How Achieving “Favorite Place Status” Drove $20 Million Club Improvement Project

Quiet Dining

In 2014, Country Club of New Canaan surveyed its members, which exposed opportunities for growth in upgrading facilities, programs and services.

They then developed a club improvement master plan to upgrade their facilities; but, there was a problem. Over the years, the Club’s membership had not been very happy with their experiences in a la carte dining, which the survey reported was one of the most important reasons members stayed at CCNC. Why invest money for upgraded facilities if the Club, today, cannot get their member a la carte dining and social experiences right?

The Club’s governance, member committees and management circled their wagons.

They determined that the best chance to fix CCNC’s service delivery problems and achieve “Favorite Place Status” was to listen to the membership’s concerns, involve them in the solutions and communicate both effectively and often with them so their (members’) expectations were aligned with the capabilities the Club can deliver. Management then established procedures and systems that would consistently deliver the expected products and services the members now anticipate receiving. This was instrumental in turning around and enhancing both CCNC’s member a la carte dining experiences and members’ enthusiasm with their Club.

Today, CCNC is enjoying a renaissance with its a la carte dining program.

“We knew we had a longstanding issue with member satisfaction in our dining program. Richard Lareau was instrumental in helping us identify the deficiencies in how our Club’s governance, management and chef communicated with each other both tactically in day-to-day operations as well as strategically in setting longer-term goals and objectives. Richard confirmed to us the talent of our chef, helped our management re-evaluate all our best practices and workflows, and he helped guide us as we instituted a series of corrective actions. We relaunched our new culinary program earlier this year to very positive reviews from the members, as well as a subsequent substantial increase in morale in both the front and the back of the house.”

Bill Pratt, President
The Country Club of New Canaan 

The Club also recently received a 90% membership approval to move forward with their $20 million club improvement project. Congratulations to the Club’s leadership, member committees and management for coming together and aligning their mission and vision with consistent execution to achieve “Favorite Place Status”.

If your Club delivers inconsistent and unsatisfactory a la carte dining experiences, scheduling a complimentary Dining First Impressions Visit is the first step to achieving “Favorite Place Status” at your club. Please click here to schedule a First Impressions today!

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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