Do you ever wonder what it takes to rise through the ranks and thrive in the club world? This episode of Private Club Radio features a fascinating conversation with Tom Wallace, an award-winning manager and partner at KK&W. From shining shoes as a teenager at a country club to becoming the general manager at Oakmont Country Club, Tom shares his incredible journey and the valuable lessons he’s learned along the way.
We uncover the secrets of Tom’s success, including his holistic approach to human capital and the importance of creating an employer of choice culture. Stay interviews, leveraging relationships with members, and giving young professionals the opportunity to provide feedback are essential ingredients to success. Get ready to absorb invaluable insights on recruitment, orientation, training, recognition, retention, and team development that can benefit any club.
Wrapping up our conversation, Tom highlights the power of relationships and networking in the club world. We discuss how clubs can create value for members beyond initiation fees and dues, the significance of self-awareness, and painting a vision for the club. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from Tom Wallace’s wealth of experiences and expertise in the club world.
On this episode of Let’s Talk Club Management, we are talking about the interview process, how to answer, and what to ask. Well-informed, inquisitive job candidates make better impressions and decisions in the job search. We were so glad to have the KK&W team share their collective experience on both sides of the table as a club management professionals and recruiters. You can also access KK&W’s interview practice and preparation resource here.
With the societal shift in how and why people work as a result of the pandemic, many business leaders are restructuring and reevaluating their organizational charts. As fewer people are willing to work long hours and sacrifice their work-life balance, and as Baby Boomer and Generation X managers retire, the hospitality industry as a whole is having a harder time finding people to fill vacant positions, especially in management. Club search firms are busier than ever and have to get creative in their recruiting practices to provide a strong pool of qualified candidates for open positions.
As the centralized leader, the GM/COO position can often be the most important for ensuring a sustainable and successful future of the club. During a panel discussion at a recent educational event for club executives, one industry professional questioned whether the GM/COO position was set up to fail. Due to the constant turnover of board members, the rising expectation for exceptional service, the labor shortage, the need for heightened business acumen (such as data collection and analytics), the requirement for managers to be visible and available to all members, and the increasing importance of coaching and mentoring employees, some argue there is an unrealistic expectation for what one person can successfully achieve. Couple this with the fact that most people are prioritizing work-life balance more than ever before, and it’s no wonder why the average lifespan of a GM/COO at a club is only four to six years.
What can clubs do to address this issue? According to Tom Wallace of Kopplin, Kuebler & Wallace (KK&W), education is the key to all of these obstacles. “As an industry, we have to do a better job of educating our members, boards and leadership teams about the realities of our industry and making sure everyone’s expectations are in line.” He notes that GMs/COOs and boards/club presidents need to have regular conversations around what visibility means to them, what their expectations are for the GM/COO and what boundaries need to be in place to ensure work-life synergy is possible.
“We can’t burn through managers and expect positive results. It is essential to set strong governance practices and then make certain open, honest communication happens regularly,” he said. The KK&W firm is seeing clubs (and the hospitality industry) trend toward hiring more assistant managers, more assistant golf pros and more managers throughout the operation and spreading the work load and hours between them. Where previously a club may have employed one assistant general manager working 70-80 hours per week and making upwards of $150,000, today and in the near future it may be more like two assistant general managers each making $80,000 and working 40-50 hours per week.
To ensure a positive future, according to Wallace, clubs should prioritize investing in assistant managers across all departments and build them up. “These people are our future GM/COOs,” he pointed out. “It is important we develop them and create positive work experiences so we can keep them.” He also urges clubs to start planning for all employees to have two days off each week and at least one weekend each month to provide balance and avoid employee burnout. “Investing in employees and recognizing that they are assets enhances the club culture and drives mutual loyalty, which is ultimately what all clubs desire,” Wallace concluded.
Would you believe that the Club Management industry is one of the most challenging and difficult industries to succeed in? It takes a special type of person to thrive, and Tom Wallace is one of those people. With a career that spans from a young 14-year-old shoe shiner to his current role as a partner at one of the most respected consulting firms in the golf industry, Tom Wallace has seen it all.
On this episode of The GIG Podcast, Tom reveals his secrets to success and how he has successfully transitioned from a club manager to a consultant. He also outlines the traits that are critical for successful club management in this day and age, and how to find and work with great mentors. Be sure to tune in as Tom takes us through his career journey and provides some excellent insight into the world of Club Management.
“I always tell young people, if you’re somewhere where you’re not learning and you’re not growing, you need to leave.” – Tom Wallace
In this episode, you will learn about:
Developing a Career in the Golf Industry: Learn from Tom Wallace’s journey from club manager to consultant and his advice for young professionals on how to find a mentor and approach networking.
Club Management Traits for Success: Understand the importance of self-awareness, mentorship, and the necessary skill sets for successful club management in today’s world.
The Role of a Club Manager: Discover how to be a “thought partner” for the members of a club and the importance of being creative, forceful, and respectful in disagreement.
The end of the year is here and finding your next job may be on the top of your 2023 to do list. In today’s job seekers’ market, how can you best prepare? On this episode, we are talking about what you should be looking for in your next job, team, and club with the experts at KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE.
This special presentation of Let’s Talk Club Management Podcast was originally aired during the 2020 virtual Mid-Management Conference. In this episode the partners of KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE join us to chat about how best to navigate the landscape of career changes as a club management professional. During the conversation they discuss priority questions for candidates to ask during the interview process, the importance of getting a solid understanding of culture and operations, and red flags to be mindful of. In saving the best for last, each partner offers listeners their best piece of career advice.