The Secret to Club Success

Strategic Management

As we look to the future of the private club industry, we see two interconnected issues having the most impact on club success:

  1. How clubs are governed
  2. How clubs are managed

Without effective leadership in both areas, clubs will languish and slowly decline. The days of member waiting lists to join golf and country clubs are over, except for those few prosperous cities and world-class golf and country clubs.

Effective governance is probably the biggest challenge for continuity in club success as constant turnover in club presidents and board members is a perfect recipe for ineffective governance. How can anything meaningful get accomplished in a continual game of musical chairs at the board and committee levels? This must be fixed.

Then we get to managing clubs where clubs do not have clear strategic directions from their boards on what they want to achieve. We increasingly hear from boards that club managers don’t have the right skills when the boards themselves have not provided a clear idea of what they want the clubs to be.

The boards of successful clubs of the future must have a close and respectful working partnership with their manager/COO.

Boards need to set and approve the mission and vision for their club. The manager is then responsible for implementing and fulfilling the promise. It is necessary for boards and clubs to have a strategic direction. It is equally necessary for managers to then think and manage strategically. They must employ a strategic management process in managing their club’s day-to-day business and, more importantly, achieve their club’s overall strategic mission and vision goals.

Strategic Management Process Components

  • Set Goals: The vision and goals of the organization must be clearly stated, understood and agreed upon by governance, membership and management. The process to achieve these goals and objectives then becomes the manager’s responsibility to implement.
  • Analyze: Progress must be measurable in order to be managed. Managers must establish systems to measure accomplishments that are easily reported and logged.
  • Formulate: Once the analysis is done, the club then formulates its strategy of where the required financial resources will come from, and that the appropriate and capable staff is in place to achieve the desired goals.
  • Implement: After formulation of this strategy, the management team executes the plan following the roadmap etched by the strategic plan and process.
  • Evaluate: We’ve now come full circle. The system of measurement (analysis) is now providing progress reports and allowing for goals, strategy formulation and implementation to be readjusted and updated. All of this is focused on the club’s targeted goals as they migrate and re-evaluate year to year.

All the best member-owned private clubs are managed this way. Developing a written strategic plan for your club that articulates its mission and vision, and then turning that plan over to the club’s management team for implementation (using a strategic management process) ensures your club the greatest probability for success. There is no substitute for a true partnership of board and capable management working together to achieve club success. Remember, it all starts with having a good strategic plan to follow.

If your club does not have a current written strategic plan, contact us today to receive information on how McMahon Group can help.

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About Richard Lareau

Director of Member Experience

Richard has worked in private club management since 1992. His more than 24 years of experience as a Club Manager and Chief Operating Officer, achieving the highest levels of success in Board relations and as an operations specialist has garnered him well-earned acclaim in the industry. Successful management systems in team building, food and beverage, human resources, communications, marketing, golf, fitness, aquatics, and youth programming are all in the tool bag he carries with him when visiting clubs seeking help.

He has proven success in developing and implementing strategic plans along with master facility planning, kitchen and dining room design development, and construction management.

Richard is a Certified Club Manager (CCM) and Certified Chief Executive (CCE). He is the winner of the 2009 Mel Rex Award from the Excellence in Club Management® Awards (ECM); and, was awarded Club Manager of the Year by the Texas Lone Star Chapter in 2013 for his achievements and contributions to the private club industry. Richard is an active member of Les Amis des Escoffier, Chaine des Rotisserie, The International Wine Society and a lifetime honorary member of the Catering Executives Club of America.

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