23 Sep

Perspectives from the Other Side

Engaging a Planning Firm – Dispelling the Myths

During my 30-plus years in club management, I enjoyed a pretty successful career. But my success didn’t come about because I knew everything or did everything well. In fact, I had a fulfilling career because I was ready and willing to admit that I didn’t have all the answers — and because I had no problem hiring people who were smarter than I am.

Some club managers fear bringing in consultants. They think they’re supposed to be “all-knowing,” the expert fixers who can do it all. I understand that feeling, but let’s face it — that’s just unrealistic. It’s very hard on the manager and unfair to the club. It’s okay to say you don’t have all the answers. The first step is finding someone who can help you find them. I thought a good place to start with this blog would be in helping club managers learn more about when, why and how to find the outside resources you need to ensure the best for your clubs and members.

Let’s start by dispelling a few of the myths that I’ve heard for years from many club managers on the risks of bringing in planning experts.


MYTH #1:  If I bring in outside help, that will make me look weak and incompetent.

Reality: Managers who are open to asking for assistance in solving problems or improving their clubs are the most confident. Bringing in an outside expert is a way of saying you’re not intimidated, and you put your members’ best interests first.  To the contrary, it makes you look good…smart.


MYTH #2:  If we survey our members in preparation for a big project—and they’re critical of club operations—that could threaten my job.

Reality: A club manager should never fear learning more about what members want and need. Everything you do should be directed to enhancing the members’ experience. Gaining new insight into members’ opinions and expectations—and showing that you’re willing to listen—can only enhance your position. If you listen to your members, you can’t go wrong.


MYTH #3:  Planning firms cost a fortune.

Reality: Expense is frequently a stumbling block for managers when it comes to hiring a planning firm.  But if you look at it from a larger perspective, spending the money for expert consultation is a very smart move.  A good consulting company can help you and your board set clear priorities and goals, decide what steps offer the greatest value and work systematically toward achieving that vision.  And that means you’re making the best possible use of the club’s resources.


MYTH #4:  A planning firm will sweep in, do the project, get paid and walk away, leaving me to solve any subsequent problems on my own.

Reality: If you choose your consultants wisely, you’ll have a partner to work with throughout your career. I always felt that my job as a club manager was to facilitate solutions by bringing in a consulting firm that I could work with as a partner. Not just any firm, mind you — but a company that shared my values and my club’s culture. If you and your consultants have shared principles and common goals, you’ll have found the makings of a true partnership.


Did I miss anything—or fail to identify your greatest fears in hiring a consulting partner? Feel free to comment and I’ll see if I can address them here. Or shoot me an email, any time!

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