WELCOMING NEW MEMBERS THE RIGHT WAY

Friday December 17, 2021

You’re long past it now, but try to harken back to your days as a middle schooler or teenager, full of angst and hungry for friends and meaningful relationships. Maybe you were one of the cool kids who never had trouble making new friends, but for a lot of people – especially for those who moved into a new school district – building new relationships was full of difficulty and anxiety. The same might be said for new members joining a private club. And if your members are paying dues to be a part of a community instead of simply taking advantage of the facilities and amenities, it’s imperative to make them feel welcome and part of the family.

According to 59club data from their proprietary member survey tool, the majority of high-performing private clubs are welcoming new members the right way, but a large percentage of clubs are falling short in key areas of new member integration. Let’s get to the numbers.

The Welcome Call

If your sales staff or marketing team spent a ton of time and a lot of money wining, dining, courting and signing a prospective new lead at your private club, you would assume they would be running – and fast – to call the new member to welcome them to the club. According to 59club data, only 52% of new members at private clubs received a formal “welcome to the club” phone call. Not exactly a great start to a budding new relationship.

The Formal Induction meeting

The practice of hosting formal induction meetings for new members is not for every club, but all but guarantees your members an opportunity to meet, learn about and formally welcome a new member of your private community. On average, 26% of new members at private clubs took part in a formal induction meeting, but among the highest scoring clubs in the world, this number dramatically increases to nearly 90%. It might be worth fleshing out and implementing this program at your club in the future if not already in place.

Staff Introduction and Networking

As your members spend more time at the club, your staff will invariably pick up on some interesting tidbits, facts, likes and dislikes from your various members. And in that regard, your staff is armed with networking abilities well suited to help your new members make new friendships. Less than 50% of new members surveyed said they were introduced to legacy members by staff members, but again, the best clubs in the world make this a regular practice.

Knowing Your Name

One of the quickest and easiest ways make someone feel at home is simply by addressing them by their name. shockingly, less than 60% of members surveyed report private club staff members demonstrating they know the name of the newest members.

Adding it All Up

When you take a look at the numbers above, it’s easy to see why only 65 percent of new members at private clubs report making new friendships within their first few months. And for a model that requires camaraderie and inclusion, leaving it up to your members to make friends on their own without any tips and tricks to get the process started is a recipe for member stagnation.

Learn more about the 59club Member Surveys here: https://www.59clubusa.com/satisfaction-surveys/

The Power of the Phone Call – New Membership Prospects

Friday December 3, 2021

The internet and the myriad new ways it allows people to connect has forever changed the personal and professional communication landscape. Text messages, emails, digital direct mail and online forms make it possible for people to digest and respond to messages on their own time and keep a sense of privacy – which is great for rudimentary transactions and appointments. But when it comes to private club memberships or other high-value propositions, there is simply no substitute for the old-fashioned phone call.

According to 59club data, on average, only 31% of polled private club prospective members said they received a follow-up phone call from the club. When compared to the leaders in the industry, however, the number jumps up to 100%, meaning the best of the best in the country recognize the importance and power of the phone call.

“Following up with prospects after they have expressed interest in joining the club is a major issue,” said Mike Kelly, managing partner of 59club USA. “These prospects have taken time out of their day to call and tour the club and they simply aren’t getting a call back. Some clubs say they either send emails or text messages, but that is frankly not good enough. In order to continue to build rapport, nurture the relationship and be an effective sales staff, you have to pick up the phone. Period.”

According to 59club, while making the effort to speak with prospective members on the phone is the bare minimum, there are five key components of a truly successful follow-up phone call.

Timeliness of the follow-up call

Prospective members tend to lose interest the longer they have to wait for the next communication. Prompt replies after an initial site visit ensures the emotional connection to the club is still fresh in the prospect’s mind.

Direct communication

Gate keepers like assistants and voicemail messages make it easy to leave a message and move on, but successful sales calls are almost wholly reliant on direct communication so nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

Trial close

As a sales professional, your goal should be to sell the membership, not have a nice chat on the phone. Forgetting to engage in a trial close is the quickest way to lose out on new memberships.

A personal call specific to the prospect

Sales scripts are a great way to make sure nothing is left out of each individual call, but blanket statements with no regard for the other person on the line – their likes, dislikes, pain points, first and last name, etc. – have the feel of a text message or a disengaged staff member. Make the call personal and specific to each person you contact.

Friendliness

Above all, membership sales calls should be friendly and personable. After all, no one wants to be a part of a group of curmudgeons. Your sales staff represents the club at its base level and should reflect the positive aspects of your club.

59CLUB USA SIGNS MYSTERY SHOPPING AGREEMENT WITH THE CLIFFS’ SEVEN PROPERTIES

Thursday October 21, 2021

STATHAM, Ga. – North American customer service satisfaction and benchmarking firm 59club USA announced today they added The Cliffs and their seven golf properties to the client roster. 59club USA will use their industry-leading proprietary software and objective data analysis tools to provide mystery shopping services to help identify strengths in weaknesses in the overall golf experience at each individual club.

“The Cliffs represent some of the most beautiful and luxurious private communities in the country and we’re very excited to begin working with them,” said Mike Kelly, managing partner of 59club USA. “We look forward to providing 59club proven, knowledgeable insights into their golf operations.”

59club USA now serves more than 150 golf club and hospitality properties in North America. Click here to view a complete 59club USA client roster: https://www.59clubusa.com/venues-tested/

The Cliffs is a collection of seven private luxury residential mountain and lake club and communities encompassing more than 20,000 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains. One membership at The Cliffs grants access to an unparalleled suite of amenities, including seven clubs, seven nationally-acclaimed golf courses, seven wellness centers, boating and water sports, a Beach Club, full-service marina, paddle sports, cycling, tennis, an equestrian center, miles of hiking trails, more than a dozen dining and private event venues, an organic farm and more than 2,000 year-round programs and social activities to create timeless experiences.

“Adding 59club USA’s mystery shopping services to our golf operations is an important step in our long-range customer service plans at The Cliffs,” said Rob Duckett, President of The Cliffs and South Street Partners. “Customer service is at the forefront of all amenities at The Cliffs and something in which we invest heavily. We’re looking forward to taking that next step with 59club.”

59club is a service-based management tool and customer service provider which uses objective data points and images to measure, improve and then maintain standards of customer service, in turn increasing visitor and member retention. Results of on-site testing from 59club are a boost to customer satisfaction, revenues and profits for clubs who use their services such as customer satisfaction surveys, mystery shopping services and employee training – both virtual and on-site.

59club USA has established and developed relationships with more than 150 well-known golf clubs and resorts in North America including 14 TPC Network properties, Reynolds Lake Oconee, The Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda, Haig Point in South Carolina, We-Ko-Pa Golf Club in Scottsdale. Additionally, 59club USA works with management companies Bobby Jones Links, Landscapes Golf Management, Arcis Golf – three of the world’s largest golf management companies.

GET THE DETAILS! INDUSTRY MISSING OUT ON REPEAT BUSINESS

Thursday October 14, 2021

If you think back to your networking or sales calls in the before the last turn of the century, you might remember the humble business card – something now considered archaic and overly obsolete. But the simple business card was one of the greatest first-party-data collection mechanisms ever made. It provided necessary information in which to produce a customer profile including name and geographical locations, contact information, certain demographic information based on the company and card stock and built trust and rapport throughout the sales process – often in the form of a firm handshake.

With the advent of search engines, social media networks and a near full integration of the internet into most of our waking lives, the need for collecting first-party data waned to the point of near obsolescence itself. Why make what you can buy cheaper? But new rules, regulations and internet navigation habits putting a premium on privacy have changed the game again, and it’s now more important than ever for golf clubs and hospitality venues to collect as much data as they can about their clients and customers – straight from the horse’s mouth.

According to data from 59club USA, golf clubs and hospitality venues are simply not gathering first-party data from their existing customers. And just like past success is the best indicator of future success, getting a new customer is 10 times harder than retaining an existing customer.

Third-Party Data vs. First-Party Data – What are We Talking About?

Anyone who has followed social media in any capacity over the last few years is likely familiar with third-party data. Basically, third-party data is a set of geographic, psychographic or demographic indicators purchased from a third party like an internet service provider or social network. Ever seen an advertisement on Facebook for something you were talking about with your friends? How about an Amazon ad that seems to follow you around the internet for that gadget you wanted? And while your phone or computer is actively listening to you, Facebook and Google are not listening to you to immediately serve you ads. The fact of the matter is you, the user, are freely giving that information to these enormous conglomerates. You just might not be aware of how much you’re giving them. That’s third-party data. And it’s going away – or at least significantly and actively changing.

First-party data is information gathered directly between you and your customers. Someone walks into your shop, fills out a form and gives it back to you for input into your CRM or database. Information can include everything you might find on a business card, but can also include what customers like about your club, what they don’t like, what they expect, what they might want in the future and what they’ve purchased in the golf shop. It’s an infinitely more personal connection, very inexpensive and certainly much more reliable.

Advertising Third Party Info Is Going Away

The past few years has brought with it a general concern about how internet navigation data is being used. Huge companies have been inundated with fines – albeit only a small percentage of their operating budget – and governments across the world have started to crack down on misuse of private information. That especially hurts clubs and venues who rely on tourism dollars from multiple different states and countries because each state and country has their own rules. California, for example, has much more strict internet privacy rules than its neighbor Arizona. And as a whole, Canada is far tougher on data collection than the United States but falls short compared to the European Union. Eventually, rules and regulations will find their way back to the mean – or at least begin to use common language – and by then, the data-aggregation systems your firm may have used will be gone. Putting a premium on collecting first-party data will help your club transition back into earlier models and set your club above competition who might find themselves at a loss later down the line.

The Industry Is Failing to Collect Necessary Information

59club USA data shows the average score of data-collection methods at the club level are substandard – scoring 6.7 out of 10. Most clubs fail to gather email addresses from new and existing customers, while some clubs fail to gather so much as a name or phone number.

The simple solution is to use your point-of-sale staff to collect this information at check in, put it in a system and then analyze the data later. But there are also digital integration systems which mirror common booking engines to automate this process. Then, it’s up to you as a manger what you do with the data. And just like having an umbrella in the trunk, better have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

THE FOUNDATION OF PROFESSIONAL RAPPORT: ADDRESSING THE CUSTOMER BY NAME

Friday October 8, 2021

Manners and proper etiquette have been a staple of human introductions and discourse since the dawn of civilization. Titles remain incredibly significant in day-to-day conversation. And the topic is so well-engrained in our society, there have been hundreds of etiquette books published throughout the years, with some recent examples including Amy Vanderbilt’s 1952 best seller “The Complete Book of Etiquette” and Tiffany’s “Table Manners for Teenagers.” It’s important! And while the definition of what is “proper” or “polite” or “appropriate” differs widely between cultures, age ranges, geographical areas, and – of course – what era of human history in which you find yourself, most western civilizations agree a proper address – greeting a customer by their name – is the easiest way to build a foundation of professional rapport. The problem? With respect to this topic, the golf industry is left wanting. Badly.

Proper address as a catalyst for a good customer experience

Aside from being an overall best practice, the proper address serves two important functions in point-of-sale club operations: it disarms the bully, and it reinforces a happy customer’s positive attitude.

As a club or hospitality professional, there’s no doubt you can recall at least a dozen stories of bully customers who approach the counter with a scowl. You can see it coming a mile away – this person is going to be a problem. It can be easy to fall into the trap set by this curmudgeon customer and stoop to a level beneath customer service standards set by your club. Pausing the conversation to complete a proper address and using or asking for the customer’s name is an excellent way to disarm discourtesy and begin the conversation on new, more polite terms.

On the flip side, a proper address tends to strengthen a positive and happy customer’s perception of your brand, especially from the onset of his or her experience at the club. The proper address also turns the point-of-sale operator into an authority or a person of influence throughout the customer journey and creates a positive, personal connection between an employee and the customer. This not only validates the customer’s experience, but through proper training and a commitment to this procedure, can also help your staff gain confidence and optimism for when that bully customer comes back again.

The stats

Everyone who walks through the door of a golf club, hotel, hospitality venue or other customer-first business will have to give a name to book their experience. Names are taken or given via the phone or digital booking systems and will always be on file for the day and time of customer arrival. And in that respect, the excuses for failing to address a customer by name are few and far between.

The current average proper address score of clubs and hospitality properties is 4.4 out of a possible 10 points over all 59club USA data sets and has only increased to a 6.7 out of 10 over the past 11 months. This remains one of the poorest scoring areas of 59club mystery tests to date. Yet, this is one of the easiest and cheapest corrections to make at the club. No risk, but extremely high reward.

59CLUB USA ADDS THE MID OCEAN CLUB IN BERMUDA TO CLIENT ROSTER

Monday February 3, 2020

59club USA to Provide Mystery Shopping and Other Customer Service Benchmarking Tools for the Club

59club USA announced today they added The Mid Ocean Club to their client roster. The Mid Ocean Club is a private members’ club in picturesque Tucker’s Town, Bermuda, offering exceptional amenities, private beaches and a world-class golf course recognized by Golf Digest in 2018 as one of the Top-100 World’s Greatest Golf Courses. 59club USA will provide mystery shopping and membership benchmarking services for The Mid Ocean Club using their proprietary software and objective data analysis tools.

“We’re extremely excited to use this new technology to better understand our Members’ needs,” said Austen Gravestock, GM at The Mid Ocean Club.  “We take extraordinary pride on the level of service we provide at Mid Ocean Club. We hope our partnership with 59club USA will help us understand and implement new ways to enhance the experience at our incredible club.”

59club is a service-based management tool and customer service provider which uses objective data points and images to measure, improve and then maintain standards of customer service, in turn increasing visitor and member retention. Results of on-site testing from 59club are a boost to customer satisfaction, revenues and profits for clubs who use their services such as customer satisfaction surveys, mystery shopping services and employee training. Click here to view a complete list of 59club USA’s suite of services.

“We’re thrilled to bring Mid Ocean Club into the 59club USA family,” said Mike Kelly, managing partner, 59club USA. “We look forward to working with their team and helping them continue their pursuit of customer service excellence.”