Education and Orientations are the Cornerstones of the Foundations of Success at Country Clubs

Well known retailer, Sy Syms (Syms Department Stores) has one of the best ‘tag lines’ in the business:

“An Educated Consumer Is Our Best Customer!”

Think about that statement and how it relates to some of the best, most consistently high performer clubs in the country. There isn’t a magic potion that those clubs have found; most all of them have recognized the importance of ensuring that people—staff, members, board members, committee members, etc.—are ‘educated’ at every opportunity.

In my view and experience, a lot of clubs and club managers “try” to orient new staff, new members, new board and committee members, but often do it very inconsistently, or simply stop because they get rebuffed due to time constraints, unavailability, lack of interest, a belief that someone already knows what is to be conveyed, and so on. Generally speaking, those club managers who take little for granted, make orienting (which is really educating) a top priority in all they do, and who don’t give up when the going gets tough (meaning, someone else doesn’t have the same high priorities on this subject as they do), are usually the ones who have the highest degree of member and associate satisfaction. That also usually means that they have the best financial performance as well!

Many of us ‘assume’ that because someone has been a member for years, or has served on the board or committees of this or another club, he or she will know what is expected of them. That’s just not the case! The same thing goes for someone who has just joined the club after having been a guest on several occasions; some of us then ‘assume’ that that family understands the club, how to behave or use the facilities, who to go to for what, and so on. That’s just not the case!

Or, because we’ve hired someone ‘with experience,’ we believe that we can throw them in the job without providing them with our expectations or style of getting the job done. That’s just not the case! I know that I make it sound simple. But, I can tell you from first hand observation, those clubs and managers who simply don’t let things just ‘run their course,’ but who instill a consistent process of educating each constituency (members, volunteers, staff, etc.) who are part of the club, are typically the ones who gain the most respect from their constituencies, and are the highest-regarded amongst their peers. From my vantage point, even if a new president, committee chair, or even a new member says “don’t worry, I know what I need to do, and everything I need to know about the club,” the most successful managers don’t accept that answer. They find a way of ensuring that the educational/orientation process still takes place. It’s just too important to the long-term success of the organization, which should be the top priority of that manager. I urge you to take the time to review the Club’s processes for educating and orienting your board members, club members, and staff; and evaluate the effectiveness of each process. I promise it will be well worth the time and effort.

Kurt D. Kuebler, CCM, CMAA Fellow, is a partner with KOPPLIN KUEBLER & WALLACE, a consulting firm providing executive search, strategic planning and data analysis services to the private club and hospitality industries. Kurt can be contacted at