Going from “Good to Great” & Great to Exceptional”

Good to Great

Good things are happening at private clubs today as boards and general managers are partnering to achieve club success.

The proof is the many very satisfied members we are finding in today’s clubs. The positive results coming from high membership satisfaction are strong membership retention and new member attraction. Based on the last five years of McMahon’s membership survey research, members’ overall satisfaction for the most important “very satisfied” rating has improved from 27% of all members to 39% today. This stellar performance is the result of three primary club success factors being identified and diligently pursued. Achieving these three pillars of club success are what it takes to make good clubs great and great clubs exceptional.

Primary Club Success Factors

  1. Strategic Planning: Having and continually monitoring a sound strategic plan with a clear mission guiding the club in an ever-changing world.
  2. Governance: Having a club leadership which well represents the membership, follows the strategic plan, governs effectively, and lets the professional team manage.
  3. Management: Having a capable and dedicated professional management team led by a visionary and politically wise leader that manages with a “Members First” philosophy.

Look at your own club and evaluate how each strategic pillar is contributing to your club’s success.

Ask your own members how they rate their overall satisfaction with the club. If under 39% of all members are not rating their overall club experience as “very satisfied”, then your club has the potential for improving from good to great, then possibly from great to exceptional.

Great and exceptional clubs exist all around us, but they do not happen by accident. These clubs attract highly-qualified members to serve on their boards and be their presidents. They attract the very best talent for their management teams as everyone enjoys serving at a great to exceptional club.

Find out how your members rate their experience at your club.

Periodically survey members on the achievement of your club’s mission. If opportunities exist to drive higher member satisfaction, do it. It is surprising how smart the average member is. Just listen to them and then act accordingly.

Share This Article

About Bill McMahon, Sr. AIA, OAA


Bill is a strategic, financial and architectural planning consultant to clubs throughout North America. He established McMahon Group in 1983 as an affiliate of the family architectural firm his grandfather founded in 1906. Over the ensuing years, the firm has expanded its club consulting services beyond clubhouse improvement planning to a full range of services for all aspects of private club challenges. To date, the firm has assisted more than 2,000 private clubs across the United States, Canada, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. McMahon Group provides a unique approach to developing club facility projects first establishing design and financial feasibility so membership approval is achieved. Thereafter final design and construction firms are selected to build the member approved project.

Mr. McMahon is unique among club consultants in providing an integrated strategic, financial and architectural approach to solving club problems. His personal involvement with his own clubs in St. Louis (serving in the roles of president, board member and committee member) has allowed him to bring unparalleled experience to each client. Mr. McMahon’s club memberships have included Bellerive Country Club (St. Louis), Racquet Club Ladue (St. Louis), University Club of St. Louis, Spring Lake Yacht Club (Michigan) and the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.

Mr. McMahon is a graduate of Washington University School of Architecture in St. Louis and holds architecture licenses in 44 U.S. states and in Ontario, Canada. He is a featured author in industry publications and a featured speaker at the annual conferences of the Club Managers Association of America, the Canadian Society of Club Managers, the National Club Association and the Hospitality, Financial and Technology Professionals. He serves as a visiting lecturer at continuing education sessions offered by regional CMAA chapters and at Michigan State University. Bill is a co-author of McMahon Club Trends®, the comprehensive research reports on strategic issues facing private clubs published with the National Club Association. He is also founder of the Excellence in Club Management Award.

Mr. McMahon is a member of the American Institute of Architects, and the National Club Association. He is a former president of the Missouri Council of Architects, AIA and has served on various charitable boards in the St. Louis area.

More articles by Bill McMahon, Sr. AIA, OAA
Originally published in: