12 May

Ask the Experts

Chambers Answers The Most Asked Questions from Club Management

Here, we take on a few of the questions we hear when visiting clubs around the country.
Got a question? Email us!

Private Club Dining Room

Q: Can we really afford to pay that much attention to the “back of the house?”

A: You can’t afford not to. World-class service starts with world-class employees.
Clubs sometimes struggle with how much time and money to put into the areas of the club unseen by members — those used solely by staff. We won’t call out this offender, for whom this has passed as an employee breakroom, but they’re not alone — especially among older clubs that may have paid inadequate attention to work areas in decades past. The benefits of useful, positive and productive spaces for employees:

Private club employee locker room

  • Greater service efficiencies. Accessible and well thought-out spaces reduce service times and enable greater attentiveness.
  • Recruitment and retention. The best employees have choices. Given the option between your club’s employee environment and the finer restaurants in town or other nearby clubs, how do you stack up?
  • Meeting and exceeding member expectations. You strive to be a world-class club; world-class service is an imperative. How feasible is it to expect employees to muster a top-of-the-line attitude when they walk from your back of the house to the front?
  • Member satisfaction. Certainly, happy staff makes for happy members. In so many clubs, too, the relationships between staff and members are like family. Members want what’s right for their club family.


Q: We’re considering a local interior designer — one of our members — to take the lead on a redesign at our club. What are the pros and cons?

A: Good question. It can be tricky — here’s our advice…

Let’s start with the pros of using a club-seasoned interior designer:

  • experience in the club environment — knowledge of design styles and options gained from working in a broad variety of clubs, understanding of club traffic patterns, flow and space usage, knowledge and access to a myriad of products designed specifically to meet club needs
  • blend of “industrial” and residential perspective — while clubs are aesthetically much like a home away from home, day-to-day usage dictates that materials stand up to much more than a home environment
  • and a good club designer will get to know your club and community intimately, designing a club that’s fitting and reflective of your membership

A local interior designer will certainly know the personality of the club and community. And as a member, knows other committee and board members and may have an easy time gaining their support and buy-in. Quite honestly, the challenge we find most is the lack of real club experience. Our advice if you’re set on using the local designer for stylistic or even political reasons: let a professional club designer work with your local designer. Positive collaboration can net the best of both worlds — member access, local flavor, political favor, together with the experience critical to ensuring your club will stand the test of time.

What we don’t recommend, to be frank: hiring a team of designers — because they’re members — from multiple design practices. That can quickly become an exercise in herding the proverbial cats — opinionated cats with very different design styles!

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