There are some people in this world whose sole purpose in life is to discover new and innovative ways of being offended. From the moment they step out of bed, they are consumed by the single purpose of being slighted, ignored, taken for granted and usurped.
There are some people in this world whose sole purpose in life is to discover new and innovative ways of being offended. From the moment they step out of bed, they are consumed by the single purpose of being slighted, ignored, taken for granted and usurped. These splendid fellows then arrive at the golf club and hector the first unfortunate person they encounter, which is often, although far from exclusively, the Club Manager. What do you, your fellow staff members or Board do to deserve such opprobrium? Here at the top five ways to offend your members:
1. Restrict access to the course: Reasonably minded and considerate members understand the need to aerate the greens, sell tee times to visitors and host a major golf tournament but in every club there are a few members who care only that they get to play golf at the same time, on the same day, every week. Deny this group of members a tee time they consider sacrosanct and you will generate screams of protest from this user group.
2. Allow ‘other’ members to break rules: The self proclaimed guardian angels of the club will protest to the highest court in the land (if necessary) should you allow any club rule be broken by accident or by design by a member or visitor. Naturally, in the warped minds of the complainers, it is quite permissible for them to break whatever rules that inhibit their unfettered use of the facilities.
3. Encourage poor service: There are a surprising number of members who consider that it is entirely acceptable to arrive unannounced on Easter Sunday with their family of twelve and expect to be seated instantaneously and fed within minutes. Should your staff fail to comply with such requests, it often results in howls of protest directed at the club authorities.
4. Run out of stock: It is irrelevant whether 200 visitors have just vacated the clubhouse that was designed to accommodate half that number, should there be no soap in a dispenser, or no fish left on the menu, or no Kummel in the bar, a sharply written letter is the least that can be expected from the member who feels that their inalienable membership rights have been denied.
5. Generate change of any description: Whether it is a format of a competition, the type of sand in the bunkers, or the colour of the annual diary, some members simply cannot cope with change. Should you be the unfortunate person at the helm when such change is implemented, you must expect the appropriate amount of derision to come your way.
There is a limit to the lengths any club manager can and should go to mitigate against such complaints. After taking the most obvious steps in communication, and staff training, your complaint factory (or office, as it is otherwise known) has to be geared up to cope with those that you have upset.
1. Get it into perspective: The tiny minority of members that complain are generally not representative. Remind yourself and your staff that such difficult characters exist in every club and in every walk of life.
2. Agree: One of the most effective methods of diffusing a complaint is to agree whenever possible. For example, when there is a stock shortage, accept that this is unacceptable and that you will investigate the stock levels immediately with a view to ensuring that there are always adequate levels of Kummel, whilst explaining some of the difficulties that this may pose.
3. Remind the member that you are merely carrying out the wishes of the club. You could add that as an employee, you are not at liberty to alter club policy, or turn away revenue, or whatever and if the complainer wishes, he or she should write to the Board with a suggestion on how the club could be improved.
Finally, dealing with complaints is an integral part of the job of a club manager. Establish your own coping strategy as quickly as you can in any new post and embrace the issue with gusto, rather than shy away. Most hard core, repetitive complainers will respect an honest and considered reply from a manager that shows a little steel. Those managers that buckle quickly, will be seen as a soft target and complaints will increase, whilst those managers that are too blunt in their response are disliked and their career may mirror that of a football club manager.
Good luck and have fun.