Even if you’re open to the public, there’s lasting value in finding more and different ways to invite people
There’s a lot of interest these days in making takeout service a much bigger part of clubs’ food and beverage operations. When talking with ClubCorp CEO Eric Affeldt for this month’s cover story, he mentioned that 15% of the sales of the Outback restaurant chain are now takeout and added, “We should be doing that, too.”
ClubCorp’s retiring Executive VP of Membership, Frank Gore, who certainly learned how to tell a real trend from a fad in his 30 years with the company, thinks takeout is a genuine opportunity, too—he even foresees a day when club members will text in their orders and have a tag on their cars that would be read electronically as they drive up to the clubhouse, to signal your service people that they’re outside.
Another part of our ClubCorp story (how they now open their doors to the public for their annual Charity Classic, and over 50% of the attendees have been non-members), along with our feature in this issue on community relations (“It Takes A Village,”), speaks to the growing importance of “take in” service, too.
By this I mean looking for every opportunity—or more opportunities, if you’re already open to the public—to invite and expose people from outside your membership or usual clientele to come onto the property and get a better idea of what goes on inside club gates or walls. And these efforts should extend beyond the usual occasions (tournaments, weddings/banquets, etc.).
Check out the news item about how Sub-Air Systems brought a bunch of high-school kids in for more than a quick tour; everyone in the company really took some time to help the students learn and understand about things they might otherwise never know about. Isn’t this something every property could, and should, do on a regular basis?
Meanwhile, there’s a dispute going on right now in Baltimore, where a club wants to sell off part of its property to the developer of an elder-care facility. The club has good reasons for wanting to sell the land, and should be able to do what it wants with its property. But civic advocates are protesting; they feel the sale will ruin the neighborhood by destroying green space and creating more congestion. A lot of emotional words are being used, and it only stands to get more heated during zoning hearings that lie ahead.
Much of what’s being said in objection, though, is clearly based in ignorance about what clubs are, who belongs to them, who runs them, and what they contribute to the community. It looks like the club will have a real challenge getting the sale to go through, because it’s going to have the overcome the uninformed objections of people who’ve always been on the outside looking in. The situation begs the question: Would more “take in” efforts have made a difference?