Taking Your Club to The Next Level
By Harvey Weiner & Mark Weiner
Search America's client-club directors often tell us that they want their new manager to “take the club to the next level”, but struggle to either identify where they are today or what that next level means. They often request our guidance in defining their expectations, both of their club and its management.
The sustainable competitive edge through ROM
A club is all about member satisfaction. Failure here negates anything else you may do. Innovative club leadership must find creative ways that may redefine the whole member experience, the future club and even its target member as well. A short-term competitive advantage simply buys time to craft the next idea. The ultimate goal is to create a sustainable differentiated advantage. In the increasingly competitive private club world enlightened leaders allocate the time, effort and resources necessary for such imagineering at a Board of Director retreat dedicated to this purpose.
Envision that next level. Plan for it. Work toward it with our Results-Oriented Management (ROM) plan which integrates club traditions, historical data, economic modeling and stimulating what-if scenarios.
Financial data, not translated into action, are just empty statistics. A club’s most commonly defined areas for financial forecasting are (1) those that touch members and drive revenue and (2) those which reduce cost and contribute to the bottom line. Both are inextricably interdependent. Private clubs have a finite market of members from whom all monetary support (dues, fees for services and products, initiation fees, assessments) flows. Financial loss without a member-supported supplementing strategy is irresponsible. Member loss over negligent management is short-sighted.
Department-based budgeting, built upon wish lists, influenced by historical performance and tempered by reality is old-school. What if budgeting was aggregated according to perhaps diverse departments, i.e., golf and grounds; F&B and events; tennis, fitness and swimming? What if the clusters were themselves flexible so that, for example, F&B, events, tennis, swimming and fitness were clustered, or golf, tennis and fitness? Imagine the synergistic, integrated programming likely to emerge. This concept encourages flexibility in deploying already allocated resources, within and between clusters, promoting agility not conventional, rigid budget adherence.
One must analyze both financial and non financial metrics. The club’s brand and market position, ambiance, service, comfort and member pride are intangible components which must be independently evaluated. What’s the current rating? Where would you like to be? Club leadership must question everything as they drive their vision to the next level.
What if: food cost were increased by 5%; we eliminate tee times; change the golf member cap by 15%; employ a more experienced manager; merge with or acquire another club; adjust transfer fees; do away with dinner on slow nights or serve dinner on new nights; abolish minimums; honor capital reserves; acquire future expansion property; become more or less exclusive; increase or decrease involvement in day-to-day management? And what if we take off the blinders and approach the budgeting process in a radically different way?
Two critical categories of improvement are: (1) those that touch the member, thereby driving loyalty and revenue and (2) those that reduce costs, thus impacting bottom line results. These two inextricably interdependent areas may dramatically improve through Cluster Budgeting, which can contribute to both the club’s fiscal and social vitality.
Clubs thrive when leadership provides vision, strategic planning, determination and resources. Status quo ultimately leads to stagnation and failure, or at best, mere survival. To succeed the club must not only beat its competitors every day but improve on who you were yesterday. Decisive leadership, vision, planful action, clearly defined objectives, determined, supported, professional management, leads to the next level.
Harvey and Mark Weiner, two generations of thought leadership in private club management search & consulting, are partners in Search America® , Trusted Advisors Since 1974. www.SearchAmericaNow.com 800.977.1784
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