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March 6, 2019

Chestnut Forks hires consultant to grow business

Photos/Don Del Rosso
General Manager Derek Maloney says the time has come to update Chestnut Forks’ business model.
You just look at it like an apartment building. This is real estate. We have to have every inch of it monetized.
— Blue Chip Sports Management founder Tim Bainton
Chestnut Club Athletic Club
• Owner: John T. “Chip” Maloney Jr.

• What: Tennis, fitness and swim club.

• Where: 6379 Airlie Road, just northeast of Warrenton.

• Hours: 5 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

• Employees: 12 “regular” full- and part-time.

• Phone: 540-347-0823

• Website: chestnutforks.com

• Facebook: Click here
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
In short order, a Northern Virginia sports management firm believes it can more than double the annual revenue of the Warrenton tennis, fitness and swim club.

Chestnut Forks last year generated slightly more than $1 million, said Derek Maloney, general manager of the family-owned business along Airlie Road just northeast of town.

The 44-year-old club can do a lot better, according Tim Bainton, chief operating officer and founder of Fairfax-based Blue Chip Sports Management.

“I think you’re easily — in 18 months — over $2.5 million,” Mr. Bainton said. “Easily.”

Blue Chip’s two-year consulting contract with the tennis club started Monday.

“The club has been doing well,” said Mr. Bainton, 36, who about three months ago contacted the Maloney family to gauge its interest in Blue Chip’s services. “We just think that mutually, together, we can make it even better.”

On and off for about a decade, he has considered hiring a consultant to help manage the business, said Mr. Maloney, 45.

“We are probably a little understaffed and a little undermanned at times,” he said. “We’re very family-oriented and very structured in that mindset.

“Our business model in the tennis world is not maybe up-to-date where it should have been.”

The club employs a dozen “regular” full- and part-time workers, Mr. Maloney said.

His father, John T. “Chip” Maloney, opened Chestnut Forks in April 1975. Teaching a fitness class, Mr. Maloney, 72, remains involved in the club and helped negotiate the Blue Chip agreement.

The consulting firm initially will focus on growing the club’s tennis programs and expanding membership, Mr. Bainton said.

Chestnut Forks has approximately 1,000 members, including about 600 tennis players, the club general manager said.

“We are an indoor tennis facility,” Mr. Bainton said. “And that’s the premier piece of what Chestnut Forks is.”

The club has four indoor and four outdoor tennis courts.

By September, “we look to put a bubble or a structure over” the outdoor courts, allowing maximum year-round use of them, Mr. Bainton said. “It’s an easy add-on to the blueprint.”

In the last decade, 30 tennis clubs in the region — Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington — have shut “for redevelopment, not because they were failing,” he said.

That represents an opportunity for Chestnut Forks, because the demand for “indoor tennis, at an affordable price point, is moving further and further away from the D.C. area,” Mr. Bainton explained.

He also believes the club can ramp up tennis-related activities.

In 2018, tournaments, clinics, camps and private and semi-private lessons produced about $400,000 in revenue, according to Mr. Maloney.

In nine to 12 months, Mr. Bainton believes the club can dramatically increase that amount.

He also talks about creating an “experience” and “synergy” among the tennis, swim and fitness elements — the sum of which would be greater than the individual parts — to better serve existing members and attract new ones.

“We will look at this as the entire club,” Mr. Bainton explained. “I don’t want people that are coming here just to do this or just do that. I want people coming here utilizing the whole facility.”

That means “you have the moms playing tennis, the dads in the gym and the two kids are at the pool,” because people want “one-stop shop.”

His company and the Maloney family want to make the highest and best use of the 8.1-acre property, capitalizing on the club’s restaurant/bar, outdoor volleyball and basketball courts and reconfiguring underused space in the approximately 46,000-square-foot structure for other purposes, Mr. Bainton said.

New activities could include pickleball and paddle tennis, Mr. Maloney said.

A golf simulator also could be installed, Mr. Bainton said.

“You just look at it like an apartment building,” he said of the property. “This is real estate. We have to have every inch of it monetized.”

Mr. Maloney and Mr. Bainton declined to discuss the terms of the two-year management contract.

Blue Chip receives no flat fee for its services. Instead, it gets a percentage of the club’s revenue.

“We make money, they make money,” Mr. Maloney said. “It’s that simple.”

In two years, Mr. Bainton hopes the Maloneys will be pleased with his company’s work and enter into a long-term consulting agreement.

Established in 2011, Blue Chip operates as a subsidiary of Van Metre, a large Fairfax-based homebuilder. Blue Chip manages almost 30 clubs in Virginia, Maryland and Washington.

Fauquier’s only other indoor tennis facility, the Middleburg Tennis Club stands just southeast of that town on Zulla Road.

Contact Don Del Rosso at Don@FauquierNow.com or 540-270-0300.
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