Strategic Planning For Your Club is Not an Option, It is a Necessity

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You Must Know Where You Are Going Before Starting The Journey!

Never before has such pressure, both economic and social, been put on club Boards and General Managers to provide clubs that meet the ever-changing lifestyles of members and their families. Members rely on their club for social, recreational, and business interaction. No longer are private clubs the enclave of only the very wealthy. Today, memberships cross all social, religious, racial and economic lines. In effect, there is a club for everyone as our society becomes more diverse and unified. The big challenge for clubs today is to be relevant in a society with diversifying groups within it. Clubs by nature are usually more traditional and value their histories. So, we have to respect the past, but plan for the future to keep clubs viable. While clubs come in all types, many non-club competitors exist in their marketplaces.

Changing lifestyles are also significantly impacting clubs. Important challenges like providing good value for cost, achieving high member utilization and facing new, non-club competition can only be addressed successfully when a club has a strategic plan and is following it. The most challenging issues for clubs continue to be associated with membership, governance, operations, facility adequacy, finances, and creating very satisfied members. Who would have thought having too many members would be a challenge? However, good strategic planning means little, unless a club’s Board and management has a working partnership able to implement their strategic plan. So when we say strategic plan, we mean having a comprehensive understanding of a club’s mission that clearly states its purpose and provides a business strategy for its success. Strategic planning is not facility planning, but facility planning can be a part of strategic planning.

A club’s mission statement is its most important strategic guide to success, and it must clearly identify a club’s four key characteristics of:

  1.    Who it serves, 
  2.    What it provides, 
  3.    What quality does it strive for, 
  4.    What makes it unique?


Everything a club does should be in sync with its strategic plan. This is why clubs need to be continually update and prioritize their strategic plans annually after each Board election. Private club strategic planning should not just be a single-focus activity for membership growth, facility improvements, improving governance or driving finances. The planning has to be unified and involve every aspect of a club because everything that affects club success is interrelated. Facilities affect membership, finances affect facilities, membership affects finances, etc. 


Strategic planning for clubs today is a continual process, not a one-and-done exercise. It needs leadership and experience to do it correctly. This is why McMahon Group has spent so much effort in promoting strategic planning first because everything a club does must spawn from it. Here are the key steps in strategic planning for your club:

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About Christian Clerc

An abiding delight in the complexity of creation, both physical and social, is inspiration to Christian’s strategic and design insights. Christian enjoys following technology transfer across industries and often translate technology insights to improve workflows.
Listening to and then synthesizing feedback from Board, Committee and stakeholder meetings into actionable insights in the context of the organization’s leadership priorities is something Christian enjoys. Christian continues to strengthen his skills in visualizing spatial concepts, outline financial impacts derived from priorities, and develop strategies.

Over several years, Christian examined hundreds of Club’s surveys and developed a standardized template of topics covering things important to members. The resulting McMahon Membership Survey database contains industry benchmarks derived from over 12 years and 150,000 survey responses representing all Club types and is used as the backbone for client analysis and survey engagements.

In addition to training and supporting new staff across several departments, Christian also works closely with Club planners and leadership across all departments to develop innovative services that help our clients in a rapidly changing world.

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