When the youth soccer club Thomas Finlay was operating started to feel growing pains, he knew the club needed to be run like a small business.
And Finlay had a solid background on which to draw. He had coached in the Atlanta area. He was executive director for New Orleans Soccer Academy, and he had a degree in Economics and Political Science from Wake Forest, where he played for four years.
So, what did Finlay do to set the course for what was then called the North Mecklenburg Soccer Club? He turned to an odd source for the solution.
“We stole a quote from Walt Disney – ‘Decisions are easy when you know what your values are,’” Finlay explains.
“When we started about 12 years ago, the first thing we tried to do was hire the right people. Then when we started growing and learning stuff, we defined our values. We call them the five Cs – Character, Community, Commitment, Competition, and Communication. We use that. We go through them when we make decisions.”
Today, in little Cornelius, N.C., Finlay’s club is called the Carolina Rapids, and they are thriving in the ultra-competitive Charlotte youth soccer market. The club’s success is due in large part to the leadership staff’s commitment to the club’s values, which helps them understand who they are and what they need to do.
“We are 100 percent in a service industry,” Finlay said. “We get that. Our service is soccer. We provide a service and people either pay for it or they don’t.”
Finlay and the Rapids staff understand they are in a relationship with the parents and players in the club. And to improve that relationship, his club has started using DRIVN.
“In any relationship, if you can’t communicate with each other, it’s not going to work,” Finlay says. “Communication is a huge part of the business. The DRVIN App provides a lot of what we wanted.
“Sometimes I think and organization chart is something on a piece of paper that people look at once a year. But how you interact within that org chart is a key to the operation running smoothly. I think DRIVN makes an org chart realistic. It completely controls those lanes.”
Finlay sees DRIVN eliminating the hurdles associated with communicating with a large group of customers.
“If we have something we want to communicate, we can now guarantee that it will go to who we want it to go to -- the coaches, the parents, the players,” he says. “Before, we had multiple platforms – database emails, text services, social media. If you sent an email, you could look at it and see that 50 people unsubscribed every time, and 400 people opened it out of 4,000. Then people would tell you they never saw it because it goes to their wife or husband. DRIVN is a much better way to communicate.
“And it helps with risk management,” Finlay explained. “Our coaches will not be allowed to communicate with a kid on any other platform. There’s no reason for them to text or call a 12-year-old boy or girl anymore. We are doing this top to bottom, starting with our rec program. This will be the entire club’s only forum to communicate.”
But communication was not the only feature that attracted Finlay and his staff to DRIVN.
“I love the trackers,” he said. “The players can give feedback on how they are feeling – their hamstrings are tight, they rolled an ankle – and it allows the coach to be aware and plan appropriately. We are also getting our medical sponsors involved in it. I’m a huge fan of it. I’m not a full-time coach anymore, but if I was, I would eat that sucker up. It’s fantastic.”
When considering all the features DRIVN offers and deciding if it made business sense for the club, the Rapids were unanimously behind it.
“Everyone in the room, 100 percent, said, ‘We want that. We need that,’” said Finlay. “It is absolutely mind-blowing if used to its full capacity. DRIVN checks so many different boxes for us. It’s absolutely unbelievable. I think it’s a game-changer for us.”