Members at private clubs are predisposed to a certain level of support simply because of the opportunity to serve them through one-on-one contact and pride of ownership.
In days of yore, when private clubs had wait lists, life was different — take their money and let them in. Today, it is imperative that the club has well-trained staff handling membership sales.
Imagine a person selling a $25,000. to $75,000 membership when they have never played golf. What do they show first on the property tour? The part of the club that appeals to them the most – the beautiful dining room and the kitchen?
Furthermore, they don’t know or understand any of the reasons someone would even join a club, but there they are introducing a person to a long term relationship. Member sales should be handled by a well-trained professional who is not on commission.
Once a new member has been accepted by the club, they should be invited to a special New Member Orientation lunch.
During this meeting, the new person is shown around the club in complete detail, given a lock to their locker, a bag tag for the club storage, issued an account number and a members’ handbook.
They should be introduced to key staff and told how to best make full use of their new membership.
It is at this time that the staff member handling the introduction very politely, delicately, but firmly, explains the expectations of the club, which might include dress code, responsibility for guests, pro shop purchases, lesson programs and how to benefit from the tournament program.
Nobody wants to join a new private club and not know what to do and they need to be treated with dignity, respect and consideration.
Only four things separate a golf professional from all other business operators. They are rules experts, custom club fitters, teachers and tournament organizers. Yes, they have to be a merchandiser, a player, a manager, a diplomat, among other roles, but only four things separate them.
Professionals at private clubs will be called upon far more often to display skills in these areas than their public course counterparts and must be an expert in them.
When introduced to a new member, a golf professional should try to ensure these integral roles are presented to new members, who should be invited to either join the golf professional in a game or join a group of hand-selected members. This will get the newcomer started.
Sure, the business has changed and sure, it’s difficult, but a properly-organized sales program and thorough new member orientation will go a long way towards attracting more new members and ensuring new member extract the most benefit for their money.