How to Assure Your Dining Is a Favorite Place

Time and again though, the root cause of disconnect is that a club’s governance, membership and management all do not have a common understanding of what the promised product should be.

As the general manager, responsible for producing a highly desirable member experience they can’t get anywhere else, you’ve just learned that only 24% of your membership is very satisfied with your club, overall, when 35% is the club industry average. Additionally, you’ve learned that 92% of your members think the club should be one of their favorite places to dine, but only 45% say that it actually is. Your club’s a la carte dining amenity ranks highest in importance amongst all your club’s amenities with an importance rating of 4.8 out of 5 (5 being the highest). However, only 45% are satisfied with the food, only 38% are satisfied with how consistently the food is prepared and only 40% are satisfied with the product variety. These stats and ratios are actual ratings from a club surveyed by McMahon Group.

Rarely are these poor and disconnected ratings caused by blatant ineptitude on the part of the chef, his staff and/or the dining service team. Certainly, the ability to consistently execute delivering an understood and promised product is a key contributor to building high satisfaction ratings among members. Time and again though, the root cause of disconnect is that a club’s governance, membership and management all do not have a common understanding of what the promised product should be. It is impossible to be everyone’s favorite place to eat; but, your club can certainly be a consistently very good place to eat, drink and be merry if the environment is right and the product is defined, delivered consistently and at an anticipated quality and value level.

Being a good place to eat, drink and be merry (aka “Favorite Place”) requires a team effort.

The team is not just made up of staff and management who must have the ability, focus and passion to produce and deliver; it requires a partnership with your club’s governance and membership where goals are set, understood and agreed upon. It also requires making sure the club’s dining facility is capable of manufacturing and delivering the “Favorite Place” product and experiences everyone anticipates.

So, What’s a GM to Do?

  • Establish a Dining Planning Team made up of at least one Board member, several club members representing all club demographics, the Executive Chef, Chef du Cuisine, Clubhouse/Food & Beverage Manager and Dining Room Manager.
  • Establish a Mission and Vision for the club’s dining product. What are the club’s dining goals and aspirations? Who are we serving? What are we providing and at what quality level and price point?
  • Educate and train front and back-of-house teams on product delivery points, quality levels and service goals. Ensure they have the tools to be successful.
  • Communicate to the entire membership what products, service levels and value they should expect upon every dining experience.
  • Establish systematic, trusted and transparent methods for receiving member feedback and regularly encourage its use.
  • Focus on executing consistently and flawlessly. Learn to repeat success.

Managing strategically and systematically, engaging a team focus and process, having accurate data, research and feedback that shows where you are today and understanding your goals for the future will enable you to achieve success and establish your club as a “Favorite Place” where your members will dine often.

In our clubs, the goal should not be to have the best gourmet dining served at every meal. We just want to provide consistently good dining that members will use frequently because it is one of their favorite places to dine. For more information or to arrange a complimentary First Impressions Visit at your club, please click here feel out the First Impressions form 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
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