The First Steps in Strategic Facility Planning

5 Steps Strategic Facility Planning

The temptation that most club boards have in their enthusiasm to begin planning a needed facility program is immediately hiring the architect.

Board members think they know what their club needs, so off they go, hiring the architect and designing what they want; but, not what members want or what the club really needs. This happens more times than you would think. McMahon Group is now working with four clubs that started their clubhouse planning the wrong way. The result in each instance is the development of plans that are way too costly, have wasted a year’s worth of time and spent thousands of dollars on worthless architectural drawings.

If you want to plan club facilities properly, efficiently and cost effectively, involve the members first by asking them what they want and are willing to pay for. It is surprising how smart they are! By involving the membership in the planning process from the beginning, planning stays on course and achieving membership approval of a project is all but assured.

It is important to note that a club hiring its final architect before knowing what it needs to build is like “getting the cart before the horse”.

Every architect has certain talents they excel in. Some specialize in renovations, while others in new clubhouses. Some firms specialize in interior design, while others in exterior design. When a club hires its final architect before it knows what it wants to build, it can end up with a design team that is not best suited for the final project.

If your club needs facility improvements, start by conducting a membership survey and focus groups. Then plan your facilities strategically so the project is approved. Finally, once the project is approved, interview and hire the best suited architect to design the approved project.

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About Bill McMahon

Vice President

Bill is a private club planner providing strategic planning, member research analysis and facility planning services for private clubs across North America. Bill joined McMahon Group in 1999 and has worked with over 200 clubs helping to solve their strategic and facility needs.

Bill is Co-Editor of Club Trends, a quarterly report published with the National Club Association (NCA). He has written for many private club publications like The BoardRoom Magazine, Club Director and more, and has been a featured speaker at national conferences, local chapters and other associations serving the private club industry. He is also on the NCA’s Communications Committee.

Bill has been instrumental in developing and enhancing the McMahon Group online presence. He created and runs Clubtopia® ( – an online business directory of firms and companies serving the club industry.

Bill’s club memberships have included Bellerive Country Club (St. Louis), Glen Echo Country Club (St. Louis) and the Missouri Athletic Club (St. Louis). He proudly serves on the Board of Cinema St. Louis ( and is Second Vice President on the Board of the Tennessee Society of St. Louis.


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