Strategic Planning is one of the most important business tools used by successful clubs in today’s ever challenging world. A strategic plan is a roadmap that guides the Board, Staff and Membership in meeting the needs of current and future members, by keeping the Club vibrant, while planning for the future. While a strategic plan is not an operational or capital plan, there are key elements found in a good plan that is driven by the Club’s mission and vision.
A hallmark of a good strategic plan is its action plan. The components of the action plan chart the following actions for each key strategic issue facing the Club:
- the objectives of each key issue
- the strategies and tactics necessary to accomplish the objective
- who would be responsible for accomplishing the objective
- the timeline for completion
- the current status
So how does all of this relate to management and staff goals? Well in most clubs, the General Manager’s name is often found in conjunction with other club leaders, on the responsibility line for many objectives and strategies. Of course, he or she should be held accountable for that with which they have been charged. In turn, as the Club’s team leader, it is clear that he or she cannot do this alone, thus many of these goals must be passed on to the GM’s direct reports. From there, where appropriate, they should make their way down to line level staff. An example of this is when one of the objectives may be to ensure a high-level service culture in all areas of the Club. This of course must start at the top, working its way down through department heads all the way to servers, bartenders, golf, tennis and pool staff, valets, etc.
The key to making all of this work is defining clear goals and objectives for all staff members, and holding them accountable for achieving their respective goals.
When meeting with key staff at a club about to undertake the strategic planning process, I will share with them that the strategic plan should be their “best friend” – providing them with clearly defined goals and objectives. However, they should also be held accountable for achieving those goals. I then state that “I do not know about you, but I would much rather be held accountable for that which is clearly defined and does not change every year with new board leadership.”
While this may appear to be complicated – it is not. By linking the goals and objectives from a club’s strategic plan to a department head’s regular evaluation (hopefully a quarterly one) it will greatly assist in ensuring the success of the Club’s strategic plan, and that ties in to my favorite statement – “the purpose of a plan is not to produce a plan, but to produce results.”
John R. “Jack” Sullivan, CCM
Jack has 40 years of experience managing some of the finest golf, country, and yacht clubs in the nation. Jack provides consulting services to private clubs. He specializes in strategic planning and other private club operational issues.