As clubs continue to have success with their new-membership initiatives as part of their bounceback from the recession, effective programming for properly orienting and welcoming new members into the fold has taken on greater importance. To maximize the impact of their orientation efforts, several clubs have implemented fresh twists to traditional procedures, and have approached the need for orientation from a variety of unique angles.
For Saucon Valley Country Club (SVCC) in Bethlehem, Pa., the task only begins after the initial new-member orientation has been held. SVCC adheres to a strict follow-up regimen for every new member that includes these regular steps:
• Food & Beverage Follow Up after 30 days, with a call from the Clubhouse Manager to see how the new member’s dining experience has been, discuss opportunities for corporate or personal entertaining, and review upcoming events.
• Activity Follow Up after 60 days, with a call from the Director of Golf and/or Director of Racquet Sports (based on the member’s interests and privileges), to encourage involvement in lessons, clinics, and upcoming events, and also explore pairing the new member up with others from the club.
• Membership Follow Up after 90 days, with a call from the Membership Director or Membership Committee Chair to check on the overall membership experience to date, as well as explore any leads the new member might be able to provide for other friends or colleagues who might be interested in joining the club.
• General Manager Follow Up after one year, generated through a congratulatory letter that invites the member to a complimentary dinner. As part of this step, “friendly reminders” and suggestions are made for how to become even more involved with club activities and to share SVCC experiences with friends, family and colleagues.
“After new-member orientation, we needed an organized way to ensure that new members’ needs are being met and that they’re integrating well into club life,” says Kimberly Clark Warren, CCM, SVCC’s General Manager. “Our New Member Follow Up Chart keeps all areas of the club interacting with new members until they celebrate their one-year anniversary.
“We can implement this easily on the staff side by using a document on a shared drive,” Warren adds. “All feedback is brought to team meetings, as we discuss ways to improve and share feedback among departments.”
Clubs are also taking steps to ensure they can get maximum benefit out of their initial opportunities to host new members on site. At Belle Meade Country Club in Nashville, Tenn., new members are invited, immediately following their acceptance into the club, by the General Manager/COO for an extensive, personalized tour that includes all back-of-the-house areas.
In addition to introducing the new member to staff as they are encountered during the tour, the experience includes a detailing of Belle Meade’s rich history, personal invitations to upcoming events, a review of pertinent club rules “in a relaxed, positive manner,” and then concludes with a glass of champagne in the club’s wine cellar.
Following the tour, a photo of the member(s) is taken to be included in the club’s monthly newsletter, and members are given a reusable, logo’d canvas bag filled with a club history, club roster and other goodies.
At Champions Run in Omaha, Neb., younger new members aren’t left out of the orientation process. But because using the right medium is important to getting the right messages to this member segment, Champions Run had its Kids Committee help to develop an orientation video that is now shown to all new younger members.
The members of the committee drove the idea by identifying the important items they felt new younger members needed to know—including where free cookies could be found—and then wrote the scripts for the video and did their own filming. The video is now sent to all parents who have kids who are joining the club.
The Goal: Go beyond traditional member orientation to develop and implement effective approaches for maximizing the effectiveness of initial and follow-up orientation efforts, and to also make sure younger members are properly welcomed and educated.
The Plan: Saucon Valley Country Club developed a New Member Follow-Up Chart to keep all management areas interacting with new members on a regular basis throughout their first year. Belle Meade Country Club emphasizes immediate, personalized and extensive tours with the General Manager that make full introductions to staff members and includes a look into the back of the house. Champions Run had its Kids Committee develop and produce a special video that’s given to new-member parents to share with their kids.
The Payoff: More organized and targeted ways to ensure that new members’ needs are being met, and that they’re integrating well into club life.