Engaging Members with Confidence

Most club employees will interact with members on a regular basis as part of their jobs.  There a number of things they must do to ensure that they engage members properly and successfully:

  • Be Prepared.  No matter what their job they must be prepared to meet, greet, and serve members professionally and efficiently.  This requires that they be prepared for each and every encounter with members.  For food servers this means that they know and efficiently execute all requirements of their positions and that they are thoroughly familiar with all food service techniques, as well as the food and beverages the club serves.
  • Mental Mise en Place.  Mise en place is a French phrase defined as “everything in place.”  The phrase is used in a culinary sense to refer to organizing and arranging all ingredients that a cook will require to prepare menu items.  In a broader sense it can be taken to mean that all food service employees, both front and back of house, have done all the work necessary to be ready to prepare and serve food.  But being prepared mentally is just as important as gathering all ingredients and completing all sidework.  Mental mise en place means that servers are familiar with all food and beverage products the club offers and have the right attitude and enthusiasm to deliver high levels of service to members.
  • Smile and Desire to Help.  A winning smile and  desire to help are bedrock requirements of service.
  • Names and Preferences.  As we have said repeatedly, knowing members’ names and dining preferences is a major reason people join clubs.  As the theme song for the hit sitcom Cheers said, “A place where everybody knows your name.”
  • Stand Erect.  Posture and body language say a lot about employee confidence and service attitude.  When interacting with members, they must stand confidently erect with head held high.  Providing quality service is something they should be proud to do.
  • Be Confident.  Members are not impressed by retiring, servile (submissive, subservient, fawning, obsequious, toadying [look these words up in the dictionary]) people.  They’d much rather interact with confident and competent individuals who take professional pride in what they do.
  • Make and Keep Eye Contact.  Servers must make and keep eye contact while speaking with members.  They are not impressed by shy, timid, and insecure employees.
  • Speak Slowly, Distinctly, and Confidently.  When speaking with members, particularly when reciting daily specials, servers must speak slowly, distinctly, and with confidence.  While they may refer to notes, they should not read them verbatim.  By spending some time rehearsing the particulars of each special, they can describe them confidently while making eye contact with everyone at the table.  Speaking too fast is a clear sign of nervousness and will often require members to ask servers to repeat what was said because they didn’t understand.
  • Gauge Level of Engagement.  Servers should always take their cue from members as to how much engagement they want.  Servers should never presume familiarity no matter how often they’ve served a particular member.
  • Demonstrate Knowledge and Competency.  When servers demonstrate both knowledge and competence in all they do, they favorably impress those with whom they interact.  This is true not only at the club, but also in life.

How club staff engages with members will determine the quality of service and members’ attitudes about the club and the service they receive.

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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