Operations Management Analysis of a Sports School for Children in Albania
Prepared in Feb 2021 by Kantonisa Boci and Xhesika Leka, students of Epoka University
The Lockdown Economy is the United Nations registered initiative by the Think Tank AlterContacts to help small businesses overcome the challenges of the pandemic. This interview and its analysis were done in collaboration with Epoka University.
March 2020 was the beginning of a very difficult time period for businesses worldwide, especially the ones who recently entered the market. For this reason, we chose to interview a business related to sports — not providing a necessity — the activity of which is based in the countryside of Tirana, therefore it is less known to customers.
Sauk Sport Club (SSC) was established in February 2020, shortly before the lockdown occurred. It provides training in football, volleyball and basketball for children from the age of 7 to 14 years old. The interview was held in order to have a closer look at this business with the aim of understanding how it was affected by the lockdown and how it managed to stay viable in the market despite the circumstances. Delon Sina, the CEO of Sauk Sport Club, addressed the actions under his management and also talked about consumer behaviour during this difficult period.
The application of the main business’ operations was a big challenge during the lockdown, therefore SCC provided personalized daily exercises for their trainees in order for them to continue their physical activity as home workouts. However, it was impossible for the business to provide the full service for the children, as most of the practices they used to handle during the regular training required the right gear and professional supervision. By implementing this strategy, they managed to keep memberships from being cancelled. Also, it helped them to keep active communication with their customer base.
Another challenge SSC faced was the limited business growth, compared to the previous forecasts and the objectives of their business plan. In these circumstances, they focused more on digital marketing and their social media presence. Considering that the parents are their main targeted audience, SSC chose to attract them through social media as they were more active there during this time. Though the main activity of SSC was put on hold, they used this time as an intense preparation for the future. The strategy turned out to be useful later on, however, there were no new memberships purchased during the lockdown.
The pandemic was not only a difficult time for the businesses, the families were deeply affected by it too. One of the great challenges that this business is still facing to this day is the customer’s unwillingness to pay for services. In order to maintain their customer base, SSC is often forced to lower their prices or apply special offers that they wouldn’t be applying in a different situation. This is leading to a lower income and a higher level of expenses, including the high prices of the frequent sanitization of the studio and the sports gear.
The lockdown of the COVID-19, as chaotic as it was, created the need for entrepreneurs and managers to adopt new methods to solve the problems that would arise from their businesses’ daily operations. As a consequence of 2020, the main goal is not to go bankrupt. So far, Sauk Sport Club is a good example of such a case, therefore we hope that the stability of this business makes it through the long pandemic situation, in order to fulfil their objectives in the upcoming years and grow in the Albanian market.