The Rinks engages local homeschool community
Within Southern California – Orange County, specifically – The Rinks name has become synonymous with hockey and skating.
But as both sports continue to grow across the Golden State and ice time becomes more and more scarce, finding unique ways to get more people involved poses an obvious challenge.
How can the facilities continue to grow hockey and skating across Southern California with such a limited number of primetime ice slots available?
The mission recently for leaders within The Rinks’ marketing department was to examine off-peak (mid-day) hours and find ways to get patrons in its buildings during times that the facilities usually sit vacant.
Thinking outside of traditional confines, a creative solution arose.
“Here in Southern California, there’s an enormous homeschool community – much larger than anyone in our department had originally thought,” said The Rinks marketing manager Jesse Chatfield. “With dozens of charter schools offering homeschool options for students, along with traditional homeschooling, we’ve found that there are thousands of homeschool families within our local community.
“Having an extremely flexible schedule and a desire to try new things, this group seemed like a natural fit to help promote the continued growth within our buildings during the only times we have available to fill.”
Because the homeschool community is a niche group, The Rinks was again challenged to not only create programs that attract homeschoolers, but also inform these families that they had programming designed and available for them.
To overcome that hurdle, The Rinks’ team relied on its expertise in grassroots marketing. Beginning in somewhat of a similar situation, its learn-to-play-hockey program has grown into one of the best points of entry for new players in California. Annually, the program attracts over 3,100 new participants and, for a large percentage of them, it marks their first time ever being on a rink and playing hockey.
Reverting back to more untraditional forms of marketing, The Rinks – beginning last November – began to research and develop contacts within the homeschool community.
“Luckily, we’ve had plenty of experience and success with these types of grassroots initiatives and were able to pool our departments’ collective knowledge to accomplish our goal,” said Chatfield. “Over the past 10 months or so, we’ve gained a lot of the momentum within the homeschool community.”
“We’re now working with several charter schools as an approved vendor, which means students can use allocated funds they receive from the school to participate in our programs,” said The Rinks marketing associate Craig Appleby. “We also just recently co-sponsored the Springs Charter Schools Inspirational Golf Outing.”
This fall, The Rinks will offer four different programs in five of its seven facilities. Homeschool families will have the opportunity to choose from a 10-week street hockey program; an eight-week learn-to-skate class; a free four-week learn-to-play-hockey program (ice and inline); and a more involved 10-week program called “Hockey Initiation” (ice and inline).
Beginning with the challenge of maintaining growth when neither space nor availability would allow for it, The Rinks exercised its flexibility to pivot its existing introductory hockey and skating model to attract a new group of customers during off-peak hours.
“Homeschool families now have a wonderful opportunity explore The Rinks and take advantage of the specific programs and schedules designed with their needs in mind,” said Chatfield.
To learn more about The Rinks’ homeschool programs, visit The-Rinks.com and click on one of the “Homeschool Program” tabs at the bottom of the page.