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The pool deck is quiet. The groundskeepers are hustling to keep up with the daily onslaught of freshly fallen leaves on the greens. Fresh local vegetables are, sadly, finishing up their turn on the summer menu. Staff schedules are being rearranged to accommodate college schedules and a changed atmosphere at the club. The signs of a fading summer are familiar.
And not altogether unwelcome as we shift gears from 24/7 family fun to focus more on club business and planning.
As club managers, boards and committees make their way back into meeting rotation, it’s a great time to consider a renewed look at how your club goes about planning — both short- and long-term. A few suggestions:
Consider a Planning Partner. Clubs are living, breathing communities that, by their nature, are in it for the long haul. Consider a planning and design partner that’s equally committed to your long-term success. More than merely an architectural or design firm that you retain for a project here and there, a true partner is going to be there year after year to think through change and opportunity with you, ensure you’re considering the implications of every decision, and develop solutions that will meet immediate needs and ensure long-term viability.
ROE vs. ROI — Time to Educate Your Board. Clubs are a rare breed, striving daily to provide the best possible member experience while maintaining a positive (or at least neutral!) balance sheet. Club GMs and COOs are well aware that an ROI (Return on Investment)-only approach to operations and planning is likely not only a long shot but, dare we say, a recipe for disappointment. They know that clubs should focus their sights more on ROE, or Return on Experience. That is, how can your club maximize the experience your members receive from any change you make to the club? Certainly, revenue generation and increased efficiencies should be part of virtually every consideration, but as not-for-profit entities focused on exceptionalism, ROE should be the first — and last — point of decision making. Does your board understand the distinction? In all likelihood, probably not. Another opportunity to enlist your planning partner in helping you educate the decision influencers.
Move Beyond Short-Term Economic Thinking. Granted, in a slowed economy, we certainly have to consider every decision we make and its financial implications. But as we often tell our clients, there is a cost to doing nothing. And it can be considerable. Now is the time to tackle deferred maintenance projects before repairs get even more costly. At the same time, waiting to address facilities needs that will keep your club exciting and relevant to your members may leave you behind the times and lagging your competition. That planning and design partner can also help your club design financing options to help you keep up.
Fall is a time for focus. And the perfect opportunity to sharpen your club’s approach to planning.