RETENTION – WHO’S IN YOUR TEAM?

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As we head into Spring many golf clubs are approaching their membership renewal date. Even if your club operates rolling renewal dates, rather than one specific date, the chances are there will be more in the next few months as golfers tend to join clubs when the weather is improving. This is obviously a key stake in the ground point for retention as golfers weigh up the benefit they are getting from their membership and could choose to leave.

Many clubs see the renewal process as the responsibility of the club manager and the office staff. Whilst they may facilitate the renewal process, does that mean they are responsible for retention?

Quite a simple answer – No it doesn’t

Retention is the responsibility of the whole golf club. Why? Because it’s in everyone’s best interests – whether they realise it or not. More business, job security, membership fees – there are benefits for everyone if retention is not an issue.

PGA Professional
The professional has a massive role to play in retention.

In the pro shop, in and around the clubhouse, giving lessons and generally out on the course the professional should be encouraging members to get the most out of their golf game. By taking an interest in each member the pro will help to build loyalty to the club as the member starts to feel more valued. They can be talking to them about upcoming events and future activities so the question of looking elsewhere to play never even enters their head.

Pro Shop Staff
Most members will wander into the pro shop on a visit to the club. They may be signing in, picking up some balls, entering a competition. It is a prime time for them to be engaged in conversation and pro shop staff can be useful in identifying those members who may not be planning to renew and just generally reminding people about renewals.

The Club Manager
They have several roles within this team. They are around the club a lot, so the chances are they have a fair idea which members will need more persuading to renew than others. They can utilise time to focus on these members.

They will need to ensure the communications to the members are all planned and written and ensure the office is appropriately staffed at what is bound to be a busy time.

Plus, it is important to fully brief all office staff on every aspect of the renewal process to enable them to handle any queries which may occur.

They should ensure there are a variety of ways for members to pay. This could range from receipt and recording of cheques, direct debit set ups, recording and control of cash payments and the facility to take card payments – both at the club and online. Paying should be as easy as possible for the members.

Office Staff
By knowing the renewal process inside and out, the office staff are well placed to answer any member queries which may occur. There will be a set system for recording payments which they should adhere to completing and schedule all communications if an automated emailing system is being used.

Bar Staff
Good people to have an ear to the ground for any potential issues. A regular contact point for most members on any visit to the club they can be important for retention both as a source of information and by providing excellent customer service. Bad service in the bar can be source of member frustration and a friendly place with good service is always beneficial in helping members feel that this is the club for them.

Head Greenkeeper and green staff
They may not have much direct interaction with the members, but course condition will always be high on the list of discussion points for members. By providing regular updates and answering the questions of members the greenkeeper and their colleagues can make the members more knowledgeable. They may not always like the answer but if they feel they are being listened to and having their challenges addressed then the members feel more appreciated.

And not forgetting

Members
Members of the golf club should be the strongest advocates of being members of a golf club. They will encourage others to enter competitions, attend social events, improve their game, join a club society, play in a club match or simply join them for a drink.
This type of engagement helps create a good atmosphere in the club and encourages retention.

With a team that size and everyone playing their role, retention doesn’t have to be something to be feared. Happy members don’t leave golf clubs.

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