Not All Membership Surveys Are Equal A McMahon Group Survey vs. an In-House Survey

Dining Satisfaction Chart

Recently, we have seen an increase in clubs conducting in-house member surveys.

This is due to the availability of survey tools online and embedded in club software. When McMahon Group begins a survey assignment, the club often provides us with their last in-house survey results. More often than not, the results are based on low member participation and consist mostly of anecdotal comments in response to open-ended questions. Not surprisingly, these results are difficult to interpret, not actionable and end up in a file drawer.

Next time, consider a McMahon Group Membership Survey and its benefits listed below.

  • Asks the Right Questions: We customize each survey to ask questions that are objective, unbiased and will provide the club with results that are clear, concise, quantifiable and easy to interpret. It is extremely important that a survey is not perceived by members as agenda-driven.
  • Transparency & Member Involvement: Our survey process starts with focus groups involving the members, board and management to identify issues to test in the survey. The focus groups build member consensus and buy-in by directly involving them in the process. At the end, we develop a special letter to communicate the key survey findings to the membership.
  • High Average Member Response Rates: We recommend that both members and spouses complete the survey to obtain input from all eligible users. Our average participation rate is well over 50%, which provides a high degree of confidence in the results and a very small margin of error (typically under 3%). With such response rates, it is hard for members to argue that the results are not representative.
  • National Benchmarking Database: Our database contains over 1.5 million survey responses from both members and spouses. We compare each club’s results to the responses from similar clubs we recently surveyed. This is invaluable in understanding the results and providing perspective. For example, as shown in the chart (right), without the benchmark comparisons the natural inclination is to focus on Menu Variety because it has the lowest rating. However, it is average compared to other clubs. The real issue is Speed of Service as it received a rating well below the average at other clubs.
  • Provides Recommendations: Finally, we provide recommendations on the best way to act on the results. The recommendations are based on our extensive survey research and our experience working with clients to develop solutions to issues identified in the survey results.
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About Tom Strutz

Senior Vice President

Hailing from the Los Angeles area, Tom left sunny Southern California at the ripe old age of 17 to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point.  After graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering, he spent 11 years on active duty in the Army and then another 11 years in the Army Reserves, eventually retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  Along the way, Tom earned a Master’s Degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management from Florida International University in Miami.  During his 22-years in the Army, he had a chance to see the world, with assignments in South Korea, Germany, the Pentagon, Virginia, Indiana, Florida, Alabama, Maryland and Washington state.

Tom has been with the McMahon Group since 1990, serving as head of the survey and market research division.  During that time, he has worked with over 1,500 private clubs on a wide variety of survey and research projects, achieving the rank of “Survey Guru” at McMahon.

Over the years, Tom has been a jack of many sports – golf, tennis, racquetball, squash, water skiing, snow skiing, running – but a master of none.  His current pastime passions are gardening, cycling and nature photography – often combining the latter two on rides at a lake near his home in suburban St. Louis.

Tom and his wife Marlene have two children in their 20’s.  Katy is an artist working at an animation studio in Portland, Oregon, and Marcus is studying Mechanical Engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

More articles by Tom Strutz
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