How to turn a membership enquiry into a sale

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire September 9, 2019 15:00

Chris Duffy, the manager of Huddersfield GC believes this is a four-pronged process– and underpinning it is a need to listen to the potential member and not simply hand them a price list

Is your club turning over rocks for new members?

Walking into the golf club I locate the management office where I am pleasantly welcomed by the office assistant who asks how can they help.

  1. Is there any opportunities to become a member at the club?
  2. If so, can you tell me why should I become a member here rather than the other golf clubs in the area?
  3. What benefits do your members receive compared to pay and play visitors.
  4. Can you give me some details on the club’s strategic plan for the next three to five years and how my substantial joining fee will be used?

The assistant is kind enough to offer a seat, clear the desk of various papers and then proceeds to look at the computer for two minutes without another word spoken, printing a document. The document was the price list of the membership costs and the joining fees which was placed in front of me, before they started to go through the options, but unfortunately this wasn’t what I was looking for.

Many larger clubs and resorts have specific membership departments or individuals trained in converting enquiries into new memberships, other clubs have forward thinking management teams who have undertaken training and are now either taking it upon themselves or educating their staff on how to convert enquiries into sales. Most are developing ‘semi-scripted’ procedures for membership enquiries, detailing who and how they should be followed up upon.

Listen to the potential member, make notes on their expectations. Why they have come to see the club? What do they require? Who are they, what is their current family status and so on? We should always be connecting dots or turning over the rocks to find connections.

Becoming a member of a club is often a large expense for any individual or family so making this decision easier for them is in the club’s interest!

  • Does your club have a membership questionnaire for potential new members?
  • Do you offer a complimentary round of golf? Could it be arranged to play with another group of members who are similar ages, with similar family status?
  • Do you offer the potential member a discounted offer to bring some family or friends to try the club’s latest menus?
  • Do you introduce him to the professional? If a new player, maybe a free 20 minute introduction lesson with the pro?
  • Do you walk the member through the club to make them feel like this is part of their family house, introducing various staff on the journey?

These ideas are basic, simple and effective ways to get your potential new member to feel part of the family and for many major clubs and resorts this is all normal practice, but what about the smaller clubs?

Price is very important but when someone walks in the club, don’t sit them down and show them the price list. Take them for a walk around the club, have some key questions already thought of, take down the data away from the office, have a coffee in the clubhouse with a view of the course. Invite them back for a game of golf or tennis followed by lunch / dinner with the family. The sale doesn’t have to be done there and then.

Selling a membership is like running the 4x100m relay. Take each 100 metres as part of the sale process:

  • 1 The introduction, walking tour, new member questionnaire and offering club information. What is the unique selling points (USPs) of the club against others, what benefits you’ll receive as a member and, most importantly, why your club is the club to join. Invite the potential new member for a round of golf, preferably arrange it with other members followed by a lunch or dinner with the family (at a time when the club is busy to ensure a vibrant atmosphere).
  • 2 The round of golf with selected members (members selected and potentially rewarded through club).
  • 3 The dinner at the club with their family (maybe offer the potential new member a 50 per cent discounted price for dinner to help cover club costs).
  • 4 The final visit gaining feedback from the potential new member, their impressions, a signature on the membership approval form and glass of Champagne to celebrate becoming part of the club family. Make them feel like a king / queen for the day!

Investing in a potential new member may cost management time and a green fee, but think about the true potential revenue that this new member could bring to your club or resort … much more than a little time, a green fee and a cup of coffee.

Chris Duffy

Chris Duffy CMDip has been the general manager of Huddersfield Golf Club since the start of 2019. He previously worked as head of golf operations at Doha Golf Club. He also established Oryx Events, an event management agency that worked on the successful bid for the Qatar World Cup 2022 and was event staging manager at the European Tour Qatar Masters. He is a member of the Club Managers Association of Europe (CMAE) and has completed all five of the CMAE management development programmes and has participated in the Club Management Association of America (CMAA) world conference. For more information on his current golf club, visit www.huddersfield-golf.co.uk

Tania Longmire
By Tania Longmire September 9, 2019 15:00
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