The Essential Relationship Between Strategic & Facility Planning

Jackson & Ryan Architects Briar Club Photos for McMahon Group Presentation4

Club facility planning for major capital projects is probably the most challenging task a private club manager and Board will do. Good facility planning sets a club up for success or lost opportunities. But interestingly, true facility success is more dependent on initial strategic planning than on architectural elegance. Historically, clubs have approached facility planning with groups of members being able to push through their pet projects; so clubs build squash courts, swimming pools or golf projects, not in sync with any long-range business or membership growth strategy. And the results were millions of dollars spent with little return-on-investment which grows club usage or attracts new members.

Realistically, in today’s world of spending many millions of dollars on club facilities, there must be a return-on-investment, and for clubs this means growing membership size and club usage. This spells club success. However, to achieve this club success, it does not start with the architect, interior designer, or contractor. It starts with understanding the basic aspects of a club which are only understood by the Board and manager continually defining the club’s mission of:

  • Who it serves
  • What it must provide
  • What quality level it must achieve
  • What makes in unique in its marketplace

In other words, once a club has identified who it is and what it must be with a Strategic Plan, it can build facilities, develop programs, and market the club through its own members to achieve its strategic mission.

The Strategic Planning Refresher

In today’s world it is interesting that club strategic planning does not have to be a lengthy year-long process. In fact, for most clubs facing facility improvement needs, they already have a Strategic Plan in place. But what does need to happen with a pending facility project looming out there is a Strategic Planning Refresher with the board and management team. This refresher only needs one meeting preceded by an online, mini-survey with the board and management team. At this refresher, the club’s mission/purpose is studied in the context of how needed facility improvements can help achieve a club’s goals. This way improvements can be prioritized in importance so the most important projects get done first, so new members are attracted to the club. And, just as important, existing members are re-energized to use their club and propose new members. So, if your club is in need of facility improvements, start the process with the Strategic Planning Refresher.

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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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