Basic Marketing Private Golf Clubs
I have had a number of opportunities recently to discuss the marketability of private country clubs whose challenge is attracting new members. It seems what causes most private clubs’ stress on externally marketing their club has to do with not knowing how to go about it effectively. I am encouraged more private clubs are reaching out for professional assistance by hiring General Managers with business and marketing experience to run their clubs for them. Look Internally First
Many times the management or ownership of a private country club will fall for feeling they need a more traditional approach to external marketing when in fact they need to take a new or more modern path to marketing. Yet, other private clubs will not recognize internal issues as being a hindrance to marketing which will make any campaign to attract potential members just feeding the revolving door of members leaving soon after they join. Before 2008, most country clubs had little need for marketing. Private clubs only had to let their membership market for them. Now those innovating members who supported private clubs have left the private clubs or are reluctantly retained their membership with the private club but have developed a lack of trust in their club’s ability to hold new members if they were to find them. I know in my on personal experience as a private country club member I would recruit friends to join the club and then they would abruptly leave the club’s membership before a year was up because they did not see the club being managed like a private club should be managed. Lack of trust of the ownership or the management team of a private country club will stifle members’ word of month marketing. Solve the Internal Problems First There are a number of problems private country clubs universally have internally which make it difficult to market the club to potential members; Dilapidated infrastructure Crumbling Clubhouses Outdated policies Understaffed Uneasy morale of membership Inferior communication systems Lack of modernization Negative Image in the Community Sour relationship with property owners Unresolved or unsatisfactorily resolved member service issues Irrelevant appeal to the younger generation Marketing Killers Internal operations issues will kill any external marketing campaign. The problems inside the clubhouse are usually waved aside as unmanageable issues since they require capital funding to overcome. Yet, the club’s management will appropriate funding for very expensive, sometimes over the top expensive, external public relations and marketing campaigns to attract members to their club that is falling apart. Addressing the problems brewing inside the gate of the private country should always be dealt with first before attempting to attract new members. In doing so the need for large marketing campaigns would not be needed since the memberships will then step up their efforts to show off their new found respect for the club’s ownership.
Reinvest Into the Club First The time for internal improvement is facing more and more private country clubs. The investment made a club’s internal and external image will result in a larger ROI. Without the investment new and old members who will quickly drop and run when the sewer backs up in the guest parking lot…again. Many private country clubs need to make the tough decision for internal improvement of their facilities and hiring an experienced General Manager to help run the club more efficiently. Once that is done the new members will come.