GGA Partners Expands Executive Search Practice, Appoints Shelley MacDougall, Director, Leadership Development

Shelley MacDougall brings fast-growing firm over 30 years’ experience in executive coaching, corporate training, and leadership development across private club and hospitality industries.

September 9, 2021 – GGA Partners announced today the appointment of Shelley MacDougall as Director, Leadership Development to lead executive coaching, leadership development and employee training services under the Executive Search practice.

“Our team at GGA Partners are passionate about helping our clients succeed – and we look for leaders who share our vision. At a time when employee engagement is incredibly vital, organizations need heightened understanding of effective retention strategies and training solutions. That’s why this expansion will allow us to better help clients align their business and talent strategies. We are excited to welcome Shelley to GGA Partners’ growing Executive Search practice,” said Managing Director, Patrick DeLozier.

Before pursuing a career in leadership development and coaching in 2006, MacDougall held senior positions with Marriott International and The Glencoe Club, one of North America’s leading private sports and social clubs. Shelley regularly coaches and presents at Club Management Association of America’s (CMAA) World Conference, Canadian Society of Club Managers (CSCM) National and Regional Conferences, as well at numerous affiliated associations, clubs, and organizations.

“Joining the GGA Partners team provides an exciting opportunity for me to bring my experience to an organization that lives its values – professionalism, trust, and confidentiality,” said Shelley. “The talented professionals at GGA Partners are deeply committed to helping clients achieve their goals and I look forward to tailoring our services to meet their unique needs.”

Shelley serves as a CMAA Career Services Coach, and is co-founder and facilitator of The Extraordinary Leader Program – a group coaching program designed specifically for the private club industry. As an accredited coach and member of the International Coach Federation, Shelley coaches and develops CMAA, CSCM and club industry professionals to reach new heights in their careers.

Media Contacts:

Samar Abdourahman
GGA Partners
t: 416-333-5008
e: samar.abdourahman@ggapartners.com

 

Know Your NPS to Build Brand Loyalty & Member Referrals

In our work with clients across the globe, our research reveals that member referrals are the most important means of generating a steady stream of new prospects, which is probably not surprising.  After all, the cost is nominal and you can be assured that members are going to invite prospects with a shared passion for the lifestyle provided by your club.

The most effective method to gain member referrals is to ask for them. But before you do, it is critical to understand your NPS – or Net Promoter Score – to determine the response you will receive.

NPS is an extremely valuable market research metric that is widely used across industries and can be leveraged to measure customer perceptions of a brand and estimate future growth, as evidenced by the potential for repurchase or referral to other consumers.

NPS Is Not the Same as Member Satisfaction

Member NPS is not the same as your members’ overall satisfaction with their club experience.  NPS asks about the likelihood of recommending or referring the club to others while overall satisfaction asks about contentment with their experience.

In short, NPS is future-looking and overall satisfaction is backward-facing.

NPS Is Simple to Implement

NPS, originally a proprietary instrument used by Bain & Company, is now used by two-thirds of the Fortune 1000 companies as a basic measurement of customer sentiment.

The popularity and broad use of NPS is often attributed to its simplicity and transparency of use.  It is a survey question which asks, “How likely are you to recommend [brand, product, service, company, or organization] to a friend or associate?” The question is designed to provide responses which are easy to interpret and track over time in trend analysis.

NPS generates valuable customer insights and is typically used and interpreted as an indicator of customer loyalty.  This information is invaluable for business and community leaders who are responsible for measuring and managing revenue retention, customer retention, new business growth, or overall consumer satisfaction.

Despite the ubiquity of NPS among leading companies in major industries, the adoption and consistent application of this metric within the club industry remains limited.

A recent GGA Partners research survey of more than 500 club leaders (A Club Leader’s Perspective: Emerging Trends & Challenges) found that just 14% of clubs track member NPS in their surveys.  Among clubs that employ this metric, the average NPS is +64.  Additional feedback from the survey found that one-third of clubs reported an increase in their NPS during the pandemic, a positive statistic for future member growth.

Calculating Your NPS

The NPS question is asked on a scale ranging from 0 to 10, with 0 representing “Not at all likely” and 10 representing “Extremely likely”.  Based on the number selected, respondents are subdivided into one of three categories: those with ratings of 9 or 10 are classified as “Promoters”, those with ratings of 7 or 8 are marked as “Passives”, and those with ratings of 6 or less are categorized as “Detractors”.

The actual “score” is calculated by subtracting the portion of detractors from the portion of promoters without factoring in the portion of passives.  True NPS is always shown as an integer and not a percentage and, with the net score falling within a scale ranging from -100 to +100, it is possible to have a negative NPS.

Keys To Developing & Tracking Your NPS

1. Keep the NPS question consistent – Avoid altering the question (“How likely are you to recommend [your club] to a friend or associate?”) or the answer range (from 0 = “Not at all likely” to 10 = “Extremely likely”) as it will impact the validity and reliability of the data.

2. Ask for NPS alongside a handful of supporting questions – NPS is most valuable when supported by other overarching questions which generate datapoints on overall satisfaction, perceived value-for-money, and demographic questions (to stratify responses and dive deep into feedback by membership subsets).

3. Keep it brief – A survey with these three questions (NPS, overall satisfaction, value-for-money) and four or five demographic questions should take about 3-4 minutes for respondents to complete. Shorter is better for these types of surveys.

4. Measure NPS routinely – At a minimum, your NPS metrics should be tracked and updated annually to identify changes in the sentiments of your members. Whether they are rising or falling, understanding the factors impacting changes in your trend line will provide valuable insight into areas where the club is excelling as well as areas that need improvement.

If your club aims to be truly attentive to overall satisfaction, member loyalty, member and customer retention, or using member referrals to support membership growth, leaders of the club should be monitoring NPS as a matter of routine.  If this acronym isn’t surfacing in boardroom discussions, it should be.

While no one can predict the future, a clear understanding of your NPS will provide a data-driven indication of members’ loyalty to your club’s brand and the success you will have when asking your members for referrals.

GGA Partners Expands Research & Survey Capabilities with the Addition of Experienced Hospitality Research Professor

Dr. Eric Brey, PhD, joins GGA Partners as a Director to bolster consumer research capabilities

TORONTO, Ontario – GGA Partners has expanded its portfolio of services for private clubs, public golf courses, residential communities, resorts, municipalities and hospitality clients with the addition of an experienced research mind and acting hospitality educator.

Dr. Eric Brey, PhD, a researcher and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, School of Hospitality Leadership, has joined GGA Partners as its newest director to expand the firm’s research efforts.

Dr. Brey’s research expertise will strengthen GGA’s capabilities in customer feedback and market research, both of which are core services for GGA. One of the many expanded offerings the addition of Dr. Brey supports is 3-Factor Theory Analysis designed to provide a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the touchpoints that have the greatest potential to impact customer and member satisfaction.

professional headshot of Dr. Eric Brey, PhD
Dr. Eric Brey, PhD

Recently, Medinah Country Club engaged Dr. Brey to conduct 3-Factor Theory Analysis using the raw survey data collected by GGA. “Identifying the touchpoints important to our members provided tremendous insight across our entire operation” stated Medinah Country Club General Manager Robert Sereci. “Clubs will benefit greatly by using this methodology to pinpoint opportunities on which to focus enhancement efforts to achieve the highest level of enjoyment for their members.”

In addition to enhanced customer satisfaction analysis, Dr. Brey’s vast experience in consumer research will provide expanded opportunities for survey interpretation, managed customer feedback, third party performance monitoring and analysis of existing client data to support GGA’s strategic planning and business intelligence services.

“The synergies created by combining GGA’s expertise in research and strategic planning with the knowledge and experience I bring to consumer research are exponential,” commented Dr. Brey. “Together we will be able to assist golf, club, resort and municipal operators with more detailed and comprehensive data analysis that will enhance their ability to make strategic decisions and improve their operational efficiency and customer experience.”

“Research is a cornerstone of our firm and consumer satisfaction is just one component of GGA’s capabilities in this space. Dr. Brey will play a key role in elevating GGA’s industry leading research, and will apply research best practices and new methods to develop even stronger insights for our clients,” commented GGA Partner Michel Gregory. “As a firm we are working to develop an all-encompassing approach to measuring real time, periodic, and long-term consumer feedback that will benefit a wide range of clients in the private club, resort and hospitality industries as well as municipalities who own golf and leisure assets”.

 

About GGA Partners

GGA Partners™ is an international consulting firm and trusted advisor to many of the world’s most successful golf courses, private clubs, resorts, and residential communities. We are dedicated to helping owners, asset managers, club and community leaders, investors and real estate developers tackle challenges, achieve objectives, and maximize asset performance.

Established in 1992 as the KPMG Golf Industry Practice, our global team of experienced professionals leverage in-depth business intelligence and proprietary global data to deliver impactful strategic solutions and lasting success. For more information, please visit ggapartners.com.

About Dr. Eric Brey, PhD

Dr. Brey earned his B.S. and M.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Stout School of Hospitality Leadership. In 2006, he earned his PhD from Purdue University School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Dr. Brey spent six years at the University of Memphis, Fogelman College of Business and Economics, Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality Management before joining the University of Wisconsin-Stout, School of Hospitality Leadership in 2012. In his current role, he serves as professor and chair of the school, teaching marketing, strategy and customer analytics courses, and conducting research on consumer-centric strategy.

Dr. Brey has published numerous peer and refereed journal papers, written industry white papers and book chapters, received many recognitions and honors and has conducted applied research for the United States Golf Association. Recently, Dr. Brey completed a research study for the USGA identifying more than 1,000 touchpoints golfers can have throughout their experience that impact satisfaction and dissatisfaction. The results of the research will provide insights to help operators gain a firm understanding of what customers need and how to meet and exceed those expectations.

 

Media Contacts:

Michael Gregory, Partner
GGA Partners
416-524-0083
michael.gregory@ggapartners.com

 

2021 Predictions on the Shape of the Next Normal

When we were introduced to COVID-19 in March 2020, no one had any indication that ten months later the number of cases and its toll on society would continue to rise. The introduction of a vaccine is promising, but the road ahead remains filled with uncertainty as to when the next normal will arrive – and what shape that normal will adopt.

Since its inception, GGA Partners has traveled the globe working with private clubs, golf courses, investors, real estate developers, resorts, municipalities, and financial institutions. This has provided unique insight into the state of golf, private club, and leisure businesses from many different perspectives.

We have observed that even before the coronavirus pandemic, significant change was underway across the private club landscape. As we prepare for the “new normal” the thought leaders at GGA sat down to predict what they believe is coming in 2021 and beyond.

1. COVID-19 accelerates change already afoot in governance

According to Senior Partner Henry DeLozier, the change brought on by the pandemic is going to necessitate even more rapid change in governance, which GGA has seen clubs struggle with this past year.

“In corporate America, the concept of stakeholder capitalism was at the forefront in 2020 and that has transcended to the private club space,” commented DeLozier. “We’re hearing members across the private club spectrum questioning why they do not have a larger voice in their club and how board selections, as well as decisions, are being made.”

Private clubs that do not have current and effective governance will suffer from decreased member satisfaction and a constant churn of its membership base.

2. The capability to communicate effectively and efficiently will be key

Linda Dillenbeck, GGA’s director for the firm’s communications practice, stated that there continues to be a need to assist clubs in their efforts to communicate effectively and efficiently.

“It is basic human nature that people do not like change,” said Dillenbeck. “To minimize the disruption of pending changes, it is incumbent upon the management team and board of directors to clearly communicate the what, how, and why of their decisions then allow members to voice their opinions. This provides the level of two-way communication members are demanding.”

In addition to communications about club finances and capital improvements, clubs need to improve the use of the data they have collected to provide tailored communications to members. For example, notices about evolving restrictions on golf events should only be sent to those who play and those about activities for families with children don’t need to be sent to empty nesters.

Beyond member communications, clubs that will be successful in 2021 will be those which can retool and refine their external communications to ensure the message of what truly makes the club unique is presented clearly.

3. Greater work flexibility will impact club utilization in new and challenging ways

Report after report has trumpeted the tremendous increase in rounds played during the pandemic. According to GGA Director John Strawn, that is in large part due to work-from-home adaptations which are providing greater flexibility in how and when employees complete their daily tasks.

“People have more control over their work lives,” said Strawn. “Golf experienced fewer restrictions during the pandemic and that has brought out many new and fringe players leading to full tee sheets at both private and public golf courses.”

Full tee sheets are causing negative feedback from those who play more frequently as there is a belief that those not paying full dues are taking coveted tee times. To solve the problem, Strawn predicts clubs will need to revisit their strategies and ultimately their business models more frequently to ensure they are meeting this new and different demand effectively. Flexibility will be critical until the long-term impact on golf demand is better understood.

While clubs continue struggling to ensure fair and equitable access to the tee or courts while accommodating increased demand, Senior Associate Andrew Milne added that clubs should expect that best practice solutions may shift regarding reservations and tee sheet management to include lottery systems and Chelsea systems to ensure dissatisfaction among members is minimized. Understanding that new reservation management approaches may change the value proposition for members, a clear plan and message acknowledging this, and for measuring and adapting the approach as the future becomes clearer, will be important.

4. Clubs must better understand what women want from their club

According to the National Golf Foundation, while only one in five golfers are women, females represent a disproportionately higher percentage of beginners (31%).

Women ease into the game for a variety of reasons; to spend time with their family, to compete, to be outdoors, and to enjoy the support, community, and socialization. As these women age and consider joining a club, they will choose the clubs that shape programs, staff, activities, and offerings to blend the female competitive group with the group that is more interested in the social community.

“We’ve known for some time just how important the role of women and the family dynamic is regarding the decision on whether to join a private club,” commented GGA Director Murray Blair. “For clubs to succeed in 2021 and beyond, they will need to understand how women are impacting the decision-making process and implement the necessary adjustments to make them feel welcome, whether they play golf or not.”

5. Operational efficiencies gained during the pandemic will carry forward in 2021, and their challenges will too

Among the most remarkable takeaways from 2020 was the ability for clubs to adapt their operations and service offerings swiftly and effectively in the face of facility closures, variable human resource availability, and rapidly changing restrictions for public health and safety.

Contactless payments, varying tee time intervals, and pace dispersion tactics are pandemic-inspired efficiencies which GGA Associate Andrew Johnson predicts will continue.

Adding to the list, GGA Director Ben Hopkinson expects clubs will become more efficient at managing grab-and-go meals, take-out dining, and mobile ordering, following the best practices of companies like Uber Eats and DoorDash.

New ways of operating have also brought about new challenges, some of which will persist into 2021 and require even more new solutions to be generated at clubs and courses.

GGA Senior Associate Andrew Johnson expects that the increased costs associated with COVID-19 mandated protocols such as labor for sanitation and cleaning, as well as elevated maintenance expenses due to increased rounds, will remain through 2021.

Clubs that effectively determine what increased interest and golf participation means for facility accessibility, program creation, membership categories and associated privileges will find increased membership satisfaction and interest from new prospects.

6. The pandemic’s impact on club finances will remain uncertain, expect to see more measurement, flexibility, and experimentation

Despite successful adaptations in club operations and economic relief opportunities afforded by governments and municipalities, the full extent of the pandemic’s economic impact will remain varied across club types depending on business structures and market areas.

GGA Senior Manager Martin Tzankov, remains concerned about the financial position of many clubs and believes the brunt of the economic impact has yet to be seen.

“The reliance of clubs on dues increases and capital assessments has been particularly apparent this year and may have stretched the value proposition too far for some,” stated Tzankov.  “2021 will show the clubs where a clear and present value proposition is being presented to members, who in turn, will continue to pay the cost of belonging.”

GGA Partner Derek Johnston believes there are clubs that will be able to increase pricing and sustain the increases in the long-term and there are clubs that will overshoot the mark. Johnston expressed concern that some clubs may move joining fees too high, too fast; golf businesses may move their green fees too high, too fast; and some may move away from tee sheet management practices too quickly.

“Nobody knows what’s coming.  If clubs have experienced less attrition than in the past, it may be due to members being unwilling to give up their safe sanctuary, but when things begin to stabilize post-vaccine that may not persist,” he explained.  “I believe that a portion of the historical attrition hasn’t been abated, just held back.  There will be increased attrition over the next 12-24 months and there may not be the same demand there to replace those who leave, especially as other social and lifestyle pursuits become more widely available again.”

2021 will be a time for clubs to experiment.  A measured, flexible approach to joining fees and dues will be a prudent approach this year.

7. A club’s success will in part be driven by its sum of parts in 2021

Craig Johnston, a partner and head of GGA’s transaction advisory practice, emphasized that the success of clubs during and following the pandemic will in part be driven by its sum of parts. Johnston explained “A private club may include a fitness center, retail store, several restaurants, a golf course, and a marina. The pandemic has impacted the utilization and thus success of all those ‘parts’ differently, and therefore the overall success of the club will largely be dependent on the club’s product or shall we say parts mix.”

“Every club is going to be different depending on its type of business and the operations which comprise it, the extent and variability of pandemic-related changes means that comparatives are going to need to be refined,” continued Johnston.  “Clubs that understand and appreciate the challenges and successes of the various parts of their business will be in a better position to realign and optimize heading into the ‘new normal’.”

8. The movement of people and relocation of companies will reshape markets

Our news feeds have been full of stories about high-profile people and companies moving out of California into Texas, as well as the movement of bankers to Florida from New York. If looking at this as a trend, you might imagine seeing increased need and greater attrition among clubs in the California and New York markets and, conversely, excess demand for clubs in markets like Texas and Florida.

According to GGA Manager Alison Corner, it will be important for clubs to understand the movement of people – not just the movement away from major urban centers and into the suburbs, but also the movement of companies and the actual physical locations of corporations – because they may have drastic impacts to how certain club and leisure businesses perform over the next 5 – 10 years.

Clubs that are mindful of these relocation trends will help themselves to recognize and either seize new opportunities, or mitigate future risks.

Menu