Posts Tagged ‘member engagement’

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!

Job One – Placing Your Time and Energies Where Most Needed

Monday, October 19th, 2015

While club general managers have many responsibilities, there is one that is pre-eminent – member relations.  This is so because of one simple fact – if member dissatisfaction with the club grows into a groundswell of criticism or if one or more particularly influential members dislike the way things are going or form a negative opinion of the job you’re doing, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be looking for a new job.

This may not be fair in any objective sense, but it’s the reality of our profession.  No matter the progress you are making to improve quality, service, and the bottom line, it’s the members’ perceptions that will determine your standing as the club’s GM.  So the critical skill of a successful club general manager is, first and foremost, the ability to establish and maintain a good working relationship with the club’s governing board, its various committees, and the membership at large.

At the root of this ability is an impressive skill set – the tact and nuance of a diplomat, the sociability of Mr. or Ms. Congeniality, the business acumen of an acknowledged hospitality professional, and the influence of a strong and effective leader.  To the truly gifted few (the Rob Duckett’s, Chris Conner’s, and Tim Mervosh’s of the world, to name a few of my acquaintance*), this skill set is second nature.  For the rest of us, it requires hard work, continual effort, professional self-improvement, and most of all the time, energy, and focus to make member relations Job One.

Given the many requirements of running a successful club operation, though, it is often difficult to give the proper time and attention to the demands and details of member relations.  It is for this reason that every general manager should organize his or her operation to run as effortlessly as possible through sound organization and structure; well-defined expectations; detailed standards, policies, and procedures; ongoing, consistent training of all staff; and strict accountability for departmental performance.

When this happens, the general manager has the time to focus on the many details and aspects of member relations.  In doing this, he or she can monitor the pulse and attitudes of the membership, advance the progress and understanding of important management initiatives, and deepen the relationship bond between members and management – and in the challenging world of club management, there is nothing so important.

*Rob Duckett, GM, Mountaintop Golf and Lake Club, Cashiers, NC; Chris Conner, GM, Cullasaja Club, Highlands, NC; Tim Mervosh, GM/COO, Milburn Golf and Country Club, Overland Park, KS.

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!

 

 

The Full Golf Member

Monday, March 31st, 2014

In just four power-packed pages of his essential book, Club “It’s All About Golf” Book, author Mitchell Stump makes an overwhelming case for the value to the club of the full golf member.  Just as powerfully he points out that this premium member is often overlooked by a management staff focused on the larger membership and complexities of other areas of the operation such as food and beverage.

In Romancing the Customer, Maximizing Brand Value through Powerful Relationship Management by Dr. Paul Temporal and Martin Trott, the authors make the obvious point that not all customers are equal and should not be treated equally.  While they don’t advocate slighting less profitable customers, they do stress the absolute importance of taking care of your best customers – in the club’s case the full golf member.  Incidentally, they also say that the rising tide of customer relationship management will raise some of those less profitable customers to the level of best customers – and won’t your Membership Director and General Manager be thrilled when some of your sports or junior members upgrade to full golf memberships or a guest decides to join after experiencing your operation.

So what’s the bottom line on this topic?  Take extra good care of your full golf members – know them like family, greet them like long, lost friends, and treat them like rock stars!

Here some ideas:

  • Identify them – make sure the entire golf staff knows who these members are and recognizes them by name – every time, everywhere.
  • Brainstorm with your golf operations team as to how you can go above and beyond for your full golf members and their guests.  Make a list of the best ideas and implement them.
  • Develop a “wow” factor list for your full golf members and surprise them with over the top service.
  • Review your current operational standards, policies, and procedures to find better ways to “honor” your full golf members with recognition and service.  And oh, by the way, improving your standards will benefit all golfers – possibly a way to increase the number of full golf members.
  • Periodically “walk the path” of your full golf members and guests with an eagle eye to enhance and improve your parking lot, bag drop, pro shop, locker rooms, shoe service, bag storage, detailing of golf carts, practice facility, etc.
  • Remind and reinforce the highest service standards to the golf staff – pro shop and outside and on-course staff.  Pick their brains for ideas to do more and better.
  • Learn as much as you can about your full golf members from beverage preference, favorite clothing brands, favorite colors, shoe, shirt and hat size, NFL team, birthday, anniversary, etc.  Then act on this “intelligence” to do special and personal things for Dr. Smith or Mr. Jones.  Get your staff to report every piece of intelligence they learn from their interactions with full golf members.  Use your computer to Google them – you’ll be surprised how much you can learn on the World Wide Web.
  • Never stop looking for ways to make the full golf member feel as special as he or she is to the club and your golf operation.

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!

Engaging Members with Confidence

Monday, July 11th, 2011

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.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!