Two Initiatives to Improve Your Club’s Performance

In these difficult times Club Managers are anxious to find ways to improve their club’s performance.  While there is no magic pill to enhance service and the bottom line, there is the discipline of two time-tested ways that will make a huge difference in how your club performs.

1.  Work Planning for Club Department Heads

The job of General Manager is challenging, requiring a broad-ranging skill set covering a variety of management disciplines and operational experience to do well.  Yet, too often General Managers get overly involved in day-to-day operations and fail to meet their strategic responsibilities.  When this happens, the club limps along, reacting to the crisis-of-the-day instead of proactively addressing issues through long-range planning.

In some cases the underlying cause of this involvement is weak leadership and managerial development among subordinate managers.  The best way to overcome this weakness is to develop subordinate leaders through training, mentoring, and establishing “stretch” work plans.  Though it is initially time-consuming to do so, developing club department heads into strong leaders and managers will allow the club to routinely function at high levels and the General Manager to focus on long-range matters and strategic issues.

While ongoing training of subordinate managers will improve their skill set, they must also develop the essential discipline of establishing and meeting goals to improve their operations.  The General Manager can foster this discipline by doing the following:

  • Preparing detailed, formal Work Plans with timelines and milestones for each department head.
  • Requiring department heads to prepare departmental goals and plans for their departments.
  • Ensuring that department heads benchmark their operations to provide objective measures of progress.
  • Giving honest performance reviews based upon measurable, objective criteria.

When the General Manager takes the time to develop formal work plans for each department head, both the General Manager and the department head know what the goals are and when they are to be accomplished.  Establishing timelines and milestones allows the General Manager to monitor progress toward completion of goals.

2.  Tools to Beat Budget

The club’s accounting staff prepare monthly financial statements for each month of the fiscal year.  Statements are distributed to department heads around the middle of the month for the previous month’s activity.  Unfortunately, this means that department heads do not know how their departments performed until at least two weeks after the end of the period.  When a department’s performance does not meet budget, the department head does not know until after the fact and cannot intervene in a timely manner.

Ultimately, department heads are responsible for the financial performance of their departments and are accountable for those results.  Since they are responsible for everything their department does and fails to do, they cannot rely solely on the accounting office to provide them with the timely information they need to properly monitor and take action to ensure they meet their budgets.

Tools to Beat Budget is a program designed to help department heads monitor key elements of their budget in a more timely manner.  Further, it requires department heads to monitor revenues and expenses on an ongoing basis, which keeps them in closer touch with their actual performance compared to budget.  Finally, the data accumulated during the course of the year using Tools to Beat Budget makes department heads more knowledgeable about their operations and makes establishing future budgets far easier since all the historical information is in one place – the Tools to Beat Budget binder.

These two initiatives when fully implemented and conscientiously and consistently followed by club department heads will make a significant difference in the performance of your club.  And the sooner you implement them, the sooner you’ll see the results.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club 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 club managers throughout the country and around the world.

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