Questions to Consider When Interviewing For A GM Job In A Private Club
Are you considering applying for a general manager position at a private club?
For many private clubs, turnover in the general manager can be quick. Reasons vary, including the retirement of the incumbent; the incumbent leaving for a better opportunity; or separation due to performance issues. There are other reasons as well which might not be directly tied to the performance and/or under the control of the incumbent, including declining membership and/or poor financial performance.
Accordingly, as you go through the process, there are some things that you should consider inquiring about (in addition to asking about the reasons for the vacancy):
Are membership dues and counts holding steady or increasing?
Does the club have a recent strategic and/or facilities master plan that has been embraced by both the board and the membership?
Does the club have a FUNDED Long-Term Financial Plan which reflects expected capital spending for the next 5-10 years (including projects envisioned in strategic and/or facilities master plans)?
Is the club debt free?
If not, is there a dedicated revenue source to fund the debt?
Is the debt less than 1x membership dues?
Is the original amortization period of the debt 10-years or less?
Does the club prepare both an operating and capital budget annually which are approved by the board?
Is the Club current on capital replacement spending (avoiding deferred spending)?
Does the Club carefully segregate capital funds from operating accounts?
Are initiation fees, capital and debt assessments dedicated to capital expenditures and debt service and not used in whole or part to fund operations?
Have initiation fees per new member held steady or increased over the last 5-years?
Has the Club recently conducted an independent membership survey?
Does the club have its financial statements audited annually by a firm experienced in serving clubs?
Is the reporting relationship between the General Manager, the board, its president and committees clear?
If there are more than a few “no” answers that may be an indication of the club experiencing financial difficulties. If this is the case it presents an opportunity for board of the club to be transparent about the condition of the club (including sharing financial information) and what their plans are for remedying the situation, including the role of the GM. With transparency, it gives both the GM candidate and the board an opportunity to determine what will provide the best fit for the position and increasing the chances of both the club’s and the candidate’s success.
Dave Duval and Joe Abely, the founders of Club Board Professionals, LLC, are both CPA/MBAs with more than a dozen years each of private club board experience as directors, treasurers and presidents. They successfully honed their skills while guiding highly-successful transformations of their clubs during challenging markets and economic times.