Know What You Need Before Drawing Useless Plans

The Club Pelican Bay (Naples, FL)
The Club Pelican Bay (Naples, FL)

Quick fixes can quickly backfire

Time and time again, we find boards and their architects approaching club facility needs with little thought about the long-term strategic, financial and member-attracting needs of their club. Since these club leaders have no real strategic understanding of their club’s true mission or its purpose (other than offering what they always have), they react with quick-fix improvements rather than planning with long-term strategic objectives in mind. The bunkers need some improvements, so just fix them. The dining areas are a bit shabby, so just redecorate. The kitchen is having production problems, so just buy a stove. Before a club begins the journey of a facility improvement project, it is the perfect time for the board and management to ask some critical questions about their club. By not identifying strategic issues regarding membership, finances, programs and facility needs first, the results are millions of dollars being spent on projects that appeal to vocal groups of existing members, but do not attract one single new member.

Consider the long-term strategy to properly design club facility improvements

Somehow, someway, club boards have got to think more strategically. If they don’t, their clubs will not be around very long. Their clubs will be impacted with significant debt for projects that do not attract the essential new members of the future. Clubs must have a sound strategic plan that clearly defines their purpose before they spend a single dollar on facility improvements. A club’s board should not hire an architect until they know what it wants to build. You don’t ask architects to tell you what they want for your clubhouse. You give the architects directives based on your club’s non-facility, strategic needs for what must be built, and how much such projects should cost based on member input and the club’s ability to raise the funds. In effect, you plan facilities with strategic objectives in mind.

So, if your club is contemplating facility improvements, take the time to do your homework first and figure out what you are trying to accomplish. With this agreed upon, you can then plan facilities that achieve the essential goals relating to club success. The facility improvements, themselves, should not drive facility projects. The strategic objectives of increasing member satisfaction, increasing loyalty and driving new member attraction are what facility improvements should be all about.

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About Bill McMahon

Vice President

Bill is a private club planner who has been working with McMahon Group since 1999. Bill is Co-Editor of the quarterly trends report, Club Trends, published with the National Club Association (NCA). Bill studied architecture at Arizona State University and graduated from Webster University in St. Louis with a degree in Media Communications.

Bill’s club memberships have included Bellerive Country Club and the Missouri Athletic Club. Bill is also on the NCA’s Communications Committee. In addition, Bill serves on the Board of Cinema St. Louis and is Second Vice President on the Board of The Tennessee Society of St. Louis.

Bill also created and runs the Clubtopia® business directory for the club world located at

More articles by Bill McMahon
McMahon Report - Volume 13, Issue 1 – Jan/Feb 2018
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