What the statistics tell us about keeping members

    59club Director Mark Reed shares some insights into the statistics generated from the thousands of surveys that have been completed by the golf members at its client clubs to shine a light on how clubs can keep their members happy.

    Some would say that it is brave for a club to ask for members’ views but 59club believe the opposite; it is brave not to ask. Not asking your members for their opinions means they are more likely to leave and it actually costs five to six times more to recruit a new member than it does to retain an existing one. Any business needs to know what its customers think, want and what their future intentions are – golf clubs are no different. Some golf clubs may conduct a ‘mini survey’ or an ‘exit interview’ but the problem is that the first tends not to be independent or thorough enough and the second is way too late.

    The statistics we use can be compared to other venues in a group, chosen competitors, the best performing clubs, and the rest of the industry. All areas of the facility and service analysis can be further broken down via a filtering system to enable analysis of any particular groups within the membership. This enables us to highlight any groups that may be susceptible to leaving the club, hence promoting the necessary actions to help retain your members. These filters include: Gender, Age, Handicap, Membership Category and Playing Frequency – but for the purpose of this report we will look at the industry as a whole, with no filtering and provide the total score awarded for each individual question. Actual comments will not be disclosed to ensure client anonymity.

    Life as a member

    Do you find yourself questioning why members want to leave your club after they were so eager to join just a few short months ago? It’s all too easy to accept their reason as not having enough time to play, but surely we need to dig deeper. We need to understand why some members become low users and eventually, as we all know, low users become no users and a resignation form arrives on your desk.

    To improve the member experience at your club, we need to identify which elements of the club your members enjoy and then do this better to make their experience the best we possibly can. We need to identify what we do badly and remind ourselves why they chose to join the club in the first place. If there are fires to put out we need to do this quickly and prioritise what will have the biggest impact. We need to work fast to improve the member experience afforded to all members new and old – this is ultimately what will keep us all in business.

    The overall statistics are an average taken from every single member that has completed a membership survey using 59club’s mechanic. This data shows that the social scene, arguably one of the ultimate member retention tactics, received a score of 69 per cent. Regarding member benefits and discounts associated with the membership and the actual elements that present added value the score was even worse at 63 per cent – a clear area for improvement that all clubs should look at.

    As for the overall atmosphere within the club we can report a score of 75 per cent, but when it comes to value for money in relation to what the club actually delivers, also a key indicator into how you are performing, the members collectively awarded 70 per cent. Members felt when it came to their sense of belonging at your club, rather than just paying to use the facilities, this warranted a rating of 75 per cent.

    Member Services

    Members rated the ease of booking a tee time at a fairly high 82 per cent and the actual availability of the golf course itself at 77 per cent. When it came to managing and communicating course closures, as a result of adverse weather conditions or when hosting external competitions, society or corporate events, the members rated this 74 per cent. In an age of social media, emails and texts there is no reason why this should be so low. The club’s competence to organise competitions was rated 79 per cent and when it came to the clubs ability to communicate with members via email, web, and notice boards 77 per cent gave their club the thumbs up.

    The Professional Team

    The score for the presence of key staff around the club was recorded at 72 per cent, with the overall service and attitude of the entire golf shop team scoring better at 77 per cent. However, when it came to lessons only 39 per cent said they had taken a lesson in the last six months – clearly indicating that pros need to engage more with their members, whether this is by taking some extra trips to the clubhouse for a friendly chat or even simply spotting someone on the range and offering a few free tips. This is member engagement and engagement equals retention and the possibility of some new pupils along the way.

    On Course

    The presentation and quality of the teeing ground received a score of 70 per cent, the fairways 77 per cent but the presentation and quality of the bunkers only saw 52 per cent satisfied. The presentation and quality of the greens fared better at 80 per cent. The members rated the attitude and service from the course ranger, starter and marshals at 79 per cent and the courtesy shown by the greens staff 84 per cent. In terms of the quality of the on course furniture and signage 70 per cent were satisfied. The practice facilities including the short game, putting green aznd long game, came out at 73 per cent.

    Food and beverage

    The opening hours of the restaurant came out at 69 per cent, whilst the opening hours of the bar scored better at 81 per cent. The food in the clubhouse in terms of the service, quality, value and selection offered received a score of 72 per cent.

    Key areas to improve upon
    From the survey results we have picked out three key areas which did not score highly and which all clubs should investigate:
    52 per cent were happy with the presentation and quality of the bunkers
    39 per cent of members had taken a lesson with their pro in the last six months
    63 per cent were happy with the member benefits at their club

    9club has created my59 which gives club managers and owners complete access to their entire benchmarking business with the ability to generate their own Member Surveys, Mystery Shopper Audits & Consumer Reviews at the touch of a button. My59 will educate staff on how to deliver great sales and service levels, but also allows you to set targets, monitor performance and compare your offering to competitors, the best performing clubs and the industry as a whole.

    It enables clubs to create their own survey by selecting from over 100 member specific questions, with the ability to create additional specific questions. So whether you choose to deliver an annual survey to your whole membership base, or you choose to take a more targeted approach by surveying all new members at various touch points during their first 12 weeks or conversely; you wish to hear from members that have decided to leave your club by running an exit survey, you have the ability to utilise the mechanic to bring this ideal to life.

    Visit: http://www.my59online.com for more details.

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    Miles is the Owner and Managing Director of Robel Media, and the award winning GOLF RETAILING Magazine. With over 25 years in the media business, Miles has a wealth of experience in magazine publishing, digital media and live events. HANDICAP - 7.2