Like the rest of the country right now, I’ve spent a lot of free time online with Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, reading communications from private club leaders, concerning how their Club is handling and reacting to the Covid-19 pandemic. I’ve also listened to several webinars regarding how private clubs can remain relevant to their members during this crisis. Topics that talk about stress and anxiety and a new normal that we are dealing with on a daily basis. How do clubs remain relevant to our members when our services are drastically limited, or shut down? Ideas such as Facebook Live, Zoom Yoga, and Cooking Demo videos are all ideas to keep members connected, while practicing physical distancing.
The reality is that many of the people who are being asked to show up every day during a national health crisis, are front line employees at private clubs. These are people who are worried about their future job prospects, and the financial security of their family and whether or not they will be receiving their next paycheck.
In a nation where 40% of Americans cannot cover an unexpected $400 expense, fear and anxiety is real, especially now. While we all are experiencing heightened levels of fear and anxiety, private club members are somewhat more insulated from the financial hardships that face many of the employees at private clubs from across the country.
How many states have canceled school for the rest of the school year? What are people doing with their school age children? Who will feed them? Who will watch them while employees are required to show up every day to make sure the curbside, and take-out food orders are fulfilled? How will they pay for childcare expenses when they would normally be at school? This is what stress and anxiety looks like for a vast majority of people. These are not our members. These are our employees.
Let’s look at this from another angle. While a sensitive issue, the reality is that the median member age at private clubs is approximately 63. Given what we do know with the current virus, a large number of private club members reside in the high risk group for Covid-19. If these people get sick their mortality rates are much higher than younger age groups, approaching 10%. It could easily be viewed as irresponsible to encourage these people to use the club at all, including utilizing curbside and to go ordering.
What private clubs should do is to listen to federal and state health officials. Close your doors. Send your staff home. Continue to pay them. Let them know that they are fortunate to work for a member owned private club, which is owned by a group of people with substantial financial means. Take care of the most vulnerable among us: your employees.
When this is all over you can have one of two things:
A staff that showed up to work every day, worried about trying to stay relevant to their wealthy members in order to keep their jobs, while at the same time worried about their own health and the financial security of their families.
Or a staff that had all their anxiety and stress removed by the wonderful and gracious members who guaranteed their jobs and their pay and sent them home to take care of their families during a national health crisis, unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetimes.
You want staff that will run through brick walls for you? You want to see someone who is grateful to you as a member and genuinely happy to see you at the club when this is all over? You want to feel good about being a member of a private club?
Members should pay their dues, as they owe it to the people who have provided such a wonderful private club experience for you in the past, and will continue to do so in the future.
If you do that, when we get to the other side of this pandemic your club will have a great story to tell. Marketing is all about telling stories.