Strategic Planning & the Membership Survey

Member Surveys

McMahon Group defines club strategic planning as: “The leadership-initiated process of internal and external analysis of a club’s membership, operations, governance, facilities and marketplace for the purpose of identifying a mission and vision, and establishing strategic goals and action plans that assure a club attains maximum success.”

Clubs are membership organizations, and a key component of any internal analysis is to find out how members feel about the club’s existing facilities, operations, and services, and what their priorities are for the future of the club. A successful strategic plan is one that has the buy-in and support of the membership. To achieve the support of the membership, members should have the opportunity to provide input as the club’s leadership develops the plan. The best way for members to provide input is through a comprehensive membership survey.

The Strategic Planning Membership Survey

The first step in the membership survey process would normally be qualitative research in the form of member focus groups. The purpose of these focus groups is to allow members to participate directly in the planning process, and to identify relevant issues to be incorporated in the membership survey. The comprehensive strategic planning survey, sent to all members and spouses, serves as the quantitative phase of the survey project.

Issues and questions typically addressed on a comprehensive strategic planning survey include:

Existing Conditions (Strengths & Weaknesses):

  • Overall member satisfaction with the club
  • Perceived value of membership
  • Importance of various club activities and member satisfaction with each
  • Effectiveness of club governance and management
  • Effectiveness of club communications
  • Existing facility conditions

Future Issues (Opportunities & Threats):

  • Primary purpose of the club today and tomorrow
  • Club’s Mission and Vision Statements
  • Club’s family orientation
  • Amount of non-member activity such as banquets or golf outings
  • Membership issues (retention and attraction)
  • Potential future facility improvements
  • Funding facility improvements
  • Approval of facility improvements

Surveys of this type typically receive a response rate of over 50%, which provides a very high degree of credibility and confidence that the results provide an accurate representation of membership opinions. Detailed cross tabulations of the results allow for more in-depth analysis as to how responses and percentages differ by variables such as age group, membership tenure, or membership category of respondents.

Armed with the above information, the club’s board/planning committee can then proceed with developing the club’s strategic and facility planning with confidence that whatever is developed will be based on sound membership input.

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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.

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