After 37 years of mediocrity last year the Richmond Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL) won the premiership. This year they broke the record with over 100,000 members and they have finished the season on top of the ladder two games clear coming into the finals which start in three weeks time.
This is a team that were so bad that only 8 years ago they defeated Melbourne in the closing rounds of the season and Melbourne were investigated for Tanking, with the coach, CEO and other officials at Melbourne sanctioned for the incident.
What changed in 8 years to take the team from being a basket case with debt, low membership and terrible performances to being the biggest and most successful team in the competition right now?
Was it a wealthy backer? – no,
Was it an amazing recruiting system that bought players in from other clubs – no, in fact over this time two new teams have come into the competition and made it harder to recruit champions?
Did they waste money on the problem? – also no, in fact they paid off their debt and made the club profitable at the same time.
The answer is that the club focused on its strengths and developed from within.
Richmond has always had a passionate supporter base. I met with the Head of Media at the club in 2016 who said that there were other clubs that had more supporters but Richmond had the most passionate by survey, so the focus from all levels of the club from the CEO down has been looking at every decision and how it effects the clubs supporters and members. For example I remember walking into the club in 2015 with my then fiance who was new to football and the CEO walked past and stopped and said hello and asked us how we were going. Since that day she has been a passionate Richmond supporter. Interestingly she had visited Geelong and Essendon with me before that as I was booking venues for a client’s seminar and said that Richmond just felt different.
On the field the same has been the case. Prior to 2010 Richmond were known for bad recruiting, but since then very few people have left Richmond on their own volition.
Drafting improved and attention was put on developing the players that came to the club. Young players with potential were playing next to senior players brought in from other clubs that weren’t stars but players that could support and encourage the new players. Coaching staff were brought in with a focus on developing the young players. Two examples that stand out are Dustin Martin and Alex Rance. Last year Dusty was the best player in the competition and he is an outside chance to win the award for the best player again. In his younger days he was a rough kid and the club had Wayne Campbell a former champion and Captain focus on his development, a role then carried forward by Mark Williams – a former premiership coach at Port Adelaide. Alex Rance is now considered the best backman in the competition, but in his earlier days was a poor kick and fell over a lot in contests. Former premiership player with Brisbane Justin Leppitsch focused on his development and the club brought in a big bodied player to play next to him Troy Chapman to help Rance develop.
Then in 2016 the wheels seemed to fall off and after three years of playing finals the club went backward and finished the season poorly. This was a chance to dismantle everything and there were calls for that and to butcher the club. The result was they completed a review and went back to focusing on player development focusing on the strengths. New development coaches were brought in and in Leppitsch’s case brought back and the club identified a strength in speed in front of goal which became the basis of last year’s premiership winning game plan.
So what does that mean for your business?
Focus on what you have in your business, develop your staff and use your strengths to build up from the inside, don’t lose faith in what you have and don’t go after quick fixes. Staff development is a key to building your business and any organisation for that matter.
If you need any help on how to build your business shoot me an email at email@example.com
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