Last week, I had the good fortune to be invited to participate in the McGladrey “Trends” Program that occurs each year in Florida where the Firm recaps and highlights significant financial and other trends in Florida clubs.  With the significant club auditing and consulting work they do around the country, especially in the club-heavy Florida market, this three day ‘tour’ of the State is enlightening for participants and attendees!

While there were a great number of takeaways that I had from the programs, a few really jumped out at me:

  • Clubs are really on the financial rebound, especially those who have done a good job of reinvesting in their infrastructure, and who have ratcheted up their creativity, relevancy and overall ‘freshness’ of offering.
  • Managers and volunteer leaders seem to recognize the increased need to ensure strong and consistent collaboration of effort, identifying first and foremost what their primary “mission” is! Making sure that common focus on the ‘main thing’ and building supportive efforts around that ‘main thing’ seems to have been the key for several clubs to reverse several years of disappointing or declining outcomes.
  • Food and beverage has become the number one amenity at many clubs, and many of them have actually figured out how to make the MAJORITY of their members happy with their F & B program! Those that do so seem to have first put CLARITY on what the purpose of F & B is at their club—an amenity, a revenue center, a break even endeavor, a social center designed to foster relationships, or something else.  Certainly, the VAST majority of clubs, especially in warmer resort areas seem to have gone totally casual with an occasional fine dining ‘special event.’    Several have gone to a Panera Bread-like, or Starbucks-like, or even upscale sports bar-like concepts to foster CONVENIENCE and SOCIAL INTERACTION, as well as to provide quicker, upscale casual dining.
  • The focus on EDUCATION of members is being done on a very proactive basis in many high performing clubs, as opposed to the historical ‘let’s keep them in the dark’ or defensive response to issue methodology that many clubs seems to have historically done. Finding multiple means of educating members about the Club, their roles and responsibilities, the ‘main things’ and more seem to have been successful via increased focus groups, town halls, and other communication methods.  One of the best I’ve seen recently was at Carmel Country Club in Charlotte, NC where GM/COO John Schultz and his Staff and Board created an outstanding new Committee Member Education Orientation program, including a complete tour of ALL front and back of house facilities by over 100 members involved in all committees!  It was especially well done!

While life on the road isn’t nearly as glamorous as it sounds, one of the great ‘perks’ our K & K Team gets while doing so is to visit so many high performing clubs and to see and hear first hand from GM/COOs, Presidents and other leaders how they are getting things done in our unique organizationally structured club environments.  Clearly, there is a transition going on in the industry to a much higher level of professional, results-oriented leadership—on both the volunteer and paid professional sides of the leadership model.

More examples of this in our next newsletter!!

Best to all!

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