Steer Your Club Down the Path to Success Using Benchmarks
We live in a world of comparisons. This brand vs that, red necktie or blue,
decaf or regular? Freedom to compare opens up your options and lets you
make the choices that are best suited to any particular situation. But what about the country
club business? Is there any value in comparing your club's operations and financial condition to
those of similar clubs? What choices or decisions could you make if you had a crystal ball
that revealed the results of other clubs' choices?
Crystal balls do not exist - or do they? Business owners across a wide range of industries
use a process called benchmarking to compare their organization's performance
against the norms for their industry. By examining industry metrics, management
gains the financial equivalent of a crystal ball that lets them peer into their competitors'
business operations and learn from their competitors' successes and mistakes.
Now, don't be concerned. We're not talking about industrial espionage here. Depending
upon the industry you're in, those metrics might be available to you. That's certainly the
case with organizations operating in the public sector. SEC filings are public information
that any competitor can obtain and study to reach a deeper understanding of what
your competitors are doing and to see how your own organization stacks up.
Why Benchmarking is Important
Our industry must attract and retain good employees by offering
competitive wages and benefits and, in the same way, clubs must attract and retain good members
by offering them a competitive benefit package as well. While our employees
expect benefits like insurance, vacation and retirement plans, club members are thinking about
greens, atmosphere, entertainment and social status.
It is always important to be perceived as a top employer as well as
a premier club operator, and in the current economic cycle this is even more crucial.
Sure, the labor force side of the equation might not be as competitive as it once
was, with so many unemployed, but the membership
recruitment and retention side is becoming even more of a challenge.
Clubs depend upon members having sufficient disposable income that they are willing
to earmark for dues. As the effects of the recession are felt, many people are taking a
long, hard look at how - or even whether - to spend their discretionary income.
All of this makes it even more important that every board and management team
make the right decisions to ensure members keep receiving value
that exceed their economic investment in dues and club-related purchases.
What Benchmarking Reveals
Benchmarking shows exactly how your club is performing against other clubs, either in
your market or anywhere in the country. With benchmarking, you can see, with variable
focus from overview down to the granular level, precisely
what other clubs are spending on such things as F&B, wages and employee benefits, greens
maintenance, and much more. You can also compare membership fee structures and what other
clubs are spending on membership benefits, perks and amenities.
"That's exactly what I need," you're probably thinking, "but where can I get this type of
information? Clubs are not public corporations and they do not publish their
quarterly and annual reports. However, many clubs do report their metrics
to CCB, which tracks country and golf club performance data and makes
this information available to member clubs in an aggregated fashion that provides meaningful
and actionable data without revealing the identities of the clubs that provide it.
If you are looking for a yardstick to measure your club's performance against industry
norms so that you can remain viable in an increasingly competitive market,
and discover exactly how to steer your club down the path to success using benchmarking.