Some club leaders believe that it is a fool’s mission to try to understand what members want.
In fact, it is quite simple…you need to ask members what they want. Michael Gregory and Dr. Eric Brey at GGA Partners can tell you with certainty that developing a broad and deep understanding of members’ wants, needs, expectations, and fears is a matter of faithfully applying proven practices of attitudinal research.
Dr. Brey, a PhD-accredited professor at the University of Wisconsin – Stout, is an expert at leveraging analytics to implement dependable customer-centric strategy and hone it on what truly impacts satisfaction. And it all begins with asking members what they want. Sometimes referred to as qualitative analysis, members’ viewpoints are normally collected within small groups and sometimes validated in expanded follow-up listening sessions. In his work with GGA, Dr. Brey has implemented this science within private clubs where understanding members’ attitudes are so important.
In order to measure what matters are of greatest importance to a given club’s members, attitudinal surveys prove to be a trustworthy tool. Establishing the proportion and intensity of members’ attitudes has become even more important in a time when members want to know that their viewpoints were taken into account.
Gregory, having worked at GGA since 2007, is expert at administering private club surveys. He emphasizes that attitudinal surveys in private clubs are essential because the relationship between the club and its members is an emotional and often intense one. In recent years, club leaders have become more reliant on member surveys as the sophistication of such surveys goes deeper into members’ viewpoints. Not the stuff of satisfaction surveys, an attitudinal survey seeks to quantify and measure members concerns and expectations, willingness to fund certain capital projects, and identify the characteristics – by analyzing underlying data – to provide club leaders with clearcut insight into what members want. Five factors that are consistently revealed in member surveys include:
- When factures occur in private clubs, they are often on the lines of gender and generation.
- Normally, the most satisfied members are the newest and the least satisfied members are the most tenured in the club.
- Older (in age) members are least supportive of capital projects and debt.
- Younger members are eager to see regular capital improvements.
- Women tend to be most alert to the club’s value system…”are we what we claim to be?”
Insights vary from club to club and require careful and objective analysis of underlying demographic data to enable the board to understand how members align and differ on certain topics. Dr. Brey advises careful analytical discipline and measurement. “There is no substitute for patient and transparent data analysis,” he says.
At the end of the day, Brey and Gregory confirm that it is possible to know what members want. One simply needs to ask the right questions in the right way.
This piece was authored by Henry DeLozier, Partner, for the National Club Association's Winter 2023 Issue of Club Director Magazine.