18 Feb

A Race Against the Clock

Winning the Competition for Your Members’ Time

What is the biggest challenge that clubs face today in terms of increasing member retention and recruitment? Time.

Today, a typical private club member has a wide array of family, friends, work, and social activities constantly vying for their attention. With members enjoying more ways to spend their days than ever before, proving that their club is worth their time – and their dues – is becoming increasingly challenging.

To recruit and retain members, clubs must realize that the way members view and use their club is changing. And if you’re going to win a member’s time, it is important to recognize the amenities, services, and practices that bolster membership value. We’ve compiled a list of the primary challenges that clubs face when it comes to competing for member time and how to win the battle!

Challenge: Members are Embracing an Active Lifestyle

There’s no doubt about it: fit is the new it. People are becoming increasingly more health-conscious. Private athletic clubs and fitness studios offering group exercise classes are a favorite way to pass the time for all ages. Even retirees are embracing a more active lifestyle, abandoning the traditional dream of languishing beneath palm trees in favor of rugged activities like hiking and biking. If members wish to pursue a healthy, active lifestyle that clubs can’t accommodate, they’ll soon be taking up their precious time in an establishment that is better aligned with their goals.

Solution: Create a Health-Friendly Environment

One way to put your club in direct competition with more fit-focused establishments is to offer similar facilities like fitness centers, spas, and decked out locker rooms that add value to memberships. But sometimes even the facilities aren’t enough. Emphasizing health-conscious programs will truly drive home the value for your members. In addition to fitness facilities, consider offering nutrition or physical therapy services. Put the spotlight on fitness-oriented activity groups and “clubs within a club.” Extend this idea into the dining room by providing a variety of wholesome alternatives to not-so-healthy menu classics. You can even offer nutritious to-go meals that members can enjoy at home. Have a lot of property to work with? Promote any trails surrounding the club and organize a weekly hiking meet. Showing your members that the club cares about their physical and mental well-being ultimately adds value to their membership.

Challenge: Parents Want to Include Their Children in Activities

Club Family DiningIn today’s world, parents hope to include their kids in their activities, or at least provide them with an exciting experience. But clubs have historically been a place where children were better seen than heard – if seen at all, that is. This means that for members with kids, clubs consistently get last priority among more family-friendly options. The only way to attract and keep the attention of young families and parents is by engaging their children and taking their needs into consideration.

Solution: Offer Multi-Generational Experiences

Offering facilities and activities that appeal to families is the best way to win out over other family-friendly places in your club’s area. Develop vibrant youth programs that empower kids to make a difference or just have a good time with activity groups like junior golf or tennis. Building a Junior Board of Directors will not only allow kids to develop invaluable leadership skills, but also provide management with a plethora of ideas for engaging younger members. After all, no one knows what kids love better than kids themselves! Luckily you don’t need to accommodate children at the expense of the adult member experience. On the facilities planning side, consider dedicating some funds to constructing a member activity center with ultra-casual dining or a separate casual family grille area. This will allow more seasoned members of the club to savor their quiet retreat, while providing families a place to enjoy as well. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Challenge: Local restaurants are encroaching on club territory

With most chain restaurants adopting trend-driven menus and offering family-friendly environments, it’s easy for members to stray away from their club in favor of other establishments. Now more than ever, it’s important for clubs to pull members to their dining facilities – and make sure those dining facilities strike a proper balance. A focus on dining is also essential for attracting younger members. Millennials go out to eat more often than any other generation before them, with at least 53% enjoying one meal a week outside of their homes. While it’s important to keep in mind that club dining isn’t (and never will be) the restaurant experience, it can – and should – give traditional restaurants a run for their money.

Solution: Highlight the Best Aspects of Club Dining

Clubs can offer so much more than the local Chili’s or even a fancy 5-star restaurant. Of course, if this is true, then why does the F&B department often become a money pit for clubs? Because many fail to highlight one of the club dining experience’s most defining qualities: Highly personalized service and an unyielding sense of community. All you need is an excellent staff that is going to stick around for the long haul. The best way to accomplish this is by utilizing best management practices to train quality staff and retain them (i.e. CMAA University, Food and Beverage Boot Camp, Serv Safe, and more). More often than not, it’s not the food that will keep members coming back; it’s that singular feeling of coming home to a family. As the saying goes in Cheers, people want to go to a place where everyone knows their name, where they can see their friends and be waited on by their favorite staff member. Ultimately, your staff creates the member experience. You just need to help them along the way.

Challenge: People are Searching for a Tranquil Escape

These days everything moves a mile a minute. Between work, emails, phone calls, text messages, and endless social media notifications, it sometimes feels as though we can’t even take a breath without enduring someone else’s expectations. During their down time, members want to relax without worrying about the pressures and formalities of day-to-day life. Unfortunately, many clubs are seen as bastions of formality, leading some members to spend their free time elsewhere.

Solution: Transform the Club into a Relaxing Retreat

There are numerous ways to create a laid back environment for your members. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is by relaxing the dress code. Even some of the country’s most prestigious clubs have begun welcoming denim. Of course, this does not mean abandoning decorum altogether. Depending on the culture of the club, leaving some formal spaces allows members to enjoy a fancy night out when they choose, while maintaining a more relaxed atmosphere in the rest of the club. Want to kill two birds with one stone? Offer on-site childcare or provide areas for children, tweens and teens to entertain themselves, while also giving parents a few hours to themselves at the club.

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