It is incumbent on boards and management to know what it costs to maintain members’ expectations of quality, and then to have the guts to have dues that are realistic to cover those costs.
The headline above may sound like sacrilege—who doesn’t like the whole concept of Girl Scout cookies? You have delightful little girls, using the concept of network marketing, mostly to family members, selling something everyone likes (cookies) to help support a great organization. What I dislike is the execution, not the concept.
Every year the cookies get smaller, the quality declines, and it is easy to know the reason why: The Girl Scout organization wants to maximize revenue and minimize cost, all on the backs of those earnest little girls. The staffs at headquarters get raises, and the cookies get lousier.
So what in the world does this have to do with the club industry? No club (save for perhaps a very few) operates without budget constraints, and that is as it should be. However, clubs operate, for the most part, at the higher end of the economic spectrum—so the fact is, members can afford what is necessary to maintain the standards of service they expect. But there is always pressure to reduce costs, especially because most clubs are very reluctant to raise club dues.
This perspective necessitates that cuts get made, hopefully where members won’t notice them. But inevitably the cuts do get noticed, especially in food and beverage and housekeeping. At first it’s the little things, but it adds up. Pretty soon, dining participation declines and you notice that the clubhouse and locker rooms aren’t as tidy as they used to be. Maybe the pool isn’t as clean as it normally is, either. All of this is the logical outcome of club management that is encouraged by the Board to rein in costs.
I’m not suggesting there isn’t room in any club operation for serious cost control. But it is incumbent on boards and management to know what it costs to maintain members’ expectations of quality, and then to have the guts to have dues that are realistic to cover those costs.
To do otherwise is to engage in selling virtual Girl Scout cookies.