Archive for the ‘membership marketing’ Category

The Club Membership Director and Member Relationship Management Program

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

A typical club Mission Statement says that the club must “exceed the expectations” of members.  But how can employees exceed expectations if they don’t know what those expectations are?  A more realistic Mission Statement would be to “understand and exceed the expectations” of members.

This need to understand the changing expectations of members requires that management continually “take the pulse” of the membership by any means available.  This includes intensive personal contacts, management calling programs, membership meetings, various member or advisory boards, surveys, comment cards, analysis of members’ club usage and spending habits, as well as ongoing feedback from employees about the receptivity of members to the club’s offerings and individual member preferences.

Not only must this information be obtained, but it must be processed and analyzed.  Only then can management and employees effectively exceed the expectations of the club’s membership.  This process of understanding members’ expectations is achieved by building strong member relationships.  In essence what is being attempted is to build and institutionalize a system that will replicate the personalized service that was the hallmark of the best “Mom & Pop” operations of old.  Such service was based upon the trust and accumulated knowledge of years of day-to-day interaction with customers.

To ensure that the strongest member relationships are built and maintained, it is necessary to place as much focus on member relations as on other critical areas of the club’s operations.  This can be done by expanding the membership sales position to that of a Director of Membership Sales and Relationships – a single director who oversees all areas of member relations.

Over the years I have often heard that the role of “selling” memberships is so critical that membership directors cannot be burdened with extraneous duties – they must focus solely on the challenge and disciplines of selling.  While recognizing the importance of the sales effort, I would argue for a broader interpretation of successful selling.

In any community there is no greater or more effective sales pitch than the recommendation of satisfied club members.  After all, they move freely and interact frequently with just the demographic any club seeks – the successful and affluent members of the community.  Despite a club’s comprehensive marketing plan and the focused execution of that plan by a competent membership director, the reputation and word of mouth endorsement of your club will sway far more prospects than any amount of cold calling and repeated sales contacts.

Recognizing the paramount importance of the club experience in attracting new members, I expect the membership director to be just as involved in the club’s efforts to provide value and service as the rest of the management team.  In addition to working prospects and signing up new members, I want the membership director to create and implement a robust member relationship management program.

To encompass these larger responsibilities I would add the following duties to the Membership Director’s position description:

  • Develop a Member Relationship Management Plan describing all steps the club will take to foster stronger relationships with members.
  • Establish and maintain the Member Profiles database.
  • Create and conduct specific training for the club’s management and staff to include Member Focus training to describe the club’s absolute commitment to member service and satisfaction, as well as Club Etiquette training for all employees.
  • Analyze members’ club use data to better understand members’ wants and needs.
  • Benchmark, analyze, and report the top and bottom 20% spenders at the club on a monthly basis.
  • Create and implement a Rewards Program for top 20% spenders.  Develop and implement plans to encourage more use of the club by the bottom 20%.
  • Regularly distribute Member Profile information to staff to help foster enhanced personalized service to members.
  • Manage and prepare routine General Manager’s member correspondence for Birthday Wishes, Recognition of Honors and Awards, Anniversary Recognition, Thanking Members for Club Service and Patronage, etc.
  • Chair Member Relationship Committee of key club department heads which meets monthly to discuss and resolve member relationship and service issues while continually improving the details of the Member Relationship Management Program

The member relationship management program is designed to foster more meaningful relationships with all club members, but this can only be accomplished thoroughly and efficiently when well-planned and implemented by a single responsible individual – the club’s Director of Member Sales and Relationship.

A final thought:  Given that all club revenues come from members, shouldn’t as much effort be placed on encouraging their use of the club as any other discipline of club management?

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

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

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

Guest Blog: Member Activation Goals for the New Year

Monday, December 5th, 2011

“Failures don’t plan to fail; they fail to plan” – you’ve heard it said in many ways, but it always rings true.  Coined by syndicated columnist, motivational speaker, and best-selling author, Harvey MacKay, it means that by setting goals, determining specific courses of action, and carrying out the steps to attain those goals, you are more likely to achieve success than if you had not done so.  Whether you are trying to shorten your club’s sell list, lose weight, or learn a new language, a little planning goes a long way.  Now that we’re on the brink of a new year, consider this the perfect opportunity to set your goals for a fresh start in the new year.

Let us focus on creating a member activation marketing plan as an example.  The best planning happens when you understand the background:  your marketplace, your club’s position within the marketplace, the demographics and profile of your “average member.”  Without this knowledge, your plan will merely be guesswork.  A member activation marketing plan does not need to be a lengthy dissertation, but it should include several vital components that are all built around the framework of relationship building; knowing as much as you can about your members will help you understand how best to get their attention.

Begin by setting a realistic overall goal in support of the club’s mission and vision statements.  Our overall goal will be “to create and generate word-of-mouth marketing by making every member and guest experience at the club an outstanding one.” Think about creating a sense of pride that is contagious.  Now, list several objectives that will help achieve the overall goal:

  • Personally connect with ten members per week to foster stronger relationships and increase member recognition.
  • Inform and engage front-line staff to spread the word on club events and membership opportunities through informative weekly meetings.
  • Continue to build pride and increase awareness of club events through weekly eCommunications and monthly eNewsletters which clearly reflect the club’s brand and are targeted towards members’ individual interests.
  • Join community groups and leaders and attend regular meetings and events on behalf of the club to build awareness of your club within the marketplace.
  • Involve fellow managers, membership committees and/or boards of directors in the conversation, where necessary, to help ensure success while also keeping in mind that you can create and execute parts of the plan on your own.  A budget for each objective should be included where applicable, although most of the above objectives can be implemented with no additional cost whatsoever, just a bit of commitment and effort.

For each objective, determine a timetable, track results, and periodically review outcomes.   If, for example, we meet our objective of connecting with “ten members per week,” we will have personally connected with 500 members over the course of one year (less a few weeks of well-deserved vacation, of course!).  By charting your weekly “connects,” you can easily see where you stand compared to your plan and can adjust if you fall behind so that the objective is never overwhelming.  Think of it as solving one piece of the puzzle at a time, instead of trying to complete the whole thing at once.  Reaching out to everyone all at once is much less effective than connecting on a personal level with each of the 500 one at a time over the course of a year.

During your periodic reviews, you may find that a change of course or the addition of another objective is necessary.  That is perfectly acceptable; this is a living document and should adapt to ensure the best possible outcome.  If an opportunity arises that will help move the plan toward a positive outcome, by all means add it to the mix.  Conversely, should one objective not mesh or become a detriment to the overall goal, delete it and move on.  At the end of the plan’s cycle, review and memorialize your results, determine your next goal, and begin the working on your next cycle of success.

While you may think I’ve oversimplified things, the fact I hope I have illustrated is that the entire process can be as involved – or simple – as need be.  If the above plan fits your needs, by all means STEAL IT!  After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery.  Now think about it for a moment – how will you plan for member activation success in the new year?

jill-melbye-63x801About the Author:Jill R. Melbye is a Principal and Certified Marketing Professional with MAI Business Services. She has worked within the private club industry for 15 years and conducts seminars and provides marketing support to the hospitality industry. She is also the publisher and author of “Membership & Marketing: From A to Z”, MAI’s quarterly eNewsletter.  For more information, please contact Jill at, or visit the website Follow her on twitter!

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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