Sun Apr 4 2010Some hidden member benefits
Many golf clubs across the world are being hit hard by the changing economy and changing expectations of what it means to be a club member nowadays. Prospective and current members are scrutinising the value of being a member much more than ever before. Membership is not just about playing golf with friends on Saturday morning anymore. We must educate them on a variety of added values that they may not be aware of to help retain and attract more members.
There are two ways your golf club membership can deliver you hidden benefits. You can use your club for networking to further your career, and for a multitude of other leisure and corporate services you may not have considered.
With numerous clubs worldwide having in excess of 1000+ members, the professional networking opportunities available to you as a member are endless, especially if you are near a major city where most clubs' membership bases are business executives and owners. You may not realise some of the members at your club are high-flying executive types who want to get away from the busy schedules they normally live.
Networking has always been one of the best means for finding a new job, a new client, or as a way to build long-term professional and personal relationships. These are opportunities that you may be missing if you are strictly playing golf as a social player, playing with same group each week or not playing golf at all. Start by asking yourself how many members are at your club? How many do you personally know or have regular interaction with? Do you play with the same foursome each week?
Ask your PGA Pro or Club Manager to help you find some potential like-minded members to play with or even try starting your own club within a club. You could arrange for a group to get together for a monthly mixer and nine holes. This is an area that management can improve on to help members become better connected to their club, which will in turn improve member satisfaction and attrition rates.
It doesn't matter what type of membership you have, you should be networking heavily with your fellow club members or at least taking advantage of sponsoring the club's newsletter, website or club event as a great way to advertise your name and company. This approach could see you reap a major return on your annual club fees. Also, ask your tax accountant about any tax breaks you may be able get if you were to join under a corporate-style membership category versus a standard ordinary category.
In the current economic climate, everyone is looking for ways to save money and more importantly to save time. How can supporting your club help save you time and money? Does the club offer any services you are currently paying for elsewhere, such as gym, pool or tennis membership? Could you use the club's meeting rooms for your business events? If so, compare the costs of what you are currently paying for all these extra services with what your club is offering. You could easily save hundreds of dollars and at the same time divert much needed revenue back to your club.
The new club operational models are focusing on becoming more family-centric and multi-purpose to help meet the needs of a changing market in an effort to retain current members and attract new ones. So don't be surprised to see kids' areas, learner tee boxes, family pricing, and fun-style golf competitions, along with free room hires for member-introduced functions, monthly payment plans for annual dues, and member charge accounts. Not every club will be in a position to offer all of these, but it may be worth asking.
By supporting a club through member networking, club sponsorship and utilising their additional club services, not only will you save your own money, but you will also generate much-needed revenue for the club itself. Imagine if all members spent an extra $25 a month at their club. With 1,000 members it would equate to an additional $300,000 per year in income for the club, which they could use for improving the facility for future generations of members.
Closing note: I believe in the future we will have a conceptual change to how we do business in the traditional golf club market. A swing will be toward new “golf facilities” and not “golf clubs” becoming more the norm over the upcoming years. If we give the member (consumer) more options to utilise these “facilities”, be it member or public, the club will increase revenue and subsequent profitability through a wider variety of areas. Operating costs will increase only ever so slightly in comparison to the revenue gained. This concept only takes into consideration the improved utilisation of current operating space and not additional capital work.
Written by Mike Orloff Director © Golf Industry Central March 2009