Club Board Professionals


Advice and Resources for Private Club Management and Board Members

Private Club Board Orientations: Rowing in the Same Direction?

Private Club Board Orientations

Does Your Club’s Board Conduct Annual Orientations?

Private clubs operate in a highly fragmented industry and are far more complex than revenues may suggest.  Constitutions, by-laws and operating practices tend to be homegrown.  Board member terms are relatively short by commercial standards.  Members are simultaneously customers, friends and shareholders creating unique expectations and complications.  All of these factors make effective governance and planning challenging but all the more critical to success.

In this environment, comprehensive Board orientations are essential.  Savvy boards grasp their roles as stewards of institutions and focus on long-term strategy, funding and policy.  The development and transfer of successful plans across multiple administrations requires a common understanding of strategic goals, club finances, legal responsibilities, industry best practices and the marketing environment by all Board members in order to achieve desired results.  When Boards do not get “everyone on the same page” and reinforce the true purpose of the Board, they tend to gravitate to inconsistent and tactical actions and risk falling prey to personal agendas.  It’s not surprising these less desirable actions are often associated with management turnover and internal strife.

Annual Club Board Orientations

Annual board orientations play a critical role in getting everyone on the same page while developing and maintaining a long-term view.  It requires a pretty significant educational effort to train Board members on the unique features of each club, the common success factors of peers, critical financial resource planning and the changing nature of clubs.  Even simple concepts such as Food & Beverage results being largely inconsequential to club finances but hugely important to membership satisfaction, or debt usage and amortization periods needing to be limited, or 50-70% of the club members will be new in 10 years (yes, 5-7% attrition per year is typical) can be eye-opening for some Board members.  The latter often leads to the most strategic question of all:  who will be all the new members and what will attract them to our club in an evolving market while keeping our existing members happy?  Answer that question in a financially sustainable way and you’ve got yourself a baseline strategy.  It’s a lot harder to develop and consistently implement than it sounds.

To assist Clubs efficiently pursue sustainable futures, we’ve organized our board orientations around the following topics:

  • Purpose of the Board
  • Legal responsibilities (and exposures) of Board members
  • Industry best practices vs. individual club practices*
  • Private Club finances and Long-Term Financial Planning
  • Lessons learned from our Board experiences and from peers
  • Changing demographics
  • Setting the Annual Agenda
  • Roles of Officers, Executive Committee, Committees and Management
  • Communications
  • Tours of the facility
  • Developing an effective Board Policy Manual – it’s much more than most think!

*Each year we conduct our Best Practice Audit survey.  It helps us evaluate practices in the industry and helps both the participants and us rapidly identify opportunities for improvement at each club.  We seek multiple responses from client club Boards.  Responses often vary within the same clubs.  It only highlights the need to get everyone on the same page!

Please invest 5-10 minutes and complete our Best Practice Audit survey. Click Here.  

We’d be delighted to customize an orientation or educational session for your club’s board.  Want to discuss further?  We help private clubs plan for a sustainable future.  For further information please reach out to Joe Abely at or 781-953-9333, or Dave Duval at or 617-519-6281.