With a wide variety of leisure options available for today's society, private clubs face steep competition. That's why strong member loyalty is one of the most important things you can have in your arsenal to keep a competitive edge. Many members also belong to multiple clubs at a time, making loyalty to one an even more coveted jewel.
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Loyalty isn't just an ethereal feel-good concept; it also translates into hard numbers. Studies show that loyal customers spend an average of 67% more than new ones, directly impacting your bottom line. (Upserve) You also know that it costs 6-7 times more to attract a new member than to keep the current ones. (Have you checked your member acquisition cost lately?)
Vibrant member loyalty can also transform your members into brand advocates for your club. By enthusiastically spreading the word in their business and social circles, these priceless members become part of your marketing team in the most authentic way possible.
So, how can you increase member loyalty at your private club? By making them feel like VIPs with these 4 easy tips.
As RCS President Whitney Reid Pennell says in her Private Club 101 and E.N.C.H.A.N.T.E.D. Service staff training programs, it's imperative to make members feel comfortable, welcome, important, and understood. Practice good communication skills by reading between the lines and find out what your members are actually trying to say to you. Make them feel understood.
When you inquire about their meal at the end of the night, really listen to what they say--are they subtly trying to give you menu feedback? Are they enthusiastic and pleased, or just merely satisfied? If a 'foodie' member mentions that the tomato soup would have benefitted from a hefty dose of fresh basil, note their suggestion and tell them you'll pass it on to the chef. Go one step further and invite them and a handful of other frequent diners to a special taste-test for a sneak peek at new seasonal menu items. Make them feel valued.
2. GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT
Don't just assume that if you build it, they will come. Loyal members become ideal members when they come in often enough and spend enough to impact your bottom line. In order for them to do that, members must feel that they're getting exactly what they want. It can be difficult to meet this challenge in the private club industry due to the highly varied wants and needs of each generation of membership, but there are points of crossover that please everyone. Food and beverage is one such crossover point; member events is another. Find out what they want by conducting a well-executed member survey that can give you valuable insights to what your members are thinking and feeling.
3. PROMOTE RANDOM ACTS OF GOODWILL
Most clubs already have a customer relationship management system in place, but it's the daily follow-through that matters. Having tickler alerts for events like birthdays and anniversaries makes it easy for staff to call and wish a member a happy birthday, or invite them to come in and celebrate their anniversary in the dining room with a specially prepared dinner. (That doesn't mean that the Chef has to overnight some Kobe beef for the meal either; something as simple as an intimate corner table arranged with roses, candles, and a glass of champagne can make a big impression.)
It's not only the special occasions that matter but the day-to-day interactions too. Empower your staff to do what it takes to make a member's day (up to a certain point, of course). If Mr. Scott always brings his family in for dinner on a Friday night and one day he tells the server that Mrs. Scott is at home with the flu, send him home with some complimentary soup.
4. BE UNIQUE IN A WAY THAT MATTERS.
Endeavor to make something unique in a way that matters about your club, even if it's something small. Such points of difference can make one particular club stand out over another in a member's mind. Do you offer GolfBoards (pictured below) as an alternative to golf carts or walking? What about a breakfast delivery service for residential community clubs? Personalized floral or cigar delivery for birthdays? A tutoring service for children? Find something that engenders your club culture and turn it into something unique and memorable.
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These are just a few ideas for fostering member loyalty at your club. What has your club successfully implemented? Tweet your creative ideas to us at @ConsultingRCS, post on our Facebook page or e-mail us at info@consultingRCS.com and you could see your ideas featured in an upcoming article!
Reid Consulting Services, the creators of Food & Beverage Service Boot Camp(TM), specialize in operations consulting, strategic planning, food and beverage management, and training programs for private clubs around the world. For more information, phone (623) 322-0773; or visit the RCS website at www.consultingRCS.com.