Newsletter Volume 14

Trusted News You Can Use

The Word is Renaissance
Musings from 2018
The War for Talent
The Second KK&W Culinary Leadership Summit – Big Easy Style!
Your Club’s Beverage Program: How to Lose Money the Smart Way
Empowering the Tennis Industry’s Future Through Mentoring
Go.F.A.R. – Golf Forensic Architectural Review
Ask Nan


The Word is Renaissance

We recently challenged everyone in the KK & W team to select one word and focus on that word in 2019. While I don’t have permission to share anyone else’s word, I can tell you that my focus for the next year will be on the word Renaissance.

The Webster definition of a renaissance person is someone “who has wide interests and is expert in several areas.” I don’t pretend to have expertise in several areas, but I certainly believe I can focus on broadening my interests (including technology), and I have already started my list of activities to pursue in the New Year.

As we continue to engage in our search and consulting business in 2019 I see so many opportunities to improve what we do and how we do it. I believe that if I commit to focus on the word renaissance in the New Year, not only will I grow as a person, but the entire KK & W Team will also benefit from some new thinking.


Richard M. Kopplin
Dick Kopplin is a Partner of KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE, The Most Trusted Name in Private Club Executive Placement.



Musings from 2018

I’m writing this nine days before Christmas while traveling on what may be my last flight of 2018…by a quick count, over 200 separate segments on Delta, AA, JetBlue, United, Southwest and even one on Frontier (I was desperate for a nonstop!).

Looking back on another exceptionally busy and (at least from my perspective) highly successful year, a number of thoughts come to mind as I consider highlights of the past 354 days:

  • Club boards (who hire us) and senior staff seem to be coming more and more into alignment on their desires in executive (GM/COO) leadership — sincere, visible and interactive engagement is clearly the number one request of personal style! Beyond that, being a great mentor to the team, a thought partner to the board and committees.
  • While all of us can think of several exceptions, most clubs are telling us that they want to extricate themselves from operations and be FAR more strategic and policy/planning focused than they’ve been; and we think most mean it!
  • Successful clubs seem to have reinvested in their amenities in the past couple of years and are almost all considering doing so further.
  • We really like the Club Benchmarking team and the information and educational insights they are providing to the industry.
  • In Florida, the RSM team continues to provide great service and benefits to the market and are always good for pragmatic advice.
  • The Governance/Leadership Summits we’ve partnered on with CMAA need to have greater attendance from managers and their boards! One of the top concerns we hear directly from managers is that their boards are inconsistent and don’t understand their roles, but for some reason managers can’t or won’t take the time to get a majority of their board members to attend these workshops.  Can’t figure that one out.
  • Was at two different clubs recently that had both created a Director of Learning and Development roles; what a GREAT idea!
  • I think I’ve had a pepperoni pizza in every major city in America. Few from high profile chains.
  • There are WAY too many people who apply for positions with us who, 1) don’t read/follow the application process instructions, 2) don’t bother to proof their information before submitting (writing is a lost art for most these days!), and, 3) the ‘white elephant’ in the room for people who are out of work simply doesn’t get addressed as it should. By this, I mean that not addressing the reason one is no longer at his/her most recent position has to be addressed up front in a letter of interest and other materials or its especially difficult to get traction with a club.  It may not be a great ‘story’, but without reference and description, its assumed by most every club to be a BAD story.  Getting it out and on the table is critical.
  • The Delta Lounge in West Palm Beach is the most hospitable lounge in the country.
  • The waiting area at White Plains Airport is the worst in the country.
  • The woman who manages the evening shift at the AVIS counter at the Savannah airport may be the nicest agent in the country.
  • The Minneapolis airport (MSP) is likely my favorite if I have to wait for several hours.
  • Chicken coops and a food truck at Medinah; whodda thunk!! Pretty cool!
  • If I never have to travel through LaGuardia airport again, I’d be pretty happy.
  • I’ve heard at least five of the best GM/COOs in the country tell me that the BEST new tech device that they’ve used/purchased this year is the HUMM system.
  • Members don’t want a lot; they simply want consistency and sincerity.
  • Our new collie puppy, Benny, is bigger every time I return home.
  • I wonder how much of my life I’ve spent waiting in line somewhere — airport, rental car bus, hotel check-in, etc.
  • How come too many clubs still have cobwebs under their porte cochere entryways?
  • Recently left another club where the GM has NEVER had a group staff meeting with managers OR the entire staff; REALLY??
  • I’d encourage as many managers as possible to try to get to South Florida and see what clubs down there are doing…some of the most progressive, innovative, creative and engaged leadership as I’ve seen anywhere.
  • Details, details, details.

I hope you have a great year and that you have the same fulfilment, appreciation and enthusiasm for what you do as I do with my partners, Dick and Tom, and our entire Team!  We have an awesome group working with us at KK & W!


Kurt D. Kuebler, CCM
Kurt Kuebler is a Partner of KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE, The Most Trusted Name in Private Club Executive Placement.

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The War for Talent

If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple. – Richard Branson

Human Capital is every company’s most valuable resource, but it can be a daunting struggle attracting the best and brightest and keeping them. Strengthen your battlefield by getting the Human Resource (HR) Committee involved in the war.

We don’t typically encourage clubs to increase committee activity; however, when it comes to finding leadership talent, you must be willing to fight the battles that get you only the best for your club and your members.

Just as a Leader Development Committee will do the hard work of vetting potential leaders for healthy Club Governance, the HR Committee is invaluable in doing the hard work of cultivating the right employees and developing a working culture for your team.

Every club has a membership roster that no doubt includes top professionals from top companies that you should leverage. Their expertise in Human Resources is of utmost value because HR is the foundation of a solid operation.

While other committees are vital in their ability to provide counsel and feedback in their advisory role regarding the needs, concerns and wants of the Membership, the HR Committee is essential in creating the foundation for delivering on Club Strategic Goals like nothing else can. Neither Bylaws nor Membership Plans are as important as your HR Plan.

Leverage the member resources you have by filling your HR Committee with business professionals from top public companies that have a firm understanding of the eight major functions of HR Management (see charter below). Very few clubs have the resources to employ a fully staffed HR Team that can fully deliver on all eight functions adequately. You simply must engage an HR Committee. When you consider the risks associated with not having a strong HR program, you simply have no choice but to examine this aspect of your club and begin implementing the strategies that work for your culture.

Your team and your future teammates will judge you not only on your operation, reputation and membership levels; their first impression will come from the HR experience.  The stronger your human relations, the stronger your club.

Six Key Fighting Strategies to HR Success

  1. Recruiting: First, you must recruit from only the best sources. You must know where you’re going to look, how you’re going to market and when. Build your plan of attack for the “war on talent” whether it’s specific job posting websites and apps; your website; networking; job fairs or word-of-mouth.
  2. Vetting: Your application process must be streamlined so you can track applications and input resume vitals into a database that has reliable information from which to mine. Too often we gather applications and resumes from a variety of untested sources; scan them with no consistent vetting; grade them for next steps (interview, save or discard) and then move to the interview stage with our selected few without creating a valuable recruiting source that this information can provide.
  3. Onboarding: The new teammate orientation and onboarding should consist of not only a full campus tour but a full day of introduction: an introduction to the team; to your club’s culture and history; a comprehensive review of rules and regulations; and the clubs vision and mission or branding. It is vital that each new hire has all the tools necessary to succeed. If an employee leaves or fails because of a lack of resources, that is the club’s fault.
  4. Culture Setting: The Orientation is the blocking and tackling. Culture setting takes place when the team has a clear understanding of the club’s Mission, Vision and Core Values. The teammate must have an internal understanding of why they work at the club, who they work for and why they love what they are doing.
  5. Training: Training and development is the heart of a successful organization. The seriousness and consistency of how your organization trains and develops its team is the key to a strong reputation which in turn leads to being viewed as a great place to work and a hard place to leave.
  6. Reward and Recognition: Making sure your team understands that it’s part of your culture to recognize the great work that they do as an invaluable tool to ensure their tenure and long-term enjoyment. There are hundreds of programs and ways to make sure you do it. The important thing is to create a culture that encourages and inspires the leadership team. Seek out opportunities to give positive feedback to your team and thank them for being the most important part of what makes your club great.

Effective HR Charter Outline

As with any committee, you must have a Charter for Human Resources that definitively spells out the expectations and scope of work. The HR Committee is an important ally in the fight for your best troops, so give them their marching orders by managing the process through an effective charter. Each year, review the Charter and create strategic goals with measurable success criteria with your committee chair.


  • Help COO or CEO ensure that the Club is an employer of choice in your region through the delivery of the eight major functions of HRM.


  • The Human Resources Committee shall consist of at least three members but not more than seven.

Responsibilities/Scope of Work

  1. Job Analysis & Design
    1. Help COO or CEO create a hierarchy with an organizational chart and job profiles.
  2. Recruitment & Selection
    –  Recruitment: Identify best sources.
    –  Selection: Help create application process SOP
  3. Onboarding/Orientation/Culture Setting
    –  Support management in creating and communicating the right welcome strategy
  4. Training, Development & Succession
    –  Encourage and support ongoing team development
  5. Performance Management/Recognition & Retention
    –  Develop review and recognition programs
  6. Compensation and Benefits
  7. Labor Relations
  8. Managerial Relations


Thomas B. Wallace III, CCM, CCE, ECM

Tom Wallace is a Partner of KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE, The Most Trusted Name in Private Club Executive Placement.

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The Second KK&W Culinary Leadership Summit – Big Easy Style!

Back by popular demand, KK&W announces the second Culinary Leadership Summit taking place at New Orleans Country Club on March 9 and 10, 2019. We offered the first Summit in March 2017 in Atlanta because we noticed a lack of leadership-specific training in the culinary industry. Our clients not only demand candidates with strong culinary skills, but also those with high EQ’s and strong leadership skills. Since KK&W is synonymous with leadership education, we decided to introduce a culinary summit centered on leadership-specific education.

The turnout we had in Atlanta at Capital City Club and Piedmont Driving Club surpassed our expectations. We expect an even higher turnout at New Orleans Country Club in 2019 at the home of CMAA’s current national president, Bobby Crifasi!

The beauty of the Culinary Leadership Summit is that participants not only enjoy great leadership topics and speakers, they also enjoy a true culinary experience at one of the country’s top clubs.

Our keynote speaker Saturday night, March 9, will be Andy Stangenberg, the Founder and CEO of Q-Principle. His engaging speaking style and compelling topic: The Spirit of Leadership, will provide participants with two hours of powerful and thought-provoking leadership education.

On Sunday morning, March 10, two speakers will focus on current issues and trends in the restaurant and private club industry: Christian Pendleton, the General Manager of Brennan’s, and Scott Jensen who worked for BRG Hospitality (formerly Besh Restaurant Group) in New Orleans for 10 years before joining Spring Lake Country Club in Spring Lake, Michigan, earlier this year. For more information about our speakers, visit this link.

In addition to relevant and valuable leadership education, the Summit also offers amazing culinary experiences at the historic and grand New Orleans Country Club which opened in 1914. Chef Stewart Redhead and his team will delight participants with a five-course wine dinner on Saturday night, followed by an extensive breakfast buffet and three-course lunch on Sunday. Visit this link to learn more about New Orleans Country Club and Chef Redhead.

After lunch on Sunday, plan to head over to the Hilton New Orleans Riverside to attend Club & Resort Business’ Chef to Chef Conference. This will be the seventh year we’ve sponsored the conference of club chefs teaching club chefs. I will be leading a pre-conference session on Sunday afternoon entitled: Employee Engagement Tools: “Minding the Gap” and the “Stay Interview.” Participants can take one trip to New Orleans and participate in two great culinary conferences!

We will provide roundtrip bus transportation for registered participants from the Hilton New Orleans Riverside hotel to New Orleans Country Club on Saturday and Sunday.

We are excited that this program has been approved for seven (7) continuing education hours (CEH) toward the initial or re-certification application for ACF certification. The Summit is not endorsed, accredited, or affiliated with the ACF or the ACF Certification Program.

Net proceeds from the Summit will be donated to the New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute (NOCHI). NOCHI’s mission is to inspire and support those who seek to develop careers in an industry that knows no limits, through their internal leadership, diverse students, and both the learning environment and curricula that they are continually designing. They encourage their students to dream big and reach for the stars.

For more information and instructions on how to register for KK&W’s Culinary Leadership Summit click here. We look forward to seeing your executive chefs and those aspiring to be in New Orleans in March!

minihead-3Lisa Carroll, SHRM-SCP
Lisa Carroll is a Search Executive and Consultant at KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE, recruiting GMs and Executive Chefs. She is a faculty member of CMAA’s Business Management Institute (BMI) Club Management at Georgia State University, is a Fellow of the Culinary Institute of America, and speaks at CMAA and ACF conferences and chapter meetings around the country.

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Your Club’s Beverage Program: How to Lose Money the Smart Way

Whether you run your club beverage program at a loss, break even or make money, there are best practices that allow you to dictate the revenue stream in whatever direction YOU choose. Focus on these 3 control areas: portion, inventory and pricing, and you will be in complete control of your numbers.

Portion control can be achieved in one of two ways. If your club free pours, then your bartenders should be practicing their pours with an ExactoPour system. Practicing several times a week and testing frequently can be fun and will hone your bartender’s pouring accuracy and allows them to put on a good show at the same time. Using jiggers for liquor pouring is an excellent control method but lacks the pizzazz of free pouring. There are always ways to cheat the system, but good managerial oversight can create an accountability culture among your staff.

Proper inventory control requires two people to take the physical inventory for efficiency and integrity. If there is going to be any maleficence it will require collusion and the two-party system mitigates that opportunity. Monthly inventories allow you to put your eyes on revenue, track product sales and the cost of goods sold. If you take the inventory and your actual vs potential liquor percentage is off, one of three things has happened: 1. there is a miscount, 2. there is a formula error or 3. theft has occurred either by over pouring or bottle theft. Controlling your inventory requires making sure LBW storage areas are always locked and that keys are controlled by the management staff at all times.

The final way to control your beverage program is by having an intelligent pricing structure in place. Consider creating 5 liquor pricing tiers based on bottle costs and put every bottle into a tier. For clubs that have “member” pours, that’s fine. You don’t have to double the charge for this pour but at least consider a modest upcharge ($2) so that you get some additional revenue but more importantly you can then track it accurately. Beer and wine pricing is a bit different and not quite as formulaic. For beer pricing, set your target percentage goal and do the math backward based on projected product sales. For Wine, your revenue drivers are of course your wines by the glass, but your bottles should be priced so that the more you spend, the better the value it is for the member. Monthly product sales analysis will lead you to building the best wine list for your club.

So, at the end of the day, by controlling your portions, inventory process and pricing, you and you alone will dictate whether your club runs a beverage program that breaks even, makes money or loses money. It is in YOUR control.

Samuel D. Lindsley
Sam Lindsley specializes in Food and Beverage Consulting and Executive Search. Prior to joining KK&W, Sam was the COO of Michael Symon Restaurants (MSR), a Cleveland restaurant company with 7 distinct concepts, 18 restaurants, and annual sales over $35M. He is currently the Chairman of the Ohio Restaurant Association.

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Empowering the Tennis Industry’s Future Through Mentoring

With tennis participation numbers on the decline and aging tennis professionals leading the industry, it is a crucial time for the tennis industry.

Over the next five to ten years, many thousands of tennis programs will be left to current assistant professionals who, broadly speaking, do not currently possess the skills to successfully manage all the necessary tennis operations. While the industry is making headway in partnership with the USTA/USPTA on an initiative to produce an accredited certification for tennis directors (launching in 2020), it is just one piece to the puzzle.

The responsibility of building a tennis talent pipeline also lays at the feet of General Managers and Tennis Directors to mentor and coach their assistants. As January is National Mentoring Month, this is a good time to focus on forming mentoring relationships.

Directors of Tennis should be mindful of these points to ensure a solid foundation for both their club and tennis industry’s future as a whole:

  • Have a measurable program in place that educates assistants to acquire off court skills.
    Tip from a Pro: Typical programs should be between 3 to 5 years. After this time, the director should have a plan in place to ensure that the assistant will be moving on to run and manage his/her own program.
  • Hire USPTA-certified professionals that aspire to become a Director. After all, why hire someone who isn’t a lifer?
  • Understand that mentorship requires time and commitment.
    Tip from a Pro:Directors should accept a mentee regardless of where they are in their professional career and make time to meet weekly.
  • Provide financial guidance for the staff. The tennis industry has no pension plans and only proper financial guidance can ensure they are not exclusively on-court into their 60s.
  • Allow more responsibility to empower the assistant to grow. Consider and initiate job rotation, cross training and lateral moves.
    Tip from a Pro: By rotating, you add diversity and interest to the program each year. Be sure to have assistants coordinate various departments such as juniors, women, men, events and pro shop management as part of the rotation.
  • Demonstrate how to handle challenging positions and predicaments.
    Tip from a Pro: Include not only insight on members and fellow employees, but education on politics surrounding boards, committees and senior management is also important.
  • Emphasize a strong work ethic and set personal and professional goals.
  • Share success in the overall operation. Motivate by establishing a motivational environment. Set great examples on greeting members, customer service, being a team player, returning emails and phone calls.
  • Encourage self-directed learning. The mentor doesn’t know it all!

There are so many rewards to mentoring. Besides being personally fulfilling, it establishes a mutually beneficial and inspiring relationship with your staff. When practiced with consistency and intention, it will also save the quality of our tennis industry.

Len Simard

USPTA Master Professional Len Simard handles the firm’s Racquet Sports, Fitness, and GM/COO searches as well as New Business Development. Len is heading the initiative to create the Tennis Director’s Accredited certification for the USTA/USPTA.

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Go.F.A.R. – Golf Forensic Architectural Review

Many clubs, having survived the great golf recession, are looking at investing in their facilities. When it comes to golf course renovations and specifically restorations, clubs should begin with a discovery process. The discovery process is something that I call a Golf Forensic Architectural Review or Go.F.A.R. It is advised that clubs retain a golf course architect that is familiar with their original golf course architect’s work and the changes that occur to golf courses over time.

Today, there is a trend for clubs to identify a particular era or period of time that the golf course was deemed as ideal. For those great old golf courses, it seems as if some time in the 20s or 30s is often chosen as the ideal time to “take” the golf course back to architecturally.

Architects with experience on old golf courses and even newer courses may have developed an eye for identifying the changes/anomalies. Even before looking at aerials, many of them can see what’s wrong or doesn’t fit. With an eye for anomalies, a soil probe and aerial photography, it’s amazing what your architect will be able to discover about your course. Based on these discoveries and historic evidence from club documents, photos, aerials, old plans and as-builts, your architect can develop plans for various options of your renovation.

Most golfers may notice when the bunkers or the turf gets bad and when the trees begin to narrow the golf corridors and cause shade problems. What many golfers fail to see, however, is the subtle but oh so important changes that happen to the greens and their surrounding areas. And after all, if there is any area of a golf course that we should be paying attention to, it is the greens.

Greens, through topdressing, bunker blasts, and mowing, will change. Changes occur in their shapes, perimeters, contours, and elevations. Over several decades, the green perimeters can and do change significantly and it is not uncommon for older greens to have shrunk, often losing 20% of the putting surface. And as for those wonderful organic, amoeba like shaped greens on the great old courses and even modern courses, the green perimeter can change with every mowing, every day. As the shapes and perimeters become “dumbed down”, the greens get smaller and become oval or circular after just a few years of mowing. If you look closely, you may be able to see where the green’s edge used to be. The shapes are still there, clubs just need to reestablish them and reclaim great pin positions and the design’s original intent.

And, it’s bad enough that the greens have lost their original shapes, sizes, contours and pin placements, but sometimes the greens’ surrounding areas have become somewhat disconnected to the greens as the greens are continually topdressed and the surrounding areas not. This causes greens to become almost perched above the surrounding areas and for the original earth forms to be compromised. Mind you, sometimes time, man and nature can inadvertently create something better than what was there originally, but other times not so much.

So, what’s to be done? Hire a great, low-ego golf course architect with experience working on courses similar to yours and proven in achieving great results with high member satisfaction. It takes time on property for the architect to get the feel of a course and to discover what was, as opposed to what is.  At that time, the club will have to decide if what was, is still good, or if it needs to be modified to accommodate today’s game.

Armen Suny
Armen provides searches for General Managers, Golf Course Superintendents, and Golf Professionals. He is available to consult on agronomics and golf course master plans. Most of his 35 years in the industry has been spent at Top 100 facilities. He has been a General Manager, Golf Course Superintendent, Golf Course Designer, and Tournament Director. He’s overseen Major Championships, PGA Tour events and golf community workouts.

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Ask Nan

As 2018 draws to a close may I speak on behalf of my colleagues at KK&W that this has been quite a year. We have a lot to be thankful for, especially our wonderful clients and the terrific professionals in the Club Management industry.   Thank you all for your support and for bestowing us, for twelve years in a row, with BoardRoom’s Excellence in Achievement award as the Best Search Firm for 2018.

We do not take this lightly and will continue to strive to reach even higher standards, as we know we owe this to the club industry.

Having conducted nearly 100 searches and countless Strategic Planning, Board Retreats, F&B Operations reviews and Consulting assignments, this year, the KK&W team has been extremely active throughout the country and beyond our shores.   We would be happy to put this acquired knowledge to work for you. So as you plan your calendars this year, consider scheduling a KK&W Team member for your club’s needs and consider attending the following conferences where we will be offering education sessions.

Happy New Year to all!

The PGA Merchandise Show & Education Conference in Orlando, FL from  Tuesday, January 22nd through Friday, January 25th.   You can register here.

Racquet Paddle Sports Conference in Orlando, FL from Wednesday, January 23rd through Friday, January 25th .  You can register here.

CMAA’s 2019 World Conference & Club Business Expo in Nashville, TN from Sunday, February 24th through Thursday, February 28th.  We will have education sessions and our Booth #1114 at the Expo.  You can register here.

The Culinary Leadership Summit 2019 in New Orleans, LA from Saturday, March 9th through Sunday, March 10th.  You can register here.

Chef to Chef A Club & Resort Business Conference in New Orleans, LA from Sunday, March 10th through Tuesday, March 12th.  You can register here.

We will also be attending the following:

National Club Association’s 2019 National Club Conference from Sunday, April 28th through Tuesday, April 30th.

Nan Fisher
Nan has worked with the firm since 1996. She is the Administrative Manager supporting the team at KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE. Please feel free to contact Nan at with ideas that you would like us to address in future newsletters.

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