In addition to helping staff members improve their job performance, “Seattle Golf Club University” is designed to enhance their future employment opportunities and prepare them for next-level interviews to advance their careers.
Every property tries to create a memorable experience for its members and guests. But truly successful facilities do the same for their employees.
Last fall, Seattle (Wash.) Golf Club launched “Seattle Golf Club University,” a series of classes to help staff members learn and grow to improve their job performance. And the ultimate goal was to enhance their future employment opportunities, by preparing them for next-level interviews to advance in their careers.
“We have a lot of young, aspiring general managers,” says General Manager Kipp Johnson. “I want to educate them and help them understand the club world.”
Many of the property’s hourly staff members have restaurant and club experience, as well as a desire to grow in the private club industry, and Johnson wants to help them “see things more from 10,000 feet.” The classes have also helped him to challenge his management team to think critically about how and why they offer services in a particular manner.
To fashion the University’s original curriculum, Johnson e-mailed a list of 10 potential topics to his staff that were all geared toward up-and-coming managers’ interests and needs, and the staff ranked them in order of preference. He also asked if there were other topics they would like to have covered. He promoted the two-hour educational sessions in the employee newsletter and in pay envelopes.
The first of the school’s four PowerPoint presentations was held in October. In this session, “Food & Beverage Costing,” Johnson reviewed how pricing strategies are formulated and why they vary from one operation to the next. Assistant General Manager/Controller Matt Morgan taught the second class, “F&B Budgeting 101,” with instruction on how to budget a food-and-beverage department from scratch. Labor budgets, sales forecasting, computing the cost of sales and basic supply management were also covered.
In a class on “Profit & Loss Statements,” Johnson explained how to budget for and price an event. For last year’s final session, staff members held an internal “Idea Fair” to discuss various event concepts, including what has worked, what hasn’t, and why.
“We have a lot of active involvement and engagement [among the staff],” says Johnson. “It’s an interactive discussion, rather than a lecture.”
To engage class members, the instructors use spreadsheets, share financials and real-life documents, and distribute handouts. The students also took home spreadsheets and documents they could play around with and use to create scenarios they might encounter in their jobs.
Seattle GC made plans to hold University sessions during its non-peak season in October, November, and January through March. In 2019, each class had six to 12 attendees—but for 2020, Johnson expanded the University to also include employees from other member clubs of the local Evergreen Chapter of the Club Management Association of America. Some of the sessions are being held at other properties as well. “We want to expose the managers to different facilities,” says Johnson.
This past January, Seattle GC’s Food & Beverage Manager, Jennifer Barnhart, held “Event Planning 101” onsite. She guided attendees through the event-planning process, from fielding the initial inquiry to sending the final bill.
In the first of two February sessions, Johnson taught “Leadership 101,” to help class members enhance their leadership styles and skills. Class members also went to Columbia Hospitality for a “How to Build a Resume” session led by that company’s talent recruitment specialists. Class members were invited to bring a copy of their resume for a free review as well.
The Evergreen Chapter is also offering “The Interview,” a one-hour mock interview with three to five local general managers, who will ask questions that focus on a job candidate’s desired next-level position. Interviews will be by appointment only, and all participants will receive a personalized recap with specific feedback on how to improve their interviewing skills.
Later this year, Johnson and Evergreen Chapter President Jordan Pitre, CCM, Assistant General Manager/Club Manager at Wing Point Golf & Country Club in Bainbridge Island, Wash., will co-teach a finance class.
All of the classes have also been well-received by Seattle GC’s hourly employees, Johnson reports. “It has definitely created more questions from the staff,” he says. “They’re trying to understand and learn how operations work, and it has made them more accountable.
“It feeds my soul as well,” he adds. Even if that means that some Seattle GC staff members will ultimately seek job opportunities elsewhere.
“It’s good to see there’s a lot of young, hungry talent out there,” Johnson says. “Our hope is they put what they’ve learned to use. We’re trying to give them the proper tools to be successful in their career.”