all phases of their work. Extensive experience and training is acquired by USPTA members as they work their way through our membership preparatory courses, sponsorship programs, certification examinations, continuing specialty modules and conventions. USPTA professionals are trained to be capable in the business aspects of professionalism, as well as in teaching, merchandising, equipment, program planning, public relations and playing. In the past decade, these educational programs, plus member programs for upgrade certification, workshops, seminars and divisional education, have elevated the standards of the USPTA club professional.
As in any profession, of course, there may be some who do not yet measure up to our standards. It is our intent to see that they will, just as it is our intent to assure you of finding the professional who will measure up to your standards.
This booklet will help you systematically build a program to find a well-trained, dedicated USPTA club professional. When you do, you will discover that person to be one of the most important members of your professional management team. The professional can be the single most important influence on your entire tennis program and on the volume of traffic through your club/facility, pro shop and related facilities.
Besides performing the many tennis functions that have traditionally been expected of the professional, he/she should also be a sales manager for your facility in helping promote the overall income-producing activity. There is little doubt that club and facility solvency today is based on maximum utilization. The right USPTA professional will help you to achieve this goal.
It is our sincere hope that this new USPTA Employment Assistance Program will make it easier for you to select your tennis leader and your professional.
Jack P. Justice, Past President
ForewordIt always stirs a note of curiosity when the question is asked, “How do I hire a tennis-teaching professional?” Is there really so much difference in the mechanics of filling this position as opposed to that of any other department head or executive assistant? Obviously there is because directors of tennis facilities continue to ask for a systematic step-by-step procedure to accomplish this objective.
The most important element in the success of any tennis facility, be it private, commercial or public, is the development of an accomplished professional management team. A well-organized coalition between owner, manager and teaching professional will always constitute greater profits for the facility, in addition to better programs and happier members.
On the subject of better programs, USPTA has implemented several that are designed to appeal to players of all ages and skill levels. USPTA Little Tennis® is a starter program for children between the ages of 3 and 10. Using short courts and big foam balls, kids learn basic motor skills. USPTA’s Tennis Across America is the largest grassroots program of its kind, bringing tennis to multicultural groups that might not otherwise have the opportunity to play. And Tencap®, USPTA’s official rating and handicapping system, is designed to integrate players rather than segregate them. It is the equivalent of the popular PGA handicapping system.
Obviously, a USPTA professional who integrates one or more of these programs at a facility will boost overall player participation as well as tennis activity. It is one of the many benefits of hiring a professional certified by the world’s oldest and largest trade association of tennis-teaching professionals. Through its expanded continuing education and certification programs, USPTA has developed the very best teaching professionals to meet the component needs of the accomplished professional management team.
This booklet has been produced to offer those who hire USPTA professionals all of the tools necessary for making correct and long-lasting decisions. It is presented in a simple but detailed manner and includes an assortment of worksheets and exhibits that may be used to make the selection process easier.
The staff at the USPTA World Headquarters is always ready to answer your questions or assist you.
Tim Heckler, CEO
How to select a tennis professional in 10 stepsWe would like to offer you a step-by-step guide to be used in the hiring process of a tennis professional. USPTA wants you to find exactly the right person. By closely following the suggestions in this booklet, you will greatly increase your chances of doing just that.
A checklist of these steps is included with Summary and checklist. As each one is completed, check it off and move on to the next.
- Contact the USPTA World Headquarters or the local USPTA Division Representative.
- Appoint a selection committee.
- Evaluate your tennis facility's needs.
- Write a job description and identify the type of individual sought (Exhibit A).
- Complete the job information worksheet (Exhibit B).
- Meet with USPTA.
- Receive and screen applications.
- Interview selected applicants.
- Make selection and sign contract.
- Notify candidates, USPTA and media (Exhibit D).
1. Contact the USPTA World Headquarters.
If you are in need of a person professionally trained in the business of tennis, you've come to the right place. The United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) is actively involved in the training and certification of tennis professionals and offers you a talent pool from which to choose.
USPTA's Club Relations Department at the USPTA World Headquarters can put you in contact with the right person. USPTA publishes a biweekly Job Placement Bulletin that can incorporate your advertisement and put you in touch with qualified candidates at short notice.
In addition, USPTA is composed of 17 separate geographical divisions, each with a large degree of autonomy. All divisions function under the national USPTA constitution and bylaws. Each division has a board of officers, including a divisional secretary and a full contingent of committees. These individuals are top professionals in their area who receive administrative support, guidance and back-up from the World Headquarters. They are local experts who can help you, as well. You will be given the name and phone number of the divisional president and/or secretary when you contact the USPTA World Headquarters. Take advantage of their availability. It is free of charge and can save you a great deal of time and effort.
The supplemental assistance from divisional representatives can do the following:
If you currently employ a USPTA professional, USPTA will want to know his/her status. Is he/she retiring, leaving the position for another job or have you mutually agreed on a termination? If you are simply contemplating a change, is there a chance to salvage the current arrangement through counseling or improved communication? USPTA officials can help here as well. But if you are definitely in the market, USPTA will need a termination notice that states the effective date and the fact that you are seeking someone to fill this position. No person may interfere with an employment agreement that is in effect, and a USPTA member is not permitted to accept a position or appointment at a tennis club/facility in any but an honorable and ethical manner.
- Help you with late-breaking job information on the local scene which might not yet have reached the World Headquarters
- Provide you a strong field of candidates by advertising the job on a divisional level, in addition to the national level
- Provide advice on the employment structure between you and the professional and help you find the best person for both parties
Therefore, it is important that the current professional has, in fact, retired, resigned or, if his/her contract is not being renewed, been made aware of the intention to seek a new professional.
Do not hesitate to contact the USPTA World Headquarters with questions:
Coordinator of Club Relations, c/o USPTA World Headquarters
One USPTA Centre, 3535 Briarpark Drive, Houston, TX 77042
tel (713) 97-USPTA, fax No. (713) 978-7780, or e-mail email@example.com
2. Appoint a selection committee.The selection of a professional to lead your tennis program is an extremely important one. Regardless of your type of tennis facility (public, private, resort or military), it is a good idea to appoint a selection committee to assist in hiring your professional. Keep the committee small in number, three to five people being ideal. Include a fair representation of the various interest groups at the club/facility, and one or two small retail business persons who can appreciate the problems of running a seasonal business with limited market. Recruit committee people who are willing to work diligently since the selection process, if handled properly, requires considerable time and effort. A good way to speed up the selection process is to authorize these three to five committee members full selection power, providing they are unanimous in their recommendation.
You may find that this is the first time some of your committee members have had the responsibility of working on a tennis professional selection committee. The last professional might have been hired years ago when your present committee had yet to stroke its first tennis ball.
Since everyone on the committee is successful in his/her own field, and has a wealth of experience in the general hiring process, they might underestimate the task at hand. This should be avoided since the history of tennis in the United States is filled with examples in which the wrong professional was hired. The high rate of turnover that once existed confirms that this happened too frequently in the past.
Many tennis operations simply do not know enough about themselves. They haven't taken the time to go through the discipline of evaluating their tennis program and determining what they really expect from a tennis professional. To be fair, however, this is not a one-sided critique on clubs/facilities or committees that hire tennis professionals. Over the years, the professionals themselves have contributed their share to the problem by accepting jobs without knowing enough about the positions.
These are problems which USPTA hopes to eliminate. The selection of a good committee on your part will help.
3. Evaluate your tennis facility's needs.Someone once said that a tennis facility is like a person. No two are alike. When you think about clubs/facilities in your area, this becomes obvious. While they all fall into broad classifications such as private or public, with four, 10 or 20 courts, many that appear to be similar are substantially different in business personality and requirements.
For example, take two 12-court facilities with 300 tennis-playing members each, one in a large northern city and the other in a southern town. One might have two times more play than the other. Although the two operations might appear statistically similar, players of one facility might require three times the lessons of the other. The tennis shop volume may vary significantly between the two, both in dollars and in the type of merchandise sold. So, the net profits from the two tennis operations may be entirely different.
It is apparent, then, that the club/facility must evaluate many factors prior to hiring a new person. It is critical that you spend the time to do this.
What are the needs of your club/facility? If your membership is under-subscribed or your facility usage is low, you need enthusiastic promotion. If, on the other hand, you are bulging at the seams, you may need an especially adept organizer and administrator. Do your tennis events and tournaments need a shot in the arm? Are people crying for instruction? Do you have a strong playing clientele that wants a professional with an excellent playing record? Does your job require an aggressive merchandiser? Would management skills be the greatest asset in your new tennis professional?
You must conscientiously evaluate your needs, discuss them and write them down. When there is a consensus among your committee, move on to step four to begin the process of identifying more precisely the scope of the position.
4. Write a job description and identify the type of individual sought.The purpose of a job description is to clearly define a particular working position in a management structure. To assist you, we have included (in Exhibit A) a sample of a comprehensive job description for a head professional (including both specific and general duties). These duties may vary from one club/facility to the next depending on the type of club/facility (e.g., private, commercial, public, resort, military, etc.). You must evaluate your specific needs and adjust this sample worksheet accordingly.
If the position is at a public, semiprivate resort, university or military operation, several elements might need to be added (e.g., collecting court fees, selling and/or vending refreshments and foodstuffs, depositing daily receipts at the bank, etc.). Of special importance, however, is the emphasis placed on establishing lines of authority and areas of responsibility.
When you have more properly defined the job, you can begin to consider the kind of person it will take to successfully implement your requirements. No one person could probably rate as an expert in all facets of the tennis business, but certainly he/she should rank high in the areas your committee feels are most important to your club/facility.
Refer to Exhibit B job information worksheet for hiring a USPTA professional under selecting the composite professional and make the appropriate number of copies for distribution to your committee. Have them rank the professional's required qualities that are listed on the worksheet. Use any numbers from one to five to rate qualities. Give the qualities which are most important a five and less important ones, a four, three, etc. Those qualities receiving the highest rankings should be given the greatest consideration in your selection.
5. Complete the job information worksheet.If you have ever served on a committee to hire a tennis professional or a minister, a school superintendent or a corporate lawyer you are aware that it is not uncommon to receive applications and résumés from hundreds of hopefuls regardless of the job's description and financial value. You know from experience that while résumés serve a specific and useful purpose, they do not offer a complete picture and, by themselves, are insufficient for applicant evaluation.
One of the many uses for Exhibit B job information worksheet for hiring a USPTA professional is to help you eliminate the over-qualified, over-ambitious and under-qualified applicants at an early point. Plan to share this information with the USPTA Club Relations Department and various divisional representatives since it describes, in detail, the kind of person you are seeking.
Part of the purpose of assembling the data on past performance in Exhibit B is to familiarize your committee with the income and expense portions of the tennis operation. This should also be made available to candidates for the position so that they have an honest picture of the job's financial potential.
Someone (probably an experienced private club/facility president) once said there were four income levels of a tennis professional:
Whether the club/facility is private or public, there is a good deal of misunderstanding about the income levels of most tennis professionals.
- What the members think he/she makes.
- What the board promises he/she will make.
- What his/her banker wishes he/she would make.
- And what he/she actually makes.
The tennis professional's net income is generally exaggerated because people fail to realize the difference between gross profit and net profit. When a piece of merchandise is marked up 40 percent, the customer too frequently associates this with 40 percent net profit, so to them $50,000 gross sales represents $20,000 net profit. The average net profit is closer to between 16 percent and 18 percent, and if the merchandise is purchased on borrowed money, and all costs of doing business are considered, the actual net income (before taxes) may be close to 10 percent or, in this instance, $5,000. That, by the way, is not a very good return on an investment, particularly when you consider all of the work and risk involved.
6. Meet with USPTA.Once the composite professional picture and worksheet have been completed, you will be ready to meet with the USPTA Club Relations Coordinator and/or the divisional representatives in your area. This meeting can take place either by telephone or in person. Before this meeting, it is imperative that you send the completed job information worksheet (Exhibit B), a 75-word or less job advertisement and the stipulated advertising insertion fee (amount quoted in cover letter), to the Club Relations Coordinator at the USPTA World Headquarters. If you plan to discuss this matter with a divisional representative, you should also send him/her a copy of the worksheet and advertisement.
USPTA will want to make sure that everyone has a clear picture of the type of professional you are seeking. The next step is to discuss the arrangements and have them match the quality of the club/facility so that you can attract a professional who will be successful in the job.
When both parties understand the type of person required, you'll need to work out the final arrangements to be advertised. The USPTA Club Relations Coordinator will make any necessary changes to the advertisement that you have submitted and which are mutually agreed upon during the meeting. Both the club/facility and USPTA should sign the job information worksheet. Doing so indicates that USPTA will support the club/facility in its search for a professional by advertising the position. In addition, USPTA will continue to offer counsel and recommendations wherever possible.
The club/facility, by signing, signifies that it will honor the agreed upon description of the job and financial arrangements. The job will then be advertised. Anyone applying for it is assured of a well-defined job description and that the agreed upon remuneration will not be decreased. It is understood that, upon negotiating a final contract, a strong candidate may request some adjustments in the financial arrangements.
7. Receive and screen applicants.When you ask for applications, be sure and request a written résumé. When a résumé or application is received, please acknowledge it. A sample acknowledgment letter is included in Exhibit D. Ask for references and a credit rating. If the candidate interests you, be sure to have the references thoroughly checked. Also, run a credit check on the candidate so as to have this information before a possible interview.
There is no magic number as to how many applicants you should screen. You should, however, be able to narrow the list down to a maximum of a dozen or fewer candidates.
In checking references, please remember that it is logical for an applicant to list only references that will give him/her good mention. Note the quality of the references and, above all, make some calls. Contact some individuals not listed who might have information on the candidate. If the applicant is top caliber, it will quickly become evident.
There is sound information to be obtained by avoiding generalities and asking questions on specifics. Try not to ask questions that can be answered by a simple yes or no. Don't ask "Is the professional a good teacher?" Say, "Tell me how the professional handles the teaching job." Don't say "Does the professional have a good credit rating?" Say, "Did the professional stay current with most suppliers or did he/she demand extended terms?" Remember to ask why he/she left the previous job. This may well be a key response.
Once you have screened the applicants and narrowed them down to a final small group (six is a reasonable number), we recommend you contact them by letter with an invitation to interview (see Exhibit D, second example). Give them a couple of alternate times. Make sure they have a copy of your job description and job worksheet.
Ask the final candidates to be prepared to present a specific plan on how they would administer the major activities in which you have expressed the greatest interest.
8. Interview selected applicants.You and your committee have undoubtedly conducted many job interviews at various levels. The following reminders, therefore, may seem very basic and may not be needed. We have, however, included them to make sure all bases are covered:
For an evaluation tool, you may wish to consider a procedure similar to the one shown in Exhibit E.
- Make the candidate feel at ease. Ask him/her about the season, family, trip or any other relaxing small talk.
- The interview should be held in a room that is private and quiet. The candidate should be given your undivided attention for the allotted time of the interview. Avoid phone calls or conversation with anyone but the committee. You owe the applicant and your fellow club members a professional approach to filling this important position.
- Know everything possible about the applicant prior to the interview. Start by generally inquiring about background, experience, etc.
- Determine the specific questions you want answered prior to each interview, avoiding for the most part those that can be answered with a yes or no reply.
- Each member of the committee should understand the job description and the reasons you have set the priorities as listed. Ask the applicant to present his/her plans on how he/she will handle these specific goals.
- Be good listeners. The committee chairperson should conduct the majority of the interview to make certain that the specific requirements are covered in an organized manner. He/she should only talk enough to give the interview direction and the other committee members should hold their questions until the end of the interview.
- If the applicant makes a solid impression, he/she should be told at the end of the interview that he/she: (a) will be considered for the job; (b) will be notified of the board's decision (if their approval is required); (c) will be asked back for a second and final interview; or, in certain cases after a short, private deliberation by the committee, that he/she (d) may have the job.
- If the candidate is obviously not qualified, he/she should not be told in person, but the interview should be cut short. He/she can be notified by letter at the time you write all finalists who were not hired, thanking them for their time and interest (see Exhibit D, third letter).
- The more thorough your preparation for the interview, the better your chances are of choosing the right person for the job.
- Finally, don't interview a candidate unless you consider him/her a serious contender. It is both time-consuming and expensive to do so.
It is also suggested that each member of the committee make notes about the candidate during the interview. Additional observations might relate to an overall subjective impression and reaction to the individual. Members of the selection committee might choose to play a few sets of tennis with the applicants, rotating among them after a few games. A few sets of tennis can be very revealing. Some club/facility selection committees invite finalists and their spouses to dinner the night before, which also can prove helpful in making a selection since a spouse may be a very important factor.
After the interview, each committee member should complete his/her evaluation as soon as possible and review each other's evaluations as a group. This might result in a general approval or disapproval of the candidate, or perhaps in the decision to conduct a second interview with him/her. You might want the candidate to demonstrate lesson technique, or you may want another meeting after you evaluate everyone else who has applied for the position.
One final question is, who pays expenses for the interview? There is no set policy. Some expenses are paid in full for the final six, some for the final three, some offer to share 50 percent and some pay only if a second interview is requested. It depends on how badly you want some candidates and your ability to meet these expenses. Keep in mind that some good candidates may not be able to afford the interview, particularly if they have been asked to come to five or six such sessions in the past couple of months at a cost of up to $400 with travel. If you are not sure how to proceed, you may want to discuss it honestly with the candidate.
9. Make selection and sign contract.Making a final choice may be the hardest part of your task. But if you have done your homework, it can be done knowing that any one of your finalists could do an excellent job. That's an enviable position for you.
When a decision has been reached on your No. 1 choice, do not make any announcements until the contract has been signed. Job relocation is a complex decision for anyone, particularly if they have a family. A verbal commitment in good faith on a candidate's part may be reversed by the realities of uprooting his/her family and leaving familiar surroundings, so wait until you have signatures on a contract before notifying other finalists or the media. Reasonable confidentiality at this point is also advisable because your top two choices may end up rejecting the position if the final arrangements do not meet their expectations. No one likes to be thought of as a second choice.
Experience suggests that it is mutually beneficial for you and the USPTA tennis professional to enter into a formal written employment contract. The contract simply reduces your agreement to writing and eliminates many possible areas of misunderstanding or assumption. A contract between you and your professional establishes a clear working arrangement, assures him/her that he/she will be given reasonable time to perform a good job and gives you the assurance that you will have the right person on your professional management yeam for several years.
A sample employment contract (with guideline comments) is attached in Exhibit F. It is important, however, that each party work with its respective attorneys since this is simply a guideline that may need modification based on the respective job description and the specific needs of the parties.
10. Notify candidates, USPTA and media.Once you and your new professional have signed the contract, one member of your committee should develop a press release, plus contact the local news media. If you are seeking promotion, don't let this opportunity pass. A sample press release can be found in Exhibit D.
Contact the other finalists with a personal letter thanking them for their participation, and compliment them on their presentation (see Exhibit D, third letter.) You may wish to send an announcement to the non-finalists who took the time to send a résumé.
Finally, notify the national and divisional USPTA representatives with whom you have had contact. Tell them the name of the professional you have hired, his/her official position and the effective date of his/her employment.
Please read the Postscript before putting this booklet aside. Feel free to call USPTA at any time for assistance.
Now that you have hired your tennis professional, it is important that the relationship is pleasant and profitable for both of you. To help achieve this goal, you need good communication. Work together in developing objectives for the tennis program and develop a plan to meet those objectives.
It is advisable to hold an evaluation rap session at least annually. Set a time each year that an evaluation will take place. This should be understood at the time of hiring. Most USPTA professionals are qualified management people who would welcome a friendly evaluation of their performance.
You can sit down informally with your professional and discuss his/her strengths and weaknesses. It will give you a chance for appraisal of the professional's personal efforts, a chance to praise or critique him/her and an opportunity to review the accomplishments of those objectives set for the past year.
The session is also advantageous for the professional. Besides finding out how well he/she is succeeding in the job, such a session will also permit him/her to give his/her point of view about the tennis operation and to pursue areas in which he/she can assist you to be more successful.
Areas of disagreement can be reconciled and any potential areas of dissension can be eliminated. A good evaluation session is far superior to vague critical comments and rumors of dissatisfaction that are detrimental and nonproductive.
We have included a personal evaluation chart, Exhibit G, in this booklet for your convenience. The value of using this chart is to ensure that your appraisals will be done in a consistent and objective manner.
It will establish an understanding of the club's/facility's goals and help your professional to accomplish them so that you may develop a cooperative action plan.
It will allow identification of your professional's talents and strengths while also pinpointing where training and development are required to do a better job.
It will provide information for compensation decisions, since income must have a significant relationship to performance.
It also shows a desire on your part to evaluate and develop your professional's skills.
Remember that an evaluation is a two-way communications effort. Seek advice and comments from your Professional on how the club/facility and its members, customers or other staff rate in his/her view and what might need to be done to meet the objectives of the club/facility and the professional. One of the primary concerns of the United States Professional Tennis Association and its members is that the relationship between the club/facility and its tennis professional will be a long, pleasant and profitable one.
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