I do not understand why private clubs continue to shy away from the foundation for which made them successful to begin with. With that said, private clubs are, and will always be, about people and the relationships they forge with others. It is not only the relationships they nurture with other Members, but the relationships that are created between the staff that provide the opportunity to establish some type of “connection.” You can have the finest of facilities, a large membership base and the best club leadership available; however, without a strong connection linking all of these together, you have nothing.
It, truly, is that simple. But, for some reason, private clubs have not devoted near enough time, energy, effort or resources to building a strong connection throughout the Club’s culture.
Connection comes at two basic levels.
The connection between the members themselves
The true “glue” that keeps all clubs strong and vibrant is the members and the relationships between those members. The reason that membership growth, is so vitally important, is the simple fact that each and every member expands their connection to the Club through as many strong relationships as possible. Private clubs need to continue to expand the base of their membership. As such, this expansion strengthens the connection between the membership and, in doing so, membership retention is stronger!
The connection between the members and staff
Tragically, the longevity of staff at private clubs is on the decline. Private club members, often times, have as equally important and strong connection with staff members as they do their fellow private club members. Private clubs need to encourage the staff to “connect” with the members by focusing on knowing the names, needs, likes and dislikes of the membership. For example, knowing that Dr. Smith enjoys a certain type of wine, his children/grandchildren live in Atlanta and he went to school at Georgia Tech. Conversations about these types of issues are very powerful in connecting the members and the staff.
There are three basic reasons that members resign from private clubs;
Reason #1. Justification of the Expense. Members have found that the expense (monthly dues/fees) of being a member has gone beyond their actual and specific usage of the Club. Members are beginning to calculate exactly what each round of golf/set of tennis costs them in comparison to the amount of money they pay for their dues. In this case, it becomes a black or white decision to resign if the Club is not meeting the intrinsic needs of its Members. Private clubs have cut expenses to a level for which members are having a very hard time justifying the monthly amount they pay to maintain their memberships, in comparison to exactly how much they use the Club.
Reason #2. Allocation of Time. With life being seemingly more busy than ever, members often times lament that they do not have enough time to devote to being a member of their club in comparison to the other aspects of their life that demand their time and discretionary dollars. This reality has caused a much higher attrition rate than most clubs are accustomed to experiencing. The world, outside of private club life, has become very sophisticated and very proficient at attempting to lure “our members” away from “our club."
Reason #3. A lack of connection. When members of a private club do not feel connected to their fellow members, the staff or the direction for which the club seems to be going, increased resignation rates seem to follow.
Private club members are being asked to choose between spending time at the Club or spending time enjoying other leisure time opportunities that fit their socio-economic abilities and interest.
The interesting element regarding these reasons is that if a person is connected to their club, reasons number one (expense) and two (time) become moot. When members are connected, they will come up with the money and find the time to remain members of their club. By enhancing your efforts to connect with your Members, you will increase your opportunities to keep them happy which will keep them at the Club for many years to come.
Connection is one of the fundamental cores for which all private clubs will succeed. The opposite is also true. Clubs that do not devote the proper efforts will find themselves struggling to retain their current members and recruit new members.
Make “connection” a priority at your Club and you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.