You have heard the term “deconstructed” when referring to taking the traditional preparation and presentation of a dish and then plating the same ingredients together but in a different way.

Take for example executive chef Scott Ryan’s “deconstructed French onion soup.” At The Country Club in Pepper Pike, OH, chef Ryan’s soup is composed of caramelized onion puree, warm Epoisses cheese, crispy shallots, and dissolvable ravioli filled with garlic bread crumbs and Asiago cheese. A rich onion consommé is poured tableside, garnished with minced chives and micro onion blooms.

Now that I’ve whetted your appetite, let’s take that analogy and apply it to your house committee. When I was introduced to the private club
industry nearly 30 years ago, house committees were charged with “having the authority over” and “having responsibility for” the matters of the clubhouse.

That was back in the days when the bartenders who were at the club the longest were promoted until they were club managers (not intended to offend any bartenders out there!). Back then high quality, club-specific operations’ education was hard to find and the level of professionalism in the business was lower than today.

Fast forward to 2014 and the breadth and depth of high quality education both in hospitality schools and in continuing education continues to grow, and management teams are more educated and professional than ever before.

These individuals have dedicated their lives to the hospitality business and have the expertise, education, and tools to effectively manage your club’s operations. To decide if you need to deconstruct the house committee, in house committee meetings track how much time is spent discussing operational
details such as linens, the price of a club sandwich, or the appropriate plate garnish, and consider how much more time could be spent working effectively as a liaison between the members and the department heads.

Review the goals and responsibilities of the committee and determine if they are in vogue or outdated. If the responsibilities include words such as “authority over” and “responsibility for” it is certainly time for a deconstruction. I’m not advocating abolishing the house committee entirely (although some clubs have been very successful in doing just that), but simply recommending a deconstruction like chef Scott’s French onion soup – break the ingredients apart and then reconstruct them in a new and more updated way.

In most successful clubs, the house committee is a sounding board and works collaboratively with the management team responsible for those departments. It provides input to the management team and recommendations to the board. The house committees of successful clubs do not get involved in clubhouse operations. They leave that to the paid professionals hired to lead and manage the operations of the club.

Does the focus of your house committee change depending on who the members are at any given time? Unfortunately it isn’t uncommon for traditional house committees to focus on favorite issues of the committee members instead of the common good of the club as a whole.

The house committee should focus on topics and issues that are in alignment with the club’s mission, vision and strategic plan, thereby promoting
continuity from one committee to the next, ensuring that the focus is on the needs of the many instead of the needs of the few that serve on the committee.

Review your club’s mission, vision, core values, and strategic plan. The house committee charter should have a clear and validated alignment with those governing documents.

Review the goals and responsibilities that are stated in the committee charter document. Rewrite your house committee charter using words such as “liaison” and “collaborate” instead of “authority over” and “responsibility for.”

Important benefits may be gained by deconstructing the house committee including shorter committee meetings, more effective and productive use of
your managers’ time, and greater fulfillment and enjoyment of your overall club experience. And isn’t that the reason you joined the club in the first place?

About the Author…

Lisa Carroll, as a search and consulting executive, specializes in Executive Chef, General Manager, CFO, and HOA/POA Manager searches with Kopplin Kuebler & Wallace. For over 30 years, she has built relationships and connections in the private club industry. She has been a regular speaker at Club Management Association of America (CMAA) chapter events and world conferences, as well as American Culinary Federation (ACF) chapter and conference events. Lisa can be contacted via email at or by phone at 561-596-1123.

THE BOARDROOM MAGAZINE – September/October 2014