Executive Search: General Manager for Silverleaf


General Manager
Scottsdale, AZ

The Club

Silverleaf is tucked into the canyons of the McDowell Mountains and surrounded by the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in the heart of North Scottsdale.

This private club features a Tom Weiskopf designed, 18-hole championship golf course that winds along 7,322 yards of inspiring terrain. The 50,000 square-foot rural Mediterranean-style Silverleaf Clubhouse is highlighted by world class spa facilities, resort and lap pools, fully appointed men’s and women’s locker rooms, as well as fine and casual dining.

The Club offers an array of experiential programming designed to enrich the lives of members and their guests, including wine dinners, golf outings and holiday festivities as well as painting, yoga and meditation.

For more information about Silverleaf, please visit www.silverleafclub.com. To view the Silverleaf video, click here.

Silverleaf Overview

  • Memberships: 350
  • Initiation Fee: $450,000
  • Annual Dues: $27,500
  • Gross Volume: $23 million
  • Annual Dues Volume: $10.5 million
  • Food & Beverage Volume: $4 million
  • Gross Payroll: $8.5 million
  • Employees: 120 in season
  • Governed by a Single Owner
  • Average Age of Members: 50’s

The General Manager Position

The General Manager (GM) reports directly to the Club ownership and has total operational responsibility for all aspects of Silverleaf. In this position, the chosen candidate will oversee a private club with a championship golf course, multiple dining venues, and a broad array of other amenities.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Coordinate the development and execution of the long-range and annual business plans to achieve the Club’s mission
  • Prepare comprehensive operating plans and budgets, obtain approval from Club ownership and operate in accordance with approved budgets
  • Maintain a long-term capital budget to assure the sustained material condition of all physical assets of the Club
  • Plan, develop and approve specific operational policies, programs, procedures, methods, rules and regulations in concert with Club ownership-approved policies
  • Direct all staff recruiting and training
  • Establish employee rules and regulations, work schedules, internal controls and a performance appraisal system
  • Ensure the highest standards are set and achieved for member satisfaction
  • Operate the Club in accordance with all applicable local, state, and federal laws
  • Ensure compliance with regulatory and other governmental agencies that have oversight of various club assets and operations, including utility regulation, water quality and environmental statutory law compliance
  • Provide Club ownership with relevant information on trends and developments for club/residential community businesses
  • Oversee security and risk management, along with health and safety programs, to ensure measures are in place to protect members, employees, staff, and club physical assets
  • Interact with local community leaders and organizations
  • Perform other duties and functions as Club ownership may direct that are consistent with this job description

Direct Reports

  • Executive Chef
  • Spa Director
  • Director of Agronomy
  • Director of Golf
  • Director of Engineering
  • Director of Member Experience

Core Leadership Competencies 

The GM must possess the following abilities:

  • Define a simple and understandable vision of success for the management team
  • See the big picture, take stock, identify problems/needs and conceptualize solutions/strategies
  • Focus on the essentials, attend to details and follow through on decisions
  • Create a sense of followership among subordinates
  • Attract and develop a strong supporting management team
  • Demonstrate a strong member satisfaction ethic
  • Interact with the membership in a frequent and friendly manner
  • Articulate the highest performance and ethical standards, demand compliance, and move swiftly and positively when corrective action is warranted
  • Cope with day-to-day pressures, and maintain a healthy and positive culture

Candidate Qualifications

  • A minimum of 7 years of progressive leadership and management experience in a private club environment.
  • A Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college or university, preferably in Hospitality Management or Business.
  • Certified Club Manager (CCM) or in active pursuit of designation preferred.

Salary & Benefits

Salary is open and commensurate with qualifications and experience. The club offers an excellent benefit package.


IMPORTANT: Interested candidates should submit résumés along with a detailed cover letter which addresses the qualifications and describes your alignment/experience with the prescribed position by October 19, 2022.

Documents must be saved and emailed in Word or PDF format (save as “Last Name, First Name, Silverleaf GM Cover Letter” and “Last Name, First Name, Silverleaf GM Resume”) respectively to: execsearchus@ggapartners.com. Please e-mail resume with references.

Executive Search: General Manager/Chief Operating Officer for The Club at Hōkūli’a


General Manager/Chief Operating Officer
The Club at Hōkūli’a
Kona, Hawaii

The Club

Spanning three miles along the heart of the Kona Coast, the private community of Hōkūli’a lies on a lush 1,300 acres, just minutes from the town of Kailua-Kona. The sheltered climate provides gentle coastal breezes, ideal year-round conditions for outdoor living, golf and water pursuits.

Situated in the heart of this residential community is the Club at Hōkūli’a, home to the 7,337-yard Jack Nicklaus Signature Design golf course that features cascading fairways, risk/reward holes and dramatic ocean views.

The traditional Polynesian-style compound houses the men’s and women’s golf lounge, locker-room, golf shop, dining options, fitness center, a 3-lane lap pool, two Har-Tru tennis courts as well as the spa & massage facility which includes an open-air yoga studio. Surrounded by beautifully-manicured tropically landscaped grounds, the facility also features an expansive event-lawn area with endless ocean views for every type of entertaining and special events.

The Club at Hōkūli’a Overview:

  • Memberships – 258
  • Initiation Fee – $150,000
  • Annual Dues – $27,000 for club operations & capital expenses plus $4,500 for village fees
  • Gross Volume – $7.3 million
  • Food & Beverage Volume – $607,000
  • Gross Payroll – $2.2 million
  • Employees – 80
  • Board Members – 7
  • Average Member Age – 70
  • Strong balance sheet and positive cash flow
  • Championship golf course ranked six in Hawaii by Golf Digest

The General Manager/Chief Operating Officer Position

The General Manager (GM) has total operational responsibility for the club and reports to the board of directors. The GM oversees a private club with an 18-hole Nicklaus Signature golf course and clubhouse compound featuring an array of dining options and other amenities.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Coordinate the development and execution of the club’s long-range and annual business plans to achieve the stated mission.
  • Prepare comprehensive operating plans and budgets for board approval; operate in accordance with approved budgets.
  • Maintain a long-term capital budget to assure the sustained material condition of all physical assets of the club.
  • Plan, develop and approve specific operational policies, programs, procedures, methods, rules and regulations in concert with board-approved policies.
  • Direct staff recruitment and training.
  • Establish employee rules and regulations, work schedules, internal controls, and a performance appraisal system.
  • Assure that the highest standards of member service and satisfaction are established and achieved.
  • Operate the club is operated in accordance with all applicable local, state, and federal laws.
  • Ensure compliance with regulatory and other governmental agencies that have oversight of various club assets and operations, including utility regulation, water quality and environmental statutory law compliance
  • Provide the board and committees with relevant information on trends and developments in the club/residential community business.
  • Ensure board-established committees are well-supported and operate in accordance with board-approved policies and directives.
  • Oversee security, risk management, and health/safety programs to maintain measures to protect members, employees, staff, and club physical assets.
  • Keep board thoroughly informed of club operations, member satisfaction, and financial performance.
  • Develop and oversee a comprehensive communications program that keeps all appropriate constituencies informed of relevant matters.
  • Interact with local community leaders and organizations.
  • Perform other duties and functions as the board may direct that are consistent with this job description.

Direct Reports:

  • Controller/Accounting
  • Office Manager
  • Golf Course Superintendent
  • Head Golf Professional
  • Facilities and Infrastructure Manager
  • Director of Food and Beverage
  • Executive Chef
  • Membership Director

Core Leadership Competencies:

  • Define a simple and understandable vision of success for the management team.
  • See the big picture, take stock, identify problems/needs and conceptualize solutions/strategies.
  • Focus on the essentials, to attend to detail, and to follow through on decisions.
  • Create a sense of followership among subordinates.
  • Attract and develop a strong supporting management team.
  • Demonstrate a strong member satisfaction ethic; interact with membership frequently, in a friendly manner.
  • Articulate the highest performance and ethical standards, demand compliance and move swiftly and positively when corrective action is warranted
  • Cope with day-to-day pressures and maintain a healthy and positive culture.

Candidate Qualifications:

  • Minimum of 7 years of progressive leadership and management experience in a private club or hospitality environment.
  • Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college or university, preferably in Hospitality Management or Business.
  • Certified Club Manager (CCM) or in active pursuit of designation preferred.

A pre-employment drug screen and background check will be required. The position is available August 1, 2022.

Salary & Benefits:

Salary is open and commensurate with qualifications and experience. The club offers an excellent bonus and benefit package.


Interested candidates should submit résumés along with a detailed cover letter which addresses the qualifications and describes your alignment/experience with the prescribed position by Friday, October 14, 2022.

Documents must be saved and emailed in Word or PDF format (save as “Last Name, First Name, Hōkūli’a GM/COO Cover Letter” and “Last Name, First Name, Hōkūli’a GM/COO Resume”) respectively to: execsearchus@ggapartners.com. Please email résumé with references.


For more information about The Club at Hōkūli’a, please visit www.hokuliaclub.com

Executive Search: General Manager for Pine Lake Country Club


General Manager
Pine Lake Country Club
Mint Hill, NC

The Club

Celebrating it’s 70th year, Pine Lake Country Club has been a retreat for families to enjoy an active lifestyle. The centerpiece of the club is the 18-hole Gene Hamm golf course that opened for play in 1958, and renovated in 1988 by architect John LaFoy, a devotee of Donald Ross.

Distinguished by its understated elegance and traditional southern touches, the clubhouse overlooks 157 acres of natural beauty nestled in the heart of Mint Hill, NC just 15 miles from the center city Charlotte.  Alongside the clubhouse is the golf shop, range and short-game practice facility. Beyond golf, members enjoy casual and formal dining, a fitness center, six Har-Tru lighted clay tennis courts, two hard courts (one converted for pickleball courts) and a pool complex featuring an Olympic-size pool, kiddie pool and play area along with a water slide and diving board.

The club hosts a variety of weddings and events ranging in size from 25 to 225 in its three meeting rooms and on the ceremonial lawn. These spaces are also used for a wide range of social activities year-round for members and guests of all ages.  

By the Numbers

  • Members: 580 total
  • Initiation fee: Resident member golf, $10,000
  • Annual dues: $1,827,000
  • Gross volume: $4,117,000
  • F&B volume: $1,188,000
  • Employees: 75 employees
  • Board members: 11
  • Average age of membership: 55

The General Manager Position

The General Manager reports to the board and coordinates with its president on a regular basis to implement the established policies and Club bylaws.  He/she also coordinates all management functions and works in concert with committee chairs to assist in the development of proposed policies, programs, events, etc.

The General Manager develops operational policies and is responsible for the creation and implementation of standard operating procedures for all departments. This includes the preparation of the annual operating and capital budget in partnership with the club Controller.

This position requires leading the coordination of programming at the club and the development of departmental cooperation. Another critical requirement of the position is to oversee the internal and external marketing strategies for membership growth, and member engagement and retention.

A strong and visible presence will be a daily requirement to set the example for all employees to consistently treat members with warm hospitality and professional service.

[Pine Lake is currently evaluating a golf course renovation to be implemented in the next 2-3 years and the General Manager will be expected to lead renovation efforts in partnership with the Architect and Course Superintendent]

Direct Reports

  • Head Golf Professional
  • Golf Course Superintendent
  • Food & Beverage Director
  • Membership and Marketing Director
  • Executive Chef
  • Events Manager
  • Tennis Director
  • Facilities Maintenance Manager

Important Individual Characteristics

  • Ability to act as a thought partner with the board and committees.
  • Disciplined follow-through to ensure the vision and goals of the club are attained.
  • The ability to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing.
  • A natural leadership style which promotes staff and membership engagement.
  • An enthusiastic personality and passion for the club management profession.
  • Ability to cultivate a high-level of member services and satisfaction.
  • A strong understanding of how to deliver remarkable food and beverage experiences.
  • Effective fiscal management through delivery of operational and capital results in alignment with approved budgets.
  • A high level of visibility to members and staff as the face of the club.
  • Proficiency in using web and social media tools to communicate with staff and members.
  • Ability to develop a dedicated team with a shared vision.

Candidate Qualifications

  • A minimum of 5 years of progressive leadership and management experience in a private club environment. Current Assistant General Managers or Clubhouse Managers at well-recognized clubs, with verifiable records of achievement will also be considered.
  • A Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college or university, preferably in Hospitality Management or Business preferred.
  • Certified Club Manager (CCM) designation or pursuing preferred.

Note: A pre-employment drug screen and background check will be required. 

Salary & Benefits

Salary is open and commensurate with qualifications and experience. The club offers an excellent bonus and benefit package.


IMPORTANT: Interested candidates should submit resumes along with a detailed cover letter which addresses the qualifications and describes your alignment/experience with the prescribed position by Wednesday, October 12, 2022.

Documents must be saved and emailed in Word or PDF format (save as “Last Name, First Name, Pine Lake GM Cover Letter” and “Last Name, First Name, Pine Lake GM Resume”) respectively to execsearchus@ggapartners.com. Please e-mail resume with references.


For more information about Pine Lake Country Club, please visit www.pinelakecountryclub.com and find out about Pine Lake culture on Facebook and Instagram.

Executive Search: Assistant General Manager for Shelton Vineyards


Assistant General Manager
Shelton Vineyards
Dobson, NC


Shelton Vineyards, located in the heart of Yadkin Valley, is the largest family-owned vineyard in North Carolina and one of the largest vineyards on the East Coast. Founded in 1999 by brothers Charlie and Ed Shelton, Shelton Vineyards spans over 400 acres, including 200 dedicated to growing several varieties of vitis vinifera grapes. The estate and acreage surrounding the vineyards includes a 33,000 square foot winery building, the Harvest Grill, a walking path, picnic area and a Hampton Inn and Suites.

The Harvest Grill offers a bistro-style atmosphere with an intimate indoor dining area and enclosed patio for al fresco meals. Open Wednesday-Sunday and featuring a menu the chef has deemed “sophisticated comfort food”, the Harvest Grill has been awarded the Triple A three diamond rating for its food, service and decor.

Shelton Vineyards also serves brides and grooms year-round, providing the picture-perfect grounds to host the ceremony and reception along with the convenience of on-site accommodations at the Hampton Inn and Suites.

As stewards of the land, Shelton Vineyards is committed to sustainable farming practices and hand-on attention to its vineyards. Its care of the vineyards along with expert winemaking techniques has produced many award-winning wines over the past 25+ years.

Shelton Vineyards Companies

  • Shelton Vineyards
  • Harvest Grill
  • Hampton Inn & Suites at Shelton Vineyards, and
  • The Village Market at Shelton Vineyards

For more information about Shelton Vineyards, please visit www.sheltonvineyards.com.

The Assistant General Manager Position

Shelton Vineyards is entering an exciting period in its history with a continued growth in the number of visitors who enjoy and appreciate everything this award-winning vineyard and estate has to offer.

The existing management team is comprised of both long-tenured employees and recent hires. The Assistant General Manager (AGM) will have operational responsibility for all sales and execution events, functions and retreats as well as involvement in the entire food & beverage operation. He or she will be expected to be highly visible and engaging with the customers, team members and vendors. The AGM will work closely with the GM and Owners, providing innovative thought leadership as the organization continues to evaluate continued investments in facilities and employees.

Job Knowledge, Core Competencies and Expectations

  • Food and beverage cost controls and operating procedures
  • Accounting
  • Menu design
  • Marketing and promotions
  • Wine, spirits and bar operations
  • Point-of-sales systems
  • Strong interpersonal and organizational skills
  • Polished, professional appearance and presentation
  • Stress and time management
  • Hire, training and maintain a strong, motivated team
  • Effective communicator at all levels
  • Knowledge of, and ability to, perform required role during emergency situations

Primary Responsibilities 

  • Develop and monitor an operating budget for the department’s revenue outlets; take corrective action as necessary to help assure budgeted sales and cost goals are attained.
  • Develop a capital budget for all necessary food and beverage equipment; recommend facility renovation needs.
  • Ensure adequate cash and charging procedures are followed with documentation reported in an accurate and timely manner.
  • Assist in recruitment, training, supervision and termination of food and beverage staff.
  • Assure effective orientation and training in place for new staff and professional development activities for experienced staff are planned and implemented.
  • Monitor employee records to minimize overtime and keep labor costs within budget.
  • Assure that all standard operating procedures for revenue and cost control are in place and consistently followed.
  • Help plan and execute external and internal marketing and sales promotion activities for the vineyard and events.
  • Approve menu items, pricing, and menu designs for all events and catering.
  • Establish quantity and quality output standards for personnel in all positions within the department.
  • Research new products and evaluate respective cost/profit benefits.
  • Monitor purchasing and receiving procedures to ensure proper quantity, quality and price for all purchases.
  • Consult daily with the Executive Chef, Catering Director, Purchasing Agent and other administrators to help ensure guest satisfaction is at the highest level and lowest cost.
  • Greet guests and oversee actual service on a routine, random basis.
  • Establish, update and maintain all required standards and procedures in a written document.
  • Address guest complaints and advise the General Manager of appropriate corrective actions taken.
  • Approve all product invoices for submission to the Accounting Department.
  • Monitor or manage physical inventory verification and provide updated information to
    the Accounting Department.
  • Responsible for the proper accounting and reconciliation of the point-of-sale and guest revenues.
  • Maintain records of special events, guest counts, food covers and daily business volumes.
  • Ensure an accurate reservation and event system is in place.
  • Audit and approve weekly payroll for their scope of responsibility.
  • Source all entertainment and prepare recap of annual layout for approval by the General Manager and Owners.
  • Establish and maintain professional business relations with vendors.
  • Work with Shelton’s Controller and/or Chief Financial Officer to identify and develop operating reports and for ongoing control of the department.
  • Serve as manager-on-duty on a scheduled basis.
  • Complete other appropriate assignments from the General Manager and Ownership.

Candidate Qualifications

  • A minimum of 5 years of progressive leadership and management experience in the hospitality, hotel, resort and/or club environment.
  • A Bachelor’s Degree or Associate Degree from an accredited college or university, preferably in Hospitality Management or Business preferred.

Note: A pre-employment drug screen and background check will be required. The position is available immediately.

Salary & Benefits

Salary is open and commensurate with qualifications and experience. Shelton Vineyards offers an excellent bonus and benefit package.


Interested candidates should submit résumés along with a detailed cover letter. The detailed cover letter should clearly outline your qualifications, why you would like to be considered for this position at this stage of your career and why Shelton Vineyards and the Dobson, NC area will be beneficial to you, your family, your career, and the Vineyard, if selected. The resume and cover letter should be submitted by October 12, 2022.

These documents must be saved and emailed in Word or PDF format (save as “Last Name, First Name, Shelton AGM Cover Letter” and “Last Name, First Name, Shelton AGM Résumé”) respectively to: execsearchus@ggapartners.com.

All requested information, along with references, should be emailed to the address above.

An Anatomy of Two Committees

Of all the club committees, none is more important that the nominating committee and none is less important than the executive committee. You may think it a radical thought, but before you dismiss it, consider the following rationale. One of the five principles of good governance is electing board members on their merits and not on their popularity, personal agendas, seniority or some other basis. Honoring that principle is best achieved via an uncontested election, where the number of candidates equals the board slots to be filled. An uncontested election requires two essential ingredients:

*An independent, objective nominating committee.

*A board-established profile that lists the requirements and desired characteristics of board members.”

Member trust in the uncontested election process is directly linked to their perception of the nominating committee’s integrity. To ensure that trust is nurtured, establish your nominating committee using the following guidelines:

Smaller is Better

The size of most club nominating committees is between five and seven members. Because of the high premium placed on the confidential proceedings of the committee, we prefer the smaller size.

Selecting the Chair

The key decision in forming the committee is the selection of its chair. Club bylaws often specify that the chair is selected by the president. Others may identify the immediate past president as the chair. Of the two approaches, we favor having the president select the chair, primarily to avoid the appearance of a self-perpetuating board. However, the importance of this decision calls for a board-approved set of criteria for the chair. For example, the board may require the president to select a chair based upon their reputation of integrity, independence and objectivity; their understanding of club governance; and their ability to lead a highly confidential vetting process.

Allow the Chair to Select Committee Members

Once the chair is designated, there is the selection of committee members. Some bylaws have the president selecting the committee members. For those clubs whose bylaws are not specific as to how committee members are chosen, we recommend leaving that decision to the newly appointed committee chair. If they have been selected using criteria like those listed above, they will recruit like-minded members to carry out this important role.

Define the Ideal Candidates

As important as selecting the right chair and committee members is the process used by the committee to prepare a slate of candidates. The board should approve a profile that includes both required and desired characteristics of board members. Further, we recommend the committee be held accountable to use the board profile to vet potential candidates. A properly formed nominating committee using a board approved process and referencing a board profile is best equipped to select a slate of highly qualified candidates for the board.

The Executive Committee

While the nominating committee has the most important role among club committees, we believe the executive committee has the least. Our concern with a board’s executive committee is that it can become a mini-board, i.e., it can make decisions that are best left to the entire board. One of the principles of good club governance is the board speaking with one voice. Having the executive committee stand in for the full board dilutes this principle and can result in board members not on the executive committee feeling like second class citizens.

Despite the threats to the one-voice principle, executive committees have a long history in clubs primarily for two reasons:

  • There are board decisions that must be made between board meetings.
  • There are matters calling for a group smaller than the board to handle.

Regarding the need for decisions between board meetings, the last two years have demonstrated how easy it is to call an online meeting of the board. If an issue requires a decision by the board, the president can email an invitation to board members and assemble an online meeting within days. Some bylaws require a notice period of a week or two before a special meeting of the board but many clubs have amended their bylaws to allow only a few days’ notice, given the ease with which board members can be contacted and made available for the meeting.

The second rationale for having an executive committee is the occasional need for a small group to handle a particularly sensitive issue or provide the general manager with counsel on a policy or a decision. While a smaller group is more efficient and may be more secure with sensitive information, we do not see an executive committee as the one-size-fits-all group. For example, if the behavior of a staff member may result in adverse publicity for the club, it may be best to assemble a group of board or club members based on their expertise and not their office. Similarly, if the general manager needs counsel on handling an issue or transaction, they can call on board members or club members best suited to offer the advice.

A final point: Although the common board size is nine members, many clubs have 12 or more members. These larger boards are more likely to lean on an executive committee for efficient decision making. However, the more these larger boards rely on their executive committees, the more likely the non-committee members will feel left out. If a board is unwieldy, reduce its size rather than creating a two-tiered board by depending on an executive committee to make intermediate decisions.

This piece was authored by GGA Director, Frederic Laughlin for the National Club Association‘s Summer 2022 Issue of Club Governance. 

Corporate Policies and Best Practices for Proper Club Committee Alignment

More and more, private clubs are looking to corporations for policies and best practices in governance. For example, private clubs have realized the benefits of modeling the relationship between their boards of directors and general managers after the relationship between corporate boards and their CEOs. Although there are other lessons from the private sector clubs are learning, there is one area clubs seem slow to embrace: the appropriate alignment of committees.

Corporate boards maintain committees such as strategic planning, finance, audit and nomination committees to support governance functions. But they leave the formation of advisory committees on matters such as accounting, customer relations, sales, marketing, communications and the like to the CEO. In contrast, most private clubs have all their committees reporting to their boards. We believe there is a more effective approach to aligning club committees with the functions they support.

Assume you are just starting a private club and you have been assigned to develop a governance model. You decide on the size of the board, the terms of office, the election process and other features of the model. Next comes the task of identifying club committees, including their purpose, configuration and leadership. What’s the first step in this task?

The Purpose

Begin with the primary purpose of a committee, which is to serve as an advisor on policies relating to the issues subsumed by its scope of services—for example, finance, membership, golf, house, strategic planning, etc.

The next question is to whom does the committee report? The answer lies in the functions being supported by the committee. The board is a governing body with a strategic perspective. It needs committees to support strategic functions like finance, strategic planning, membership and governance/legal. In a good governance model, the board delegates the authority and the responsibility to the general manager to manage club operations, which includes delivering the services and activities efficiently and effectively. The committees supporting these functions, therefore, are best positioned reporting to the general manager.

We recommend two types of committees for a private club:

  • Board committees that support board functions and report to the board.
  • Operations committees that support operational functions and report to the general manager.

Unfortunately, the inertia militating against this alignment is rooted in history, where virtually all committees have reported to the board. Most club bylaws state specifically or clearly imply that all club committees report to the board, meaning that even boards that seek to realign their committees must first go through the process of amending the bylaws. Even if their bylaws allow for a restructuring, many boards are reluctant to effect the change.

Their rationale tends toward one of the following:

  • Having operational committees report to the general manager would diminish their role and prestige in the club, making it harder to recruit members to serve on these committees.
  • Moving operational committees away from the board reduces the board’s ability to stay informed on operations.

Value and Attraction

It is difficult to refute outright that service on operations committees will be less valued and therefore add to the difficulty in attracting quality members. Yet our experience suggests that club members are more persuaded by the influence of a committee and the quality of its management than by the person or persons to which it reports. In that vein, the closer the committee is to the decision-maker, the greater its influence and sense of value. Accordingly, we believe that whatever loss of status presumed by having operations committees report to the general manager is more than offset by the linkage the committee enjoys with the person who is responsible for making the decisions it recommends.

Likewise, we can understand the perception that not having operations committees report to the board will cause board members to lose touch with these important functions. However, there is no reason the board cannot require reports from the general manager that contain metrics the board believes are necessary for it to monitor performance.

Additionally, having operations committees report to it may encourage the board to meddle rather than monitor. Too often, board meetings are burdened by committee reports that address matters that belong to the general manager—not the board. If the general manager’s handling of an operational area is in question, the board can always ask for input from the committee. But to bake committee reports into the board agenda not only consumes meeting time, it also invites the board to be inappropriately involved with operational matters. Moreover, it blurs the clarity of responsibility for operational performance. If boards are holding general managers responsible for operational performance, the general managers must be given the authority to carry out the duties and the authority to form committees that support the functions related to operations.

Clearing Hurdles

As mentioned, many clubs refer to governance models of successful businesses, such as adopting the COO model, which clearly separates the governance function of the board from the operational leadership of the general manager/COO. But too many of these clubs are unwilling to realign their committees to more accurately reflect the corporate model and more effectively connect their committees to the appropriate level. We don’t discount the years of tradition that resist such a change, but we recommend that clubs clear the hurdle of the status quo and place their committees where they will most efficiently serve.

This piece was authored by GGA Director, Frederic Laughlin for the National Club Association‘s Summer 2022 Issue of Club Governance. 

Key Metrics for Effective Management of Gen Z

Generation Z (Gen Z), representing those born between 1996 and 2010, is quickly graduating from “children of members” to Junior and Young Executive membership categories in many clubs. Aged 10-25, this next generation follows millennials into private club membership and is set to become an important part of a club’s generational mix. Many of today’s key performance indicators (KPIs) focus on a broader vision that reflects a club’s priorities, values and purpose. Clubs who are proactive in addressing the needs and wants of this next generation will be poised to benefit from protection against rising attrition from a more vulnerable generational mix.  But how, exactly, should clubs cater to the priorities of Gen Z members and what information will help them to do so?

Clubs who seek to attract and retain Gen Z members will need to both understand the specific needs of this generation and know what data to track to determine whether those needs are being met. Learning about Gen Z, and what differentiates from past generations, will help identify successful strategies to engage a group who is soon set to reach full purchasing power.

The following metrics will assist Boards in making better business decisions related to Generation Z:

Generational Mix

The club’s Generational Mix outlines the percentage of members belonging to each of the generational groups. Traditionally, these generational groups include the Silent Generation (1928 – 1945), Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964), Generation X (1965 – 1980), Millennials (1981 – 1995), and now, Generation Z (1996 – 2010).

A club’s Generational Mix can say a lot about its culture and how it evolves over time. The mix can also reveal age clustering whereby there is insufficient distribution among the generations, making the club more vulnerable to large waves of attrition. Tracking the mix over time can identify historical trends and provide the opportunity to predict the future mix, allowing for the appropriate infrastructure to be implemented to meet the needs of future members.

Boards should regularly monitor and evaluate their club’s generational mix. For example, the MetricsFirst Lifecycle Dashboard identifies generational trends of various segments within club membership.

Diversity Profile

Gen Z are a diverse generation to the extent that they tend to take diversity for granted and have been taught by their Gen-X parents to disdain outright exclusivity. Tracking diversity markers, whether by race, gender, age, marital status, or otherwise, is helpful to understand the profile of your membership and how it is changing over time.

Clubs need to understand who Gen Z’ers are and where their priorities lie. The new generation expects organizations to take a stance on societal issues and are keen observers of how they are behaving in and out of the boardroom. Gen Z will expect governance from a Board that is as diverse as its membership – understanding how diversity, equity and inclusion is not just supported, but encouraged and represented throughout the Club, will be of value to this next generation.

Careful attention should be paid to how this data is collected, tracked, and utilized by clubs and boards. It is vital that appropriate, inclusive language is considered when requesting this information from members and emphasis placed on using the data to create an inclusive environment. External expertise may well be required to determine how best to obtain and safeguard this sensitive data.

Digital Engagement

Born into a world of technology, Gen Z is the first truly digital generation. This cohort expects private clubs to embrace technology as a complement to their overall customer service experience rather than a replacement for it. Clubs must focus on creating experiences for Gen Z’ers who understand and communicate using technologies like social media. This group’s natural use of technology will influence how clubs not only operate but engage. In addition to employing technology within the club environment for efficient ordering, registration, voting, etc., clubs should consider how technology, particularly social media, can be leveraged to drive engagement with existing members and to recruit prospective members.

The Net Promotor Score (NPS) is a valuable metric to track engagement and should be a standard metric employed to measure loyalty, which is important to younger generations. Social media metrics, such as likes, shares, and follows, are also helpful to track, and can be analyzed to determine content the membership finds most engaging. Remember to move beyond simply counting engagement – it is just as important to understand which social platforms members engage with to tailor content to those specific platforms. TikTok content creation is much different than content developed for LinkedIn. Tracking engagement to understand where to focus resources across social platforms contributes to effective management.

Amenity Utilization & Compaction

Gen Z’ers expect flexibility in their work and personal lives, with the ability to work in hybrid-type jobs and environments. Successful clubs will ensure that amenities are available on-demand to meet these needs. Boards should pay careful attention to the long-term planning for capital expenditures and human resources to make sure that the right mix of amenities is available to encourage long-term engagement between Gen Z members and their clubs. Opportunities may arise for utilization of club services and facilities in traditional off-peak windows, providing further incentive for clubs to encourage this next generation to engage with club membership earlier than previous generations have traditionally done so.

Metrics that identify compaction periods, and conversely, periods with excess capacity, will help clubs to take advantage of the flexibility Gen Z’ers bring.

Tracking club activity using member card swipes, digital card scans on mobile apps, or even facial recognition technology can help clubs better understand overall utilization. Combined with program participation (personal training lessons, class bookings, event registrations, etc.) and a valuable picture comes into focus of overall utilization, which can easily be broken down by demographic.

Gen-Z is defined by its prioritization of diversity, equity and inclusion, comfort with (and reliance on) technology, and expectation for on-demand services to meet flexible schedules.

As this rising generation begins to come of age in parallel with the “new-normal” of life post-COVID-19, clubs are faced with the opportunity to evolve to meet the needs of Gen Z. Leveraging data effectively will assist to understand what actions to take to do this. Private clubs contain a wealth of important data, with access to demographic, utilization and engagement metrics that can be very challenging to obtain in a more traditional business environment. The strategies that clubs can implement by analyzing this data more effectively have tremendous potential. Clubs that take advantage of the changing landscape of a post-COVID world to meet the needs of Gen Z are poised to benefit from the diversity this generation brings.

This piece was authored by GGA Director, Liz McDowell CPA, CA, CCM, and Trevor Coughlan, Vice President of Marketing at Jonas Club Software for Boardroom Magazine. 

The Conversations That Shape Business Results

Every club manager understands the value of effective conversations, with members, guests, employees, Boards and other stakeholders. Equally as important, is how the club approaches these conversations. What steps should clubs take to obtain the valuable information to hold effective conversations?

Surveys have historically served an essential role in building and maintaining successful club operations. As data analysis methods and technologies advance, surveys are now offering insights derived from data collected that were not previously available. In addition, surveys offer a valuable relationship-building practice with members and employers, the feeling of being heard.

As data-informed decision making has become increasingly vital in club management, surveys continue to serve a crucial role in the member feedback loop as clubs continually collect the right data to inform their operational strategies.  While operational and market data create a general understanding, surveys can target specific areas of interest to deliver unique insights that allow clubs to enhance their operations.

Types of Surveys

Surveys at clubs can be utilized for a variety of reasons, but all with the common goal of gathering data that can be used to inform decisions.

Member surveys are common and effective ways of gathering data. These can be in the form of an annual satisfaction survey, strategic surveys, or short pulse surveys aimed at capturing members’ opinions on a smaller range of topics (for example, food and beverage). These surveys usually have the highest levels of participation due to their short length. Overall, what separates member surveys is the customizable availability of the right data to identify opportunities for the club. By asking members their opinions and then acting on that information, members understand what they were asked, and they know the data is being used to keep their best interests at the heart of any changes.

Recent advances in statistical analysis allow clubs to extract even greater insights from satisfaction survey questions. One common error is to focus on those areas of the club that have the lowest satisfaction ratings. Instead, it is important to identify which areas of the club could benefit the most from investment to deliver ROI for members. Using advanced techniques allows clubs to identify touchpoints that can drive increased overall satisfaction by eliminating dissatisfaction and find those targeted risk areas that can negatively influence the member experience.

Another form of club surveys is the employee survey, which is becoming more popular at private clubs, especially considering the labour challenges that many have faced over the last few years. Like member satisfaction surveys, these surveys measure the satisfaction amongst employees regarding performance reviews, tools and resources, training, as well as their relationships with other staff members and club members. These surveys are a valuable way to build morale and satisfaction amongst employees, which contribute to increased retention rates.

Benchmarking Satisfaction

Satisfaction ratings are important to help make decisions. Changes in member preferences, economic conditions, or the industry are often reflected in satisfaction ratings and can be tracked and highlighted if the survey is repeated annually. Maintaining benchmarks as accurately and comprehensively as possible,  but also club and member profiles to provide segmented understanding, becomes important so you are aware of whether changes at your club are reflective across the industry, or which areas of club operations should be focused on the most.

During COVID-19, it was common for access to tee ratings to decrease and create strain on the golf course due to demand that exceeded previous years. Demand levels have begun to fall slightly in 2022 but continue to be far higher than before the pandemic began. Furthermore, understanding industry survey trends and best practices falls into favour when conducting surveys. For example, food and beverage operations are typically the most scrutinized area of club operations. However, a lower satisfaction rating for dining than the satisfaction rating for the golf course fairways does not necessarily mean that your club is struggling in that area. Accurately benchmarking this area of operations is important for club managers and their Boards to understand whether their ratings are unique or concerning.

Planning for the Future

Surveys are a useful tool for future planning at the club, ranging from interest in new amenities to changes to the club’s future vision. Asking members about their interest in potential capital projects helps prioritize these projects. Ensuring that members are asked about their tolerance to pay for these projects is an important consideration as this knowledge will help significantly in the planning/budgeting phase.

The club’s vision is another important aspect in helping the Board and management with decision-making and guiding the club into the future. Asking appropriate questions on members’ opinions of their future vision of their club offers them the opportunity to help guide the club’s positioning, based on their perceptions of the ideal private club experience.

Five Tips for Developing an Effective Survey

  1. Avoid including leading questions or those that may lead to confirmation bias as members want to know that their opinions matter, and that decisions haven’t already been made about changes to the club.
  2. Regularly conduct surveys, annually, if possible, to accurately track trends in satisfaction levels and member preferences as part of a larger data strategy.
  3. To prevent higher drop-off rates and lower response rates, keep the survey brief.
  4. Consider offering rewards or incentives for completing the survey and send gentle reminders; this typically increases the response rate, reduces costs, and is better for the environment.
  5. Ensure you ask questions to effectively segment the data to identify member differences; demographic questions are important but layered techniques, such as family life cycle, yield deeper insights.

As data collection methods and technologies continue to evolve, clubs that engage their members, employees and relevant stakeholders will gain a strategic advantage. Holding the conversations that matter and subsequently acting on what is needed will contribute to keeping your club connected, competitive and successful.

This article was authored by Michael Gregory, Partner and Andrew Johnson, Senior Associate for the Club Management Association of Canada’s Club Manager Quarterly Magazine. 

How to Use Performance Evaluation Effectively to Retain Best Talent

Amidst a global pandemic last year, businesses across the country began to face a new, unfamiliar challenge. 2021 saw the emergence of a global economic trend recognized as “The Great Resignation”, where employees voluntarily left their jobs en masse. Organizations in COVID-sensitive sectors like leisure and hospitality were hit especially hard. According to research from Business Insider, employees within these industries left their jobs at a rate double to the national average (6.4% vs. national rate of 3.0% in September 2021). More recently, the trend has shifted from employees resigning from their roles to increased demand and expectations for the right roles.

Unsurprisingly, human resources has become a major focus. In GGA Partner’s A Club Leader’s Perspective: Emerging Trends & Challenges survey, 67% of club leaders indicated employee retention being a key financial risk to their club and 77% of clubs see employee recruitment and retention being key issues facing the industry moving forward.

The big question facing those charged with governance is, what can we do to retain employees? The immediate solution is to raise compensation, which was indicated in the Club Leaders Survey as the most successful tactic in retaining employees. Clubs seem to be reacting accordingly, indicating planned raises to payroll by an average of 7.8% across all departments. Although increased wages are an important consideration, there’s more to the story.

McKinsey notes the strong connection between employee satisfaction and relational attributes (feeling valued, relationships with management, potential advancement) compared to more transactional attributes (compensation, prestige, role/company). Today, employees are thinking about what they want out of their job now more than ever.

Returning to the original question, how can organizations prioritize relational attributes to increase employee satisfaction?

Understanding the Problem

Surveys are a powerful tool to assess member feedback and provide a quantitative component to member feedback received on a day-to-day basis. The same attitude should be considered with employee relationships. Although results from a full employee survey will mostly be leveraged at the management level, this information is important for all at the club to understand how satisfied employees are through establishment of both an overall and department specific Employee Net Promoter Score, as well as how retention programs are performing.

Start at the Top

Employee satisfaction and retention are key concerns throughout all areas of the business; however, it is important to ensure those charged with governance do not bridge the gap between governance and management. While the board is directly charged with evaluating the General Manager (often its only direct employee report), it can also support establishing the structure and measurement method for evaluating other key management positions, as well as the structure for a comprehensive 360-degree review program for all employees. Boards should aim to establish a policy requiring a quantitative element of performance evaluation to key management figures within the club. This type of formalized, quantitative performance evaluation structure should be “pushed down” from the top level as an example to use throughout the club. This form of evaluation ensures employees are aware they will be provided the opportunity for advancement as well as providing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based) goals. The board can then monitor the club’s performance evaluation structure and process through the GM with a requirement for periodic reports at specified intervals.

Determining Quantitative Goals

In developing this performance evaluation technique, identifying which quantitative goals on which to evaluate an employee is an important determination. If the metric does not meet the SMART criteria, the employee may feel as if they are tasked with an impossible goal and satisfaction (as well as ambition) may decrease. Evaluation criteria should relate to key performance indicators established for the entire club that align with organizational goals. For example, if your club is attempting to grow the membership, raising the Net Promoter Score of the membership measured through an annual survey may be a performance evaluator established for the GM/COO of the club. For clubs at capacity, perhaps overall satisfaction score and/or ‘value for dues’ is a more aligned KPI for performance.

Take the below general example of a quantitative approach to evaluation (every club should determine the categories and weightings based on specific KPIs and goals established for their individual club). This score may be used to determine discretionary compensation, such as performance bonuses, raises or be used for evaluating candidates for internal promotions.

Employee retention is a key area of concern for clubs across the country and the world, and those charged with governance can take steps to help improve employee satisfaction throughout their business. These techniques will assist boards in understanding, setting, and maintaining performance standards that flow through the entire club, creating a transparent workplace with clear paths for goal attainment and advancement.

This article was authored by Ben Hopkinson, Director, Evan Van Eerd, Manager, and Adrian Mazzarolo, Senior Associate  for Boardroom Magazine. 

From Private Club Leader to Private Club Advisor

Connecting my technical background to leadership development

Growing as a professional has meant different things to me at various times in my career. After business school, my focus for growth centered around academic achievement and professional accreditation – becoming certified as a CPA, CA, and then a CCM. As my career developed, I have transitioned to focusing on the development of my team even more than myself. My focus has shifted from technical expertise to leadership, which is a change that I quite enjoy and am proud of. Prior to joining GGA Partners in 2022, my career had two distinct chapters – first, my professional practice as a public accountant and then my work running a premier private golf and country club. My career path accurately represents who I am, a self-proclaimed adrenaline enthusiast with a strong penchant for accounting!

Navigating through a pandemic

Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, to say the least, but it has not been without it’s benefits. In the first year of the pandemic, I was operating a golf and country club. I felt a tremendous sense of responsibility to members and staff to deliver an exceptional experience in a safe way, even more so because it was our last year of operations following the sale of the club’s land and buildings. The highlight for me that year came from watching my team rise to the many challenges. I am tremendously proud of what we accomplished under truly extraordinary circumstances. As hard as it has been, I am optimistic that some of the changes forced upon us due to COVID-19 may be for the better – whether that’s the flexibility that comes from a hybrid work environment, the rapid acceptance of various new technologies, or the understanding that it’s better to stay home when you are feeling sick. With a young family at home, I am grateful to have had more time to spend together, even under very unusual circumstances.

Using my financial expertise to drive growth for private clubs

“My role as a Director at GGA Partners bring me immense joy, one of my core values. The opportunity to apply almost 20 years of professional accreditation and leadership experience in an industry that focuses on one of my own core values is a huge benefit, and I am thrilled to be able to share it with clients.”

GGA is the perfect fit for my skills and interests, and I get immense satisfaction out of advising private clubs, drawing on my background as a private club manager and from my technical expertise.

I am able to learn something new from each engagement, whether from the client, our team, or both, which keeps the work exciting and fresh. I can participate in a wide variety of engagements, from governance and strategic planning to operations and financial management, so there is never a dull moment.

Currently, I am conducting financial modelling for a prominent private golf club, a valuation exercise for a well-known golfing brand, and providing professional training through the Club Management Association of Canada.

More about me

I am a mom to three young, busy kids who keep me on my toes. Our family values time together through shared experiences, usually self-propelled and outside, like cycling, skiing, golf, team sports and hiking.

Liz McDowell is a Director at GGA Partners. You can reach her at liz.mcdowell@ggapartners.com.