Crossing the Line from Indifference to Indulgence

So you want to be successful in club management? You want to be a well-respected leader in the hospitality sector? You’re looking for a way to elevate yourself from “average and predictable” to “indulgent and exceptional?” I suggest focusing on what so few of your peers are: finding ways to differentiate yourself in whatever it is you are doing.

There’s a reason Baskin Robbins aggressively marketed “31 flavors” in the 70’s. Vanilla is fine on occasion, but variety is the spice of life. When search committees are busy wading through a stream of conservative conformity, the odd proactive opportunist stands out like a salted caramel chocolate sundae, laced with truffle oil sautéed espresso beans, topped with hand whipped heavy sweet cream, next to a scoop of strawberry in a cup! Now I’m not professing you ditch the pressed white shirt and standard red, blue, or yellow tie for one of those euro sport suits with a skinny tie over a pastel shirt and white socks. I am however suggesting you start communicating “old school” when it comes time to thank your suitors for taking the time to get to know you.

You got it. No generic text or email, “Thanks for having me and I really think I’m your solution,” that you send immediately as you confuse the value of speed over substance. Do you really want someone leading your organization that is more focused on pace than product?

Try putting the same thoughtful and sincere approach into your thank you letters as you do your cover letters. Yes, I mean a real proper thank you in an individually addressed envelope for each of the search committee members placed into an overnight envelope with your actual signature (in blue ink by the way) sent to the club immediately. Imagine the reaction the committee members will have when the receptionist notifies them that an overnight envelope arrived from one of the candidates for them. Instant differentiation!

Now you’re probably thinking this could be a great deal of extra effort. A unique letter for each committee member? You bet! If there are six committee members, personalize each to a certain degree so if (and they will) they compare notes it doesn’t look like you took the easy way out and mass produced them. They will see the care you put into the letters, and that translates directly into the passion you have for their club and ultimately being their candidate of choice.

Many of you are thinking, “Will a great thank you letter really get me the gig?” The answer is no. If you are not the most qualified or the best fit, a letter won’t totally alter an outcome. But many times in this business we operate on thin margins, and the separation between candidates is minimal. In that case, those letters will absolutely tip the scales. The key is to outthink and outperform the competition to differentiate yourself from them in the eyes of the decision makers. At the very least it will make club leaders think twice about your candidacy, and it will be you on their minds, not your competition.

Believe it or not, many never acknowledge the interview with any form of thank you. Some may send an e-mail to the club President or committee Chair. Occasionally, one may actually send a scanned letter to the committee, but rarely does anyone do what I prescribed above. I guess it all comes down to how badly you want it, and if you truly are different than the others.

My parents always said that life is simple and a little “please” and “thank you” goes a long way in this world. Maybe you should heed their advice and start differentiating yourself before you become the simple cup of ice cream next to that super-fresh sundae!

Greg DeRosa
Greg DeRosa is a Search Executive at Kopplin & Kuebler, LLC, The Most Trusted Names in Private Club Executive Placement (