A steady flow of referrals is and should be the lifeblood of any relevant club. Traveling the Southeast for over fifteen years and playing multiple guest rounds has (unfortunately) taught me one thing: Clubs just don’t care as much as they pretend to when it comes to bringing new people in.
Why do I say this? Because they all do the same two things:
- Hound their membership for referrals with poorly incentivized programs.
- Ignore the guests that walk in their doors every day.
Number one is the easiest to fix. Number two, however, takes a little creativity, but with a concerted effort, can easily separate you from the pack when it comes to attracting new members.
A few years ago, I was tapped to join a selection committee for a new GM at my club. Like most private clubs, ours was struggling for members and was looking for someone that could bring fresh eyes and perspective to an aging membership. The gentleman we selected in the end, Jerry, demonstrated the most creativity and promised a new direction and attention to detail we had not seen. I was skeptical.
After meeting with him in person and discussing membership recruitment and the concept of multiple touches, Jerry latched on immediately and said, “you let me know ahead of time that you have a guest, and and I’ll handle the rest”.
A few weeks later, I set up a round with a couple of business associates. Per Jerry’s request, I phoned him a day early to let him know who was playing, what time we would arrive, and a little about each guest.
When we arrived at the grill room before our round, Jerry came out and personally introduced himself to each guest, chatted a bit, and brought us an appetizer (on the club). When my guests entered the pro shop, they were introduced to the Assistant Pro, Justin, and each were given a locker for the day. Justin shook their hands and said, “we have range balls ready for you if you would like to warm up. We also have your names on your cart for today, I’ll follow you out and help you load up for your round. We really appreciate you coming out”.
Midway through our round, one of my guys sees a cart in the distance coming our way.
Guess who? You got it!
“Hey guys, I just wanted to thank you again for coming out. If there is anything I can do, please let me know. I hope you have a good rest of the day”.
Both of my guests had played at the club in the past, but both beamed, “…we have never been treated like this, anywhere”!
On a 1-10 scale, how memorable would you say this round was for my guests? Did this take a little time, effort, and coordination to pull off? Sure…but this is what the concept of multiple touches and being memorable is all about.
When your members bring guests, what do you do to make them feel special (and make your member look good)?
- Invite them to an upcoming clinic?
- Do you ever meet them on the range to offer a tip or two before teeing off?
- Give them a voucher for dinner?
- Do you send them a hand-written thank you for playing?
- Do you invite them back to play with your head pro personally?
- Do you have a personal policy to meet all guests in the 19th hole after their round to get their opinion on your club?
If you are (still) struggling for where to find new members, chances are they are walking through your doors every day, you just have to look for them.