Archive for August, 2010

Leadership – Consistency and Common Decency

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

In addition to possessing integrity and demonstrating competence, leaders must also be consistent in their values and vision.  Such consistency requires a foundation of principles for one’s actions and a well-developed guide for how to proceed.  Followers will quickly lose confidence in an erratic leader or one without a clear and compelling vision.

Being consistent does not in any way imply rigidity or inflexibility in your thinking, planning, or execution.  A hallmark of leadership is the recognition that we operate in a fluid world where everything changes all the time.  As German military theorist von Moltke said, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”  The same could be said for any plan and the constantly unfolding realities faced by every enterprise.

When a leader demonstrates consistent values and a persistent pursuit of well-defined objectives, followers can feel confident in their leader and the direction he is taking them.  An unpredictable leader, who bounces from one initiative to another and whose plans, performance, and behavior are constantly changing, creates a situation much like the Doom Loop described by Jim Collins in Good to Great.

“The comparison companies followed a different pattern, the doom loop.  Rather than accumulating momentum – turn by turn of the flywheel – they tried to skip buildup and jump immediately to breakthrough.  Then, with disappointing results, they’d lurch back and forth, failing to maintain consistent direction.”

Employees can deal with some agenda changes from senior management, but continually changing initiatives sap them of their enthusiasm and willingness to adapt.  This is particularly so when they are not involved in decision-making and they are not treated as if they matter.

This brings us to common decency and how followers are treated.  While every person may have his or her own conception of what is decent, common decency encompasses those behaviors considered to be the ideal in human intercourse.  Among them are:

  • Respect – regard or consideration for others and their needs.
  • Sensitivity – heightened awareness to needs and concerns of others.
  • Courtesy – polite behavior, respect, consideration, helpfulness.
  • Kindness – goodwill, generosity, charity, and sympathy toward others.
  • Generosity of Spirit – absence of meanness or smallness of mind or character.

When a leader demonstrates these behaviors in his dealings with all constituents, it naturally creates strong, trusting relationships.  Once again, though, consistency is essential.  A leader cannot be kind one day and callous the next and expect his constituents to trust him.

As children we are taught the common decency of the Golden Rule-treating others as we wish to be treated.  But as we grow older we are often faced with stressful situations and unpleasant people who cause us to develop our own defensive responses and disagreeable behaviors.

Yet, just as these habits were learned over time, they can be unlearned by conscious effort.  While we cannot control what happens to us, we can control our reactions to events.  Making the effort to treat others well will go a long way toward building meaningful relationships with all constituents.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line – The Workbook, Ed Rehkopf, Clarity Publications, 2009

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.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Leadership – Charisma and Trust

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

People often speak of an especially effective leader’s charisma – that somewhat mysterious ability to connect with people in a profound and moving way.  We can all think of leaders, usually on the national or international stage, who possessed charisma.  Some names that come to mind include Eleanor Roosevelt, with her quick wit and commitment to social equity, and Ronald Reagan, called the “Great Communicator” for his skill in connecting with people.  More recently we recognize Oprah Winfrey and her engaging manner with people from all walks of life and Barack Obama for his undeniable ability to move audiences with his  presence and oratory.

While charisma can add to a leader’s skill set, it must be based upon a foundation of trust.  Without earned and merited trust, a charismatic personality is little more than a con artist.

Two important ways to gain and hold the trust of followers and other constituents is to demonstrate both integrity and competence in all you do.

Integrity is not simply honesty, though truth and truthfulness are significant parts of it.  Ultimately integrity is being true to yourself and your beliefs.   The dictionary defines integrity as “the adherence to moral or ethical principles.”  This implies that one’s actions match her words – that she does what she says she will do regardless of consequences, that she has a moral compass that guides her in all instances, that she can be counted on to do the right thing.   At the end of the day, a person who has integrity can be trusted by others in all situations.

In addition to possessing integrity a leader must demonstrate competence.  No one wants to follow someone who is inept, no matter what authority he may possess.  In fighting wars a follower’s life may depend upon it.  During the Civil War a fellow officer said of Gen. Nathaniel Banks that it was murder to send soldiers out under him.  While this political appointee of President Lincoln had the authority to command, he clearly did not possess the competence to lead.

The U.S. Marine Corps in its Fundamentals of Marine Corps Leadership tells its aspiring leaders that they must be technically and tactically proficient.  To develop this ability, they are told to “seek a well-rounded [professional] education” and to “seek out and associate with capable leaders.  [To] observe and study their actions.”  Lastly, Marines are told to prepare themselves for the job of leader at the next higher rank.  This advice applies to leadership in any situation or endeavor.

By cultivating and demonstrating both integrity and competence in all you do, you will gain the trust of your followers.  While only a gifted few possess natural charisma, it may be argued that it is not required for the smaller arenas in which most of us labor.  Yet as you continue to grow and nurture your leadership skills through practice and experience, you may discover that your followers consider your leadership to be charismatic.  As with beauty, charisma is in the eye of the beholder.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line – The Workbook, Ed Rehkopf, Clarity Publications, 2009

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.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Guest Blog: Locker Room Services

Monday, August 16th, 2010

As a tax consultant to the Private Club Industry, I am called upon to answer a variety of questions regarding what a Private Club can and can not do if it is a 501(c)(7) tax-exempt.  It is amazing to me how many Club Board of Governors’ only solution to this economic downturn is to pursue having an influx of “nonmembers” come into the Club to make-up any financial short falls that may exist.  I explain tax law as it applies to their specific question and then, as a businessman, I usually ask permission to pose a few questions of my own to the Club representatives.  You see, I happen to believe that Clubs have little to offer a Member.  Clubs often fail to provide exceptional service to their best customer.  If a Golf Club has a golf course, it is quite possible that the Club’s best customer may actually be the “Full Equity Golf Member.”

See if you may agree by taking my short three question test:

  • Who pays the highest joining fee at a Private Golf Club?
  • Who pays the highest monthly or annual dues?
  • Who uses the profitable services, such as: cart fees; guest fees; trail fees; buying Pro V1’s and lose at least one by the third hole; eat at the snack bar; and drink afterwards?

Answer to all of the above?  The Full Equity Golf Member?

If it is “All about Golf” at your Club, you should score extremely well on this checklist below.  If not, why not?

CHECKLIST FOR A GUEST VISIT

Remember a guest is almost always a prospective Member and your current Member’s pride in their Club is at stake.

Instructions: Please rate each item below from 1 – 5 (5 as highest) then add them up.  A range will be provided at the end of the form that will give you a rating for the men’s locker room that you visited.

  1. ____ Attendant(s) or Locker Room Manager offered you an enthusiastic greeting (in English and clearly understandable) when you came through the locker room doors or when you were in sight of his service counter.
  2. ____ Attendant(s) or Locker Room Manager was smartly dressed in a clean, pressed uniform and was appropriately groomed.
  3. ____ Attendant(s) or Locker Room Manager asked if there was anything he could help you with.
  4. ____ Attendant(s) or Locker Room Manager asked you if you were a guest and if you needed a guest locker to store your personal items.
  5. ____ Attendant(s) or Locker Room Manager took you straight to a guest locker in the same locker bay as your Member friend or closest available locker.
  6. ____ Guest locker was filled with amenities like Advil, Tylenol, band-aids, shoe horn, etc.
  7. ____ Attendant(s) or Locker Room Manager asked you if this was your first time at the Club.
  8. ____ Attendant(s) or Locker Room Manager oriented you to the locker room, explaining where sunscreen, bathroom, showers, magazines, television, etc. were located.
  9. ____ Attendant(s) or Locker Room Manager asked you if your golf shoes needed attention and if they did, restored them promptly and returned them to you looking brand new.
  10. ____    Attendant(s) or Locker Room Manager asked if he could do your street shoes while you were out playing.
  11. ____    Magazines, newspapers, towels, trophies, etc. in locker room were neatly arranged and organized.
  12. ____    Locker room floor was free of stains, snack debris, etc.
  13. ____    Guest shoes shined and left on floor are set under bench or up against locker side by side, toes pointed toward lockers.
  14. ____    There were no dirty golf shoes on the floor that needed to be picked up, cleaned and put in member or guest lockers.
  15. ____    Amenities and their dispensers on sinks and in showers matched the interior decoration of bathroom and rest of clubhouse.
  16. ____    All amenities were provided that you needed to shower, shave and prepare for life after golf.
  17. ____    All amenities provided were neatly arranged and had all labels facing out for easy identification.
  18. ____    All amenities such as hand soap, shampoo, conditioner and body wash were near full or topped off.
  19. ____    Trash cans were empty or near empty and floors were clear of debris in sink and shower areas.
  20. ____    Shoe room was neat and clean with polishes, daubers etc. within easy reach and shoes done via systematic approach.
  21. ____    Shoe room offered golf cleats in all four fastening systems in at least two cleat brands.
  22. ____    Attendant(s) or Locker Room Manager greeted me enthusiastically when you returned to the locker room after the round and/or asked how my round of golf went.
  23. ____    Attendant(s) or Locker Room Manager did your golf shoes after your round and put them back in your guest locker or exactly where you left them on the floor before I left.
  24. ____    Attendant(s) or Locker Room Manager put plastic shoe bag in one of your golf shoes.
  25. ____    Attendant(s) or Locker Room Manager said goodbye enthusiastically.

BONUS POINTS

5 points: If Attendant(s) or Locker Room Manager offered course conditions that saved you a stroke or two.

5 points: If Attendant(s) or Locker Room Manager offered a bottle of water or non-alcoholic beverage “for the road.”

MEN’S LOCKER ROOM LEVEL OF SERVICE

135 PERFECT Locker Room Services

110 – 134 EXCELLENT Locker Room Services

85 – 109 GOOD Locker Room Services

Below 85 POOR Locker Room Services

A thank you goes to Todd Dufek, President of “The Locker Room Managers Association of America” for this list of 25 questions.  Send your results by e-mail to mitch@clubtax.com as Mitch will add your numbers to his analysis of the Club Industry.

Mitchell L. Stump, CPA, ClubTax

Mitchell is a consultant to the Private Club Industry.  The author of Club Tax Book; Club Sales & Use Tax Book – FL; and Club “It’s All About Golf” Book, Mitch brings a unique perspective to the Private Club Industry.  Insuring that Clubs remain Private and keep themselves out of trouble with the IRS, Clubs would be wise to pay attention to Mitch and his writings.

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.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Enhance Your Financial Reporting with the Executive Metrics Report

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Every month the club board, finance committee, general manager, and department heads receive copies of the club’s financial statement made up of the balance sheet and operating statement prepared by the club controller.  The intent is to provide all stakeholders with a summary report of the club’s financial performance.  Additionally, the operating statement is formatted to compare the most recent month’s performance to the same month last year and year-to-date performance compared to last year.

While all this is well and good and customary for the industry, this summary information is long on overview, but woefully short on meaningful detail.  Further, the presentation of information does little to allow discovery and analysis of emerging trends.

Certainly a greater level of detail is available within the financial accounting and reporting system, but it requires special effort to dig it out, format it, and present it for analysis.  Given this, doesn’t it make far more sense to use a system that routinely presents key underlying detail?  Examples would include sales detail such as volume of business and average sale by department, key payroll detail such as overtime hours and benefits cost, membership numbers by category, and month-to-month and year-to-year comparisons of summary operating statement lines.

The simple solution to providing a deeper level of information for ease of analysis is to make the Executive Metrics Report (EMR) a key component of the monthly financial reporting package.  The EMR is made up of important operating metrics tracked by the financial accounting and payroll systems, along with key department benchmarks, both of which are formatted to provide month by month and year by year comparisons.

While every general manager and club board may have their own ideas of what metrics to include, Club Resources International has developed an Executive Metrics Report that covers key operating data.  Each club can take this basic format and customize it for their own needs and preferences.  Click here to see a sample Executive Metrics Report.  The EMR spreadsheet can be found on the CRI website under Club Operations → Resources → Benchmarks → Benchmark Spreadsheets.

The Executive Metrics Report is a significant enhancement to a club’s financial reporting and provides all stakeholders with important and timely data regarding the health and financial well-being of their club.  While it takes some effort to set up initially, the ongoing benefits for all concerned make it well worth the effort.

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.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Do You Know What Your Club Management System Can Do?

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Club management systems have come a long way since their inception as point of sale, accounting, and financial reporting tools.  Over the years various upgrades have added timekeeping, payroll, and tee time systems; member relationship management tools; custom reporting formats; dashboards for key metrics; the ability to drill down to data entry detail; member websites and online activities sign ups; and even more powerful analysis of member spending habits.  Such improvements have gone a long way toward providing club boards and management teams with timely, accurate, and actionable intelligence about their club’s operations and performance.

My own fantasy is that someday a club management system will include everything a manager could possibly need to efficiently operate the club in one convenient, easy-to-access location.  Items that I would want to see include:  budgeting tools and templates; work planning and performance review modules; human resource information systems; detailed benchmarking by department; a server-based customizable operations plan with departmental standards, policies, and procedures (SPPs); training and professional development material for employees and managers; and training administration software.

Several years ago while attending a Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals chapter meeting as a guest speaker, I mentioned my fantasy to a sales representative for a club management system provider and was somewhat surprised by his response that in today’s feature-rich software, the great majority of features went unused by club operators.  In reflecting upon his statement I’ve come up with four possible reasons this might be so:

  1. The club’s leadership and decision makers – those key people who set the club’s agenda and drive operational expectations, such as the general manager, boards and finance committee members, and controller – don’t fully understand the capabilities of their club management system.
  2. While they may have reviewed the system’s features at one time and have a vague notion of its capabilities, they have neither the time nor the focus to implement routine use of key features.
  3. Ongoing turnover of key people can cause a lack of the awareness of software features.
  4. Without written accounting standards, policies, and procedures there is a lack of continuity in key accounting and financial reporting practices.  When the club’s operational practices are based on oral history instead of clearly delineated SPPs, things get lost over time.

To confirm my suspicions I recently spoke with Vache Hagopian, Director of Marketing for Jonas Software, the largest supplier of club management systems.  He agreed with my basic assessments and quoted Bill Gates who said, “Most software upgrades/purchases are made to acquire features which were already available in their current software.”  This certainly doesn’t speak well for a management team’s knowledge and understanding of their software’s capabilities.

I then asked how a software company addresses this lack of understanding.  Mr. Hagopian indicated it was an ongoing challenge – one which Jonas works hard to overcome.  “First,” he said, “we offer a variety of training options to ensure client clubs are well-trained and understand all the features of their system.”  These include:

  • On-site personal training provided by accredited trainers,
  • One-on-one e-training with club employees which is a cost-effective method of training, and
  • Group e-training with monthly course updates. This is the most cost-effective way to train in that clubs can have as many staff members participate as they like.

Mr. Hagopian said that his company offers the Jonas Utilization Review process, which is conducted over the phone by one of their system specialists, providing a complete overview of a club’s software and education needs. The result offers an in depth report of the club’s software utilization and includes recommendations for software configuration, optimal usage and reporting, and proactive services needed for skill development. The specialist then assesses training and support needs, while developing a plan to meet the club’s specific objectives. Finally, the specialist outlines targeted training courses and appropriate resources to help equip the club’s staff with the skills and product knowledge to successfully carry out their daily work.

As much as some club managers may wish for a completely integrated club management system with everything they need to efficiently operate their clubs in one place, it seems probable that, as Bill Gates said, many of the features we want, we already have.

Bottom Line:  Conscientious club leaders and controllers should do annual reviews of their club management systems to determine if they are getting the most and best information out of their software package.

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.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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