And the award for best landing page for a Private Club goes to…

http://www.gvgcc.com/Club/Scripts/Home/home.asp

I look at hundreds of Private Club websites every year.  The vast majority are HORRENDOUS (so I won’t list them at the risk of early onset of carpal tunnel syndrome)!

Note to clubs that use “Jonas software” web designs, STOP.

Why does Golden Valley Country Club get top honors?

1. Gorgeous pictures.  Clean interface (not too many buttons or distractions).

2. Scrolling pictures.  This adds interest.  It makes you want to investigate the rest of the site.

3. The web template takes up the entire screen vs. 74.9% of sites I see that are chopped off on the sides.  Ugh!

4. The pictures appear to be taken from an actual camera, not a phone with a camera + they appear to be recent.

5. Within two clicks…you can watch a video introduction to the club.  Engaging!

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“Bad Members”

Since the Great Recession, there has been a growing concern among the Pine Valley/Bandon Dunes/St. Andrews-wearing logo’d paraphernalia crowd.  No, not that membership roles are down…but of the growing number of “bad members” amongst them.

The Grill (or is it Grille?) room is littered with evidence if you happen to walk within thirty feet:

“…they are nothing more than glorified trunk slammers”.

“…they think lunch is served on the 11th fairway…from their bags”.

“…if it’s not 50% off with Pro Shop credit, they won’t even glance at it”.

Sound familiar?

Just think if the Private Club world could rid itself of these nuances?  Why…the only people left would be those with Roman numerals after their names.  The club would be perfect!

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Over the years I have played with a lot of these “bad members”.  Many are on fixed incomes.  Some have jobs that require long hours where they are often underpaid.  Others just aren’t enamored with ponying up 10 bucks for a burger named after the club + a $2.25 drink + tip to a person that never seems to remember their name.

What I have come to realize over the years is how overwhelmingly appreciative most “bad members” are just to be able to tee it up.  For many of these folks, a Private Club membership may be their only splurge.  And the thing is…without them, clubs would die a quick death.

Who are “bad members” in reality?

  • The ones who expect recurring tee times each week and believe it is their right to not show up or call to cancel them ahead of time.
  • They believe fivesomes should roam freely on the busiest of days.
  • They litter the course with cigarette butts, paper, empty ball sleeve boxes…and believe it is the staffs job to sand divots.
  • They loudly condemn other members in public.
  • They verbally pick fights with fellow members.
  • They freely park within ten yards of greens, tee boxes, and when you can’t see them, love to drive in the fairway on cart-path only days.
  • After poor shots, they feel it is their duty to condemn God, themselves, and their clubs…from three fairways over.
  • They believe spending lots of money getting drunk in the Grill (or is it Grille?) room makes them invaluable.
  • They grumble about playing with new people in weekly club events.
  • They believe tenure at the club equates to special rights.

When too many of these “bad members” populate the club or worse…the board, intermittent squabbles ensue throughout the year as socially respectful members have to bite their tongue in favor of these de facto GM’s, who essentially run the club.  The result is often a membership threshold that rarely moves unless membership prices are severely reduced as few want to be members of a club where two sets of rules exist.

Understanding that few clubs make more than 20-30k in the Pro Shop per year, typically lose 30-80k in the restaurant, and are lucky to field more than 4 or 5 foursomes (or is it fivesomes?) in weekly club events, I have to ask aloud:

Who would you rather have?

The #1 Mistake Private Clubs keep repeating

Remember the good old days?

Full membership rosters, initiation fees, Executive Chefs, Assistant Pros, massive club house expansions, new fitness facilities, and lazy rivers (yes, lazy rivers).

If 2002 through 2007 taught us anything, it was that: Extravagance has a price.

I firmly believe 2008 through 2013 has already taught another valuable lesson: You can’t save your way to prosperity…but many have tried by cutting corners in every imaginable area of their club.

With membership roles down, it makes sense to cut some of the bloat, but one area you should NEVER scrimp on is your CEO’s pay.

I am not saying this because I have a heart for PGA Professionals or Club GM’s (although I do), but more because you can’t make money by saving it when it comes to the clubs most critical employee.

I get that clubs, and for that matter, businesses in general, want fixed costs and unfixed growth, but saving 25-40k on a 2-4 million dollar budget by hiring or keeping a fair hire (at best) is just plain dumb.

Think about what 25-40k represents at the average club: 6-10 members, maybe?

If your club’s CEO is worth their weight in Pro V1’s, I bet they retain or gain triple that number easily…and poor ones do just the opposite.

“But nobody joins or stays because of the GM, it has to do with the quality of our course, the price of the dues, and the overall value they receive”.

I agree (that few say it aloud), but who is responsible for delivering that value?

I can show you the same club with two different GM’s and give you dramatically different results. The devil is in the details.

A great CEO sets the tone for the entire organization.

  • You can see it in the way the staff greets members and their guests.
  • The way the carts are always meticulously cleaned.
  • The way the menu doesn’t have yesterdays grease spots or ketchup stains.
  • The way the bathrooms are maintained.
  • The way members treat their fellow members and the course in general.
  • The way the pro shop staff already knows a members size and style preferences.

All of this comes from the top.

Am I suggesting you go out and find a 95-120k GM when the industry average hovers around $70,000? If your current one doesn’t bring that kind of value already, where you could honestly say, “yes, they easily justify that number”, then absolutely…because the money you are probably saving is costing you members, both potential and current.

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I have seen this scenario repeated for the last twenty years in companies I have personally worked for. The same company making the same products for every state in the union…with vastly different sales results.

The difference, as always, is the people in place touching the customers on a daily basis.

How many juniors could you sign up and keep engaged in the game by copying this?

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2013 Winter Junior clinics

I know it may be a bit cold in most parts of the country to start a program like this, but what if starting in April, you did something similar at your club…with similar pricing?  Could you load up on Junior Golf memberships?  Would parents start wanting to play with their children once they saw their interest in the game grow?  Could you later convert those Junior memberships to Full Family plans?

Don’t wait until the last minute to start a program like this.  Begin building anticipation now with teaser ads via Facebook, the club website, and your monthly newsletter.  By summer, your club could easily be known as having the best Junior Golf program in town.