Three Good Reasons to Rethink Data-Sharing in the Club Industry
One of the most remarkable things about club industry professionals is their willingness to share ideas and information. Unlike many other industries, when a fellow club manager is in need of information, camaraderie almost always trumps competition. Networking and conversational exchanges are an important part of that friendly culture, but another very common practice – informal data-sharing in the form of spreadsheet surveys circulated via email and telephone round-robins – is problematic for a number of reasons you may not have considered:
1) Time is Money
Take a minute to think about how much time you and/or your controller have spent over the last 12 months responding to information requests from your local and national industry peers including fellow chapter members. Many club managers have told us that over the course of a typical year they get at least a dozen emails or phone calls with questions like “how much did your dues go up last year?” “What’s the starting age for your senior membership category?” or “How much are you charging for a martini?”
One of the primary drivers behind CMAA’s annual survey effort is to develop a robust centralized database via the Club Benchmarking platform so that any time you or a colleague need information, it’s right there waiting for you. The answers to the three questions above plus hundreds of others are readily available in the CB database. As a CMAA Chapter member, you can save time by entering your information one time, in one location, as soon as you’ve finished your year-end closing. Then the next time a question comes your way, remind the interested party that they can find what they’re looking for in the Club Benchmarking database and CMAA’s Club Industry Reports.
Club Benchmarking Member List
2) The Right Stuff
The obvious motivation behind informal data-sharing is a desire for information, but if that information is going to be put to use for the benefit of one’s club, it needs to be credible, reliable and actionable. The right data can help you make a critical decision, validate current management performance, or modify a course of action. The problem with informal surveys is that the end product is often not much more than a stack of numbers in an excel spreadsheet. Whether or not those numbers are accurate depends on how comfortable respondents felt participating in such a public exchange of information, and sample groups are often too small and incongruous to produce any conclusive information. Without proper analysis and the additional information necessary to put the findings in context, there is really no way to safely apply or take action on the information at your own club.
CMAA made a decision in 2010 to adopt Club Benchmarking as the platform for the Association’s annual surveys and endorse it as a reliable resource for CMAA members based on CB’s ability to gather, analyze, and interpret comprehensive, actionable industry intelligence.
3) Law and Order
The most overlooked pitfall of informal data-sharing is the lack of anonymity. In addition to the fact that open exchanges may compromise the quality of the information gathered as mentioned above, it is important to note that sharing data in a non-aggregated format where the source is easily identifiable is prohibited by Federal Trade Commission Antitrust regulations. The Club Benchmarking platform and reporting functions are designed to provide complete anonymity for survey participants, and built-in safeguards in the filtering tools ensure that sample group sizes comply with FTC regulations.
As a Chapter member, making strong local and national participation in the CMAA annual surveys a priority is a win-win; for your club, for your Chapter and for the club industry as a whole.