What does your club say about you?

Mark Reed, Director of 59club and my59, talks openly about measures the industry needs to adopt in order to demonstrate a ‘Club Cares Culture’ to successfully attract, convert and retain more members.

When someone visits your club with the mind-set of potentially becoming a member, what assumptions do they make about you and your club? It’s imperative that their first impression counts for something, but just how do your staff and club engage successfully with a potential member? All potential new members must be instantly made to feel welcome and relaxed as they arrive at your club. Let’s pause for a moment and consider their very first impression. Is the environment inspirational and inviting, is this somewhere that you instantly feel welcome and find yourself wanting to belong? Or do visitors feel like intruders just waiting for someone to jump out and question their motives?

The very moment an unprepared staff member steps in with the age old question, “Can I help?” Is the exact moment we have failed to deliver a great first impression. Communication is key; we need to fully prepare front-line staff for the impending arrival of our prospective member and share key personal information that was gleaned when an appointment was arranged. We have to empower them to deliver a personalised welcome and to progress beyond this by engaging in ‘meaningful conversations’ as soon as a prospect presents themselves at the club. The more staff that metaphorically ‘touch’ a potential new member, the stronger your club cares culture appears.

mark-reedLet’s consider how the industry performs: the 59clubs podium clubs score a faultless 100 per cent when initiating conversation with prospective members whilst the 59club industry average sits at 94 per cent. Potential members seek fulfilment and a sense of belonging; remember how you felt on your first day at a new job? 59clubs detailed training and audit criteria explains that when staff demonstrate a recollection of something personal and specific about the prospect it makes a potential member feel important. It makes them feel that at this club they are not going to be just another number, but that the club actually want to get to know them. The 59club podium clubs score 100 per cent whilst the 59club industry average disappointingly sits at 72 per cent.

Consider the most inspirational setting at your club which will enable you to engage in friendly conversation focused around the prospect’s needs and aspirations. This might be your favourite table in the bar that boasts a spectacular view over the golf course. Or it might be an area in the lounge where members relax beside the open fire. What better way to portray your friendly club cares culture to a potential new member than beginning your meeting here with a coffee prior to the club tour?

The 59club podium clubs appreciate that a strong ‘club cares culture’ sells memberships, and on 94 per cent of occasions they sit down with a potential new member at the very outset of the appointment, whilst the 59club industry falter slightly since three out of ten potential members are met at reception and whisked off to begin a club tour, missing this critical link in the sales process.

What about that coffee? Well I can tell you that whilst the 59club podium clubs offer drinks at every single appointment, the 59club industry fail to do so on 22 per cent of the time! When did British hospitality become so stingy that we don’t bother to offer a potential member a drink? And what does this say about our club’s culture?

As the tour begins and staff proceed to visit the various club facilities whilst promoting member services and benefits, a well-planned ‘coincidental’ meeting with another staff member presents the opportunity to further demonstrate our staff and member community. We need to inspire members, we need to make them feel that if they do decide to join that our staff will want to get to know them and make it our mission to assist them with integrating into club life. Just under 90 per cent of the 59club podium clubs took the time to make introductions to other staff members whilst the 59club industry clubs did this on only 63 per cent of occasions.

An introduction is great – it’s a friendly hello after all – but it’s not memorable, and this encounter needs to be memorable. It’s our chance to demonstrate just how well we do club life. This is our moment for the team to engage in ‘meaningful conversation’ with our potential new member while they are still weighing up the factors associated with joining a club. So it’s disappointing to report that on only 62 per cent of occasions the introduced staff member at the 59club podium clubs had actually been ‘briefed’ regarding a potential member’s interests and playing ability in order to hold a ‘meaningful conversation’. The 59club industry club’s performance was worst still, they only managed this on 36 per cent of occasions. This only serves to confirm that we are not communicating with our team and we are not demonstrating to our potential new members that we do ‘club’ well.

Members are not loyal to bricks and mortar, members are loyal to community! Loyalty is born during these very first encounters. Don’t let potential members leave having not been blown away by how friendly, welcoming and personable your club is and how engaging your staff and members were.

Members breed loyalty; they are the glue that holds your club together and so should play a huge part in your club tours. If you see the Competition Secretary when you are out on your club tour then stop and say hello as a demonstration of your ‘club life’. Mention a common interest, share information between them and let them engage to help them establish a friendship. This doesn’t only apply to club figure heads, think of the members that you can count on to engage well with potential members. These are your core members, they are deeply integrated into ‘club life’, they ooze loyalty and will always be the first ones to get involved in club socials and events. Don’t overlook these members – they are your best-selling tools. They are ‘real’ members and a simple introduction at this stage with a bit of background information will allow a potential member to appreciate how they will fit into the club. Interestingly, the 59club podium clubs acknowledged members during the tour on 88 per cent of occasions whilst the 59club industry average only managed on 66 per cent of the tours.

The message is clear; there is room for improvement as far as our line of communication with key staff are concerned. We need to pick out the juicy bits and get this information to our staff to prepare them and empower them to have ‘meaningful conversations’ with prospective members. We need to demonstrate that we do club well and that we have a great member and staff community that any prospective member will want to feel part of. We need to help all members establish a life at the club, and we need to be sure that this life is happy and fulfilled.

If this article has inspired you and you are interested in developing your sales and service techniques but haven’t yet enlisted 59clubs services, be sure to consider how ‘my59’ will work for you. The ‘my59 training and management tool’ will empower you to re-educate staff on the process required to deliver great sales and service. You can also monitor staff’s performance as often as you feel is required with access to all of 59clubs audit reports covering all revenue streams that come into a golf and leisure club. My59 doesn’t stop there, as part of your annual licence you can also generate your own member surveys from the choice of over 100 pre-set quick fire questions with the ability to add your own questions. Order your 2017 my59 license for just £500 and receive the remainder of 2016 FREE! Visit: www.my59online.com for more details.