Filling Buckets

Filling Buckets

The process of developing a Strategic Plan for your club will go through two distinct phases.

The initial part of the program will be to establish the club’s vision, or direction for the future.

This will be the result of studying your environment through tools like a marketplace and competitive analysis and member survey research, to provide the insight needed to determine your brightest future. It will ultimately be captured in the club’s vision statement.

Once you know where you are going, the second part of the program will be to identify the key issues your club must address to achieve its vision.

These are the areas where the club will need to act if it is going to succeed. So you will turn your attention to developing the strategies and action plans, assigning responsible parties and scheduling the work. Key issues could include a range of issues, which along with long-range facility planning and membership development, might be made up of things like expanded family focus, health and wellness, and engaging member programs.

It can be helpful to think of these key issues as “buckets” that you are looking to fill, potentially opening your thought process to accept a wider range of solutions.

For example, a club with a goal to improve its offerings in health and wellness might want to take the straight-forward action to build a fitness center. Suppose, however, their location or lack of resources means this is not in the cards, or it is well down the road. Rather than do nothing or wait, the notion of filling a health and wellness bucket can lead to a broader range of solutions including a range of programming ideas. The club could take many actions related to fitness, like using a meeting room for exercise classes, arranging for a physical therapist or nutritionist to provide on-site services; or, it could include things like a lecture series on healthy lifestyles or creating affinity groups that go on hikes or cycle. These are all health and wellness related, but they satisfy that goal in a different way and at a lesser cost structure than building a fitness center.

Your vision statement captures the spirit of where your club can and must go in the future. Action plans will be the steps the leadership takes to make this dream a reality in the form of services, programs and facilities. Thinking about each of these initiatives as buckets you want to fill up through a range of services, programs or facility improvements will lead to a rich and vibrant Strategic Plan and a healthy club.

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About Frank Vain

Mr. Vain provides consulting and planning services to private clubs throughout North America and Asia. Through use of specialized services including membership surveys, strategic planning, operational analysis and facility long range planning, Frank assists clubs in developing individualized strategies for their unique situations.

Mr. Vain joined McMahon Group in 1988 and has more than forty years of experience in the management and development of hospitality properties including private clubs, athletic clubs, resorts and restaurants. Frank is a Past President of The Country Club of St. Albans, an 800-member, 36-hole country club located in Missouri and he is the former owner of Concord Sports Club, a 1,700-member family athletic club in St. Louis. Frank was elected to the Board of the National Club Association in 2011 and served as Chairman in 2018-19.

Mr. Vain is a native of Philadelphia and a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He is a featured speaker at the annual Club Managers Association of America World Conference, National Club Association National and Regional Conferences, Major Golf Associations and at regional chapter meetings of club managers and leaders.

He has written numerous articles that have been published in Club ManagementClub Director andBoardRoom magazines. Frank was named the Gary Player Club Educator of the Year for 2012 and 2015 by BoardRoom magazine. He is the co-author of McMahon’s Club Trends®, a recognized industry benchmark on the trends and issues affecting private clubs.

More articles by Frank Vain
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