Is your Club turning over rocks for new members?

By Chris Duffy CMDip

Walking into the Golf Club I locate the management office where I am pleasantly welcomed by the office assistant who asks me how she can help.

  1. Is there any opportunities to become a member at the club?
  2. If so, can you tell me why should I become a member here rather than the other Golf Clubs in the area?
  3. What benefits do your members receive compared to pay and play visitors.
  4. Can you give me some details on the Clubs strategic plan for the next 3-5 years and how my substantial joining fee will be used?

The assistant is kind enough to offer me a seat, clear the desk of various papers and then proceeds to look at her computer for 2 minutes without another word spoken to print a document. The document printed was the price list of the membership costs and the joining fees which she placed in front of me and started to go through the options, but unfortunately this wasn’t what I was looking for.

Many larger clubs and resorts have specific membership departments or individuals trained in converting enquiries into new members, other Clubs have forward thinking Management Teams who have undertaken training and are now either taking it upon themselves or educating their staff on how to convert enquiries into sales. Most are developing ‘semi-scripted’ procedures for membership enquiries, detailing who and how they should be followed up upon.

Listening to the potential member, making notes on their expectations, why they have come to see the club, what do they require, who they are, current family status etc. We should always be connecting dots or turning over the rocks to find connections. Becoming a member of a Club is often a large expense for any individual or family so making this decision easier for them is in the clubs interest!

  • Does your club have a membership questionnaire for potential new members?
  • Do you offer a complimentary round of golf? Could it be arranged to play with another group of members who are similar ages, with similar family status?
  • Do you offer the potential member a discounted offer to bring some family or friends try the clubs latest menus?
  • Do you introduce him to the Professional? If a new player, maybe a free 20min introduction lesson with the Pro?
  • Do you walk the member through the Club to make them feel like this part of their family house introducing various staff on the journey?

These ideas are basic, simple, and effective ways to get your potential new member to feel part of the family and for many major clubs and resorts this is all normal practice, but what about the smaller clubs?

Price is very important but when someone walks in the club, don’t sit them down and show them the price list. Take them for a walk around the club, have some key questions already thought of, take down the data away from the office, have a coffee in the clubhouse with a view of the course. Invite them back for a game of golf or tennis followed by lunch/dinner with the family. The sale doesn’t have to be done there and then.

Selling a membership is like running the 4 x 100m relay. Take each 100m as part of the sale process:

  • 100m – Introduction, Walking Tour, New Member Questionnaire and offering Club information, what is the Unique Selling Points (USP’s) of the club against others, what benefits you’ll receive as a member, and most importantly WHY your Club is the Club to join. Invite the potential new member for a round of golf, preferably arrange it with other members followed by a lunch or dinner with the family (at a time when the club is busy to ensure a vibrant atmosphere).
  • 100m – Round of Golf with selected members (members selected and potentially rewarded through Club)
  • 100m – Dinner at the Club with family (maybe offer potential new member a 50% discounted price for dinner to help cover Club costs)
  • 100m – Final visit gaining feedback from the potential new member, their impressions, a signature on the membership approval form and glass of champagne to celebrate becoming part of the Club family. Make them feel like a king/queen for the day!

Investing in a potential new member may cost management time and a green fee, but think about the true potential revenue that this new member could bring to your club or resort…..much more than a little time, a green fee and a cup of coffee.

People forget what you said, People forget what you did, People NEVER forget how you made them FEEL!

Chris Duffy recently relocated to Girona, Spain after 12 years in Doha, Qatar. He previously worked as Event Staging Manager at the European Tour Qatar Masters and Head of Golf Operations at Doha Golf Club.  In 2008, he established Oryx Events, a leading Event Management Agency working on many leading Qatar sports events including, Qatar MotoGP, Qatar Tennis Championships and the successful bid for the Qatar World Cup 2022.He is current seeking a return to Golf Club Management having recently completed the CMAE MDP pathway in only 12 months and “can’t wait to return to Club Management where he will be able to use the MDP education in the development of Golf as a game for all.”