‘What If’ Is Not a Game

By | May 24th, 2018

Joe Barks, Editor, Club & Resort Business

While many excellent club managers and their staffs have helped to pull the industry out of its biggest collective scare in history, it’s important to stay diligent against getting too complacent, and to remain prepared for all possible scenarios.

Things are going pretty well right now for many properties in our industry, and that’s certainly nice to see and a testament to the talents, hard work and perseverance of the many excellent club managers and their staffs who have helped to pull the industry out of its biggest collective scare in history, and in less than ten years at that.

And while I hate to risk bringing on some buzzkill, I still feel compelled to relate some things I’ve heard and seen lately from accomplished and well-respected industry sources, because they do serve as important reminders of the need to stay diligent against getting complacent or too comfortable, and to remain prepared for all possible scenarios.

First, I was at a city club that is doing extremely well, with one of the top dining programs in the country. The GM surprised me when he fired up his office computer to show me an elaborate and extremely detailed presentation he and his CFO had just prepared for the club’s Board. Its sole premise was to show what would happen to the club if the Great Recession of 2008 decided to make a return appearance.

Even more surprisingly, the GM told me that he hadn’t been directed by the Board to prepare the presentation—he decided to put it together after hearing one Director make a casual remark that the economy was starting to look shakier, and that he hoped we weren’t headed for a repeat of a decade ago. Furthermore, this club wasn’t affected all that badly by the downturn the first time around, and has basically shown itself to be recession-proof throughout its long, prosperous history.

But the GM decided it would still be a good, proactive exercise to prepare and present projected numbers for how the club would operate and react if it incurred significant membership reductions and the loss of dues and other revenues over the next five to ten years. He purposely made it a much uglier picture than he expects it would actually be—but says the presentation was still well-received and appreciated by the Board, and didn’t set off any panic or alarms (or raise questions about why he would spend his time that way). And while this GM remains quite confident he’ll now be able to just let the presentation gather dust on a shelf (or go unopened in his hard drive), he takes comfort in knowing that it’s there, “so we’ll already have something we can go by, if needed.”

Another scenario no one wants to think about—but that unfortunately may be more likely to affect a club property before a recurrence of the recession—is an active-shooter situation. But Alan Achatz, CCM, CHE, a former club manager who now consults to the industry on health and safety issues, tells me he’s now addressing that issue in presentations to chapter organizations, and is finding varying degrees of preparedness (if any at all) regarding staff-education programs and awareness training. “There are industry-wide concerns,” Achatz reports.

But concern can only go so far. Achatz recommends that all clubs review (or institute) weapons-in-the-workplace and security policies, in addition to making incident training and prevention, in the context of providing assurance of a safe workplace, a larger priority. I don’t see how any Board or owner could object to spending time on this, either.

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