This article continues a series of communications from GGA Partners to help leaders of private clubs address challenges arising from the COVID-19 coronavirus that are confronting their businesses and their employees. Today, Henry DeLozier, a partner of our firm, highlights that now is the time to remind members of their club's relevance and value.
Lifting the Fog of Crisis: Now is the time to remind members of their club’s relevance and value.
The “fog of war” is a term coined in the 19th century to describe the uncertainty military troops often experience in wartime situations. Amid the deep uncertainty that the coronavirus has brought to our families, communities and businesses, many of us find ourselves in our own fog of war.
As club leaders reckon with the impacts – both immediate and long-term – of the current pandemic, lifting the fog of misunderstanding and encouraging engagement are important to your club’s longevity and success.
Here are two important steps to make your club a beacon of hope and inspiration to club members, their families and friends:
Make your club a positive influence for members.
Members appreciate knowing how the club, its members and staff are responding to current challenges. They are especially interested in how the club is taking care of its employees. In addition to e-mail updates enhanced with photographs and short videos, also consider:
Organizing virtual events. Using such technologies as Zoom and Google Hangouts, host a virtual happy hour. Keep the number small enough that everyone can be part of the conversation. As the organizer, start with a general update from the club and then let members take over with questions and updates of their own. This is an opportunity to lift people’s spirits, so keep it fun as much as possible.
Telling stories that inspire. Tell members about staff who are volunteering to care for others, including other members, while continuing to do their jobs at the club. Many members have special relations with club staff and will appreciate staying connected through stories.
Encouraging members to take away meals and snacks. Brad Bourret, GM at Cabarrus Country Club in Concord, NC, launched Take-Out Tuesdays before the crisis. He now reports that take-out for his club has exploded in volume. In troubled times, keeping connected to the things and people familiar to them gives members a greater feeling of safety and well-being. Think of it as comfort food.
Increase members’ understanding of club matters.
Provide regular updates. These are obviously not normal times, but retaining some level of normalcy is comforting. Members will appreciate knowing what is taking place at their club. Maybe a new freezer has been installed or the locker rooms and bath house have been fully steam-cleaned to ensure the club’s usual high sanitation standards. If spring flowers and shrubs are blooming, send photographs or a short video that reminds members of the natural beauty they enjoy at their club.
Introduce learning opportunities. Many members don’t understand how some aspects of their club functions. For example, club finances, board governance and the process for recommending members are unclear to many members. In addition, basic operations, such as housekeeping standards, the care and maintenance of facilities and kitchen storage and cleanliness practices, are obviously timely subjects. Now may be a good time to capture their attention and communicate important information on these topics through a podcast.
Conduct single-topic surveys. If you want to know what your members are thinking, what questions they have and what suggestions they would like to make, ask them. Short member surveys – which typically require less than 10 minutes – are great ways to update your understanding of members’ wants, needs and expectations.
The most serious crisis most of us have ever experienced has settled a fog over much of our lives, including our clubs. Efforts to lift the fog, including making your club a positive influence for members and increasing their understanding of how the club operates in good times and bad, reminds members of the importance of the club in their lives.
Your club’s relevance is among the many things being attacked by this virus. Now is the time for club leaders to take the steps that keep the club a meaningful and valuable part of members’ lives.
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