12 May

Perspectives from the Other Side

Your Planning Partner — Forge A Committed Relationship

In my last post, I wrote about the “dating phase” in working with a planning partner and the importance of developing trust and learning to communicate. Admittedly, it probably sounded a bit like advice you might get in relationship counseling.

Well, I’m not a marriage counselor. But I have been a club manager. And in that job, I learned a lot about the value of building solid long-term relationships with my vendors. From food service to financial planning, every service provider became, in my view, part of my team.

One of the most important team members you have to call on is your master planning firm. In my view, your planning partner should never be considered a “one and done” project vendor, but a long-term partner you can and should rely on for information and advice. Facilities, member experience, strategic planning, governance, club finance…what enables them to be good planners is their understanding of virtually every facet of the club business. What makes them great partners is the ability to step back and advise, based on all that perspective.

Here’s how I see the long-term value of having a true planning partner:

  • A plan is a living document. You need to review and reassess it regularly to make sure that it still makes sense for your club. The firm that helped you develop that plan is the best partner to work with you in keeping it up to date.
  • A planning partner builds a body of knowledge about your club and its members, your history and culture, your key strategic drivers and even your overall financial position. Take advantage of that understanding — and build on it.
  • A master planning firm committed to the club industry keeps up with the trends, understands the traditions, appreciates member needs — and can keep you informed and updated.

Forging a good relationship and keeping communications open with your planning partner can be integral to your own long-term success. Let them know, up front, your standards and expectations. Get to know theirs. Communicate often. Keep the relationship strong. Yeah, it does sound a bit like a good marriage, doesn’t it?

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