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Advice and Resources for Private Club Management and Board Members

The Importance of Member Surveys in a Private Club

 Board needs to pay particular attention to the demographic breakdown of survey responses.

Board needs to pay particular attention to the demographic breakdown of survey responses.

Learn why Private Clubs should be using surveys to retain existing members and attract new ones.

A healthy and vibrant membership is critical to the financial health of a private club. This means both retaining existing members as well attracting new members. Members who are Very Satisfied will be frequent users of a Club’s amenities and will be the primary source of new members.

Conduct Membership Surveys Annually

Member surveys conducted annually are an important element in assisting Boards of Directors address the service expectations and amenity needs of their members. Done properly, the survey will provide results and feedback for members broken down into age range (less than 35; 35-44; 45-54; 55-64; 65-74; and 75+); gender; and those with children. Given the growing trend towards more family involvement in Club activities, both members and their spouses should be invited to participate in the survey. The survey should address all aspects of the Club’s operations and allow the respondent to provide both quantitative and qualitative (comments) feedback. The survey should also ask members to both rank order and comment on future amenities that they may want to see in the future and, if necessary, would the member be willing to contribute to its cost through an assessment. Lastly, the survey should ask how likely the member (or spouse) would recommend the club to a friend or business associate.

Using Surveys To Improve Private Club Operations

The results of a member survey will provide the Board guidance on what steps the Club’s management should take in improving the areas of its operations that the membership considers deficient. Strong consideration ought to be given to making specific improvements as well as target satisfaction scores for the next year’s surveys part of the Club Manager’s and his or her direct reports goals. Survey results against those goals should be a determinant for variable compensation awards, salary adjustments and promotions.

With respect to future amenities, the Board needs to pay particular attention to the demographic breakdown of responses. It is well known that the expectation of a club’s amenities differ for each demographic category, with younger demographics looking beyond golf to things such as fitness facilities, pool, tennis and family activities. Board’s gauging the needs of younger demographics will make a club more attractive to prospective young members and their families.

Communicate Survey Results to Members

Communicating the results of surveys to the membership both in writing and in open meetings is strongly recommended. Transparency to the members how the club plans to address issues that arise in surveys (or if issues are not to be addressed why) itself will increase a member’s satisfaction with both the club, it Board and Management. A discussion surrounding future amenities help the Board as it assesses future amenities and will have the ancillary benefit of allow members of differing demographics to more fully understand the benefits of these amenities as well as (hopefully) facilitating full membership approval when the time comes to implement.

Please let us know if we can provide further thoughts and information.


Club Board Professionals is a strategic financial consulting and training firm.  The Principals, Dave Duval and Joe Abely, assist clubs achieve excellence in three areas: governance, financial sustainability and membership satisfaction. Contact us for a complimentary initial assessment of your club.

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Member SatisfactionJoe Abely