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. 

GGA Partners Speakers Featured at CMAA 2021 World Conference and Club Business Expo

Sessions will focus on strategy, member feedback mechanisms, the next generation of club members, club trends, and member communications.

TORONTO, Ontario – Skilled specialists from GGA Partners, a trusted advisor to golf courses, private clubs, resorts, and residential communities around the world, will be presenting trends and tactics on a variety of subjects during the Club Management Association of America (CMAA) 2021 World Conference and Club Business Expo this week.

As with other major conferences in 2020 and 2021, the CMAA World Conference will be virtual, allowing attendees to login and learn effective ways to manage member feedback, attract the next generation of members, the latest industry trends, and how to effectively communicate their brand message.

GGA Partners specialists will lead the following discussions:

Monday, March 8 – Ask the Experts

Michael Gregory, a partner in the firm will join Trevor Coughlan from Jonas Software for a thirty-minute “Ask the Expert” session to discuss club feedback systems for members and customers.

Tuesday, March 9 – Setting Strategy for Long-Term Success

Partners Henry DeLozier, Stephen Johnston, Derek Johnston, Michael Gregory and Craig Johnston will be joined by several directors and managers to lead a three-hour session using real-life case studies allowing managers to interact and learn from each other with the GGA team providing ideas and solutions to enhance processes, research, and efficiency.

Thursday, March 11 – Adopting Proven Methods of Engaging the Next Generation of Club Members

Michael Gregory will lead a panel of club managers from Desert Mountain, Prairie Dunes Country Club, The Briar Club, and The Country Club through a discussion of their perspectives on how clubs can adapt and develop their offerings to meet the needs of the next generation of members and customers.

Thursday, March 11 – Ask the Experts

GGA Manager Bennett DeLozier will join Amilcar Davy from CMAA to discuss early results from the CMAA Trends Survey entitled A Club Leader’s Perspective: Emerging Trends & Challenges.

Friday, March 12 – Keys to Effective Communications

GGA Director Linda Dillenbeck and Manager Bennett DeLozier will share insights into the steps club managers can take to ensure their communications are clear, concise, and effective.

“Our business is helping clubs, large and small, to operate more effectively,” commented Derek Johnston, a partner in the firm. “The CMAA World Conference provides an outstanding platform to share knowledge and experiences with club leaders from around the globe.”

 

 

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.

 

Media Contact:

Bennett DeLozier, Manager
GGA Partners
bennett.delozier@ggapartners.com
602-614-2100

Connect with GGA Partners at the #CMAAVirtual Conference

Connect with GGA Partners at the 2021 #CMAAVirtual World Conference & Club Business Expo
March 8-12, 2021

The 2021 CMAA World Conference & Club Business Expo offers five days of stellar educational programming and the opportunity for those in club management to refresh their skills and industry knowledge, connect with fellow professionals, and explore the latest innovations and best practices.

Each year, we at GGA Partners look forward to syncing up with club managers to celebrate their successes, learn more about the challenges they are facing, and help them develop and implement a game plan for success.

As a long-standing CMAA Business Partner, we jump on every opportunity to facilitate education sessions which bring club managers together for knowledge-sharing and thought-leadership. In the hope that our paths will cross, you are invited to register for any or all of GGA’s education sessions, engagements, and activities.

Otherwise, swing by our virtual exhibitor booth, help yourself to some of our latest insights and resources, and be sure to get in touch with us by saying hello in the chat, scheduling a meeting, or dropping us a line. Let’s have a conversation about what you and your club are working on in 2021, we are always willing to assist club managers.

 


Monday, March 8

Networking Break: Ask the Expert – Feedback Systems

1:30pm-2:00pm EST

Join Trevor Coughlan from Jonas Software and Michael Gregory of GGA Partners to ask questions and discuss club feedback systems for members and customers.

ADD TO YOUR SCHEDULE

 


Tuesday, March 9

In-Conference Workshop: Setting Strategy for Long-term Success

11:00am-2:00pm EST
*Requires separate registration

Strategic planning is on everyone’s mind these days. One of the most frequent questions about strategy seems to be “Given the current environment, how do we actually set strategy for long-term success and sustainability?” and followed closely by “How do we implement a strategic plan in our club?”

This three-hour session is a hands-on approach using real-life case studies, allowing managers to interact and learn from each other, with the GGA team providing ideas and solutions. The session will leverage GGA’s processes, research, and experience and provide engaging opportunities for delegates to contribute.

During the first half of the session, participants will have the opportunity to learn from the GGA team and subject matter experts in strategic planning, governance, communications, member feedback, market research, financial planning, and analysis.

During the second half of the session, participants will be separated into smaller virtual breakout rooms with fellow club managers. In these virtual rooms, participants will have the opportunity to share their initial thoughts about the case and discuss solutions with their peers. The breakout rooms will subsequently rejoin to form one large group, at which point participants will be asked to respond to questions about the case using real-time polling software. Responses to the poll are individual and anonymous. This dynamic session will allow participants to see how their responses compare to their peers and hear from GGA how their answers may differ from industry best practices.

The session will conclude with the case solutions being shared with participants. By the end of the session, participants will achieve a better understanding of the importance of strategic planning for private clubs, proven processes for setting long-term successful and sustainable strategies, how strategic plans are implemented and become advocates for strategic planning at their respective clubs.

Join the GGA team: Henry DeLozier (Partner), Stephen Johnston (Partner), Derek Johnston (Partner), Michael Gregory (Partner), Craig Johnston (Partner), Patrick DeLozier (Director), Fred Laughlin (Director), Eric Brey (Director), Linda Dillenbeck (Director), Bennett DeLozier (Manager), and Ben Hopkinson (Manager).

ADD TO YOUR SCHEDULE

 


Wednesday, March 10

Club Business Expo

12:30pm-1:30pm EST

Swing by the GGA Partners virtual exhibitor booth, help yourself to some of our latest insights and resources, and be sure to get in touch with us by saying hello in the chat, scheduling a meeting, or dropping us a line.

VISIT THE GGA PARTNERS BOOTH

 


Thursday, March 11

Adopting Proven Methods of Engaging the Next Generation of Club Members

10:30am-11:30am EST

Research findings highlight how clubs can adapt and develop their offerings to meet the needs of the next generation of members and customers. Hear from four managers whose clubs are quite different, and whose perspectives represent the next generation of club managers. The panel discussion will provide valuable insights about Millennials, the challenges they face, and the opportunities for clubs to be more relevant to the next generation of club members in their membership structure and pricing, offerings, and experiences provided.

Join Michael Gregory (Partner, GGA Partners), Jay Johnson (GM/COO, Prairie Dunes Country Club), Daniel Moreno (The Briar Club), Kristen LaCount (GM, The Country Club), and Passion Graham (Clubhouse Manager, Desert Mountain Club).

ADD TO YOUR SCHEDULE

 

Networking Break: Ask the Expert – Club Trends

1:30pm-2:00pm EST

Join Bennett DeLozier from GGA Partners, and Amilcar Davy from CMAA, to discuss early results from the CMAA Trends Survey entitled A Club Leader’s Perspective: Emerging Trends & Challenges.

ADD TO YOUR SCHEDULE

 

Club Business Expo

3:30pm-4:30pm EST

Swing by the GGA Partners virtual exhibitor booth, help yourself to some of our latest insights and resources, and be sure to get in touch with us by saying hello in the chat, scheduling a meeting, or dropping us a line.

VISIT THE GGA PARTNERS BOOTH

 


Friday, March 12

The Keys to Effective Communications

12:30pm-1:30pm EST

Join Linda Dillenbeck (Director, GGA Partners) and Bennett DeLozier (Manager, GGA Partners) for insights into the steps club managers can take to ensure their communications are clear, concise, and effective. In this session, we’ll discuss how clubs can forge stronger bonds with members, and successfully engage prospective members in the wake of these fundamental shifts in perceived value.

ADD TO YOUR SCHEDULE

 


 

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.

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.

Running Toward Change

This article continues a series of communications from GGA Partners to help private club leaders address challenges confronting their businesses and their employees because of the global health crisis. Today, Henry DeLozier suggests that change on a massive scale is no longer something that should surprise us.

Technology’s tools give clubs a way to prepare for the new normal.

We’re hearing a lot these days about the “new normal” and how the coronavirus has forever changed the ways we work, shop, travel and interact.

But wasn’t it not long ago that we were talking about another new normal? Remember the new normal that followed the financial crisis of 2007-2008, which led to a global recession? That pivot from the previously abnormal to a new normal ushered in more stringent guidelines for financial institutions and in a much larger sense ushered out the sense of trust we had in many other institutions and the people who ran them.

And although the term was not yet in vogue, didn’t the seismic shift from analog to digital – the tipping point came in 2002, when the world began storing more information in digital than in analog format – qualify as a new normal?

All of which led some creative soul to design a bumper sticker that said it all: Change Happens. (You may remember it with a synonym for change.) The most adaptable among us learn to deal with change; the most successful turn it into a competitive advantage. How do they do it?

Don’t be surprised – be prepared.

When he first heard Bob Dylan’s 1965 anthem “Like a Rolling Stone,” Bruce Springsteen said, “[It] sounded like somebody’d kicked open the door to your mind.” With that song, Dylan changed how artists thought about making music. Major change often seems to arrive suddenly – with the speed of a stone rolling down a steep hill – and without warning. Its capriciousness makes us anxious. But if we know it’s coming, we shouldn’t be surprised. We should be prepared.

An embrace of the tools that technology now affords us is an important key to our preparation.

Derek Johnston, a partner in our firm, says although club leaders could not have anticipated the pandemic, they could have been better prepared.

“Many clubs were ill-prepared to quickly analyze the potential impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, to run initial scenarios, to easily gather more information, to test their hypotheses with their membership and, ultimately, set a course of action,” he says.

That is not to say that clubs have responded poorly. On the contrary, club leaders have performed in truly admirable fashion. Many clubs just had to work much harder than those that had already implemented data analytics processes and plug-and-play dashboarding tools, like MetricsFirst or continuous member feedback tools like MemberInsight.

“Some club leaders still question the need to bother with data analytics tools and programs. This misunderstanding is simply misguided,” Johnston says, adding that the term “analytics” seems to intimidate some and conjure visions of data overload and complexity. Another fallacy, Johnston says. “Data analytics, when executed properly, is intended to actually simplify information and present insights in very crisp, clean, and easy to understand ways.”

Ginni Rometty, executive chair of IBM, told Fortune magazine editor Alan Murray, “There is no doubt this [coronavirus] will speed up everyone’s transition to be a digital business.” She identified four areas of impending change: 1) the movement to the cloud; 2) the move toward automation; 3) the overhaul of supply chains, and 4) the movement toward new ways of doing work. Each force will happen in accelerated fashion, she predicts.

Rometty is not alone in her assessment. Almost two out of three respondents to a recent Fortune survey of Fortune 500 CEOs expect technological transformation to accelerate. Doug Merritt, CEO at Splunk, a big-data platform, pointed out two important observations: 1) a rapid digital transformation and 2) the elevated importance of gathering and interrogating data.

Top-performing clubs will similarly leverage the pandemic to implement advanced methods for executing work and providing services. Retooling such routine practices as monthly billings, guest policy tracking, and point-of-sale transactions will happen quickly. Likewise, separating work from jobs will trend even more in the wake of the pandemic.

“Clubs that are actively maintaining both real-time operating dashboards and strategic dashboards, combined with a proper financial model, are taking preemptive steps toward dealing with change,” Johnston says. “When it happens – and we know it will – they will experience far less conflict amongst their management team and their board. Ultimately, their preparation will enable better decisions, faster.”

Webinar: Member Surveys in Uncertain Times

This webinar continues a series of communications from GGA Partners to help private club leaders address challenges confronting their businesses and their employees as a result of the global health crisis. Whether your club is operational or waiting to return to business as usual, now is a crucial time to keep members engaged.

Leverage Surveys to Engage Members During COVID-19

Last week, MemberInsight – a Jonas Club Software company, and the industry-leading member survey platform – together with GGA Partners co-hosted a webinar to discuss the power of member surveys in the time of COVID-19 and how clubs, regardless of their survey platform of choice, can better utilize members surveys during this difficult time.

“Many clubs send member surveys as a regular part of conducting business.” Said Trevor Coughlan, Vice President of Marketing at Jonas Club Software. “The problem is, many clubs only send them annually, and they think about surveying in a linear fashion – capital & long term planning. I believe surveys relevant to the moment and the action taken as a result of them have the opportunity to invigorate the way members feel about a club and its staff. There is no better time for clubs to be stepping into action than now which is why we are proud to make our platform available at no charge for three months.”

“In the current environment staying connected with members is a real challenge, but it’s more important than ever,” explained Michael Gregory, a Partner at GGA Partners. “Surveys are a tool all clubs can be using to stay engaged with their members, to capture important feedback, and to provide a level of comfort to members knowing their club is working hard to come out of this stronger and more capable of meeting their needs, wants and expectations.”

Webinar Playback

The webinar presented the MemberInsight feature set, the science behind survey based communications, and specific examples of surveys clubs can put into action as they remain committed to serving their members.

If you’d like to share the webinar recording with a colleague or watch it again please view the video below.

 

Survey Templates

GGA Partners has provided 5 complimentary survey templates. Download the templates below and use them to give your members a voice during these unprecedented circumstances so you can start taking action on member feedback.

MemberInsight is the optimal platform to start using these templates and gathering member feedback. The company recently announced that their survey functionality is being made available to clubs at no charge for three months.

If you would like to sign up for three free months and no setup fees*, fill out this MemberInsight form or contact Michael Gregory at GGA Partners.

Webinar 4/23: Leverage Surveys to Engage Members During COVID-19

MEMBERINSIGHT ANNOUNCES NO CHARGE FOR THREE MONTHS

JOINS GGA PARTNERS FOR A WEBINAR FOCUSING ON HOW TO LEVERAGE SURVEYS TO ENGAGE MEMBERS DURING COVID-19

Markham, ON Canada – MemberInsight, a Jonas Club Software company, and the industry-leading member survey platform, announces today that their survey functionality is being made available to clubs at no charge for three months. Together, MemberInsight and GGA Partners, the leading consulting firm to many of the world’s most successful clubs and communities, will also co-host a webinar to discuss the power of member surveys in the time of COVID-19.

“Many clubs send member surveys as a regular part of conducting business.” Said Trevor Coughlan, Vice President of Marketing at Jonas Club Software. “The problem is, many clubs only send them annually, and they think about surveying in a linear fashion – capital & long term planning. I believe surveys relevant to the moment and the action taken as a result of them have the opportunity to invigorate the way members feel about a club and its staff. There is no better time for clubs to be stepping into action than now which is why we are proud to make our platform available at no charge for three months.”

In addition to the special offer, MemberInsight and GGA Partners are co-hosting a one time webinar focusing on how clubs, regardless of their survey platform of choice, can better utilize members surveys during this difficult time. The webinar will be co-hosted by Trevor Kluke and Matt Cooper of Jonas Club Software, and Michael Gregory and Ben Hopkinson of GGA Partners and will take place on Thursday April 23, at 14:00 ET.

“In the current environment staying connected with members is a real challenge, but it’s more important than ever,” explained Michael Gregory, a Partner at GGA Partners. “Surveys are a tool all clubs can be using to stay engaged with their members, to capture important feedback, and to provide a level of comfort to members knowing their club is working hard to come out of this stronger and more capable of meeting their needs, wants and expectations.”

The presentation will cover the MemberInsight feature set, the science behind survey based communications, and specific examples of surveys clubs can put into action as they remain committed to serving their members.

Clubs can take advantage of three months of MemberInsight at no charge by visiting:
https://memberinsight.clubhouseonline-e3.net/Special_Offer

The webinar will be held on Thursday April 23, 2020 at 14:00 ET.

Those interested in attending the MemberInsight and GGA Partners co-hosted webinar can register here:
https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1880267544344608526

About Jonas Club Software – www.jonasclub.com

Jonas Club Software helps clubs thrive by focusing on the creation of exceptional experiences. These experiences are delivered through industry leading services, integrated applications, innovative technology, and long term partnerships with the clubs we serve.
Over 2,300 clubs in more than 20 countries, with memberships ranging from 20 to 20,000, utilize Jonas Club Software technology. With applications ranging from Accounting to Retail Point of Sale, Tee Time Management, Court & Class Booking, Dining Reservations, websites and Mobile Apps, Jonas Club Software is the standout choice for clubs driven to offer exceptional member experiences.

For more details visit www.jonasclub.com

Media Contact:
Trevor Coughlan
Vice President, Marketing
Jonas Club Software
Trevor.Coughlan@jonasclub.com
1-888-789-9073

Is Your Club Truly Member-Centric?

In 2017, Toymaker LEGO announced that revenues had hit a record high, rising 6 per cent to DKr37.9bn (stg£4.4bn) – the highest ever annual level recorded in its 85-year history. Profits were also higher, with operating profit up 1.7 per cent to DKr12.4bn and net profit up 2.2 per cent to DKr9.4bn.

LEGO is a remarkable success story considering that, almost 15 years ago, the company was on the brink of bankruptcy. Though it was a transformational strategy, led by CEO Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, which sparked the unprecedented turnaround in fortunes, significant emphasis was placed on the contribution that customer insights played in the turnaround.

“We never take customers’ enthusiasm for granted. We reward them by showing that we listen to and care about their feedback. I also tell customers that they fulfil another vital role: They are an avenue to the truth. And in today’s world, a CEO needs every avenue to the truth that he or she can find.”

 From my experience, the majority of club leaders stress the importance of understanding their members in order to stay relevant in today’s fast-changing external environment. So why is it that so few clubs seek to systematically listen to their members and as a result, are constantly reacting to change rather than planning for it? Why is it they are reluctant to travel this “avenue to the truth”?

To be truly member-centric, club boards must use member insights in major strategic decisions and core processes, not just member-facing ones.

Our analysis indicates that, actually, this is rarely the case. A recent global survey, undertaken by GGA, examined several hundred clubs to find which conducted annual member research. The reported benchmark range for clubs who do conduct annual member research was found to be between 10%-20%, with the norm being just 15%-16%.

Member insights provide an essential window into the change that lies ahead through their perceptions, needs, preferences, behaviours and attitudes. Gathering, tracking and applying such insights can empower a club to lead rather than react. It allows them to match strategy and implementation to their environment, and to prepare for change rather than responding to it.

In his book Good to Great (2001), management guru Jim C. Collins cites 5 elements of member-centric associations;

  1. Culture. A documented, shared understanding among all staff, embraced and touted by leadership, which defines expectations on how the association interacts with members.
  2. Metrics – Tracking, measuring and responding to data that defines success through the eyes of its members and for the organization. One of the 7 Measures of Success pillars is being data-driven.
  3. Knowledge – Belief and practices on collecting, sharing and responding to the challenges, needs and expectations of members.
  4. Technology – Planning, managing and leveraging tools (e.g., database, social media) to collect, share, and deliver information to all stakeholders in a timely manner.
  5. Segmentation – Developing profiles of and understanding specific groups, or segments, of members to deliver on their expectations and to increase retention rates.

How does your club score in relation to these member-centric qualifications? Think back on recent “leadership” or “planning” meetings you attended at your club. In how many instances did member insights, measured evidence, inform a final decision?

In the oft-quoted words of Wayne Gretzky, leaders will find deep and relevant member insights will guide a club in “skating to where the puck is going, not to where it’s been.”

Rob Hill is a Partner at GGA’s EMEA Office, based outside Dublin, Ireland.

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