Volume 1

Welcome to the Fall Issue of the Kopplin and Kuebler Report

How You React Makes a Difference

In our travels, we get to see/experience a number of clubs around the country, and get to hear the success stories of many of those club leaders.  One of the best recent stories was from Jeffrey Kreafle, GM/COO at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.  Jeffrey related to me the inspiration he and his team got from the book, “Setting the Table” by Danny Meyer.  In it, Meyer suggests that you always have the chance to write the last chapter of any service experience.  From that, Jeffrey and his team came up with the concept of forming a Last Chapter Council of the most creative minds of the Club team.

Jeffrey explained several specific, powerful and successful responses his team came up with after recognizing an instance where the team or a situation had fallen short of member expectations.  When identifying one of those ‘moments’ that we try to minimize in frequently, but all have at some point in our clubs, the Last Chapter Council quickly convenes and collectively figures out the best response and who will deliver it!  The program has been very successful, and in one instance even caused a member who heard about the team’s response to another member’s situation, to rescind their resignation (which was unrelated and due to a divorce)!

It always does seem to come back to the fact that its often how you react to a situation that makes the real difference, not the situation in and of itself! – KK

Kurt D. Kuebler 
Kurt D. Kuebler, CCM, is a Partner of Kopplin & Kuebler, LLC, The Most Trusted Names in Private Club Executive Placement.

Is Your E-Mail Managing You?

Do you respond to e-mail as soon as you receive it? When e-mail first came on the scene one of the reasons it became so popular was because you could send a message when it was convenient for you and the recipient could read that message when it was convenient for them. Now when we receive a message we think we should respond to it immediately. I once sent an e-mail message to a colleague on a morning during Labor Day weekend because that happened to be a convenient time for me. I felt badly when I received an immediate response. I didn’t intend nor expect them to respond during the holiday, I just wanted them to have the e-mail when they returned to their desk the following week.

If you have Outlook running in the background, you will be alerted automatically when a message is received. The time it takes for you to glance away from your work, view the sender’s name and subject, and then decide whether or not to open it, is more than just a couple of seconds. Your focus has shifted and  it requires mental energy and time to shift your attention back to the original task. Studies have shown that multitasking actually reduces effectiveness and quality of work.
After concluding three years ago that he was becoming a slave to e-mail, a senior manager at IBM decided to start checking his messages only twice a day. He has a notation at the bottom of all of his responses stating “Join the slow email movement! Read your mail just twice each day. Recapture your life’s time and relearn to dream.”

In order to improve on-the-job productivity try taking one or more of following steps to control your e-mail distractions:

  • Set up separate e-mail accounts for business and personal e-mail. Only check business e-mail during work hours.
  • Turn off the New Mail Desktop Alert (the little message that fades in and out of the lower right corner of your desktop when new e-mail arrives). To turn off the alert, select ToolsOptions, and then click the E-mail Options button. Click the Advanced E-mail Options button and then uncheck Display a New Mail Desktop Alert. Set up a rule (ToolsRules and Alerts) in Outlook if you want to display the alert only when e-mail is received from specific e-mail addresses (like your Club President, for example).
  • Set aside time to check e-mail messages at specific times of the day rather than any time a new message arrives.
  • If you aren’t disciplined enough to set aside time to check e-mail messages, change your e-mail settings in Outlook to check the server for e-mail every 3 hours (180 minutes). To change this settings, select ToolsOptions, and then click the Mail Setup tab. Click the Send/Receivebutton and then change the time under Setting for group “All Accounts” to Schedule an automatic send/receive every 180 minutes.
  • You can also mute e-mail alerts on your BlackBerry or iPhone.

Take control of your e-mail before it takes control of you and don’t forget to “recapture your life’s time and relearn to dream.” – LC

Lisa Carroll
Lisa Carroll is Relationship Manager at Kopplin & Kuebler, LLC, The Most Trusted Names in Private Club Executive Placement(www.kkandw.com)and Owner of Carroll Quality Alliance, LLC, Promoting Quality of Business and Quality of Life through Technology and Communications Training (www.carrollquality.com)

Ask Nan

I would like to take this opportunity to invite our colleagues to “Ask Nan” about anything you would like to know about how we serve the Club Community in this section of our newsletter. I will start with one of the most frequently asked questions that come to mind:
“How does your firm work with regard to finding me a job?”

My response is: “We are an Executive Search firm specializing in the Club industry that is retained by our client clubs to search for their General Manager/COO’s, Golf Professionals and Golf Course Superintendents. We do not have a monetary affiliation with any of the candidates that we submit to the clubs.” I then invite the candidates to email their resumes and cover letters to us (nan@kkandw.com) to save in our database and the respective Club folders of interest. Kurt and Dick then go about the delicate review of everyone’s qualifications to see if they are truly a qualified “fit” for a particular opportunity. Not everyone will be selected for a final interview but we do save everyone’s resume in the database for future possibilities. We ask that the candidates do their diligence and frequently visit our website at: www.kkandw.com to view the current or new opportunities posted. If they see another position that they are interested in all they need to do is send us a quick email to let us know that they are interested in another opportunity. We then copy their resume to the respective folders of interest and the process continues.

Here are a few tips to remember when submitting resumes and cover letters:

  • The preferred format for your cover letter and resume files is Word or PDF.
  • File names should be listed as: “Last Name, First Name File Type.” For example “Doe, John Resume.” Use the same naming convention for cover letters (“Doe, John Cover Letter”), reference lists, articles, etc. (Your file name also tells a story about your proficiency with computers.)
  • Remember that the spell check feature in Word is your friend! (But, NOT infallible! Always proofread!)
  • Generic cover letters do not speak to your sincere interest in this specific opportunity. Tailor the cover letter for the position and club you are seeking.
  • Keep resumes clean, simple, and factual. The resume should be no longer than 2-3 pages in length and should contain factual, quantifiable bullet points about your career accomplishments.
  • Remember to include your dates of employment at each position.

I look forward to receiving your “Ask Nan” questions and resumes. – NF

Nan Fischer
Nan has worked with Dick Kopplin for over 10 years. She is the Administrative Manager at Kopplin and Kuebler. E-mail your “Ask Nan” questions to:nan@kkandw.com

Anatomy of a Security Review

Seriously consider the consequences of a burglary, cyber attack, or physical assault in your club.

Think of dealing with insurance claims and repair headaches, and imagine explaining to your membership about the theft of confidential membership records.

Think of how you would recover from the publicity of a violent attack in your club by an employee or member?

There are many more scenarios equally traumatic that occur at private clubs across the country clubs regularly. Go your favorite Internet search engine, type in the words “burglary” and “country club”; you’ll be appalled at the results.

Ignoring security concerns is a practice that has seen its time come and go, and today’s business executive knows that you do so at your own peril.

A full risk assessment for a Club would include a tailored threat assessment, an employee-training seminar, a review of security related club operations, a review of information security controls and practices, a physical security assessment, and discussions on workplace violence.

A recent risk assessment was performed for a Club with a 69,000 square foot clubhouse, 52,000 square foot sports facility with tennis, pool, and fitness center, and outstanding golf course comprise a facility that stands at the crossroads of two states, several counties, and multiple diverse neighborhoods.

My assessment included as much information about the club as possible, researching the club and surrounding neighborhoods, meeting with local police, exploring specific security concerns during interviews with club department heads, Internet studies, and conducting drive-throughs during different times of the day.

Employee Seminar
On my first day at the club, a training seminar covering a security overview, burglary and vandalism in clubs, terrorist threats, workplace violence, information security/identity theft, personal integrity, and personal security tips was conducted with staff.

Operational/Policy Review
Perhaps the most beneficial area of my assessment comes in the area of policy review. Many areas of the club are impacted when clear policies are not in place and enforced. Some areas reviewed were employee policies, hiring, key control, alarm code control, closing checklists, employee theft, duties of security personnel, inventory controls, cash controls, document control and destruction, emergency incident procedures, purveyor control and accounting practices.

Management at this Club had written policies and procedures in most critical areas and followed the policies to a great degree, but I was able to make some recommendations. For example, when a line employee was hired, the line supervisor did all the reference checking. While supervisors said they checked references, there were no records to confirm this. I recommended that the Club institute a formalized reference checking procedure where the supervisor would write up the check as he or she conducted the check, and then submit it to the HR director to be maintained in the employee’s permanent file.

I also recommended some very easy (some of them free) Internet searches to screen for registered sex offenders and convicted felons.

Information Security Management
Upon reviewing their computer systems, it’s apparent the Club had been very proactive with information security. Their system incorporated appropriate anti-spy ware, anti-virus, and anti worm software, as well as an appropriate firewall system.  All systems users needed updated training and I recommended regular (annual) system security training. You would be amazed in any business how many people write their password down under their desk blotter!

Physical Security Assessment
Next came a complete comprehensive physical security review of the property. I reviewed the level of security of the exterior perimeter, drove and walked the exterior of the property on surface streets (and even in the marshes), took many pictures of areas on which I would make comment in my final report so that specifics would be easier to readily understand.  Some areas that were felt to be pretty secure were shown to have deficiencies that could be corrected with minor expense.

There were also specific recommendations on alarm and surveillance systems to update and make their system even better. Technology has advanced greatly in recent years in these areas and video surveillance quality can be improved with relatively minor expense. Depending on the size of the club, the number of cameras needed, and the amount of hard wiring needed, the costs can range from a couple thousand dollars to over $20,000. In this Club’s case, they had much of the wiring in place and an upgrade would keep them at the low end of that range.

Workplace Violence
Our discussions regarding workplace violence and some of the practices to help avoid having any incidents, centered on hiring practices and early recognition. Often, supervisors are hesitant to point out staff behavior that may be a prelude to violence, yet this is the key to prevention. Our employee seminar stressed reminders of what can happen when early warning signs are ignored.

Final Report
My final report focused on recommendations broken into two sections: 1) little or no cost; 2) some investment needed. The General Manager presented this information to his Board of Directors to use in budgeting and long term capital investment planning. And I was available to follow up with the Club for any consultation in implementing recommendations in my report.

Hiring an outside firm to review a business’s security is akin to any other type of professional consultant you may employ. Yes, you can do many things internally, but the quality of an internal review is not likely to be as complete or effective.

Obviously, there is no way to make a facility totally invulnerable, but the aim of a full risk management assessment is to make a club as safe and incident-free as possible.  The ‘harder’ a target you make yourself, the less likely you are to suffer any type of security incident. – KP

Kevin R. Peters
Kevin Peters is a retired federal agent and former club manager who conducts the candidate backgrounding for Kopplin & Kuebler, LLC. He is also owner of KR Peters Security, LLC, a security consulting company primarily servicing the private club industry.


Most club executives are familiar with one of the key analysis tools for strategic planning – SWOT – which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This technique assists a club in determining what they do well, where they fall short and what they can do better.

It is often said about strategic planning that the purpose is not just to produce a plan, but rather to produce results!

At a recent summer conference of the Florida Chapter of CMAA, Steve Swafford, co-founder of Leadership Outfitters introduced the concept of SOAR to the attendees and how it can be applied to the club industry. SOAR is grounded in the Appreciative Inquiry process first developed at Case Western University, which is based on the assumption that organizations change based on the way they inquire. Those that look to identify problems or difficult situations will keep finding more of the same, but an organization that tries to appreciate what it does best will find and discover more and more of what is good.

The process of SOAR looks at the following:

  • Strengths – What does your club do well? In what areas do you excell?
  • Opportunities – What are the opportunities that may or may not be within your control?
  • Aspirations – What does your club aspire to be?
  • Results – What measureable results do you seek to achieve? How will we know that you have succeeded?

A key factor linked to the success of a club is their ability to attract and retain members based on what they do best. This is a positive approach building on your strengths rather than dwelling on your weaknesses. It is the Glass is Half Full, not Half Empty based on the assumption that whatever you want more of already exists in most organizations. Don’t ask what problems we have – rather what is going well and build on that.  Don’t copy others; instead focus on what you do best. The strengths will overpower the weaknesses. It allows a club to stay more positive and figure out what you want and how to get there.

Actually, the SOAR process is similar to that of SWOT in that it looks at weaknesses (internal) and threats (external) as opportunities, but it is a more simplified and positive approach to strategic planning. – JS

John R. “Jack” Sullivan, CCM
Jack is Vice President of Hamilton Harbor Yacht Club and provides consulting services to private clubs. He specializes in strategic planning and other private club operational issues.