When it comes to quality and service some clubs are consistently awesome, a few are consistently awful, and most are consistently inconsistent. While there may be many factors that contribute to the comparative performance of clubs, a major underlying difference is consistency or lack thereof in the details of their operations.
As I progressed through my hospitality career, I often heard the time-worn remark that while fast food operations don’t necessarily provide their customers with the highest quality of product and service; they build their success on providing a consistent experience.
Private clubs aim higher for their customers – the elite and affluent members of a community who pay a significant amount to belong and enjoy the ambience and personalized service of a club. Yet simply because a club offers more impressive surroundings, higher quality amenities, and a more upscale menu doesn’t mean that members don’t have a reasonable expectation of consistency whenever they come to their club.
But in contrasting clubs, which are often standalone operations with limited staffs and no economies of scale, with a McDonalds or a Subway with their significant corporate resources is an unfair comparison. This doesn’t mean that clubs should not aspire to consistency of operations, but it does mean that clubs must make a concerted effort to institutionalize consistency in all areas, particularly in its relationship with members.
Here are major areas of a club operation where consistency is critical:
Leadership. How your management team interacts with employees is critical to their commitment, performance, and engagement with members. Without a consistent conception and application of leadership at all levels of the operation, the quality and service you provide will be as inconsistent as the leadership styles of each manager and supervisor. Leadership on the Line and Leadership on the Line – The Workbook spell out in detail the principles of Service-Based Leadership and are a great foundation for consistent quality and service.
An Overarching Game Plan. Every endeavor demands a plan to be successful. Without a written plan to guide various departments in the execution of their missions, inconsistencies will abound. The Quest for Remarkable Service is a good starting point in developing your specific game plan.
Organizational Values and Culture of Service. The values your club holds dear and the manner it interacts with members, employees, and the community at large is crucial to its success. As with any nuanced interaction with others, these must be well-defined, taught, and modeled to ensure consistent understanding and application. Organizational Values can help you define your own values and culture of service.
Organizational and Operational Standards, Policies, and Procedures. How can you possibly determine what employees should be trained to know and do if you have not defined your Standards, Policies, and Procedures? See Club Accounting Standards, Policies, and Procedures and Club Personnel Standards, Policies, and Procedures; there is no better starting point to prepare your club’s customized SPPs in these two critical areas.
Management Disciplines. In his groundbreaking book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t, Jim Collins said, “Much of the answer to the question of ‘good to great’ lies in the discipline to do whatever it takes to become the best within carefully selected arenas and then seek continual improvement in these. It’s really just that simple.” Without disciplined managers at every level of the organization executing best practice management disciplines, a club will never achieve consistency of operations or greatness.
Member Relations. A club’s membership is its lifeblood. How the club interacts with its members in all its areas of engagement will determine the memberships’ commitment to and use of club facilities. This is an area that cannot be left to serendipity. To be consistent in how members are engaged and treated, the club must have a comprehensive Member Relationship Management Plan and all employees must be trained in its requirements.
Managerial and Employee Training. If employees are to perform with consistency, all staff, including managers, must be trained in all aspects of their positions and responsibilities, most particularly in the details of service and service delivery. Read Training Requirements in Hospitality Operations for a broad list of training necessities.
Employee Empowerment. John Tschohl said, “Without empowerment, an organization will never be a service leader. Empowerment is the most critical skill an employee can master and a company can drive in order to lure and keep customers.” Creating employee empowerment requires leadership, planning, and training. Consistent empowerment training across all service delivery areas will transform both employee morale and member satisfaction. Read The Power of Employee Empowerment for a greater understanding of this revolutionary means of service.
Planning, Execution, and Review. The operational efforts of the club are encompassed in the ongoing process of planning, execution, and review. When addressed and executed in a disciplined manner, this process can streamline your operation while infusing it with consistency. Any club task that will be repeated (and this means 99.9% of everything you do) can be examined for ways to make it more efficient or replicated with greater ease. This discipline leads naturally into the following one.
Continual Process Improvement. Refer again to the quote from Jim Collins under Management Disciplines above, “. . . and then seek continual improvement in these.” In the effort to continually improve, a major and continuing focus should be on improving the consistency of the club’s quality and service.
Accountability. Everything we’ve talked about above to improve consistency of quality and service means nothing without accountability. Without leadership, the “will to make it happen,” and strict accountability for results, running a high quality club is an exercise in futility.
Having discussed the major areas requiring consistency, you must understand that the way to build a high performing, consistent operation is not unknown, but at the same time, there is nothing easy about the effort that goes into it. It requires the hard work, focus, and diligence that Jim Collins described as the Flywheel Effect in building a “good to great” company,
“Sustainable transformations follow a predictable pattern of buildup and breakthrough. Like pushing on a giant, heavy flywheel, it takes a lot of effort to get the thing moving at all, but with persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long period of time, the flywheel builds up momentum, eventually hitting a point of breakthrough.”
Fortunately, much of the initial groundwork and documentation has already been accomplished. Given the fact that most clubs are similar in their aims and methods, there is no sense in reinventing the wheel. Hospitality Resources International has a wide variety of basic resources available to purchase at reasonable cost. This material can be used as is or can be customized for specific operations.
When you recognize that consistency is a significant underlying element of both quality and service, it is obvious that it must be a focus of everything you do to organize the club and train staff. So do yourself, your employees, and your members a favor and ensure a Consistency of Message for your club to consistently excel in everything you do.
Thanks and have a great day!
This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.
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