Master Planning: Step 1 — Research
Master Planning: Step 1 — Research
One in a series on the Master Planning process — how and why.
There are any number of reasons your club is considering undergoing a Master Planning process. You probably know by now that we’re big advocates — establishing a roadmap is the best way to ensure the future success of any club. In our experience, the key to the whole process is the preparation. The more your master planner knows, the more he or she should be able to devise a strategy and approach that will cure the ills of the past (e.g., aging infrastructure), make room for the future (e.g., address changing member demographics), generate revenue (better compete) and improve operational efficiencies.
Your planner will walk you through research goals, methodology and process. A quick primer from Chambers here: not just the what, but the why and the wow — that is, what we’re able to do with all that information we glean!
First, The Rundown
Big picture, our research focuses on:
- Club review – mission, governance, operations
- Competitive review and analysis – offerings, demo- and geographic considerations, pricing strategies, culture
- Private club trends benchmarking
- Programmatic review, membership utilization analysis
At Chambers, we start the research process with a dedicated kick-off — and a checklist. For background and context:
- Bylaws, committee lists and chairs, an organizational chart
- Financial statements, fee information, maintenance and capital improvement budgets
- Past and current planning effort documentation and existing surveys
- Strategic plan/s
- Member roster and utilization report
- Marketing materials, promotions, newsletters
- List of competitors
- Men’s and women’s locker counts and current utilization
- Historical utilities costs
- Parking space count
- Service delivery times
- Dining menus
The next step is a comprehensive member study to determine wants, needs and habits. Depending on the club, the Chambers member survey likely includes questions on a combination of topics, including clubhouse, dining, banquet, golf, swimming and fitness facilities evaluation, as well as general membership and lifestyle questions.
Can’t We Just Get To It?
Oh, but we are. The proper background upfront lets us hit the ground running. Too, we think it’s helpful if you know what we do with all this information. A few examples:
- Financial statements (we sign full nondisclosures at the start of any project!). We analyze revenue streams to help pinpoint opportunities to maximize club usage. At Chambers, we also look for ways to help you gain funding for future capital improvements.
- Member roster and utilization reports. We map your membership, overlay census and other pertinent data and look for membership trends and growth opportunity. It may indeed affect recommendations for and the likely success of specific programs, services and facilities. For example, one of our clients is geographically distanced from its membership, making it unlikely they’d come there just to use a fitness facility; those improvements, therefore, were made second priority to other, more critical needs.
- Member survey on lifestyle habits. A recent client survey found that members of one exclusive club were favoring one particular restaurant above all others in the area. And it was two minutes away from the club. So why not make the quick trip to the club, instead? “Inferior ambience.”
- Operational analysis, including utility reviews. Modernizing equipment (plumbing, HVAC, electrical) may address many operational inefficiencies. Too, we’re often able to identify opportunities to introduce technologies that automatically regulate usage and save money.
- Maintenance and capital improvement budgets. We’re often able to uncover savings opportunities.