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Where do you see the country club industry heading?

Interestingly, I think the club industry is really heading down a path of convenience. I’m not sure everybody agrees with me on that, but I think in this day and age, if we don’t make club usage convenient, however you define the word convenience. Whether its easy access, enjoyment, ability to meet friends and family there on a drop-in basis, if it isn’t convenient, and you don’t use that word to overlay everything you’re doing, practice activity process, you’re probably not going to win the battle for the discretionary dollar spent, and the discretionary time that members need to allocate to their club use.

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How vital is communications to your members while undergoing a construction project?

You can’t overcommunicate with your membership during a project out there, and we see so many examples, both positive and negative, in the 300 plus clubs that we get to visit every year. I think having streaming video is one tool that I’ve seen great success with out there, having regular periodic updates to really build the momentum and enthusiasm that your membership has for a project. Again, you can’t overcommunicate. Having a good, thoughtful communications plan in general is important, and then having somebody make sure that it’s done very well, because there’s nothing worse than having a communications plan that is inferior in delivery.

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How is club communications evolving?

I think club communications in this day and age has really become a priority rather than a secondary thought for most successful club managers. The focus on having a thoughtful communications plan in a lot of different forms, utilizing social media, utilizing video content, has really been elevated in the last couple of years, and I think that’s going to be the standard for successful clubs in the future.

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How do I hire a director of golf for my country club?

Hiring a director of golf or a head golf professional, for us is very similar to every other discipline. You really start with identifying the key competencies, attributes, that are unique to your club. If you don’t start that way first, one size doesn’t fit all and you’re gonna be in that one size fits all category. Taking a step back and looking at who could help you there, it could be someone like our search for … Quite frankly, it could be PGA career links may be what you need. It could be talking to local professionals.

We believe that what we could bring to you from Kopplin, Kuebler & Wallace is someone who could go out and actually recruit those people who are actively, happily engaged in their own jobs, who aren’t looking, but who we become your Chamber of Commerce to go recruit.

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How has short-form video helped with your success?

It was all new to us and we weren’t sure how it was going to be received. But boy, now that we’ve done it, we have had countless potential candidates talk about how valuable it’s been to them. They love the quality of it. For us, it’s been a very reasonably priced means of communicating to potential candidates and clients out there. It’s really been a home run all the way around and again, it was new formed to us. We were used to the traditional print media or email techniques of communicating with potential candidates and clients. But this has been a home run for us.

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How do you assist country clubs after the fact of the hiring process?

The most often requested, and frankly included in GM CEO searches, is the fact that we come back and we do a board retreat, typically an all-day or a half-day depending on what each club is looking for, where we talk about best practices, we talk about how to get things done with and through well-intended volunteers. We really set the tone for having good discussion, dialog, and clarity in where we’re going in the future.

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What are country clubs typically looking for in a general manager?

They’re most often looking for five things. Number one, they’re looking for someone who is visible and engaged with the members and staff both. Looking for a great team developer, someone who knows how to acquire a great team training, and develop a great team. They’re looking for some who’s got great financial acumen. If you don’t know your numbers, if you don’t know how to run the business, you’re not gonna be successful. They’re looking for someone who can be a great organizer of well-intended volunteers, as I call them. Someone who knows the ins and outs of non-profit governance, and can help bring a disparate group of people together to form good vision, and strategic planning for the future. Number five, you still need to have great food and beverage skills, in this day and age.

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What role do you think short-form video plays in club communication today?

I think it’s increasingly more important and will become even more important in the future as more people become comfortable and understanding of how powerful it is. Those clubs that we see managers employing that means of communication with their members as long as it’s done in a very quality oriented manner. We’ve seen some where it’s self administered that doesn’t always meet the goals or objectives of what it’s trying to do. When it’s done well, it can be very powerful and of the 300 or so clubs that we get to visit each year, those managers that have employed that tactic of communication are just wishing they could do more and more of it and probably are.

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What role do you think social media plays for country clubs today?

It’s becoming more and more important. We actually just wrote an article for BoardRoom Magazine about the use of social media and all the clubs that we get to visit and we’ve seen a greater, more effective use of it. Whether it’s Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, some of the most common and I’m sure there are many others that I’m not even aware of at this point in time that are gonna become even more important. But, having a thoughtful, dedicated communications person whose skilled to do quality communications really seems to be the key to success there. It’s one of those that it’s hard to see the direct payback for it. But boy, those managers who have employed someone in that role who is skilled, really seemed to speak to the significant benefits of continued engagement of their membership and frankly, better usage of the club.

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What other roles besides GM’s/COO does the firm do search work for?

We do a number of searches out there for non-GM COO roles, including, for example, director of agronomy, director of food and beverage, director of golf. CFO searches: we’ve now done director of fitness, wellness, and tennis, and continue to look to expand on all of those.

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