A hard-fought season, over. Exit interviews, done. Player development, proven.
If you lead a junior hockey team, you might think the season’s job is done. But don’t miss the opportunity to bolster a key component of your hockey program: billeting.
Smart teams know the season wouldn’t hold together without the generous families who host their players—not to mention the players’ own families who entrust these athletes to your care. Strengthening your relationship with the billet community goes a long way towards your organization’s foundation.
We’ve gathered tips from teams who are doing billeting right; they have a prized roster of billet families who willingly host players season after season. Here’s what they know that you might not.
Say Thank You
As usual, Mom was right. A “thank you” goes a long way. Showing appreciation to your billet families is no exception.
These individuals and families are a behind-the-scenes force and they don’t get a lot of credit. Yes, they’re in it for the experience (heaven knows, they’re not in it for the money), but a sincere word of thanks can cement their loyalty.
- Plan an end-of-season Billet Appreciation event. Find some great ideas from hockey teams across North America in our earlier blog post.
- Make a call. Send a text. Write a note. Seriously, a small acknowledgment from the team organization makes a huge impact.
- Send a team photo. If you took a team photo this year, send 8 x 10s to your billet families. If you didn’t take a team photo, put it on your list to do next season. Little cost. Little effort. Big reward.
Thank the Bio Parents
It might be their flesh and blood out there on the ice, but DNA doesn’t get you to the games very often. Say thanks to the parents who sacrifice life with their son in exchange for his hockey development. Without their willingness, you wouldn’t have a team.
If you’re a pay-to-play league, you’d best be considering that these people are your customers. Even if a kid has paid on his own, a big personal and financial investment has been made. Acknowledge it.
- Hold a Parent Day game. Invite families from out of town and recognize them at the game. Even if they can’t make it, show you know they’re the reason your players are there.
- Make a call. Send a text. Write a note. It’s not that hard. And it could make all the difference to your roster next year.
- Send a team photo. Do we sound like a broken record? This is easy stuff with an easy payoff.
Ask for Feedback
This goes for billet hosts and bio families alike. What went well with your billeting program? What could be done better? Remember, billeting might be the same-old story in your mind, but it’s an unfamiliar arrangement to most people. Find out what parents, players, and billet hosts are experiencing.
- Call and ask. Doesn’t get more straightforward than that.
- Send a survey. Easy to do via email or social media, plus there’s the advantage of more honest answers when responding anonymously. You can download a free survey template to do it right now.
- Gather quotes. Testimonials from past billet hosts can be powerfully persuasive. When you get great comments from conversations or surveys, ask permission to use their words with prospective families and on your social media feed.
Ask for Recommendations
Hockey is still fresh on everyone’s mind. Billet families will be missing their players soon. Act on those emotions while you can!
- Ask hosts to commit again for next season.
- Request referrals to their friends and neighbors.
- Start building your billet list right now so you’re not scrambling come Main Camp.
Don’t close your season without giving closure to your billet program. Smart teams know it’s a practice that pays off. Billet Better helps strengthen billeting relationships with packages that support Players, Billet Hosts, and Teams. Our new Build a Billet Community package includes best practices borrowed from top teams, plus tools to support many of these efforts, including a billet host survey, thank you note templates, tips for using social media, and more. Download our Billet Survey for FREE! Just use the form to the right.