Archive for January, 2012

Professional Development for Your Club Management Team

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Club general managers wear many hats and have wide-ranging responsibilities. Given the many duties of the position it’s easy for some of the less pressing aspects of the job to be neglected. Yet there is one facet of leadership and management that may ultimately hold the key to better club organization and improved club performance – and that is to take an active role in the professional development of your club’s management team.

Here are some tips and topics to organize and deploy a Professional Development Program at your club:

  • Use the Bully Pulpit of your position to encourage subordinate managers to improve their professional development and career skills. Your active engagement and involvement in such a program will foster improved commitment to you and your agenda as your team recognizes your interest in their development.
  • Leadership. Encourage managers to embrace a consistent service-based style of leadership. Make sure they understand the benefits to this powerful approach to leadership in hospitality operations.
  • Membership By-Laws and Rules. Assign them the task of reading your club’s by-laws and membership rules and hold periodic discussions of these to ensure their comprehension. A better understanding of how clubs are organized and what rules apply make them more knowledgeable about their jobs and those of their work teams.
  • Human Resources. Make sure they are schooled in the basics and underlying rationale of human resource policies, practices, and techniques. A better understanding of these will not only enhance your club’s HR disciplines and practices, but will add to each of your team member’s management skills.
  • Employee Development and Disciplinary Guides. As with human resources, a better understanding of how to motivate staff, improve communication and morale, as well as guidance for counseling, disciplining, and, if necessary, discharging problem employees will prove invaluable to both your club and the individual manager.
  • Accounting and Financial Management. A thorough understanding of fiscal responsibilities and disciplines will help your operation and make your team members better all-around managers.
  • Legal and Liability Issues. Every club manager must be familiar with the basics of these issues. They are at the heart of liability abatement at your club and a critically important knowledge base for any manager.
  • Organizational Values and Culture of Service. The foundational importance of these is essential to any organization intent upon engaging staff and providing high levels of service. Every manager must recognize and embrace the need to define and consistently reinforce values and culture.
  • Training. Managers must understand the challenges and opportunities of formal club training programs for both managers and employees. Recognizing the importance of training in a detail- and people-intensive business, as well as the experience of developing training material, is invaluable to the club and each manager.
  • Professional Reading List. The general manager should make a reading list available to the management team, develop a club professional reading library, and make reading certain leadership and management books a requirement of annual work plans.
  • Leadership, Management, and Service Quotes. Use quotes to foster discussions among your management team at weekly staff meetings. A continual focus and reminder of the topics involved will provide constant reinforcement of the important things that underlie success in business in general and the club industry in particular.

The quality and efficacy of a Professional Development Program is directly dependent on the committed involvement of the general manager. As the director of your club’s enterprise and leader of your management team, you have a great opportunity (some would say responsibility) to influence your subordinate managers through your leadership and example.

If you take a hands-off approach to your team’s professional development, only a few will seize the opportunity for self-improvement. On the other hand, when you are directly involved, engaged with your team on the subjects involved, and set both the example and requirement of professional development, your team will embrace the opportunity you are providing. On many levels such encouragement to learning and developing is one of the most important and personally satisfying things you can do to improve your operation and develop your staff.

Bottom Line: A constantly encouraged and reinforced Professional Development Program for your club managers will strengthen the management disciplines of your operation, while providing education, experience, and career growth opportunities for your managers.

Note: As can be seen from the links above, much of the material necessary to establish a Professional Development Program has already been created by Club Resources International. All you need to do is use the tools to organize and implement your own program.

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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Six Steps to Lower Employee Turnover

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Study after study has demonstrated the high cost of employee turnover, particularly in the hospitality industry where the work is so detail-intensive, requiring significant training to meet standards.

Recognizing that the desired outcome of every hiring decision is to find and bring aboard a qualified and enthusiastic person who will make a positive contribution to the success of the business, it is essential for all managers to make every effort to lower employee turnover rates.  Here are six steps to help you do just that:

1.   Hire Well.  Use the techniques of Disciplined Hiring to screen applicants and check references.  When possible, use personality profiles to ensure you put the right person in “the right seat on the bus.”

2.   Onboard Well.  Use all of the club’s tools to both welcome and orient new hires to the workplace.  The Employee Handbook, Club Orientation, and Departmental Orientations are designed to provide and reinforce important information to the new hire.  Managers must make sure that orientations are welcoming and make all necessary introductions to both supervisors and peers.

3.   Train Well.  Both initial and ongoing training is essential.  Most people want to do a good job and appreciate the efforts made to train them.  Without adequate training and the necessary tools and resources to do their jobs well, new hires will quickly become cynical and alienated.  Never forget that their success guarantees your success.

4.   Organize Well.  No one wants to work in a chaotic environment.  If your department or section is well-organized, if everyone knows where things are, if employees are well-trained in opening and closing procedures, if every one knows their responsibilities and is held accountable, the workplace runs almost effortlessly.  Don’t run off good people by putting them through the hell of a disorganized operation.

5.   Communicate Well.  Daily interaction and direction ensures that everyone is informed, knows what is going on, and what they must do individually to accomplish the tasks at hand.  It is also instrumental in building teamwork and a sense of shared values and mission.  The Daily Huddle, or some other form of pre-shift meeting, is a necessary discipline to ensure ongoing, consistent communication.

6.   Value Them Well.  Remember the ultimate value of people in all you do.  Value your employees and they will value you as a leader and their efforts at work.

The bottom line is that your leadership is the essential element in your success.  If you have high levels of turnover, there is no one to blame but yourself.

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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Club Safety

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Clubs have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of its members and employees.  To meet this responsibility the club must take reasonable steps to ensure employees:

  • Work and act in a safe and healthful manner;
  • Conduct their work in compliance with all applicable health and safety rules;
  • Use all means and methods available to work in a safe and healthy manner;
  • Not remove or disable any safety device, guard, notice or warning provided for use in providing safe working conditions; and
  • Are informed about any known health hazards to which they are exposed, the measures which have been taken for the prevention and control of such hazards, and the proper methods for utilizing such control measures.

While the General Manager has ultimate responsibility to ensure that the club provides a safe environment for members, guests, and employees, managers and supervisors have the following responsibilities in regard to safety:

  • Identify any safety hazards in their areas of responsibility.
  • Analyze departmental positions for inherent safety hazards. Modify work practices or work spaces to reduce hazard risks.
  • Ensure proper training of employees in all matters relating to safe work practices and work environment.
  • Cooperate with the club’s safety director in conducting routine safety inspections.
  • Correct all deficiencies noted in such inspections in a timely manner.
  • Investigate and analyze accidents to determine unsafe condition and causes of accidents.
  • Promptly and properly complete Accident Reports when necessary.
  • Enforce safe work practices, special safety requirements, and the use of safety clothing, equipment, and protective devices.

For a more complete discussion of club safety issues and responsibilities, review sample Club Safety Policies.

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: Lowering Membership Price without Lowering Membership Price

Monday, January 9th, 2012

The market price for club memberships has fallen in almost all markets.  Many clubs are reluctant to reduce their membership prices, because either it sends a negative message about the club’s financial condition or adversely impacts the economics for membership resales.  Clubs can implement creative programs to increase membership sales in this marketplace, without officially decreasing membership pricing.

1. Non-Refundable Membership. A club with a refundable membership can begin to offer a non-refundable membership at a significantly lower price, without lowering the refundable membership price.

2. Limited Golf Membership. Clubs may offer a less expensive alternative to the full Golf Membership:

  • Sports Membership – members required to pay greens fees, and generally limited in the amount of golf that they can play.
  • Associate Membership – member may play golf without paying greens fees, but only off season or during weekdays.

3. Membership Financing. Interest-free financing for three to four years.

4. “Drive Before You Buy” Program. Member pays low fee upfront without obligation to pay full membership joining price, and member chooses six months or one year later whether to pay the balance of the purchase price and continue membership privileges.

5. Junior or Legacy Member Program. Club offers memberships on special terms to people under a certain age (such as 40 or 45) or to existing members’ children:

  • reduced price;
  • low initial price, with balance payable when member reaches age 40 or 45; or
  • long term zero-interest financing of five to ten years.

6.   Certificate or “Friends and Family” Programs. Member may refer their friends and family for membership at reduced membership pricing.

Clubs should carefully consider many factors before implementing any of these special programs, including the impact on any resigned members sell lists (in case of refundable memberships), impact on marketing of regular memberships, and possible change in the camaraderie of the membership as a result of attracting a different type of member.

Glenn A. Gerena

Glenn A. Gerena, a shareholder with the national law firm of Greenberg Traurig, P.A., concentrates his practice on structuring, documentation for, and restructuring club membership programs.  You can read more about the author at http://www.gtlaw.com/People/GlennAGerena, and read more club related articles by the author at http://www.hospitalitylawcheckin.com.

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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What is Your Contribution? Competency or Legacy?

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Years ago a hospitality consultant told me his job was the easiest in the world.  When the owners of a troubled property came to him for help, he said all he had to do was to find a competent general manager to turn the operation around.  And certainly we all recognize the impact that competent management can make – better leadership, strong focus and initiative, improved service levels, and enhanced performance.  Yet, as a club manager, if your contribution to your board and members is merely competency, you are only doing part of the job.

A common failing in member-owned clubs is what I call the “cult of competency,” though Jim Collins might term it, “good is the enemy of great.”  Club members are so thrilled to have competent management, especially if they’ve had a revolving door of weak managers, that they don’t expect or get a manager focused on “legacy” achievements – that is, a club organized around well-defined and documented systems instead of force of personality and will.

Let me be clear.  When a club’s success is founded on individual competency, its success is built upon what should be considered “unacceptable risks.”  What happens when the competent manager moves on to a more prestigious club, moves by geographical preference, retires, goes back to school, decides on a career change, becomes ill, or, heaven forbid, passes away?

When a club without deeply ingrained organizational systems or “disciplines of success” at all levels of the operation loses its competent manager, it risks quite literally falling apart until a new competent general manager is found – and often this is not easily or quickly done.

The alternative to this all-too-familiar scenario of competency loss is to hire a general manager who is focused on long-term, legacy solutions.  But what do we mean by legacy solutions?  They are the deeply entrenched systems and management disciplines that result in consistently efficient and high-performing operations, whose longevity and success is not based on the individual, rather on organizational habit.  Such habit includes:

  • An operations plan made up of well-defined standards, policies, and procedures for HR, accounting, and all operating departments
  • Implementation of consistent service-based leadership throughout the organization
  • Mentoring and professional development of subordinate managers
  • Establishment and use of measurable accountabilities for all management positions
  • A discipline of planning and review
  • Thorough benchmarking of operations
  • Continual process improvement
  • A well-defined and executed member relationship management plan
  • Fiscal disciplines, consistently applied
  • Disciplined hiring
  • Well-defined and continually reinforced organizational values
  • Formal training programs for managers and all line positions

What then is the difference between a competent and legacy manager?  A general manager’s strong commitment to leave the club poised for continued success when he or she departs.

Club boards and executive search consultants put tremendous time and effort into finding competent managers for clubs and clients.  I would argue that they go beyond competency and find those rare GMs who recognize the higher calling of providing legacy leadership.

One final point:  Jim Collins, in his ground-breaking book Good to Great, found that every good to great company in his study had Level 5 Leaders.  One of their key points about Level 5 Leaders was that they “set up their successors for even greater success in the next generation.”  The leaders of the comparison companies (the ones that did not achieve and maintain greatness) set up their successors for failure.  While comparison leaders achieved some measure of success by virtue of competency and force of will, the companies they led were incapable of sustaining success long term.  On the other hand, the Level 5 Leaders provided more than just competency; they were legacy leaders – and left a legacy of greatness!

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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