Archive for the ‘training’ Category

Why is Training so Challenging for Clubs?

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Recognizing that we work in a detail-intensive business, most club managers understand that comprehensive and systematic training for both subordinate managers and line employees is an imperative.  Yet, the sad fact is that training is an afterthought in many operations, left up to department heads or front line supervisors to conceive, design, and implement.

Why is this so often the case?  I offer the following as some of the factors that make training so difficult for all of us:

  • First, is the standalone nature of most clubs.  Busy managers have little time and, in some cases, lack the necessary skill set to design a comprehensive training curriculum for employees.
  • Complicating this is the fact that club operations span many disciplines, including accounting, human resources, marketing, member relations, golf operations, food and beverage, aquatics, golf course maintenance, and other areas. Few, managers have the detailed knowledge of all these disciplines to design the well-integrated systems, policies, and procedures that cover all areas of the operation.
  • The general manager and management staff have not formally defined the standards of quality and service they wish to provide the membership. Without formal standards, how do they determine their training needs?
  • Given the many positions inherent in club operations, there is the need to develop a curriculum for each position to provide employees the appropriate skill set.  This is a daunting task, though focusing on critical member-facing positions is the first step.
  • In addition to individual skills training, employees must be trained in the club culture and values; laws affecting the workplace; employee work rules and policies; liability abatement training such as safety, sanitation, and public health; human resource issues such as sexual harassment, discrimination, conduct, and performance criteria; accounting policies and procedures relating to their work such as point of sale training, inventory procedures, and timekeeping; and all the club’s various organizational systems that allow it to function efficiently.
  • Managers at all levels must be trained in a variety of disciplines including leadership; club culture and values; various laws affecting club operations; club systems; accounting standards, policies, and procedures; human resource standards, policies, and procedures — to name a few.
  • Few clubs have a comprehensive training plan that guides subordinate managers in training standards, responsibilities, budgets, resources, and necessary curricula.
  • There is no easy way for the general manager to monitor training execution due to the lack in most clubs of training administration software and training benchmarks. Short of attending each training session, how does the GM know who is training and meeting the ongoing requirements of a multi-faceted curriculum.
  • In times of tight budgets (and when is it ever not such a time?), the cost of every hour of training is multiplied by the number of employees being trained and their hourly wage — and this can have a significant impact on the bottom line.
  • The management staff does not have the will to make it happen given all the other management requirements, demands on their time, and competing priorities.
  • The club’s board, while demanding high service levels, does not understand the direct link between formal training and quality service or, even more importantly, the challenging task of designing and implementing an effective club-wide training program. In many cases, the general manager has not developed the training goals, assessments, plan, proposed budget, and “sold” the board on its necessity.

The bottom line on all these issues is that unless focused on and attended to religiously, they fall through the cracks.  While the training requirements of a well-run operation seem overwhelming, they can be effectively implemented with leadership, the “will to make it happen,” organizational structure, and management discipline.  Without these, quality and high levels of performance will be forever be an elusive dream.

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 the Hospitality Industry!

Using Notable Quotables to Train and Remind

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

There are many things to teach your staff – both managers and line employees . . . and there are many ways to do it.  Given the high cost and difficulty of bringing in employees just for training sessions, I’ve always been an advocate of what I call on-the-go training – training material formatted in short doses that can be pulled out any time there are spare moments in a shift.

I am also a big believer in constant reinforcement of key training material such as organizational values and service ethic.  Another major training objective is to get all the management team on the same page, particularly when it comes to leadership and club culture.  This is accomplished by ongoing discussion of key objectives, values, leadership techniques, and the nuances of service and service delivery.  Such discussions routinely take place at weekly manager meetings, during reviews of assigned leadership and management reading materials, during departmental and pre-shift meetings, and by posting quotes on bulletin boards in employee areas of the club.

This last technique is particularly cost-effective in that it costs little to find, format, print out, and post your favorite quotes for all employees to see.  You can also use the quotes as envelope stuffers for employee paychecks (though this is not as effective if you offer direct deposit for your employees).

The beauty of quotes is that they carry the gravitas of the well-known person or expert quoted and are usually short and highly memorable.  Even in a meeting setting they provide food for thought and can be used to start discussions to explore the deeper meanings and importance of the topic.

In an effort to make it easy for club managers to harness the power of notable quotes, Club Resources International has compiled over 400 quotes, categorized under the headings of leadership, management disciplines, service, and values – and they are absolutely FREE.  You can find them on the website under Training Resources>Notable Quotables or here.

You can then click on the major topic folder you want.  When you do this, you’ll find an easy reference index to locate just the quote you want.  Then click on the desired quote file, save it to your hard disk, print it out, and used it to train and reinforce.  Nothing could be simpler or more effective for NO 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.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

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Emergency Evacuation Simulations

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Given the difficulties of scheduling emergency evacuation drills and the resulting disruption to members and guests, club managers must use other means of training and testing employees on their responsibilities and actions during an emergency evacuation.  Such an alternate means would be the use of departmental Emergency Evacuation Simulations.  These routine periodic simulations would consist of a variety of cards describing simulated emergencies for each area of the operation and a supervisor testing employees what their actions would be when handed the card.

Simulation cards would be readily identifiable by design and color.  Each card would:

  • Describe an emergency scenario.
  • Require the employee to describe his or her actions, including:
  • Notification of the emergency.
  • Location of emergency exits.
  • Primary and alternate evacuation routes.
  • Steps to evacuate members, guests, and other employees.
  • Location of exterior assembly area.

Require the employee to list:

  • Appropriate life safety actions in the presence of fire, heat, and smoke.
  • Steps to fight or slow the spread of the fire.
  • Require the employee to:
  • Point out the location of fire pull stations.
  • Point out the location of fire extinguishers.
  • Explain the types of fire extinguishers and their respective uses.
  • Simulate the use of a fire extinguisher, while describing the necessary operating procedures and techniques.

The supervisor presenting the simulation card would grade the employee responses and point out any incorrect actions or answers.  The whole exercise should take no more than ten minutes and can be executed without disturbing normal service routines.

The use of Emergency Evacuation Simulation cards will increase the fire safety awareness of staff and reinforce critical information and experience regarding emergency evacuation procedures with a minimum disruption to members and guests.

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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Teaching the Subtleties of Service

Monday, February 6th, 2012

High levels of service in a club environment are so much more than knowing service techniques, smiling, and greeting guests.  To do service well requires people who are sensitive to the needs and desires of others and who understand a wide range of the customs and courtesies of human interaction.  They need to recognize the subtleties of service.  But what do we mean by subtleties?

Dictionary.com defines subtlety as an “acuteness or penetration of mind; delicacy of discrimination; a finely-drawn distinction.” A synonym is nuance which means “a subtle difference or distinction in expression, response, etc.” In other words, subtlety is the awareness and ability to make fine distinctions in how one engages with others or a well-calibrated sense of how to respond to a particular person in a particular situation.

In short, it’s the sense to recognize and understand how to appropriately engage others in a variety of situations and scenarios.

So, as leaders how do we go about teaching our employees the subtleties of service?  It certainly takes more than telling them to smile and be nice to members.  They need to have a basic understanding of the underlying customs and practices of service, manners, and gracious behaviors, as well as an awareness of the signs and signals of unspoken needs.  Not only do they need to know what to do, but they need to have the sensitivity and perceptiveness to recognize members’ needs even before these are expressed.

Such sensitivities improve with knowledge and experience, but unless a new hire naturally possesses these abilities (which experience has shown that few do), club managers have to start somewhere in training employees in the subtleties of service.  Here’s my list of requirements:

  • The club must have well-defined organizational values and a constantly reinforced culture of service.  When employees are immersed in such a culture, service becomes second nature to all.
  • Daily engagement and consistent example of service-based leaders.  Without a appropriate examples of the subtleties of service from club leaders (i.e., all managers), don’t expect employees to possess and provide it.
  • Empowerment training that spells out the limits of employee initiative and discretion in resolving issues and problems.
  • Club etiquette training – employees must understand the appropriate behaviors expected in a club setting.
  • Dining etiquette for servers – the same applies to servers understanding the basic manners and service behaviors expected during dining.
  • Making employees aware of the rules of engagement.  Different members will want to engage differently with employees at different times and in different settings.  Understanding the issues of engagement are critical to service and service delivery.
  • Ensure that all staff are aware of the mental environments for each area of the club.  Different areas have different mental environments at different times of the day.  Being aware of the concept of mental environment and recognizing member moods and desires is an important part of providing appropriate levels of engagement.
  • Teach service recovery and how to apologize.  This is so basic it hardly needs stating, but experience has shown that a consistent approach must be taught to ensure club employees understand the importance of recovering from bad situations and the need for a sincere “we accept all responsibility” apology.
  • Make sure employees understand the importance of the Three A’s of Service – that is:  “Be Alert, Aware and Anticipate member needs.”

As with everything else demanding quality, service behaviors and delivery must be defined and taught consistently to all employees . . . otherwise how would they know what you and your members expect?

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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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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Does Service Training Founder on the Shoals of Management Indifference?

Monday, December 26th, 2011

I recently read an internet-posted news article entitled, “Disney Offers Customer Service Training.”  The article written by Adrian Sainz talked about Miami International Airport employees taking customer service training from the Disney Institute, a division of Walt Disney Company set up to teach its principles and practices to other companies.  Here’s where we’ll pick up the story . . .

“Now the Institute has taken another client: Miami International Airport, which many travelers will tell you needs customer service training like an airplane needs wings.  Surveys rank its service among the nation’s worst.  The airport’s terminal operations employees are taking classes taught by Institute instructors, learning leadership practices, team building, staff relations and communication skills – many formulated by Walt Disney himself.

“Part of Disney’s lure is the feelings generated by its films and theme parks – magic and wonderment for children, escapism for adults.  Disney takes great pride in ensuring a fun time and repeat business, mainly by emphasizing customer service and attention to detail while trying not to appear too sterile or robotic.

“Miami International Airport is a gateway to and from the Caribbean and Latin America.  About 32.5 million passengers passed through the airport in 2006, including more than 14 million international passengers.  But among 18 U.S. airports with 30 million or more passengers per year, only three airports performed worse in J.D. Power and Associates’ 2007 North America Airport Satisfaction Study.  Miami received below average scores in accessibility, check-in, security check, baggage claim and overall satisfaction; average scores in terminal facilities and food and beverage; and above average in retail services.

“Early in the training, a handful of Miami airport managers visited the Magic Kingdom, where they were shown examples on how paying attention to detail and removing barriers were integral in making guests happy and keeping them informed.”

The article went on discussing various techniques used by Disney to enhance customer service.  While I found the article somewhat interesting, it was the three reader comments posted below the article that caught my attention.  Here they are:

  1. “I worked for a medical practice in Georgia that sends a few of their employees to Disney for training each year.  Our patients (guests) really responded well to our new customer service guidelines.  However, management really needed to attend the training as well as the regular employee.  They became complacent in their ‘ivory tower’ and expected all of us to treat the patients well (and of course we did); however, management needed to extend the same courtesy and good manners to their employees.  In the past 3 months the company has had record turnover and still harbors a large disgruntled employee pool.  No idle words . . . ‘Treat others the way you would want to be treated.'”
  2. “When we returned, all 1st level management (the ones dealing with the customers) were asked to implement the Disney experience to our daily activities.  To this day we have weekly meetings with our senior management to report how our teams are embracing the changes.  Unfortunately many of the associates treat it as ‘the flavor of the month’ program to improve customer satisfaction.  We are still trying to make a culture change with our staff.   The most unfortunate part of the Disney experience was that although our senior management went along the trip I am yet to witness the impact it had on them when dealing with us 1st level managers.”
  3. “I agree with the posters (above) who feel that senior management should lead by example and treat their subordinates with dignity and respect.  It just seems like common sense, that when employees are happy and feel well treated, this will filter down to the way they treat the customers.  Everyone in an organization deserves to be treated well and this makes for optimum performance.”

Three of the four postings by readers made the same point about management.  This would seem to suggest the obvious:  that without the active involvement and example of leadership (and service-based leadership at that), improvements in customer service will not happen.

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: Dignity…We All Crave It, So Why Do We Keep Ignoring It?

Monday, November 14th, 2011

donna-hicks-152x200

What is the motivating force behind all human interaction – in families, in communities, in the business world, and in relationships from the personal level to the international level?  DIGNITY.  It is the desire to be treated well.  It is an unspoken human yearning that is at the heart of all conflicts, yet no one is paying attention to it.

When dignity is violated, the response is likely to involve aggression, even violence, hatred, and vengeance; the human connection is the first thing to go.  On the other hand, when people treat each other with dignity, they feel their worth is recognized, creating lasting and meaningful relationships.  Surprisingly, most people have little understanding of dignity.  While a desire for dignity is universal, knowing how to honor it in ourselves and others is not.

After working as a conflict resolution specialist for twenty years, I have observed and researched the circumstances that give rise to dignity violations.  On the other hand, when the following ten elements of dignity are honored, people feel their dignity has been recognized and that they have been treated well.  Relationships flourish under these conditions.

The Ten Essential Elements of Dignity

Acceptance of Identity.  Approach people as being neither inferior nor superior to you.  Give others the freedom to express their authentic selves without fear of being negatively judged.  Interact without prejudice or bias, accepting the ways in which race, religion, ethnicity, gender, class, sexual orientation, age, and disability may be at the core of the other people’s identities.  Assume that others have integrity.

Inclusion.  Make others feel that they belong, whatever the relationship – whether they are in your family, community, organization, or nation.

Safety.  Put people at ease at two levels: physically, so they feel safe from bodily harm, and psychologically, so they feel safe from being humiliated.  Help them feel free to speak without fear of retribution.

Acknowledgement.  Give people your full attention by listening, hearing, validating, and responding to their concerns, feelings, and experiences.

Recognition.  Validate others for their talents, hard work, thoughtfulness, and help.  Be generous with praise, and show appreciation and gratitude to others for their contributions and ideas.

Fairness.  Treat people justly, with equality, and in an evenhanded way according to agreed-on laws and rules.  People feel that you have honored their dignity when you treat them without discrimination or injustice.

Benefit of the Doubt.   Treat people as trustworthy.  Start with the premise that others have good motives and are acting with integrity.

Understanding.  Believe that what others think matters.  Give them the chance to explain and express their points of view.  Actively listen in order to understand them.

Independence.  Encourage people to act on their own behalf so that they feel in control of their lives and experience a sense of hope and possibility.

Accountability.  Take responsibility for your actions.  If you have violated the dignity of another person, apologize.  Make a commitment to change your hurtful behaviors.

Our desire for dignity resides deep within us, defining our common humanity.  If our capacity for indignity is our lowest common denominator, then our yearning for dignity is our highest.  And if indignity tears relationships apart, then dignity can put them back together again.

Our ignorance of all things related to dignity – how to claim our own and how to honor it in others, has contributed to many of the conflicts we see in the world today.  This is as true in the boardroom and in the bedroom, as it is in politics and international relations.  It is true for all human interaction.  If we are to evolve as a species, there is no greater need than to learn how to treat each other and ourselves with dignity.  It is the glue that could hold us all together.  And it doesn’t stop there.  Not only does dignity make for good human relationships, it does something perhaps far more important – it creates the conditions for our mutual growth and development.  It is a distraction to have to defend oneself from indignity.  It takes up our time and uses up our precious energy.  The power of dignity, on the other hand, only expands with use.  The more we give, the more we get.

There is no greater leadership challenge than to lead with dignity, helping us all to understand what it feels like to be honored and valued and to feel the incalculable benefits that come from experiencing it.  The leadership challenge is at all levels – for those in the world of politics, business, education, religion, to everyday leadership in our personal lives.  Peace will not flourish anywhere without dignity.  There is no such thing as democracy without dignity, nor can there be authentic peace if people are suffering indignities.  Last but not least, feeling dignity’s power – both by honoring it and locating our own inner source of it – sets us up for one of humanities greatest gifts – the experience of being in relationship with others in a way that brings out the best in one another, allowing us to become more of what we are capable of being.

Donna Hicks Ph.D., author of Dignity: The Essential Role It Plays in Resolving Conflict, Yale University Press, 2011.  You can read more about the author and her book at http://drdonnahicks.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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Guest Blog: Shoestring Marketing — Cultivate Your Club’s Natural Resources

Monday, August 8th, 2011

The upside of working with little or no marketing budget is that it forces you to get creative.  Brainstorming is a great way to find an unusual solution, but don’t overlook your most obvious, readily available resource – your members and staff.  By nurturing relationships with these people they will, in essence, become your most effective marketing tools.  Their efforts will help differentiate your club in the marketplace, generate a buzz in the community, and help you build/retain value through Club pride in action.  These seemingly simple, and often inexpensive, options include and result in:

  • A culture of pride based on consistency and quality – in facilities, food/beverage, amenities and staff,
  • An environment which empowers staff to take ownership of their respective roles and rewards them in doing so, and
  • Informed and engaged members and staff who help spread the word.

These and other means are in your arsenal of natural resources awaiting your cultivation and utilization.

El Macero CC’s GM, Steven Backman CCM, says it best, “Hire for attitude; you can train almost anything else.”  Since starting from scratch isn’t usually an option, implement a Good Attitude=Good Hire policy, effective immediately.  In doing so, you and your fellow managers will strive to add only enthusiastic individuals to the team.  Among existing staff, look for and focus on positive actions, acknowledge successes and reward desired behaviors.  Provide a training program to insure consistent quality in every aspect of your club.  Empower staff to take ownership of what they do: “See it, Own it, Solve it, Do it” (read more:  The Oz Principle).  Engage and inform with timely information, and empower them by asking for help in building awareness of programs, services and events.   The results of implementing these practices may surprise you in the number of issues resolved quickly and inexpensively, increased pride among staff in having resolved issues on their own and increased satisfaction in working at your club through being empowered and trusted to problem-solve.    With your team of enthusiastic staff in place – providing consistent, quality service, promoting club pride and events – it is time to identify and engage your member partners.

The hospitality industry is all about relationships, and, while the importance of quality relationships with your staff is obvious, the quality of those you have built with your members is equally important.  Members feel pride in their club through consistent, quality service and facilities, as well as through a sense of belonging via their friendships with other members.  Looking to your entire membership, identify the most active and involved members, your “club evangelists.”   Invite them to get involved in sharing the Club’s message and provide them with timely, accurate information.  Encourage them to talk outside Club walls (even on social media like Twitter, if you dare!) about the last outstanding meal they had at the Club, or membership opportunities, keeping in mind that a message shared peer-to-peer far outweighs one from a traditional marketing method.  By doing so, you/they will have started the most effective marketing program available:  word of mouth.  Building and maintaining relationships requires consistent effort, working through your staff and members increases your marketing power exponentially.  Engaging and empowering these same folks, and recognizing efforts along the way, gives everyone a stronger sense of pride and ownership in their club or what they do at the club, and where they belong or work.

Hiring happy people and properly training them, nurturing relationships with your staff and members to build a strong network of club supporters, and harnessing the enthusiasm and energy that both groups bring will help market your membership opportunities, and your club, better than you ever could alone.  These efforts help you save precious marketing dollars for other programs and bolster feelings of ownership and pride among members and staff in their club.  While gauging marketing ROI is much more difficult when compared to tracking a response rate from an invitation to preview your club, having prospective members see the culture and pride IN ACTION does more to entice a prospect than any artificial meet-and-greet style event.  By conveying a feeling of pride in your club, an inside secret has, in effect, been shared which says, “Join XYZ Club, and you, too, can enjoy this exclusive experience!”

Now, ask yourself: What are you doing to harness your natural resources in your membership marketing efforts, and what is your club doing to share its “inside secret”?

jill-melbye3About 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 jill@melbye-assoc.com, or visit the website www.melbye-assoc.com. Follow her on twitter! www.twitter.com/jrmelbye

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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Fire and Emergency Evacuation Drills

Monday, February 21st, 2011

An essential element of any fire safety plan is the emergency evacuation drill, commonly called a fire drill.  Without making the effort to train and rehearse employees on their responsibilities and actions in case of fire or other emergency, the lives of many people – members, guests, and employees may be at risk.

The challenge for clubs is that the facility use patterns are very different for different parts of the club and for different times of the day and week.  The evacuation issues at the golf course maintenance facility or aquatics center are far different than the clubhouse; and a clubhouse evacuation on a Tuesday morning will have far different concerns than a busy Saturday night.

Add to this is the disruption of member service and enjoyment of their club by scheduling frequent evacuation drills or holding such drills when members are dining and guests are attending a large and expensive wedding.  Clearly, evacuation drills must be held, but they must be carefully planned and executed to provide full safety value with the minimum disruption to member and guest activities.  So what strategies would meet both requirements?  Here are some thoughts:

  • Hold quarterly departmental evacuations drills for remote (non-clubhouse) facilities and activities such as aquatics, racquet center, golf course maintenance, and cart barn.  These will be scheduled by the department head in coordination with the club Safety Director or General Manager.  The time of the drill should be chosen based on greatest rehearsal impact for the largest number of employees with the least disruption to member service.
  • Schedule two types of quarterly clubhouse evacuation drills:
    • Daytime – schedules drills for two quarters of the year will be for a weekday timeframe when all operating and administrative departments are functioning – again with the least disruption to members.
    • Evening – the remaining two quarterly drills should be scheduled for an evening period.  Clearly a nighttime drill will impact members, but this impact on member service and enjoyment of their club can be lessened by various strategies such as a Board approved and supported weeknight “Fire Drill Night” when members are alerted in advance to the evening’s drill and the drill is scheduled for a particular time.  Meal service on this “special activity” night would be a reduced price buffet scheduled to start just after the drill is completed.  Members would be asked to arrive early for a brief open bar and complimentary hors d’oeuvres while seated in the dining room.  After participating in the drill, members would return to their seats for the specialty buffet.  The selected date should be one without scheduled catered functions.

The other means of training and testing employees in various departments of their responsibilities and actions during an emergency evacuation would be departmental Emergency Evacuation Simulations.  These routine periodic simulations would consist of a variety of cards describing simulated emergencies for each area of the operation and asking employees what their actions would be when handed the card.

Simulation cards would be readily identifiable by design and color.  Each card would:

  • Describe an emergency scenario.
  • Require the employee to describe his or her actions, including:
    • Notification of the emergency.
    • Location of emergency exits.
    • Primary and alternate evacuation routes.
    • Steps to evacuate members, guests, and other employees.
    • Location of exterior assembly area.
  • Require the employee to list:
    • Appropriate life safety actions in the presence of fire, heat, and smoke.
    • Steps to fight or slow the spread of the fire.
  • Require the employee to:
    • Point out the location of fire pull stations.
    • Point out the location of fire extinguishers.
    • Explain the types of fire extinguishers and their respective uses.
    • Simulate the use of a fire extinguisher, while describing the necessary operating procedures and techniques.

The supervisor presenting the simulation card would grade the employee responses and point out any incorrect actions or answers.  The whole exercise should take no more than ten minutes and can be executed without disturbing normal service routines.

The combination of quarterly evacuation drills and routinely administered simulation exercises will increase the fire safety awareness of club staff and provide valuable information and experience in emergency evacuation procedures.

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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Give Them More Than Just a Paycheck

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Throughout my career I’ve too often heard managers complain about the labor pool, the lack of work ethic and sense of responsibility among workers, and the constant headaches that came from their human “resources.”  The overwhelming sense from these managers was – “We pay too much to these people whose only interest is in collecting a paycheck.”

Yet at the same time and in the same or similar markets, there were other managers who did just fine in finding and retaining good people who made a real contribution to their clubs.  What then made the difference?  The answer is quite simple – good leadership!

So instead of just providing your employees with a paycheck, consider giving them the following:

  • Respect.  The life of all human beings is important to themselves, yet too many people are treated by their bosses as if they didn’t matter.  This maltreatment is not always by design; it’s the byproduct of busy bosses too focused on themselves or the many problems they face in busy operations.  But every employee deserves to be treated with the utmost respect and the common courtesies of human interaction.  When consistently and sincerely given, this respect will transform any work team.
  • Responsibility.  Placing responsibility on your work team demonstrates your trust in them.  Trust given returns trust.  In contrast, when you treat your employees like idiots or children, many will respond by acting like idiots or children.
  • Recognition.  Every day your employees do hundreds of things right.  Make sure you recognize that essential contribution to the success of your operation.  When sincerely given, a simple thank you or handshake of appreciation has a profound impact on morale, commitment, and contribution.
  • Responsiveness.  Leaders must engage with their employees every day and respond to their issues and concerns.  In any group of people working in a complex, fast-paced, and detail-intensive business there will be conflict and turmoil.  Without the leader’s guiding hand, this turmoil can consume the operation.  Leaders must stay engaged, be approachable, and respond to concerns.
  • Example.  Someone once said, “A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.” The leader’s example is paramount in setting the standards of the operation.  If the leader doesn’t seem to care about his employees, they won’t care about him or his initiatives and agenda.
  • Training.  Most people want to do a good job and appreciate when they are properly trained to improve their knowledge, skills, and job performance.  Lack of training leads to a chaotic and confusing work environment, the loss of conscientious employees, and a staff dominated by people who “couldn’t care less.”
  • Removal of Roadblocks.  Leaders should be hyper-sensitive to anything in the workplace that inhibits efficiency.  Do whatever is necessary within reason to identify and eliminate anything that makes employees jobs more challenging, time consuming, and frustrating.  Not only do you gain speed, efficiency, and improved productivity, but your employees will understand that you are dedicated to improving the operation and you care enough about them to address legitimate concerns.

All of the above steps from leaders will have a dramatic effect on employees and the operation.  In contrast, when you give your employees no more than a paycheck, you shortchange them, the club, and your members.

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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