McMahon’s Insights For Approving Major Projects

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business man holding light bulb on desk in office and writing on paper with coins or money on work desk also for idea,energy,power concept.

(The Secret is in the Survey and Presentation that Follows)

Over the past 37 years McMahon has won approval for hundreds and hundreds of club projects of every size and type ($2.5 billion worth), and in all those projects two critically important steps have had the most impact on success; first, the initial membership survey and second, the informative membership presentation. The process must begin right and end right with good communications. Every project should begin with the membership survey that assures members’ ownership and support. Every facility project should also have a concluding presentation that communicates the best plan with good architectural concepts, accurate cost, feasible funding and a concluding straw poll survey that all but assures a project meets with members’ approval.

Many times a club’s Board in a well-meaning effort will try to push through a Board-driven plan. Sometimes Boards even try to avoid member voting. Our advice is, don’t do it. Take the time to involve the members and always let them vote. They are far smarter than we give them credit for. If we educate members on the facts and explain a facility program’s rationale, the members always make the right decision.

As for trying to rush a facility project into a quick vote, again don’t do it. Take the time to survey, design a good project, understand the project’s rationale and go through all the presentation steps of:

  1.    PowerPoint presentations at informational, membership meetings.
  2.    Developing a printed and online project booklet for mail-out!
  3.    Using the straw poll facility opinion questionnaire to test member acceptance of a project prior to voting.
  4.    Then and only then with all members’ input collected should the membership vote be done. One reality we have learned at McMahon is, the larger the project, the slower the education process should be to assure approval.

Going the extra mile in educating the members on a needed facility project makes all the difference between success or failure. Yes, it costs a little more in doing it right, but it always delivers and avoids the controversies and members’ rejection of needed facility programs. 

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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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