We rarely hit a dry well with any club we talk with, no matter what their size or profile, as we probe for notable examples of successful programs, practices and initiatives that others can learn from.
Occasionally I get some pushback from managers who tell me that while it’s interesting to read our articles on how some of the most prominent clubs in the industry (such as Ocean Reef Club) are operated, it’s often hard to relate what they do to how smaller and more “typical” clubs must function. My club just doesn’t have the resources or the wherewithal to go much beyond making sure we do a good job with the most basic things our members expect, I sometimes hear.
If you feel like that and are going to be at the Club Managers Association of America conference in San Diego later this month, I suggest you make sure to spend some time browsing through the entries that will be set up for the conference’s annual “Idea Fair.”And make sure that includes looking at the ideas submitted by the student chapters, too.
If you do that, and then make a list of what you think are the best ideas on display and match them up with the size of the organizations that implemented them, I think you’ll find that just as many good ones came from the more “typical” clubs (or even from student groups that have no resources at all) as from the industry’s big players.
Furthermore, you’ll find that the concepts generated by the first group are often even more notable for how cost-effectively they can be executed, precisely because they were conceived and put into action by managers that have become especially good at making the most of more limited resources.
As guiding-principle quotes go, I’ve always thought Clint Eastwood (as Dirty Harry) was on point (literally) when he said, “A man’s got to know his limitations” in Magnum Force. And there’s probably some wisdom in that as it would apply to service organizations, too, especially when it comes to making sure you and your team don’t overstep how you’ve been entrusted with members’ dollars.
At the same time, while I’m not the biggest Steve Jobs fan, I think he provided some valuable insight and words to live by when he said, “Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”
The exciting thing for us, as we cover the rebounding club and resort market right now, is to see how a lot of clubs’ management teams are really “getting it,” in a variety of new and innovative ways, when it comes to creating memorable member experiences. And we rarely hit a dry well with any club we talk with, no matter what their size or profile, as we probe for notable examples of successful programs, practices and initiatives that we can present in our pages for others in the industry to learn from.
It’s not hard to find scientific “research” that tries to explain why people often get their best ideas in the shower. I don’t know if I buy into all of that—but I do believe in the value of immersing yourself in relevant information and giving it plenty of opportunity to soak into your own pores.