Everyone Talks About “Fundamentals” – But What Does That Really Mean to a Private Club?
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You’ve probably heard people talk about the “Fundamentals,” but let’s see what that terminology actually means for private clubs. At CCA, we’re all about showing you how to easily apply sound concepts to every nook and cranny of your club.
Remember, you don’t need to revolutionize everything overnight. We want you to seamlessly integrate good management principles into your club’s DNA, one step at a time. This discussion is designed to minimize mayhem and provide steady progress across all bandwidths in your operation.
And there’s a bonus – Fundamentals work like magic for everyone, not just the staff and management. Each and every club-partner, and especially members, benefit from these game-changing strategies.
Working Backwards: Look at Results First
To get started, let’s flip things around and objectively look at your overall results first. Exactly where are you experiencing soft spots?
What needs to be fixed NOW? Whether it’s a part of your operating systems (F & B, maybe), the Board’s areas of responsibility (rules enforcement, perhaps), or anything else, it’s best to try and tackle those most pesky issues head-on. That’s why we look for the most important real-life areas instead of getting mired in a theoretical evaluation of existing systems.
Why? Well, repetitive failures in your Fundamentals (no matter how small) eventually result in the most visible and consequential issues you face. Worse, some might be demoralizing your whole team. By focusing and resolving the top-10% of problems, you show the world you are serious, capable, and can accomplish just about anything. Over a short time, your ability to solve problems is like getting a hit every time you appear at the plate.
Deciphering Bad Outcomes
Now that we know the true starting point (identifying the most nagging and visible problems), we have to be frank about exposing them. You need honest feedback from your team about any area suffering repeated failures. We understand that is not always comfortable to discuss. But, look at it this way, those criticisms and complaints are there regardless of whether your team wants to openly recognize them.
But, for starters, we have faith you can accurately identify at least some annoying items that definitely need to end. What bothers you is probably bothering others. Just for practice, picture an issue in each of these areas: administration, board/committees, and membership services.
Having an issue with reservations? A persistent complaint with service staff? A matter concerning proper accounting protocols? Member rules violations and enforcement? A question about Purchasing? NO PROBLEM! Just follow this simple technique.
By watching your Fundamentals and focusing on a Building Block Concept (BBC), you’ll soon have a powerful new methodology to address each of your soft-spots. Once this thought process takes root and becomes standard management-practice, people are going to be amazed at what can be accomplished. You are going to supercharge your club’s success and instill confidence in your team.
Let’s use an imaginary problem: a new committee member is overwhelming certain staff members with demands for their time and attempts to change operations to their personal liking. As a vocal, influential, and persistent force, this person is disrupting operations. They are relentless.
Let’s see how this can be addressed. Permanently.
How Did We Get Into This Mess?
Here is the first big catch. The responsibility for this effort falls on one person’s shoulders: the GM. That’s correct, one person leads this campaign. They are the true professional who can achieve goals across the “Board” (pun intended). Without the GM’s leadership, this concept fails.
So here we face a well-meaning Committee member who is disrupting the Club’s entire way of life. If not addressed, it will only grow and get worse. Regardless of whether this person’s viewpoints are worthy, their use of disruptive tactics can never lead to a good outcome. In fact, acceptance of this situation only encourages another to follow.
As GM, the focus should not be on how we fix this single predicament (this one committee member). Rather, the question should be: do we have a formal Building Block policy and a Process to introduce and guide Committee members in their Governance role? If so, did this person truly understand the Building Block and follow the implementation Process?
You probably already have a governance policy (a fundamental Building Block) to prevent this. Or maybe not? A good policy should already have been formally adopted and supported by the Board. This Building Block would include a Process for its implementation (having committee members go through Orientation and then sign a Governance Agreement, for example).
The point is to identify where things went off track to begin with. Do we have a fundamental policy? Is it effective (was the Process followed)? These questions lead to the proper corrective action. The alternative is continuous conflict with new committee members of all kinds and for all time.
How Did We Get Out of This Mess?
As in this example and any others, the focus is to start with the big questions. Is there a Building Block and a Process in place to prevent this problem. Was it followed? By asking about this Fundamental, you learn: 1) the Club needs a new (or amended) Building Block to address a problem, and/or 2) the Club needs to ensure adherence to the Process designed to enforce the policy.
Now for some good news. This strategy can be applied anywhere in the Club. As you gradually address, build, and improve your fundamentals so does the Club improve. By starting with and resolving your most bothersome areas, your real Leadership Skills come into public play:
By following this pathway, the GM exhibits “Strategic Thinking”.
The entire problem is addressed (not just one symptom) and in effect resolves it permanently.
The GM leads a global effort with multiple team members instead of putting out a single fire.
Another upside in this example? It’s no longer a personal conflict with the committee member.
In all outcomes, the GM gains the confidence, trust, and admiration of all parties. The GM (or relevant staff) can now freely work with the committee member within a healthy and acceptable framework. Everybody wins.
Putting BBC Into Action Everywhere
You can now apply to this good-management approach to EVERY area of your Club. Follow the logic:
Understand the Problem first hand.
Determine if there was a Process in place to prevent the Problem (training, policy, rule, etc)
If there was an implementation Process, was it followed?
If there wasn’t a Process or proper implementation, then you are probably missing a Building Block.
A Building Block is simply a fundamental operating policy along with an enforcement mechanism.
Everyone on the management team should be approaching their area of responsibility using this thinking. Otherwise you are only fighting fires. With practice and over time, your entire team will approach every problem with the idea of eliminating it.
Here are some potential examples for BBC review:
Staff complaints about unequal enforcement of dress code or cell phone policies.
We assume you have fundamental rules in place. Do they need to be amended?
Or, is the implementation lacking? If so, drill down to the source. Is one department dropping the ball? Be honest — that affects the entire team.
Perhaps have the management team agree to joint-enforcement regardless of departmental lines. Communicate and be accountable to the staff with your response.
Valet Parking overwhelmed at peak arrival/departure
Does this department have a fundamental operating policy to address this foreseeable problem?
If so, is it being properly implemented? Does it need to be refined?
Perhaps the management team decides to share capable staff for a short duration at those critical times without compromising their own service.
Should the Club adopt standard overlapping shifts (at a cost) to remedy an annoying problem?
Excessive Member Requests for Special Products to be carried by the Club
Does the Club have a defined policy to manage these requests?
If so, is it published and communicated effectively? Should it be reviewed (is it too loose, too strict)?
Perhaps the management team suggests suitable accommodations which can be fairly managed without interrupting service and efficiency.
BBC: It’s a Way of Thinking and Managing
Fundamentals span the entire breadth of your operation. From the most mundane (slow play) to more complex (legal) with each Building Block supporting your operating structure. And sometimes they even merit some renovations to keep up with your growth — such as changes to your Handbooks or By-laws.
Getting your entire team to think critically in this way multiplies your good results and success. Stop putting out fires and fix problems altogether by adding BBC to your own toolbox.
So, are you ready to take your private club to new heights? Let’s embrace the fundamental Building Blocks, add a dash of excitement, and watch the magic unfold. Get in touch with CCA today and create a club experience that’s extraordinary for all.
Contact David Shaw at Club Consulting Associates for more answers. And…stay Club-Tastic!
See Our Recent Post: The Club Paid for an Executive Search: It Didn’t Work Out, Now What?https://ccadvise.wordpress.com/2023/07/28/the-club-paid-for-an-executive-search-it-didnt-work-out/