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.