10 Keys to the Turnaround of a Club
As many of us struggle with the changes in our industry, the continuing challenges with the economy and an aging membership, many are recognizing the need to reinvent their clubs and oftentimes their own management or leadership style.
During a reorganization, turnaround, or reinvention of a club, I have found that there are 10 key steps to success.
Recognize and embrace change. Everyone responds differently to change. It is necessary to recognize that things have changed and we must embrace it if we want to progress and thrive in this new world.
Write your story. Rewrite your story (vision) with where you are today, where you want to go, and the measurement that will let you know you have achieved your strategic goals. Today’s strategic plan must be more dynamic than in years past.
Do a “Gut Check” – Question the givens. “Why do we do what we do? Would I do it this way today if it had not always been done this way? Would I hire this person today know- ing what I know now?”
Eliminate excuses and discover out of the box options. As Norman Vincent Peale famously said, “Change your thoughts and you change your world.” Our thoughts control our actions and our progress. Take away all excuses, and it is easier to see alternatives.
Protect and reinforce your brand. Brand alignment requires the evaluation, coaching and accountability of the brand’s four aspects. 1) Product. The initial clubhouse design, club logo and collateral material often have great thought put into their development. However, other aspects of the brand are often forgotten on a day-to-day basis. 2) Communication. Is everything/everyone saying what you want it/them to say? 3) Environment. Determine what you want to say and take another look for consistency throughout the club with the messages seen. 4) Behavior. What are members’ first impressions of the behavior of the club? This includes employees, website, facilities upkeep. Each of these communicates the behavior of management toward the brand.
Create a member service blueprint. Define the operations in detail and align them with the story (vision) of who you are. Consider every moment of truth.
Commit to continuous improvement and learning. Don’t throw out any ideas as you move through rein- venting the club, it may work another day. Try it, evaluate it, learn from it, and adjust.
It takes the time that it takes BUT...think fast and act faster. Find the minimum number of leverage points that can make a dramatic impact – those that have low effort with high return. It is important to get something moving quickly when you are attempting a turnaround to keep the members engaged and give employees confidence in the leadership.
Serve your people; manage the ‘Things.' Service of the external and internal customer must be balanced with managing the numbers. Employees and members must stay engaged and satisfied in a turnaround situation. This requires gracious service while managing the bottom line. In a turnaround situation, ‘Cash is King’, as they say, and managers today do not always know how to manage cash flow although they can successfully manage a P&L statement. Throughout this delicate balancing act, serve by communicating expectations and manage by holding people accountable.
Evaluate and plan for action. Evaluate progress daily, weekly and monthly, and prepare for detours. Always solicit feedback from the team and members then respond immediately.
Painful decisions are borne out of fear of the unknown. And the pain a manager feels through the reinvention process will ultimately lead to strength, having worked through the weaknesses of the club, making it stronger for the future.
When you work through the pain you leave the weakness behind. Strength and learning is what remains. Have faith in the plan and be committed in the reinvention process.
Whitney Reid Pennell, president of Reid Consulting Services, Inc. (RCS) is a celebrated management consultant, educator and speaker. Ms. Pennell is the creator of Food and Beverage Service Boot CampTM and two online RCS signature-training courses, Private Club 101 and ENCHANTED Service. RCS specializes in strategic planning, operations consulting, food and beverage management, and training programs.