Client Story: Dicky Beach Surf Club
The Dicky Beach Surf Club has been servicing the Sunshine Coast for decades, but it wasn’t until a refurbishment and change in management in December of 2016 that the club took on a community focus and developed into the success story it is today.
General manager, Natalie Bell has had a pivotal role in taking the club to new heights since she joined the Dicky Beach Surf Club as a financial controller in 2016. The club began refurbishments in December of that year and Natalie was promoted to general manager of the Dicky Beach Supporters Club not long after that. “The supporters club looks after the bar, the restaurant and the gaming. We solely exist to fund the surf club and the surf life saving operation including nippers, training programs, and we patrol the beaches from Currimundi to Moffat Beach,” she says.
“I love the job because when we are doing well I know that all the money is going downstairs. The staff are really passionate about it.” With a background in accounting, the non-profit sector and hospitality, Natalie was the perfect fit for the role of general manager and cleverly used the refurbishment as an opportunity to build the club’s reputation.
“I took it as a chance to restart, re-advertise and relaunch. Firstly, we did that internally through our policies and procedures and getting that great organisational culture back with the staff and trying to get them on board and empowered – our staff are our greatest asset,” she says.
Rather than just running the food and beverage side of the business, Natalie has made sure she’s supported the surf life saving club and regularly works in the canteen and is engaged in events. She’s also listened to the community and works side-by-side with members who’ve been in the club for over 50 years – 30 per cent of their workforce are now lifesaving members and include staff from as young as 16.
In August of 2017 Natalie met staff from What The Fox Creative at a Caloundra Chamber of Commerce event and decided it was time to kick their marketing up a gear. “It sounded like a great organisation and we needed that. We thought we’d done a pretty good job – but digital marketing and Google algorithms change so often, we needed an expert. We went to a few customer persona workshops and we engaged with them for three months and now we’re in a 12 month contract which has just been great,” she says.
Natalie says her team bonded well with the What The Fox team and it felt like a really organic process from day one. Starting with a brand analysis and a review of marketing materials and the website, What The Fox was able to help Dicky Beach Surf Club become more targeted with their marketing and measure the growth.
“With the changing demographics in Caloundra, we really wanted to start targeting the younger people and the families. We’re making sure people know that if they choose to come to our club the profits will go to the surf life savers. The customers are more engaged and are really connected with the fact that we are a surf club rather than just coming here and eating a meal and leaving,” says Natalie.
With the newfound understanding of marketing and the club’s demographic, the Dicky Beach supporters club has grown to support the whole community. “We’ve doubled our operating profit in the last calendar year and that’s been a really positive thing for the surf club as well. There are 10 different committees competing for funds to get new equipment and compete and now that we’re doing well financially they’re a lot happier and they’re progressing and achieving their goals,” Natalie explains.
So much so that they were able to purchase a brand new boat for the Under 19s women’s boat crew, who were the 2017 Australian champions and just won the interstate titles!
Published in Profile Magazine, April 2018.
Words: Caitlyn Spanner. Photos: Contributed.