Archive for August, 2017

The Imperative of Manager Training

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

Last week we talked a little about Employee Training and posed some questions about clubs’ training programs. This week we talk about an even more important topic – Manager Training.

In many clubs the assumption is that if you hire good people as golf professionals, food and beverage managers, controllers, activity directors, golf course superintendents, membership directors, etc., they don’t need to be trained because they know what they’re doing. While this may be true of the job skills for their particular position, there is far more a manager must know and ignoring this fact can be dangerous to your operation.

Managers and supervisors must understand and promote the club’s organizational values and culture. They must also understand their responsibilities in a variety of areas with legal and liability implications such as FLSA, EEO, ADA, USERRA, FMLA, OSHA, sexual harassment, workers and unemployment compensation, youth employment, and public health issues such as food sanitation and waterborne diseases.

They must also understand the club’s organizational systems, such as human resources and accounting, they need guidance on hiring, onboarding, and training; and while we expect all our subordinate managers to be honest, my long career experience proves that to be a naive assumption.  To be sure this doesn’t become an issue you should provide ongoing ethics training.

But more than anything I’ve found that managers, particularly junior or first-time supervisors, need leadership training. I would go even further and state that unless every manager and supervisor is trained in the requirements and habits of Service-Based Leadership, your club will never achieve service excellence and will continually be embroiled in time-consuming human resource issues.

As John Tschohl, Founder and President of the Service Quality Institute, says, “Without [employee] empowerment, an organization will never be a service leader.” And without a foundation of Service-Based Leadership, your employees will never be empowered.

Lastly, a club’s managers and supervisors act as agents of the club, granted the authority by the Board and General Manager to make decisions and act on behalf of the membership. As such, poorly-trained managers cannot be allowed to expose the club to liability as a result of ill-considered actions.

The Bottom Line: Training managers and supervisors to a common standard of leadership and understanding of their duties is an imperative for any club that aspires to excellence!

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.

Staff Training

Monday, August 21st, 2017

High quality and consistent service is something that our members not only expect, but demand.  Yet in a detail-intensive business such as ours where so much has to be done just right in every service encounter, training employees is a gargantuan task, made even more challenging by a transient workforce and high turnover in critical service positions.  Often our employees who have learned the most from our service culture are lost to the lure of the newest restaurant in town or the one with the highest tips.

Given the importance of training and the reality of tight budgets, it seems the only solution to the club training challenge is to organize and format training materials to be easily-given with a minimum of time investment for both instructor (manager) and student (employee).  One solution is to use “on-the-go” training materials where information and skills are provided in frequent, small and easily-digested doses.

But there is more to training employees than just the skills of their particular position.  Employees must also have a thorough grasp of the club’s culture and service values.  Otherwise, each employee is simply doing what he or she thinks is best.  While well-intentioned, this clearly doesn’t foster a consistent quality of service.

There are also a host of policies and procedures that each employee must know – again, this is an area where consistency is imperative.

With so much to teach each new employee, do you have a training strategy beyond osmosis?  Have you ever fleshed out a curriculum for each service position?  Is your training material written down for consistency and formatted for brevity and clarity?  Do you test your employees on training materials?  Do you offer follow-up or refresher training?  Do you track the training that each employee gets to make sure everyone is trained to the same standard?  Do you encourage feedback from employees regarding the adequacy of training?  Do you periodically review and revise training materials?

All of these are legitimate questions about your club’s training effort.  But who has the time you may be thinking?  Some managers will excuse the lack of formal training by saying it just isn’t in the budget.  Yet I would say that training is more about organization, discipline, and the “will to make it happen” than it is about cost.

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.

The Challenges of Standalone Club Operations

Monday, August 14th, 2017

My wife is a high school English teacher and I get to hear her periodic horror stories from the world of public education. Several years ago, growing interested in her comments on the state of our schools, I picked up a book called Crash Course by Chris Whittle. Whittle made his money in magazine publishing and with Channel One, the news program provided to public schools. He then turned his attention to public education and founded Edison Schools, a for-profit education management organization that would hopefully bring a solution to some of our worst-performing schools. While Edison Schools has not been as successful as originally envisioned, I found his review of public education insightful and full of interesting ideas.

In his book he discussed the challenges facing small town and rural school districts with limited resources and few economies of scale. As I read his critique, I was amazed that so many of the points he made about these school districts applied just as much to standalone club operations. For me it was a moment of epiphany. Throughout much of my career I worked in independent hotels or clubs with no more resources than our lean management staff could muster among ourselves. In job after job, we had to create personnel and accounting policies and procedures, job descriptions, training manuals, employee handbooks, and other materials to support our operations.

What made it so difficult was that we, the management staff, were up to our necks in operations and daily crises. Some of the operations were 24/7 and finding the time to develop organizational material was a nearly impossible challenge. Yet, if we ever wanted to stop reacting to problems, we needed to organize the operation for efficiency and consistency, while spending more time planning and thinking strategically.

Over the past thirty years, the hotel industry has successfully consolidated into chain operations and management companies, but the greater part of the club industry has not, and probably never will, due to the individual ownership of clubs by members and the reluctance of many to hire management companies. This leaves the industry full of standalone operations with limited resources and benefits of scale.

In response to these challenges Club Resources International, a portal website serving club industry managers at all levels of the operations, has recently been launched. On this site you’ll find a variety of resources from White Papers; Best Practices; Job Descriptions; Standards, Policies, and Procedures; Training Manuals and materials; programs to improve the understanding and efficiency of operations such as Tools to Beat Budget and Operations Benchmarking; as well as links to other industry resources.

The vision of this website is to grow into a one-stop resource for the materials that managers need, but don’t have the time to develop. Since so many of club operations are similar, there’s no sense in reinventing the wheel. Simply register for free on the site, download the desired material, and customize it to your own needs.

Lastly, we actively encourage other voices and points of view. Just as there are clubs with varying combinations of amenities, there are also  a number of ways to organize and operate a club. All quality submissions will be posted with appropriate attribution to individual author and organization. Harnessing the collective power and intellect of club managers worldwide makes more sense than each of us trying to go it alone!

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

These blogs comment on and discuss 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.