ClubCorp’s late founder, Bob Dedman, once said, “The private club industry is run like nobody’s business … because it’s nobody’s business.” That’s often true—after all, board members and committee chairs are volunteers. As such, they’re often very good with ideas but don’t have the time to properly implement them. Perhaps no job at a private country club fits that description better than the membership chair and committee. Enter membership marketing firms. Unlike the membership chair and committee, acquiring members is the day job of these outfits. They are there to provide practical, workable solutions and package them (as well as provide tools) that allow clubs to be successful in their membership campaigns. They realize successful membership marketing is more than just a blurb in the club bulletin or the occasional open house.
Two companies that have enjoyed success are Creative Golf Marketing (CGM) and Professional Golf Services of America (PGSA). CGM has worked with 1,500 private clubs on membership practices since 1990, utilizing a program that includes incentives for incoming members and current members that refer new members to the club. CGM, working with the club’s membership chair and committee, provides guidance, materials, mailings, signage and more for a modest upfront fee and then a set fee for the acquisition of each new membership based on the type of membership.
PGSA takes a different approach with its “Concierge” system, which assigns a person trained in membership sales to act on the club’s behalf in recruiting leads for new members and then works with the membership committee to close those leads, with a fee for each membership gained.
Although some clubs could greatly benefit from an assist in their membership efforts, it’s important to be aware that these programs are not inexpensive and often take a cut of memberships you might have garnered without their help. As such, weigh the overall costs against the number of members you would gain above your normal number. Then take into account the added value of those members over time as well as having the program to use in the future if you so choose without having to pay. The bottom line: The initial cost can look prohibitive, but over time can be money well spent.
Creative Golf Marketing (costs very)
Professional Golf Services of America (costs vary)