Don't Forget your Human Capital Budget

Recently, the Washington Post issued an article in their Real Estate section exploring the recent trend seen in active adult communities in which prospective homebuyers are purchasing homes in communities based upon the amenities offered. The article states “Today, buyers do a lot of research and have higher expectations for active-adult communities. Unlike retirement communities of the past, golf courses are less of a priority.” For those of us in the club industry, this fact is commonly known, and it is something that we have been discussing with our customers to keep their clubs competitive for the past several years. At RCS, our goal is to prepare clubs for the “next generation”. It’s a misnomer that the “next generation” means younger members or employees; it also means the next generation of the club industry landscape. Member interests are continuously changing, and many have been chasing “the next big thing” when it comes to member interests, but at the end of the day, the amenities helps to get potential members in the door. What keeps members is service – how a member feels when they use the club. Here are some ways to elevate your member experience through service

Strong Service Starts from Within

Company culture is crucial because it can make or break your business. Creating a strong service culture establishes company values and norms, creates consistency across an organization and therefore increases employee motivation and loyalty. If employee culture is service-oriented, this will trickle down to the members who feel valued and that they are receiving a high level of care every time he or she steps foot into your club.

Create an Emotional Connection

Making an emotional connection is crucial to elevating your level of service. This emotional connection can be created as simply as staff delivering personalize service by remembering a member’s birthday or drink preference. The emotional connection has the potential to go deeper than that of personalized service. The connection begins from the moment the member walks into the room and club staff warmly greets them with positive body language and a confident understanding of the latest club comings and goings; demonstrating they are attentive and prepared to address any question or concern the member may have. From a staff training standpoint, it is crucial that leadership is equipping their employees with the ability to create that emotional connection; whether it be investing in refresher courses to keep seasoned staff engaged, or basic courses for high turnover positions.

Empower your Members to Be Your Biggest Fans

With the advent of technology and the ability for people to shout their opinions (good or bad) from the rooftops; it’s imperative that clubs stay ‘in the know’ of what is being said about them – to employees, to each other, and in the community. That includes the social media community. While we are constantly being inundated with content that is “tailor-made” to fit our interests, word of mouth and the power of a referral still holds an enormous amount of power. Your members still serve as your best referral resource. We encourage all clubs to have an up-to-date website and explore the benefits of creating social media pages to allow members to “share the love” with both fellow members and potential members alike. If you get creative, there is likely a way to reward member loyalty through this avenue as well.

As you continue looking for ‘the next big thing (amenity)” to stay ahead of the membership attraction curve, remember to also invest in your most valuable assets—your employees. They are the ones who really deliver the experience and the special feeling all members desire.

Whitney Reid Pennell, president of the RCS Hospitality Group (formerly Reid Consulting Services) is a celebrated management consultant, educator and speaker. RCS, the creators of the Food and Beverage Boot Camp™, specialize in operations consulting, strategic planning, food and beverage management, and training programs.

For more information, phone (623) 322-0773; or visit the RCS website at

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Whitney Reid Pennell
 Founder & President

Whitney Reid Pennell is the founder and president of the award-winning RCS Hospitality Group (formerly Reid Consulting Services). She is a published author and widely praised seminar leader, with over 20 years of club operations management and consulting experience. 

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