Retention – 7 Top Tips for Improving Loyalty

It is widely accepted wisdom that member and customer loyalty is critical to a clubs’ sustainability. We are all aware of the old adage which says that acquiring a new member will cost five times more than keeping an existing one.

It is widely accepted wisdom that member and customer loyalty is critical to a clubs’ sustainability. We are all aware of the old adage which says that acquiring a new member will cost five times more than keeping an existing one. According to Bain and Co., a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%. And if those numbers don’t impress you, Gartner Group statistics tell us that 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers.

Knowing all of this and relating it to the challenges faced by clubs in a highly competitive and mobile market, doesn’t make it easy though. Too often a clubs’ marketing and membership efforts are heavily invested in attracting the new rather than on earning the loyalty of the existing.

It has been my privilege as GGA’s managing partner for the EMEA region, to meet and get to know many exceptional club managers and operators throughout the territory, and I have been humbled by their willingness to share their challenges and successes.
For this latest issue of CMAE’s Club Networker, I thought I would share some of the tips that clients and colleagues have found valuable in earning member and guest loyalty at their own facilities;

  1. Consistently deliver on your promise. Under-promise and over-deliver. Too often in a clubs eagerness to attract business, services and experiences can be over-stated. The customer is sold one thing and then, after the honeymoon period is over, it’s back to business as usual (bad customer service). Be consistent and if you make a promise, deliver it.
  2. Focus on the small details. Getting a lot of the smaller detail right in the short term, earns the respect and admiration of your visiting guests in the long term. For example a General Manager recently shared with us his routine of sending a personal written note to members’ guests after their visit to the club. He saw this investment in time as an investment in his members’ sense of pride that they belong to a club that demonstrates such respect to their guests.
  3. Get personal. Make the effort to really get to know your members. That’s not just by name, but importantly their likes and interests and then act on this knowledge. A ‘touch-list’ is a time management theory, which encourages you to plan who you will reach out to and make an effort to engage with, with a view to touching each and every member at some point throughout the season.
  4. Prioritise the customer experience above the value you get back. Clubs spend a lot of money, time and creative resources in an attempt to increase the actions they want customers to take. Why not approach it from the customers perspective and make them the centre of every conversation. Invest that time and resource into the creating of an exceptional experience. That sort of customer-centric philosophy across your club will assure you are doing everything you can to build loyalty.
  5. Measure it! By regularly and consistently reaching out to your members and guests for feedback on what is working, and what isn’t, you can stay on top of trends and adjust as needed. Include them in your decisions. And if you do ask, get back to your customers about what you heard, and what you plan to do about it. Nothing will destroy loyalty faster than asking but not taking any action.
  6. Give your regular guests the inside track. Treat your regular guests like insiders. Let them know what’s going on before you tell anyone else. Let them have the inside track and then they will feel a vested interest in staying with you. As the old adage goes, “treat your company like family and your family like company.” Apply that thinking to your most loyal customers and they will stick with you.
  7. Invest in your people. It is your staff who will make or break your loyalty efforts. Invest in giving them the skills, tools and attitude to deliver great experiences for your members and guests.

Rob Hill is a Partner at GGA (formerly KPMG Golf Industry Practice), the largest consulting firm in the world dedicated to club and golf-related businesses. GGA provides advisory and support services to more than 2,700 clients worldwide from offices in Dublin (Ireland), Phoenix (USA) and Toronto (Canada), specialising in strategic business planning, market and member research, operational performance analysis, financial and capital planning, and non-profit governance. You can learn more of their credentials and expertise at