Advice for new owners

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When I was a young boy, I loved the board game Monopoly. It was a game where we bought property, grabbed turf, made money through rental fees, and just had fun as we played to own the board and win! The golf course business at times feels like those Monopoly games I played decades ago. It's a tough, expensive business.Some people do a better job than others. Many single course owners and real estate developers are moving towards professional management groups. Professional management has many advantages. These unique owners most times have very different operating styles. Because many golf courses have had several owners, it is important for the new owner to create a new identity with a very positive, proactive attitude.

Having worked for a golf course management company for a long time, I watched as we bought and sold properties, acquired management contracts, and let others expire. It, at times, was a communication scrabble board, where every general manager had to struggle to learn what they needed to do with the inventory, information and people in their discipline. One of the struggles I had when we acquired a new property was: how will we differentiate the operation, the look, and the service in order to keep members and create new ones? Our corporate leadership wanted the story to stay local, to not have the company provide a statement, but to leave it with the local leader to create a community feel. I never agreed with this logic. No doubt the local team must reset the service standards for the members and guests, but because they are on property, that is their constant goal. I would suggest a different direction and tone for the corporate team and this new property. Here are 5 thoughts:

1) Create a statement plaque to sit inside the front of the clubhouse with the service mission and direction for this club going forward

2) Set up a 12 month get to know us program, with specials, added value items, get-togethers with the team and at least one fun event with members of the corporate team

3) Ask the members for their thoughts.  Having these conversations is all about creating relationships.  If you want to keep and build membership, bring your golfers into the conversation

4) One of the corporate leaders write a personal letter to all members.  If there is a contact list for lost members, write a second letter to each of them, inviting them in for golf on you

5) Create a strong service & communication story. Tie that story into every part of the club and be sure the local team is on the same page

6) *(Bonus) Work to get team of club employees on your side.  Be the team they are looking for, a team that will treat them well with recognition and fairness.

So how will the members know the difference between your organization and all who came before?  Make the members feel great about staying with you. Show them they are special.  Treat their loyalty as very unique and extra special. Make this new acquisition the great place to play, eat, hang out. Do what you promise and do it on time. Thank you.

Jack Dillon writes the highfives blog.  Jack is an experienced manager, speaker, operator, coach.  Jack has been in the golf industry 45 years.  Have Jack speak to your team.  He will change minds, create real value.  Reach Jack at 407-973-6136.  Jack lives in Orlando.


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