As membership numbers continue to grow, having a proactive and creative Membership Director, and supporting department, has become a much more critical aspect of effective club management.
Basketball coach Larry Brown described those who play the position of point guard as “there to serve others [and] to keep them involved and organized.”
As membership rolls continue to swell and wait lists begin to form—for the first time at many properties—that also seems to be a fitting description of how the position of Membership Director is taking on added importance at clubs across the country.
For years, the position wasn’t much more than a glorified administrative job at many clubs, and in fact was often given as a promotion, or add-on responsibility, to someone who had loyally performed secretarial or clerical duties for general managers or other departments. In these cases, it required a pleasant personality and an ability to respond properly to requests from existing and prospective members—but many of those in the position weren’t involved much, if at all, with strategic decisions, or looked to for the development of initiatives to help grow the business.
But that is now proving to be much more the exception than the rule. As clubs’ membership numbers continue to grow as part of the positive fallout from the pandemic, having a proactive and creative Membership Director, and supporting department, has become a much more critical aspect of effective club management.
And yes, I said supporting department—many clubs have found that there are too many responsibilities to make this a one-person show anymore. Where “marketing” was often also lumped in with the title and position, that is now being broken out separately, along with functions like communications, sales and training, all under the direction of a Membership Director.
The backgrounds and skills being brought to the Membership Director position are also reflecting much greater variety and sophistication. The column contributed by Evan Keimig from The Golf Club of Georgia in our August issue provides the latest evidence of this, not only through the fresh perspectives he provides for how to approach the responsibilities of the position, but also by the experiences in advertising and sports marketing that he’s brought to the job.
As they bring the ball up for their teams, membership directors are also being asked now to call and run much more complicated plays. Here are just some of the areas we now see them taking a lead role to help put in motion:
– Restructuring membership categories and initiation/dues structures to best fit the needs of all members—and the club’s financial goals.
– Properly indoctrinating new members to ensure their full satisfaction in the critical first months and years.
– Helping to ensure that all members continue to gain full value and satisfaction from club amenities and events as the property’s population grows (and the greater potential for dissatisfaction about access, the various member types on site, etc. is created).
– Making full and effective use of all available communication platforms, to ensure maximum reach to all membership segments.
– Establishing and maintaining a wait list effectively, to make sure ripe prospects don’t fall off the vine
In response to how the position is changing and growing in importance, we are putting together a new webinar series that will feature insights from membership directors and general managers of leading clubs, for how to reposition and direct membership departments and staffs to transition beyond traditional duties and focus on vital areas for future success. Watch for upcoming details on www.clubandresortbusiness.com. Maybe we’ll see if we can get someone to show off their dribbling and passing skills, too.