Here’s a familiar sight at every golf club: Long-time members arrive, eager for a relaxing day on the course. Their tee time comes up, and after stopping in the golf shop for their cart reservation, they go out to the first tee to begin their round. They’re cheerfully greeted (by name!) by the staff, led to their cart, which is clean and charged and ready to go, and a great day of golfing begins.
It’s precisely this seamless scenario that led them to join this club in the first place. It’s a reminder of what the private club experience is all about.
But how did that one little event in the life of the club occur? What did it take to get those members into their cart and make the experience a positive one?
All the customers saw was a friendly staff and a cart that was ready for them—one of the hundreds of seemingly mundane interactions they’ve had with the club since they joined.
But as any club manager knows, what appears to be simple isn’t simple at all. An intricate series of actions had to happen to provide that one high-quality service moment, most of which were entirely invisible to the person on the receiving end.
Successfully getting members into golf carts involves the interplay of a host of staff behaviors and training, technologies, management decisions, equipment purchases, administrative actions, and established policies and practices:
The staff has to greet the members; serve them in the shop; direct them to the carts; wash, stage, stock, and charge the vehicles.
The carts themselves need to be purchased and maintained.
Computer systems have to be in place to track tee times and reservations.
Score cards and pencils need to have been ordered, stocked and distributed.
Procedures need to exist about how the carts are used, and who can use them.
Service standards need to be in place for staff to follow to ensure high-quality interactions with members.
Training has to be conducted to make sure everyone knows their roles.
And on and on. The member sees a golf cart; the club sees an enormous hidden enterprise with many moving parts, each of which must work well.
But the delivery of a single golf cart is just one tiny element of that club’s operation. Think of all the countless decisions made by members that day that triggered a cascade of actions within the club: what activities to undertake, what to eat and drink, what resources to use, what items to buy.
So, how can you get a clear picture of the myriad actions, interactions, policies, procedures, service tools and technologies that are involved in running your club and then gain control over all of it to ensure peak member service, 24/7?
The answer is the creation of a service blueprint—a visual representation of how your club works.
A portion of a service blueprint
The blueprint reveals and clarifies the many interactions between customers, digital touch-points, and service employees, including the front-stage activities that impact members and guest directly and the backstage activities that they never see.
Creating a service blueprint is particularly vital in three instances:
When you want to improve your service offerings or are concerned about problems with member recruitment, satisfaction, or retention; start to see an increase in complaints; or experience higher-than-normal staff turnover.
When you’ve lost track of how the customer service experience is being produced, or if top-level management is new to the club or course and wants to understand your processes better.
When you manage a complex club environment with many employees, each of whom impacts the quality of the customer service experience and you need to understand better the complex web of interactions that affect performance.
There are four essential components of the blueprint, which mirror the full range of visible and invisible arenas in which the club experience is generated. If you think of your club as putting on a performance—a kind of stage play for the benefit of your audience of members and guests—its possible to break the analysis into four pieces:
The Front Stage: These are your customers’ actions and behavior, the decisions they make as they move through the club experience.
On Stage: These are your employees’ visible actions and behavior, reacting to the demands and desires of your members and guests.
Back Stage: These are the internal interactions undertaken by managers and staff to make the club run efficiently, including such things as kitchen operations, golf course maintenance, department meetings, BEO preparation, etc. They are invisible to your members and guests.
Behind the Scenes: These are the myriad things the customer never sees—the processes and infrastructure that help produce the “front stage” experience, such as staff training, your point of sale system, your computer systems, reservation systems, and the like.
The Front Stage and On Stage elements are the ones your members are aware of; the Back Stage and Behind the Scenes aspects should be out of sight, running silently in the background. As someone once said, we are in the “leisure business,” but we have to make sure our customers never feel the business side, only the leisure.
When a snapshot is taken of all these moving pieces, visible and invisible, the result is a blueprint that helps you understand exactly how your services get produced and consumed, step by step, point by point.
With a clear, visualized representation of your club’s reality, you can begin to address failure points or breakdowns in communication, training, support systems, or execution, or conversely, reward and strengthen elements that are working well.
A comprehensive blueprint contains a clear picture of your members’ journeys through the club, from the moment they arrive on the property to the moment they leave, and beyond. (Remember, in the era of social media and online communication, member interaction continues beyond the physical boundaries of the club.) A complete blueprint includes the element of time so that you can understand how long it takes to achieve tasks and pinpoint opportunities for constructive member interactions.
You might be interested, for example, in examining timing standards for food and beverage service, or for moving members through the reservation process for golf, tennis, or other activities. Although a blueprint is by necessity represented in two dimensions, it doesn’t actually describe a static enterprise. Your customers are in motion; your staff is in motion; actions follow actions. A blueprint is a flow chart that flows.
Of course...knowing how your club functions and doing something to improve it are two different things!
Once you know what you want to do, you then need to figure out how.
Remember, a blueprint is used to build something. To build the best possible club experience, you need to define the experience you want to create. Then, teach and train your staff and managers how to deliver it. And finally, make sure all the resources, practices, and principles are in place that make the delivery possible.
A comprehensive service blueprint is your guide to ensuring perfect performances on the great stage of your club—and the key to getting rave reviews from your members!
Do you want to know how to create a service blueprint for your club? The RCS Hospitality Group offers a comprehensive program for clubs of all types and sizes that details how you can use the “blueprint” process to gain a deeper understanding of your operations and develop the foundations for impeccable member service and long-term club success. To find out more, contact us at 623.322.0773, visit our website at www.ConsultingRCS.com, or at info@ConsultingRCS.com.