Gregg Patterson: No pictures of dead people

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 14, 2011 18:55

Gregg Patterson: No pictures of dead people

Gregg Patterson, the keynote speaker at the 2011 Golf Club Managers’ Association (GCMA) Conference, used his speech to explain why The Beach Club in Santa Monica, USA, which he manages, has differentiated from its competitors to maintain a waiting list during the economic downturn.

“What we’ve done is create a tribe mentality to bring about loyalty,” he said. “Social media might get people in the door but it wont make them loyal.

“So, for instance, we don’t have pictures of dead people on the walls, but images of club members having fun, which we update every three months. I advised a British club to do this recently – or at least use contemporary art instead of these pictures of dead people. That club told me they would not do that because they are a traditional club. Shortly afterwards, they went bankrupt.

“A lot of people think that one committee is enough for a club to have. I couldn’t disagree more. Have as many committees as possible! They create tribes within tribes and that creates loyalty.”

In two one-hour speeches, Gregg, a famous American motivational speaker whose club has engendered a customer service-driven culture that ensures high retention of members and staff, detailed numerous tips that have worked for him in the 29 years he has been manager of The Beach Club.

“You need to understand your club’s culture and nudge it in the direction you want it to go,” he told scores of British golf club managers. “So years ago we did not have a gym, but then the culture changed and we got one, and now 20 per cent of our members join because of it.

“That was also why offered our services as a wedding venue – which means we’re now printing money!

“When I joined as manager you had to wear a shirt and tie to eat at the restaurant – and only four people would eat there. We’re by the beach! Today there is no dress code and 250 people eat there. In fact food and beverage are social lubricants, which is why we have four restaurants at my club. People do not leave places where they break bread together.

“But, be careful, you may lose that culture if you let anyone join the club. I know in the present climate that’s not an easy path to follow, but you should make sure that only those people who will fit in with the club’s culture join. It works for us – we still have an $80,000 joining fee and only 15 members leave every year – and that’s because they all die.

“The little things can make a huge difference as well,” he added. “We regularly put together a hat with $50 dollars in it from members and the winner gets the money; the staff have a profit share in the club, and I let them grow by not being there all the time; I’ve discovered that in a club where the member knows who the chef is, the food tastes better and the customers will spend more money on the experience; and I have an assistant who is a real people person and she always waves goodbye to every member or visitor – regardless of how late it is. She’s also great with kids, so if a family has a meal and the kids finish quickly, they flock to her as she entertains them.

“Elsewhere, if a new member drives in we communicate this to the security guard who welcomes they by name – we speak to everyone by using their name – and then I open the double doors at the entrance and welcome them in.

“Also I send about 1,200 handwritten birthday cards to members every year, as well as cards to members of staff, I’ll also send cards to members who have just had a baby. I personally pour coffee for the golfers first thing on Saturday morning.”

Gregg concluded: “Think grey – not black and white. Golf does not need to be 18 holes, it can be four if that’s what the customers want.

“If a potential member or a new member walks into your club they will feel scared and lonely, so they have to be given status and dignity. That comes about from happy staff and knowing that what people pay for is the experience – cost is not important; value is. Value is experience minus cost. And experience is the sum total of all the encounters they have at your club.”

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 14, 2011 18:55
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1 Comment

  1. @AntowWhite February 28, 03:01

    Gregg Patterson: Love this Guy!

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