The Best Private Club Consulting Advice I Have

Today I received an interesting email all the way from Dublin, Ireland. A gentleman reached out to me who, after 10 years working in golf operations, is making a career change. He is starting a private club consulting business and asked me for advice on getting started.

“Where to start?”, I thought. I could go a million different directions with that advice. Should I cater my advice to UK golf clubs which are quite different from American golf clubs? No, too specific and we have a brilliant podcast on Golf Radio Network dedicated to this already. Should I focus on the core principles of setting up a business? No, that’s something everyone needs to figure out for themselves and it’s subjective. Should I share my consulting process that I use with private club’s around the world? No, my process is continually evolving and what I’m doing now won’t be what I do next year.

So instead, I decided to boil my private club consulting advice down to two core principles. These principles are relevant to any business or club no matter what part of the world. In fact, I thought, “Why not share this advice with golf clubs and private clubs everywhere?” Hence this post. So here we go.

Know Your Membership Prospect’s Challenges

My first piece of advice is to know your ideal target market inside and out. I recommend you develop a very detailed profile and get as specific as you can about your target client or member. If you’ve read my books, you’ll know I call this an “avatar.”

In particular, try to identify your avatar’s core challenges, stresses and fears. Then build products and services that solve their problems. If you boil it all down, any good business is simply in the problem solving business.

By the way, I find most problems, if you drill down to the core, are related to lack of time, a lack of connection/empathy.

Here’s one of my two-minute marketing tips for golf clubs that speaks to this principle. Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel to get more of these tips each month.

Look Outside of the Industry for Ideas

Look outside the golf industry for innovative ideas that you can re-tool and re-work to make sense for clubs. Most golf operations are stuck in a bubble that is 10 – 20 years behind other industries. Your job, whether you are governing or consulting a private club, is to inject fresh ideas that will solve those problems mentioned above.

Here are some ways I generate new ideas.

  • Reading – I like to read all sorts of books unrelated to the golf industry – psychology and business strategy books are my favorites. By reading as much as I can to understand how humans behave
  • Visiting – I also like to visit restaurants, spas, nightclubs, hotels, and other hospitality businesses to see what each is doing a little differently.
  • Listening – It’s so important to just listen to your members or clients. I mean, really truly listen. As much as I can, I invite my clients to lunch. Not so sell them something. Just to conduct a one-on-one interview and see what they’re up to, what they’re struggling with and what is working for them. If you do this, make sure to ask open ended questions and see what comes out. You might even want to just hang around the dining room or bar and listen to conversations. Bring a notebook and eventually you’ll pick up on some critical things that you can use to your advantage.
    Here’s one of my two-minute marketing tips for golf clubs that speaks to this principle. Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel to get more of these tips each month.
  • Thinking – Taking time to simply think is critical to innovation because it puts all your research into practice. I like to take walks and just think. I also like to sit and meditate. Granted, as a father of two young boys and running multiple businesses, it’s tough to find the time. But I know it’s vital. If I can’t take a walk, I try to use my driving time to think. I’ll turn off the radio or podcasts and simply drive and think. However you do it, just make sure to take the time.

So that’s my best private club consulting advice. It’s just as applicable for clubs who are looking to improve their club operations or attract new members. Know your customer inside and out and find innovative ways to solve their challenges. Do those two things and you’ll be well on your way to  success. Oh, and if you’re looking for private club consulting, especially as it relates to marketing, communications and membership development, you can learn more about my Marketing Strategy Day here.