Life on the Road…

It seems like nearly every day I get asked about ‘life on the road’ and what kinds of trends I’m seeing in the search business these days, as well as what those trends might be saying about the state of the industry?

Well, if there was such a thing, believe it or not, I’d be buying ‘club stock’ these days!

Despite what some might predict as fallout from the recent elections, I’m seeing a number of clubs continue to become healthier and even more important in the lives of their members. Now, that certainly isn’t all of them, but I’m consistently hearing and seeing Boards of Directors recognizing that they have “never been busier than we are right now, both personally and professionally”, and therefore have never more needed professional executive leadership from their General Manager, Chief Operating Officer or, even in a few recent searches, their Chief Executive Officer. These ‘enlightened’ and engaged Boards seem to recognize that they can no longer run their multi-million dollar operations by emotionally motivated, self serving or ‘agenda-driven’ volunteers, but rather need to have clarity of direction and total engagement in their top paid staff member.

Certainly, its easy to say that’s what they want; its another thing to actually allow that to happen, but I can tell you that a large number of our clients have asked for and are doing just that! Now, it isn’t without an occasional stumble, but we have consistently seen Boards taking a proactive approach to laying out the foundation to these critical success factors. Most are recognizing that it starts with getting the right people in position first. Then, laying out the real expectations and actually holding people accountable (both other members and staff) for results and ‘process.’

Most of our clients have totally bought into the importance of strategic retreats and setting of annual goals and objectives as a group, then following up regularly to ‘check’ where they are relative to action plans and results. Most have also either started, or are certainly embracing of the concept of ‘real’ strategic planning; not just a bricks and mortar ‘wouldn’t be nice if we had this amenity’ plan, but a true club-wide review of strategies and tactics to retain or change tradition, engage or encourage new demographics of membership, or whatever the ‘concepts’ of their particular club’s key future drivers to success are…….

So, while some might be viewing the industry as one in decline, we’re seeing just the opposite! And, with as many clubs as we’ve worked with and/or visited this year, we believe that we’ve got a true perspective on where things are really going and what it is going to take to get there!

On behalf of our entire K & K Team, I wish you and your Club the best of success in 2013. If we can help in any way, you certainly know where to find us… we’re on the road to another club! – KDK

Kurt D. Kuebler 
Kurt D. Kuebler, CCM, is a Partner of Kopplin & Kuebler, LLC, The Most Trusted Names in Private Club Executive Placement.

Life on the Road…2019-09-04T20:00:36+00:00

Club Success Stories: Glenmoor Country Club, A Recipe for Success

by Penelope L. Wong, Executive Chef

Once known as the unknown, Glenmoor Country Club is now considered “The Best Family Club” in Denver. In the nearly 15 years that I have been with Glenmoor Country Club, just the mere thought of a new member wait list was surreal. I have had the pleasure to witness and take part in the unfolding of true potential. I began my tenure with Glenmoor Country Club in 1998; hired on as a pantry line cook and worked my way up the ranks to executive chef within 6 years. Since then, it has been a roller coaster ride.

During the early years of my tenure, the club went through a myriad of changes including new programs, membership promotions, new policies and dress codes, ventures into different types of cuisine and menu creation as well as exploring several different service styles with the help of consulting firms.

On the upside, food and beverage had begun to develop a loyal following with new introductions to diverse cuisine appealing to the younger average age of our membership, excitement over new wine menus and food pairing dinners. However, while menu creation was expanding, so was the need for a bigger, better restaurant and kitchen to expedite the demand. New membership levels became stagnant, the clubhouse was in dire need of a facelift and the golf course was not getting the play it deserved. It was time for a change.

Step 1: Hire the Right Leader

In 2007, the Board of Directors formed a search committee seeking a new team leader with extensive renovation and club re-building experience. It was reassuring to have the appointed recruiter as well as the search committee interview each and every one of the department heads to gain their input as consideration for such a key new hire. Steve Van Buren came to us from Cincinnati, OH, with immense accolades from a well renowned recruiter, as our new General Manager. Steve’s background was overwhelmingly food and beverage focused, and he came to us with extensive experience in clubhouse renovation. The management team was in for a ride.

Step 2: Invest in the Operation

One year after Steve took on his new role, the membership approved a complete $8M interior clubhouse renovation. This was the opportunity to take a good look at what direction the club was heading, what type of membership Glenmoor wanted and who was willing to be a part of it. A small group of members formed a building committee and met weekly with the contractors to ensure this undertaking met the expectations of our membership. In addition to the physical overhaul, the Board of Directors, Membership Committee and House Committee were dedicated to making Glenmoor “your home away from home.” The “Best Family Club” in Denver was born.

Several months into the construction, it was intriguing and exciting to watch as blueprints and kitchen design came to fruition. One thing was certain: it takes a village! Department heads were asked to go out into the city, tour other clubs, dine at several of the local restaurants that our members enjoy, golf at other courses and get to know banquet and catering styles of other facilities. From all angles, department heads met on a weekly basis with Steve, sharing the progress with our new plans and concepts for the reopening; gaining valuable input from each others’ experiences.

Food and beverage, specifically, was one of the main focuses of the reopening. A majority of the inner face lift of the club house regarded the kitchen, bar and dining area. With this spotlight on food and beverage reopening operations, several pieces needed to be resolved. Firming up the menu was key. Creating the menu was easy, convincing the Board of Directors that the menu would be a success was the tough part. Several meetings, several revisions, several suggestions and one final overall menu tasting later, we had our menu. This was to be our handbook for service training, for creating our wine and beverage menu and ultimately, for creating our new dining culture.

Five months into this intensive planning process, it was time to face the demon – reopening (cue scary music). From my vantage point, the scary part may have been limited to my department, only because I was putting my trust and laurels in the hands of architects and their builders to complete a kitchen and a food service establishment to specs based only on meeting after meeting and redesign followed by redesign. The specs, of course, all based upon imaginary lunch and dinner service flow based upon the final revision of the approved reopening menu, based upon the flow of a kitchen ran in previous years, based upon the flow of service, based upon the hope that service training was actually sinking in… I think you get the point. The kitchen and dining room were being designed by people who did not get their hands dirty in my field of work; I had no choice but to trust them.

With two weeks left before reopening Memorial Day weekend, we still did not occupy the building. Day after day after day passes, each day filled with the anticipation that THIS was going to be the day when they handed us the keys to our new clubhouse. Well, finally, with two days to go before our scheduled and highly marketed opening day; we were handed a set of keys. (Cue expletive) We are given TWO DAYS to get shelves and walk in coolers and freezers stocked (after, of course, all of the new shelving units are put together), our NEW staff trained, the bulk production items made (sauces, dressings, etc…); oh, and let’s not forget – to get prepped up for the big Memorial Day BBQ and opening of the pool as well! The kitchen is an utter mad house. The front of the house is an utter mad house setting the dining room, learning the new POS, going over mock service, learning and tasting the new menu, reviewing wine service and training and menu pairing, touring facilities, memorizing product lay out in the kitchen store room for restocking, stocking the bar, etc…

Somehow, someway and by some miracle, we pulled it off. We had a record breaking two days of revenues. To put it in perspective, the fiscal budget for the month of May had the restaurant revenues budgeted at only 37% of normally forecasted revenues, knowing we would only have less than a week of operations before month’s end. With the delay in completion from the construction, in just two days of operations the restaurant had exceeded budgeted revenues by 155%. Although it seemed to be utterly impossible in the beginning, it resulted in an amazing job well done.

Step 3: Create an F&B Program to Match the Member Demographics

In the nearly ten years since I began my tenure as Executive Chef, I watched as not just food sales, but overall food and beverage revenues inched their way up the totem pole from meager to respectable and highly impressive. In the three years as Executive Chef before the renovation, I was proud of boosting food and beverage revenues by nearly $200K. In the three years following the renovation, I am blown away by food and beverage revenues boasting a $1M increase.

What worked for us? For starters, the overhaul in menu presentation proved to be a big success. We stayed away from the typical country club menu, and, yes, there is such a thing. Many country clubs have a general philosophy of, “order whatever you want and pray to God we have it in house.” Well, my theory was to offer something they never thought to order at a country club. Taking advantage of the lower average age of our membership (44), I reduced my menu size-significantly. By introducing ethnicity and modern fusion with inclusions of traditional classics and standbys, I rolled out my new menu as an all day, one page menu. To my delight, the members embraced the new menu theme. Many were part of the loyal following that had developed pre-renovation and were glad to see some of the same fusion concepts present on the new menu.

There was no open faced turkey sandwich with brown gravy and not even a hint of parsley to garnish the plate being offered on the menu. Instead, we featured items like Thai Coconut Curry with Shrimp and Orzo, uniquely spiced Rotisserie Chicken, signature salad dressings like Pomegranate Vinaigrette, Smoked Trout Caesar Dressing, Korean Short Rib Tacos, Cedar Smoked Black Cod and Tabasco Grilled Onions. Of course, if Mr. Smith comes in and requests an open faced turkey sandwich with brown gravy and not even a hint of parsley to garnish the plate we are more than happy to oblige. On top of the all day menu, we continue to offer daily specials for both lunch and dinner, pairing favorites like soup and salads or sandwiches together for quick business lunches or a bite to eat after a round of golf, offering daily signature street-cart style tacos and high end steak and seafood items paired with wines for our veteran foodie diners. The menu changes seasonally, and popular daily specials carve their way to become new menu items. All of which are executed out of our very open expedition kitchen – the focus of the restaurant was intended to be very much food driven.

On top of menu service, we offer weekly theme nights to cater specifically to our unique membership demographic. With an average age of 44 years old, we have over 1,200 children amongst our membership. While the dining at Glenmoor offers a level of casual sophistication with daily and weekly themed food and wine pairings; we also make sure to include the kids. Themed family night dinners, movie nights for the kids as well as bingo events for the whole family to enjoy offer well rounded family entertainment all year long. We also change up our restaurant promotions monthly to offer variety to our membership. In striving to provide a food and wine program at the club that is just as good, if not better, than what the local restaurants down the street are offering, we weed out the need to go out to other restaurants. The end result has the restaurant and bar posting average nightly dinner covers of 150-250 guests, consistently. To date, our record night serviced 376 covers, a la carte. The membership culture that has developed around Glenmoor is one that boasts friendships and good times with good food and libations.

Step 4: Leverage Your Assets and Engage Prospective Members

Within the last four years since reopening, we’ve had the pleasure of placing highest honors in Colorado Avid Golfer publications for best food as well as best family club. Colorado Avid Golfer also presented me with the honor of being featured in an article in May of 2010.

Without a doubt, an influx of membership levels play a crucial role in contributing to such remarkable revenue increases in food and beverage. Membership sales were clearly a strategic focus in the renovation process. The goal was to build a better club that members would be proud to be a part of, and especially, to belong to. There were several factors in our favor already in place. The existing membership was extremely enthusiastic and supportive; the Board of Directors was realistic and very goal oriented and a highly experienced General Manager along with a well-qualified management team was in place.

With all of these key factors in place, Teri Ramirez, Membership Director, had taken membership promotion into overdrive. Starting with our existing membership, various incentives were being offered to members asking them to invite and/or sponsor their own circle of friends who were interested in club membership. The excitement surrounding the new clubhouse and membership programs was contagious. Clubhouse tours became a daily occurrence. Management, as well as hourly staff, was quickly learning a new protocol regarding prospective member service, an extension of the existing protocol of a ‘members first’ attitude.

The whole process of engaging with prospective members’ visits soon became a recipe for success. Prospective members were enamored with the new facilities and they were invited to enjoy a round of golf to try out the course, and then invited back to enjoy an evening in the restaurant to engage in the dining scene. Membership sales showed steady and rapid progression throughout the first two years of reopening. With the impact of a larger membership, club wide operations grew substantially. Over time, initiation fees were doubled in both golf and social memberships. In June of 2011, Glenmoor was proud to announce that we had reached membership capacity in both golf and social memberships; and as a result, Glenmoor Country Club had a wait list – for the first time in its 26 years. More noteworthy, is that this transformation took place during a highly impactful economic recession. Presently, there is a two year wait to become a full golf member with the ability to have social privileges for one year prior to becoming a golf member; and there is approximately a one year wait to become a social member.

Step 5: Continue to Elevate Your Golf Operations

With food and beverage playing a key role in Glenmoor’s gaining popularity and membership sales reaching unprecedented levels; to maintain the integrity of Glenmoor’s foremost attraction, the golf course and the golf program at Glenmoor share the spotlight. Our Pete Dye-designed golf course showcases impeccable conditions maintained by original course superintendant, Dennis Vogt, who has worked with the Dye family on numerous courses around the world. Led by our head golf professional of 16 years, CJ Parry, and a combined tenure amongst the first assistant, buyer and teaching professional of 45 + years, the golf program at Glenmoor has grown exponentially.

Kicking off the golf season now starts with a dedicated demo and club fitting month. This involves scheduled demo days with top branded club fitters and industry professionals on sight to educate and assist our members in gaining the best clubs for their game. Demo days have become quite popular amongst the golf membership as they test drive new clubs and enjoy grilled burgers and hot dogs right on the driving range. The golf shop at Glenmoor has also established MVP pricing, or member value pricing, which meets or beats any current model pricing on both hard and soft goods. MVP pricing provides another level of service to our membership that is much appreciated year round, especially around the holiday shopping season.

Step 6: Engage Your Members (and their children)

Increasing membership levels continue to benefit with revamped Jr. member lessons and kids camps each year along with continually evolving tournament programs. Along with member tournaments, we have also seen a notable increase in non-member tournaments. In this last year, we have seen a 40% increase in Monday tournament revenues.

While every club has its ups and downs, Glenmoor Country Club has certainly had its fair share. But with every sink or swim opportunity that Glenmoor has experienced since opening its doors in 1985, we have managed to stay afloat and eventually, survived to share our tale. Currently, the club is in excellent fiscal shape. Approximately three years ago the decision was made by the Board of Directors to put 100% of initiation fees aside for future capital improvement projects to avoid any future assessments and run the operations at breakeven. In the spring of 2011, with the new capital philosophy in place, we completed construction of our new Cabana Grill poolside bar and grill, along with a new poolside locker room facility. In the spring of 2012, we completed construction of our new golf course Halfway House snack shack and tennis office – paid for in cash. While I’m no expert, and Glenmoor is the only club I’ve worked in, I can certainly vouch for the trials and tribulations this club has overcome to see its way to success. We continue to maintain a stronger than ever interest in the club; and more importantly, the membership continues to exude pride in belonging to Glenmoor Country Club.

Club Success Stories: Glenmoor Country Club, A Recipe for Success2019-09-04T20:00:36+00:00

Making the Management Team Even Better

Yes, it is true that the core business for Kopplin and Kuebler is executive search and we are often charged with assisting a club with finding a new general manager/COO, assistant general manager, executive chef, golf professional or superintendent. However many times when working with a club, whether it is for a search, a board retreat or a strategic plan, we discover that they value their management team and have a good relationship, but wish that their skills were better aligned with those necessary to take the Club in its current strategic direction. While finding someone new to take their place may be an option, it is often not the best one.

That is when we are asked what we can do to help their current executive get even better. One of our first responses is that of a question: Do you have clearly defined and measurable goals for which they are accountable? If so, then the discussion turns to what the deficiencies are and what can be done to overcome them. Of course, one of the best resources can be found through the CMAA educational programs, whether it be the local workshops, annual conference, Business Management Institute programs or even the on-line webinars. We are also often asked what we can do specifically to assist.

The associates at Kopplin and Kuebler have over 260 years of combined experience in the private club industry as well as the fact that we visit over 200 clubs each year. As part of our workshops which include team development, we identified the best practices we have observed at many of the nation’s top performing clubs. Modifying these practices to meet the needs of your specific club is great way to freshen your approach or process, which often leads to improvement and ultimately higher membership satisfaction. This has been the approach of veteran club executive and educator Gregg Patterson, as he professes in his workshops to “steal the best ideas, modify them and call them your own.” For the last few years at the CMAA National Conference, Dick Kopplin and Kurt Kuebler have reviewed the “Best of Private Club Ideas” that were presented at the previous year’s conference. I can assure you that there have been many great ideas, ready to be implemented. We also invite you to join Dick and Kurt during the CMAA National Conference in San Diego, February 7-11 for their review of the “Best Ideas” from the 2012 conference.

So at the end of the day, whether you are working at improving your skills in your current capacity while building your credentials for a future position, or ensuring that your management style and practices are relevant and meeting the expectations of your Club; even as a tenured executive, the goal should always be to improve what and how you do things every day. My associate, Dick Kopplin has a favorite saying that “Leaders are Readers” and clubs today are looking more for leaders than they are managers. We are also very fortunate in our industry to have a wealth of knowledge and experience just waiting to be shared though education and one of the largest cadres of mentors that any industry has ever seen. So as your New Year’s resolution, make a pledge to take advantage of all that is available to you and get better at what you do every day!

Wishing you a Happy Holiday and successful New Year. – JS

John R. “Jack” Sullivan, CCM
Jack provides consulting services to private clubs. He specializes in strategic planning and other private club operational issues.

Making the Management Team Even Better2019-09-04T20:00:36+00:00

Ask Nan: A Note of Gratitude

‘Tis the time for a note of gratitude to our outstanding clients and the candidates applying for the prestigious opportunities we have been so gratefully selected to represent. At this time of thanksgiving and celebration, we are thankful for our bounties and for the support of the club industry.

We are thankful for the trust and support that our client Club’s Boards and their members have entrusted in us to help them reach their goals and objectives be it with their executive search requirements or with fine tuning their strategic objectives.

We are also thankful for the industry’s candidates that have been committed to their own professional development, in turn, providing their club’s with top notch, state-of-the-art club management.

We are thankful for all of the employees that work hard every day providing their members with a “home away from home” experience at their clubs. We are thankful that the club industry didn’t take our nation’s economic upheaval sitting down and proved that once again that, if we just work a little harder and smarter, we will prevail.

We are thankful for the opportunity to provide whatever knowledge and expertise that we can to keep this industry bounding ahead.

And last but not least, we are thankful for those who we have worked with who speak on our behalf. We are grateful for their kind words and expressions of support.

May you all have a safe and happy holiday season and a successful new year. – NF

Nan Fisher
Nan has worked with Dick Kopplin for over 10 years. She is the Administrative Manager at Kopplin & Kuebler. E-mail your “Ask Nan” questions to:nan@kkandw.com

Ask Nan: A Note of Gratitude2019-09-04T20:00:36+00:00

Proof It! Your Career Depends on It!

Some of the most important documents in your career are the cover letter and resume you submit to you next job prospect. I am amazed, though, at how many typos and misused words jump out at me when I read a resume, cover letter, or accompanying email. This article is a gentle (or not so gentle) reminder to proofread your resume, cover letter, email, and any other form of written documentation that goes out under your name.

Don’t rely on your word processing software to identify your errors. Yes, word processors, such as Microsoft® Word®, have a built-in spell check feature. In Word, misspelled words are “commonly” underlined in red. I say “commonly” because there are times when I have seen a badly misspelled word that Word does not catch. I don’t know why, because it is obviously wrong and doesn’t represent any word that I recognize, but for whatever reason Word doesn’t identify it as misspelled. Therefore, don’t trust Microsoft Word to catch your spelling errors. Proofread it!

Watch out for homonyms. Homonyms are words that sound similar but have different meanings. Often on resumes and cover letters I see “there” instead of “their” (or vice versa), and recently I saw “peek” instead of “peak” and “presents” instead of “presence.” Proofread it!

It’s the wrong word. Spell check will not identify misspelled words that are actual words. I commonly see “manger” instead of “manager” on a resume or cover letter. Since “manger” is an actual word, spell check won’t warn you that it is used incorrectly. Proofread it!

Yes, use the spell check feature. In Word, right click on words that display a red underline and choose the correct word from the shortcut menu or press the F7 function key – a short cut to run spell check. Just remember that you need to proofread the document before you submit it as a sample of your written communication skills.

Reread your document after you edit it. Often we edit documents and then assume that it reads correctly and send it on its way. Editing a document and proofreading a document are two different processes. Always perform a final proof of your document as the final step before submitting it.

Sometimes we are so connected to a document that we wrote, it is difficult to see the misspellings and grammatical errors. If that is the case, have someone else proofread it for you.

As a final reminder, consider the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will.”

So don’t forget to proofread it! – LC

Lisa Carroll
Lisa Carroll is Relationship Manager at Kopplin & Kuebler, LLC, The Most Trusted Names in Private Club Executive Placement(www.kkandw.com)and Owner of Carroll Quality Alliance, LLC, Promoting Quality of Business and Quality of Life through Technology and Communications Training (www.carrollquality.com) She facilitates CMI workshops for CMAA Chapters and provides remote, webinar-based software training for Clubs and their staff.

Proof It! Your Career Depends on It!2014-12-22T21:17:32+00:00
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