Anticipating Member Needs
How to Determine What Your Members WantRead More
Twenty years ago, a call from a club to Chambers was most likely to discuss “redecorating” a ballroom or locker room or what to do to make room for bridge players. Oh, how times have changed.
“Today, inquiries are more along the lines of, ‘We need to figure out who we’re going to be in the future and how best to get there,’ ” says Rick Snellinger, Chambers president and CEO and master planning expert. Chambers’ recent acquisition of CCI Club Design of Dallas and the addition of Skip Avery, CCM, CCE, to the team weren’t driven by a simple quest for size or even reach, but, says Snellinger, “are part of Chambers’ ongoing effort to provide a more 360-approach to club planning and design.”
From mission development and strategic planning to financial modeling and membership marketing, from facilities planning to architecture and building oversight, Chambers has grown its services and expertise to become what it sees as the Club Design Firm of the Future — one best positioned to help clubs find their way in a fast-changing member environment.
“The merger of our firms,” says Chambers Executive Vice President Ryan Yakel, formerly of CCI Club Design, “brings together the shared experiences of these two firms — best practices, processes and approach. We can tap our varied perspectives and experiences but ultimately share a collective passion for the smart evolution of the club industry.”
“I look at it as a solutions-based group. One that can take me through the thought process from planning to building, demonstrating along the way how they’re keeping in mind the operational needs of my club.” —Skip
“They need to understand the stratification of member ages and categories of each club.” —Ryan
“We have to have the proper mix of people. Designing clubs isn’t like any other kind of hospitality design. It’s not like a restaurant, it’s not like a hotel…not even like a giant house. It has to perform like all of those things (and more) and as one unit, on a commercial level. That takes a broad knowledge base and understanding.” —Dick
“It’s no longer an architecture or interior design firm — it’s a consulting firm that addresses the big-picture, long-term needs of the club. That requires a very specific menu of services and perspective.” —Bob
“We’ve seen the experience fall apart for clubs who don’t bring in specialists, frankly. The dynamics of a club are so specific to this industry, from maintenance needs and financing to member expectations and communications strategies.” —Rick
“Deferred expenses have become a problem. There is a cost of doing nothing.” —Dick
“The problem is, costs have gone up but clubs are still limited in their bylaws on the number of members they can admit. So you have to look at different ways of going about financing improvements.” —Ryan
“That’s why having a partner is so critical — one that can build a scaled solution that you can implement over time.” —Skip
“Every project is a long term project; we’re not trying to wrap it up in six months. And that means we can look for the best possible solution to every challenge. If they can’t afford to do option A, we’ll keep working until we find the right approach for them.” —Patricia
“GMs used to see us as a threat. But today’s managers/COOs are highly trained and educated in the hospitality industry. They look at their clubs as a business operation. This can make for a highly productive partnership.” —Ryan
“We aren’t the reason GMs lose a job — we should be the reason why they keep and excel in the job.” —Skip
“Part of it is in our approach. We don’t spend a lot of time talking about how great we are; we talk about what we can help a club accomplish.” —Patricia
“Clubs—and people—are evolving. We’re constantly learning how people use clubs, what their needs are, how changes in their lives mean we need to make changes to their clubs.” —Ryan
“Technology and the constantly evolving possibilities.” —Patricia
What would you like to see from your planning and design firm? Join the discussion, below. Or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.