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Elevating the Employee Experience – Why Clubs Need to Invest in Their Employee Space

Elevating-the-Employee-Experience-Why-Clubs-Need-to-Invest-in-Their-Employee-Space

Whenever I begin an employee search, one of my first tasks is to delve into the club’s culture, discerning what best suits the club and the potential candidate for the role.

This process entails administering surveys to search members, the board and the executive team. These surveys yield invaluable insights into the club’s needs, which we complement with property tours and meetings with stakeholders to pinpoint areas necessitating attention.

In my nearly three years of conducting these searches, a glaring pattern has emerged regarding employee turnover and its impact on service quality. Time and again, it circles back to how we care for our employees.

The initial stages of employee onboarding are pivotal. As operators, we grasp the importance of ingraining employees into the club’s culture. While we dedicate extensive hours to training and onboarding, we often falter in providing employees the space they require for downtime during shifts.

So how does your employee space stack up, if you even have an employee area? Those by the loading dock could scarcely be sufficient, welcoming and accommodating. Is your employee area where your 30-year-old banquet chairs go to die? Does it have natural lighting? Are the walls crying out for a fresh coat of paint? How are the smell, temperature and quality of the airflow?

While clubs frequently prioritize enhancing member experiences, it’s equally paramount to prioritize the well-being of staff. With the labor landscape in the hospitality industry evolving rapidly, becoming an employer of choice is imperative. To this end, here are six strategies for cultivating a better workspace for employees:

Employee well-being matters: The well-being of employees directly impacts the quality of service provided. Break areas serve as sanctuaries where staff can recharge, relax and refuel during demanding shifts. Neglected break areas can increase stress and decrease morale, ultimately affecting employee performance and job satisfaction.

Retention and recruitment: Providing comfortable and inviting break areas can significantly contribute to employee retention and recruitment efforts. A welcoming space demonstrates that the club values its staff and their needs, making employees more likely to stay in the long term and attracting top talent seeking employment in the industry.

Productivity and performance: Adequate rest and relaxation are essential for maintaining high levels of productivity
and performance. A well-designed break area encourages employees to take regular breaks, reducing burnout and fatigue. By investing in the well-being of their employees, clubs can expect improved focus, efficiency and overall job performance from staff.

Health and safety: Break areas should prioritize health and safety, providing employees with clean and hygienic spaces to rest and dine. Proper ventilation, comfortable seating and access to amenities like refrigerators and microwaves are essential for promoting a healthy work environment. Neglecting these aspects can lead to increased absenteeism and health-related issues among staff.

Employee satisfaction and engagement: Employee satisfaction is closely linked to the quality of the work environment. A thoughtfully designed break area fosters a sense of belonging and appreciation among staff, leading to higher engagement and commitment to the club’s mission and values.

Reflecting club values: Private country clubs often emphasize exclusivity, luxury and impeccable standards. Extending these values to employee break areas reinforces the club’s commitment to excellence in all its operations. It demonstrates a holistic approach to hospitality, where every team member is valued and supported.

To address this, clubs must acknowledge the need for improvement and prioritize employee spaces in capital planning. A strategic initiative I’ve undertaken involves conducting comprehensive tours of employee spaces for club boards.

These tours shed light on the most neglected areas of the club’s campus—employee dining areas, locker rooms and grounds maintenance areas. These areas are vital to the individuals who depend on them the most. Elevating these spaces to top priority in capital planning fulfills the club’s duty of care to its staff and it augments operational efficiency, enhances reputation and fortifies overall success in the long term.

A club’s genuine excellence extends beyond its amenities. It’s also evident in how it cares for its employees. By prioritizing employee well-being and investing in comfortable, functional employee spaces clubs can create environments where staff thrive. In doing so, clubs fulfill their obligation to their employees and bolster operational efficiency and reputation, ensuring sustained success in a competitive industry landscape.

THE BOARDROOM MAGAZINE – May/June 2024

Michael G. Smith is a search and consulting executive with KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE. He can be contacted at: michael@kkandw.com or (585) 794-6150.

Elevating the Employee Experience – Why Clubs Need to Invest in Their Employee Space2024-06-04T21:07:05+00:00

Focus on the Fundamentals to Improve Your Food & Beverage Operations

Focus-on-the-Fundamentals-to-Improve-Your-Club's-Food-&-Beverage-Operations

It is the most common complaint I hear working with private club board members. “We need to improve the food and beverage service at our club.”

Notice I did not say the “profitability,” although that benefit is sometimes inherent in well-managed club dining facilities.

How can you improve the food and beverage operations at your club? The answer is easier than you might think and begins with the fundamentals.

A few years ago, a national survey of restaurant patrons revealed the three primary reasons customers returned regularly to their favorite restaurant. The results will probably surprise you, but if you consider your dining out experiences, I think your habits will corroborate the data.

Private clubs can certainly find good applications from the survey results. These three fundamental findings should be the basis for every good private club’s food and beverage operations:

A warm greeting. The number one reason people cited for returning to a particular restaurant was a warm greeting upon arrival. This greeting is not the standard “canned approach” from a well-intentioned but robotic host or hostess but a sincere and warm greeting, usually by a senior manager or owner of the establishment.

Additionally, the greeter usually knows the party’s name and will be perspicacious enough to recognize if the regular patron has guests accompanying them. Can we replicate this in the private club business? Absolutely. In spades.

Since most clubs request reservations, the greeter and seater should know not only the members’ names but also if they have guests. What an opportunity to make an impression upon the member with a very warm and engaging greeting which includes the use of the members name; and if done in front of guests…wow!

A fond farewell. The second reason people gave for supporting their favorite restaurant was knowing that their business was appreciated. This is accomplished while the patron is leaving the restaurant and the greeter, manager or owner thanks the customer for visiting the restaurant and expresses the desire to see them again.

This is not the usual “goodbye now” that most of us experience (if we are lucky and catch the hostess on a good day) in the chain restaurants as we fumble for a toothpick and mint. The best restaurateurs take a few minutes while their patrons are leaving to ensure that their experience was enjoyable and sincerely extend the invitation to visit again when their special table will be awaiting them.

Clean restrooms and good food. There was a tie for third in the survey. Customers were adamant about dining in “clean facilities,” and their primary way of evaluating the “housekeeping” in a restaurant is usually a result of a visit to the restroom.

My rule of thumb when frequenting fast-food restaurants during my travels is to walk into the men’s room before I order food. I know that the same person who cleans the restrooms also cleans the kitchen and, more importantly, the “cleanliness philosophy” of the manager who oversees that restaurant is evident in the restroom.

Good food tied for third with clean restrooms. Surprised? Not me. I like good food, and I tend to go to restaurants where I know the quality will be consistent. But I will avoid the establishments whose rankings in our local paper don’t earn an “A” ranking from the city health department.

In the private club environment, consistency and quality will provide a strong magnet to attract members to your club. If you combine consistently good food with the top three fundamentals of a warm welcome, a fond farewell and clean facilities, you can’t help but increase the use of your club dining rooms. This much I know for sure.

THE BOARDROOM MAGAZINEMay/June 2024

“This Much I Know for Sure” is a regular feature in BoardRoom magazine beginning Fall 2022. Dick will share some of his reflections based on his 50-plus years of working in the private club business.

Focus on the Fundamentals to Improve Your Food & Beverage Operations2024-06-04T20:39:43+00:00

Is Flavor Predictable?

Is flavor predictable?

Accomplishing the goal of great food is a long and complicated journey.

Most members believe it rests in the hands of their chef, but General Managers understand it is more complex than just one person.

Mr. Bill Marriott knew this, so he entered through the loading docks during his hotel visits. He famously stepped behind cook lines and into coolers while engaging with the culinary staff. His parents grew up in the restaurant business, which explained these actions.

Chef Paul Prudhomme taught us to see the flavor before tasting it. He described the ingredients’ colors, textures, and even the evaporation to improve the sauces’ viscosity.

His motto was to preserve the natural flavor of the ingredients. He was passionate about the ingredients, techniques, and the story behind each dish.

Even the famed American painter Jackson Pollock knew great art was more than God-given talent. He was fanatical about his brushes, paint, and canvas—no different from our culinary ingredients, tools, and techniques.

A chef must be meticulous in their pursuit of culinary details. Here are some habits that support Chef Prudhomme’s flavor-first mentality, defining the arduous journey to create the best results.

Staff: A disciplined staff is a great indicator that standards are known and energized. A team-centric feel defines team pride and joy in themselves and their actions. It predicts a culture where the ingredients are respected and the vision for each dish has been established.

A laser-focused team instills confidence that their expectations for their station are understood. Positive eye contact and an engaging nature indicate that the service mission is owned. While individualism is important, it should not replace a team-first philosophy. Culinary is the ultimate team sport, with countless hands touching every dish.

The kitchen is a professional space free of idle chatter. A strong chef should set a tone where business is conducted while socializing can be done in other employee-centric club spaces.

Communication: The atmosphere of defined kitchen conversations signals an understanding of an engaged leadership hierarchy. Today’s modern kitchen has moved away from the yelling of “yes chef” and is replaced by staff nods or verbal communication through electronic headpieces. Key Sous Chefs are placed at focal points for the final inspection. This ensures technical cooking application that all cooks deserve.

Through trust comes the transparency of uncovering defects in a blameless system. Examples of defect-free processes are found in the utilization of documented recipes. From Michelin Star to fast casual, no successful organization operates without a recipe bible. When it’s owned and energized in lineups, meetings, and digital communication, team unity and responsibility in taste occur.

Environments: Clean food flavors can’t be created in a dirty kitchen. Aside from the obvious need to eradicate bacteria, a clean kitchen supports systematic methodologies. Cooking involves detailed touches first learned in the cleaning responsibilities of the kitchen.

Many kitchens may appear visually clean yet lack organizational systems, highlighting product rotation challenges and predicting expired ingredients that could be found in finished dishes.

Quality lighting and air conditioning are often overlooked. Lighting changes are great motivators for cooks in their ability to view food presentations.

Organization: From purchasing to cooler to the line, there is a system for food. Follow the product to determine if respectful handling is done with integrity. A club can purchase top-class ingredients but lose its uniqueness without a structured system.

From day one, ingredients begin to deteriorate. A race against time requires sound systems to secure their peak characteristics for as long as possible. Expensive ingredients are the gentlest, requiring experienced culinary techniques from mentors. Proteins should never be fabricated by the inexperienced. Learning starts by observing, which turns into respect for the handling process.

Techniques: Universal flavor building has systems regardless of cuisine. Hot food hot and cold food cold is very basic. Refrigerated products, covers, flat pots, and pans are a simple start. Step onto any line, and you can immediately feel if systems of organization and care are in place.

Observe if the cooks respect the products, massaging the proteins when seasoning and moving the items with gentle finesse in a sauté pan. These are what people call “having a soft touch or feel.” A great cook knows each principle of cooking and visualizes how the ingredients will react in those techniques.

On the line, there must be a graceful dance of cooking preparations—a seamless organization movement with the staff in how they approach each task, minimizing unnecessary steps. Each process is thought out, predictable, and repeated with each dish.

Great food quality is built when all touchpoints come together. With Food and Beverage being one of the top value propositions in any club, every Executive Chef should want these challenges and enjoy the power of building great culinary flavors.

Club + Resort Chef – May 2024

Lawrence T. McFadden, CMC, ECM is a food and beverage training consultant and search executive with Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace, a consulting firm providing executive search, strategic planning and data analysis services to the private club and hospitality industries.

Is Flavor Predictable?2024-05-29T16:02:32+00:00

KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE Renews CMAA Partnership

CMAA Partnership Renewal

Alexandria, VA – May, 2024 – KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE, a leading club industry recruiting and consulting firm, has renewed its partnership with the Club Management Association of America (CMAA) through December 2026. KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE (KKW) has been a long-time partner and a valued supporter of CMAA.

As a CMAA Executive Partner, KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE will continue to be the presenting sponsor of the Governance and Leadership Symposium that they helped to develop in 2016. To date, Principals Richard Kopplin, CMAA Fellow; Kurt D. Kuebler, CCM, CMAA Fellow; and Thomas B. Wallace III, CCM, CCE, ECM, have shared their expertise with more than 500 club management professionals and club board members through these in-person and virtual events, helping to create a better-educated club industry.

CMAA’s President & CEO Jeff Morgan, FASAE, CAE, explains “We are pleased to continue our partnership with KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE, and extend their expertise to CMAA members and their volunteer leadership through board education.”

“Dick Kopplin, Kurt Kuebler, and I are honored to continue our involvement and support of Club Management Association of America through our renewed partnership commitment. Much of our team has an invested history with the association and we are dedicated to advocating for CMAA’s continued success. The pillars of CMAA that support professionalism, education, and leadership align seamlessly with KK&W. We look forward to engaging with the membership and their team members, sharing our experiences in private club leadership, governance, and best practices. The coming years are sure to be exciting for CMAA and we are thankful to be a part of their mission,” shared KK&W Partner, Tom Wallace.

Further, KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE will support BMI International as an event sponsor along with a wide range of other educational resources available to the CMAA membership across a variety of platforms. Previous collaborations through the Let’s Talk Club Management podcast and Club Management magazine include:

• Putting The Human Behind The Resources [read more] • Evolving Workplaces [read more] • Secrets to Acing the Interview [launch podcast]

About CMAA

Founded in 1927, the Club Management Association of America (CMAA) is the largest professional association for managers of membership clubs with 7,800 members throughout the US and internationally. Our members contribute to the success of more than 2,600 country, golf, athletic, city, faculty, military, town, and yacht clubs. The objectives of the Association are to promote relationships between club management professionals and other similar professions; to encourage the education and advancement of members; and to provide the resources needed for efficient and successful club operations. Under the covenants of professionalism, education, leadership, and community, CMAA continues to extend its reach as the leader in the club management practice. CMAA is headquartered in Alexandria, VA, with 40 professional chapters and 40 student chapters and colonies. Learn more at cmaa.org.

About KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE

People Focused & Quality Driven. When you work with KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE, you can expect an experience that will be centered around the well-being of their clients, the candidates they place, and the industry as a whole. Their process has been fine-tuned for 26 years and involves merging more than 500 years of combined expertise with a comprehensive understanding of stakeholders’ needs. They are an award-winning executive search and consulting firm and a trusted partner dedicated to the success of the organizations they work with. Executive search expertise includes: GM/COO, CEO, Assistant General Manager/Clubhouse Manager, Director of Food and Beverage, Executive Chef, Director of Golf/Head Golf Professional, Golf Course Superintendent/Director of Agronomy, Director of Tennis/Director of Racquets, Fitness & Wellness Director, Chief Financial Officer, Director of Finance, Controller, Human Resources Director, Membership and Marketing Director Searches, and Consulting Services for Private, Resort and Developer Owned Properties, Clubs and Communities as well as Senior Living Communities and Property Owners Associations. For more information, visit kkandw.com.

KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE Renews CMAA Partnership2024-05-22T15:57:20+00:00

Best Practices for Establishing a Modern-Day Performance Management System

Best Practices for Establishing a Modern-Day Performance Management System

Over time, while completing executive placements for private clubs and when reaching out to top-performing general managers, we have consistently been surprised to discover that in many scenarios there is a subjective process for performance evaluation or not one at all.

This is concerning as we often see a connection between managers who aren’t receiving feedback and managers who are being let go from their positions.

As we noted in Part I, “It’s YOUR Club … But It’s MY Life!” (BoardRoom magazine, January/February 2024), clear communication and alignment of initiatives are essential for a GM’s success.

Transparency is vital for a new GM and it is equally as important to maintain that transparency as time goes on. There should not be any blind spots for the club’s leader, and without regular feedback on performance or a system in place, there likely will be.

While some managers may be comfortable not having a specific and measurable review process, we see that top-performing clubs and their executives have formal annual goal-setting/feedback processes and meet twice annually to review these goals. These are reasons we believe managers should instigate the implementation of such practices:

  • With a formal system in place, there’s no denying that the review is fair, mutually agreed upon and measurable. The system also helps avoid challenges presented by board turnover.
  • Without a review, the GM doesn’t know the perceptions, priorities or preferences of others, and this creates blind spots. When the GM is made aware of blind spots, they can then work to communicate better or overcome these situations.
  • In the absence of measurable goals, there is the risk that an uneducated president or board could deny a portion of the GM’s bonus simply based on their opinion(s).
  • Accountability at every level is becoming mainstream in businesses today. It is only a matter of time until a board member or club president begins to question the process.
  • The best GMs in the business seek feedback and strive to constantly improve. Seeking feedback is proactive. Would the GM rather the board/executive committee/ club president design the review process, or would the GM like to lead that charge?
  • As feedback becomes more prominent with younger generations and in business practices, allowing feedback to flow through the entire organization will become increasingly important to club success.

We recommend the GM and club president/executive committee calendarize the review process so it isn’t forgotten about. At the beginning of the year, goals should be established together, then reviewed mid-year review and at end-of-year.

Managers and presidents must understand the importance of these meetings as they create synergy and avoid disconnects in club leadership. We believe these conversations should be kept to a group no larger than the executive committee, and the criteria should be determined and agreed upon by the GM, the club president and/or the executive committee.

While some clubs base a GM’s bonus 100 percent on financials or on beating the budget, we believe that is a mistake. We also have seen bonus potential of up to 50 percent of a GM’s annual salary and some with no bonus incentive. We recommend a bonus potential equivalent to 20 percent of the GM salary and based on measurable and mutually agreed upon goals.

The GM should have some input as to what he or she is being reviewed on and by whom. Those involved in the process should be a select group of objective people who know and understand the GM and the criteria based on agreed upon areas. The most common areas include:

  • Member satisfaction/Net promoter score – Must have surveying in place for one year
  • Employee satisfaction/Net promoter score – Must have surveying in place for one year
  • Financial management
  • Membership management – Net growth/Waitlist management
  • Human capital management
  • Capital management
  • Strategic leadership
  • Building maintenance/FFE management
  • Communications

We suggest integrating the five strategic pillars relevant to running a successful club into the bonus/review process and attaching key performance indicators to each of these areas to ensure clarity and measurability. For example:

  1. Financial sustainability (20 percent of bonus): Operating the club in a way that supports the club’s mission, maintains healthy membership levels and all operating needs as well as capital investment.
    1. KPIs to measure:
      1. Achieve club annual budget
      2. Ensure all club departments achieve their departmental budgets annually
      3. Achieve/maintain 1,500 total members by yearend.
  2. Effective leadership (20 percent of bonus): Leading the club through transparency, effective communication and adoption of best-in-class governance practices.
    1. KPIs to measure:
      1. Update and improve leadership onboarding to ensure a comprehensive approach, vital sharing of information and systems that will create successful outcomes
      2. Design and deploy ongoing leadership development processes to ensure key staff leaders are consistently educated, developed and invested in.
  3. Member engagement (20 percent): Cultivate deep engagement with the membership by ensuring frequent usage, meaningful relationships and emotional connection to create passionate ambassadors who embrace an ownership mindset.
    1. KPIs to measure:
      1. Achieve/maintain net promoter score of nine or higher
      2. Achieve/maintain previous year member usage numbers or higher.
  4. Human capital management/Operational excellence (20 percent): Building a well-trained, best-in-class, highly functioning team of professionals by actively attracting, retaining, developing and rewarding the club’s most valuable assets.
    1. KPIs to measure:
      1. Maintain/improve team member net promoter score of nine or higher
      2. Design and deploy standard operating procedures for all front-line positions to ensure club standards are consistently met in all areas of the club
      3. Establish an effective retention plan to reduce employee turnover to 5 percent or less.
  5. Capital planning (20 percent): Capital asset planning includes equipment, machinery, amenities, buildings, infrastructure and land needs being maintained, reinvested in and replaced in appropriate time frames to ensure facilities are fresh, relevant, functional and appealing.
    1. Create a capital reserve study to ensure all club assets are documented
    2. Execute kitchen renovation on time and on budget
    3. Effectively enhance the employee break room based on responses from employee surveys while completing on time and on budget.

The “weight” of each item and the “weight” of each KPI should change based on the importance of each to the club and its overall goals. How heavily each is rated should be mutually agreed upon by all parties. In addition, board discretion should be used when necessary. Taking the COVID19 pandemic as an example, boards should have the ability to alter, modify or amend the payout plan in the best interest of the club in the event of unforeseen events impacting the operation.

Overall, when creating a review/bonus plan, the following questions should be answered with yes:

  • Do the goals support our strategic plan?
  • Are the goals SMART? Can we define what success looks like?
  • Does the plan reward team and individual performance – not one at the expense of the other?
  • Upon accomplishment of these goals, will our club be materially closer to our vision?

Lastly, a case can be made for incorporating 360-degree performance reviews into a club’s performance management system. When considering implementing 360-degree performance reviews, we recommend participants are mutually agreed upon and that all department heads, some board members, some committee members and some members at large are included in the process. This doesn’t necessarily need to be an annual process, as a bi-annual 360-degree performance review is sufficient.

Clear feedback, as a dynamic exchange, benefits the GM/COO, the team, the board and the club as a whole. When GM/COOs actively seek feedback and participate in goal-setting, it demonstrates their commitment to personal and professional growth.

This commitment significantly contributes to the club’s success and fosters a positive, forward-thinking organizational culture. Such a culture not only meets the expectations of younger managers but also positions the club as an attractive workplace for emerging leaders eager to contribute to their own growth and the club’s overall success.

BoardRoom – March/April 2024

Best Practices for Establishing a Modern-Day Performance Management System2024-05-29T16:19:28+00:00

Can Private Clubs Realistically Hire a Female Chef?

Can Private Clubs Realistically Hire a Female Chef?

Selecting an Executive Chef involves more than assessing culinary skills; it also requires confronting the stark gender imbalance in the pool of applicants and the broader implications of diversity within the industry. Panel interviews are complex. The search committees who run them generally represent a cross-section of the membership. Each is vested in selecting their next culinary leader and they must navigate complex issues including gender dynamics within traditionally male-dominated spaces.

The focus on “diversity” prompts a deeper dialogue: Is the interest in diversity genuine or superficial? Many clubs still maintain male-only dining areas, complicating the inclusion of female chefs by restricting roles based on gender. Despite a broader diversification of the food industry, many club kitchens remain led by American white males, indicating a slow demographic shift from the previously European-dominated chef roles. This change points to a journey toward gender balance still fraught with challenges.

Historically, Europeans dominated culinary leadership roles until the late ’60s. Then, in the mid-’70s, the American Culinary Federation transformed cooking from a trade to a profession. The ’80s saw a surge in culinary education, producing technically proficient cooks, many of whom trained in Europe and returned to assume leadership positions. Today, however, despite high female enrollment in culinary schools, the presence of female chefs in leadership roles is disproportionately low.

The data suggests that the pool of qualified women should match today’s leadership opportunities, yet private clubs often obscure talent assessments, focusing instead on finding the right culinary “fit” among members. Questions like “Would a male-dominated kitchen follow female leadership?” highlight sociological barriers more than capability, reflecting a bias that still pervades the industry.

Another barrier for women includes succession planning practices at historically male dominated hotel kitchens, where the corporate chef often appointed known associates, traditionally men, to lead newly emerging hotels. Only as the company’s diversity organically grew did new faces begin to emerge in top culinary positions. Still, women were lacking opportunities in this male dominated movement.

As Marriott focused on diversifying their executive committees, the demands of their clientele evolved accordingly, influenced by families and female business leaders.

So, if culinary institutions are filled with female students, where are they in the industry today? The same schools report that more than half of the graduates leave the field within five years. Combined with limited opportunities in private clubs, this leaves only a small portion of the market available to them. Despite these challenges, the importance of discussing diversity remains.

Chef Penelope Wong exemplifies such leadership. As a dynamic chef (or “shef” as she likes to be called), she shattered stereotypes and ascended in her role at Glenmoor Country Club (Englewood, Colo.), serving as an inspiration to many cooks. (See Why I’m Leaving and What I Hope to Leave Behind.)

Her story raises an important question: Would she have even been considered for an interview if she were competing against male counterparts? Her prior role within the club earned her the trust and respect of the members, but this raises concerns about whether a woman without such an internal track record would be seen as a viable candidate in traditional clubs.

While we may not have definitive answers to these questions, it’s clear that when clubs are hiring an executive chef, assessing culinary talent is only part of the equation. Other factors, often intangible, complicate the hiring process. I often say, “I got every job I interviewed for before interviewing in private clubs,” a reflection I share with many skilled candidates who are ideal on paper for one position but not the next.

The education of candidates is increasingly important, with culinary school success underscoring the value of degrees and certifications. Some clubs worry about over-qualification, but as I reassure them, “any certification or degree demonstrates lifelong learning,” with some clubs offering financial incentives for these achievements.

Numerous factors can complicate the primary goal of enhancing a club’s cuisine. This objective drives us to seek candidates from a variety of industry backgrounds and educational sectors, all in the pursuit of professional advancement, which remains the ultimate goal of each search.

Upon initial review, candidate resumes might appear misaligned with the club’s past direction. These professionals’ careers might seem too innovative for the club’s established dining habits, a topic that should be central in hiring discussions. These emotional deliberations often lead clubs to identify the “safest candidate,” a decision that may overshadow considerations of gender, as committees prioritize maintaining a certain image in the eyes of their members.

During these extensive discussions, it’s commonly stated, “Our Executive Chef is one of the most important decisions for our club.” As a former chef, it’s encouraging to see this role garner such respect today.

In conclusion, while the path for female Executive Chefs is not entirely clear, initiating progressive conversations within hiring committees is essential. Change is slow but invariably leads to progress, potentially paving the way for greater prominence of female chefs in the future.

Club + Resort Chef – April 2024

Lawrence T. McFadden, CMC, ECM is a food and beverage training consultant and search executive with Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace, a consulting firm providing executive search, strategic planning and data analysis services to the private club and hospitality industries.

Can Private Clubs Realistically Hire a Female Chef?2024-05-01T18:15:15+00:00
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