Top performing clubs around the world are finding newer, faster and more efficient ways to leverage business intelligence and create competitive advantages for their clubs. The first two articles in this three-part series included what business intelligence is and why it is important (see “Strategic Intelligence Part One,” September 2018) and how to use and implement business intelligence (see “Strategic Intelligence Part Two,” October 2018). The final article will identify desirable outcomes and key results for clubs that have leveraged data.
While the initial infrastructure set up does require an investment of time and money, business intelligence should be viewed as a tool to aid and support club leadership with sound decision making and strategy, not another chore to be completed. Informed decisions require a combination of competitor, market and operational data along with member feedback data. Many clubs use this information anecdotally and it hinders everyone from staying on the same page.
One of the most important benefits of utilizing a strategic intelligence process is the time and effort saved during board, committee and staff meetings due to reduced deliberation and off topic discussion. “It’s hard to argue with the facts,” stated Derek Johnston of Global Golf Advisors. “But those facts still need to be secured, analyzed and regularly prepared, which can be time consuming.”
Johnston shares that a Global Golf Advisors client recently had a breakthrough because of the information brought to light through its strategic intelligence process. “Club X had always raised annual dues by 2.5 percent each year but its bottom line was struggling due to labor and other cost increases. A historical trend analysis of key competitor clubs revealed that Club X’s competitors had been raising dues annually by an average of four percent for the past three years. In addition, member survey feedback identified high satisfaction in the Value for Money category. Armed with this data, Club X raised annual dues by five percent without backlash and is planning similar increases in the future as long as subsequent data supports it.”
Another client, Club Y, had recently completed a major renovation that included the addition of a fitness and racquet sports facility. The club was achieving member satisfaction ratings above comparable clubs but was struggling to recruit an ample amount of new members each year. According to Johnston, Club Y’s lead generation relied heavily on member referrals with minimal marketing effort beyond the current membership.
Using mapping, demographics and real estate trends to enhance marketing effectiveness, Club Y implemented a tracking process to identify the source of the prospective member lead along with the lead’s home address. This process exposed a significant disconnect. Leads that came from new members had a conversion rate of 17 percent over the past five years. Leads from tenured members were less than four percent. This data lead to healthy discussion and ultimately a new strategy for lead generation and membership sales.
When asked the question, “What does strategic intelligence success look like?” Johnston answers with “Readily available data in every board and management meeting that is analyzed and presented in a manner that improves the efficiency of the meetings, enables more focused discussions and results in a higher quality output. Ultimately strategic intelligence leads to a superior strategy and increased support for the decisions that club leaders make.”