The Club Management magazine has named Tony D’Errico, CCM, CCE, the 2019 Club Executive of the Year.
A 26-year member of the Club Management Association of America (CMAA), D’Errico currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer of the Quail West Foundation in Naples, FL, which includes the Golf & Country Club and the Homeowners Association.
On this occasion, I thought to ask him about the business challenges of private golf clubs.
How did you turn Quail West into a preferred residential country club & workplace?
This is an ongoing journey! For starters, we made a substantive investment in our infrastructure.
In addition to renovating both golf courses and our practice facilities, we also successfully created lifestyle elements that were lacking beforehand, such as best-in-class casual dining, fitness and other recreational facilities.
Part of our transformation included evolving our governance model to a place of best practices and populating our professional staff with team-oriented, member-centric, servant leaders.
What are the latest customer experience development trends in private golf clubs?
The lifestyle amenities mentioned above are critical in gated golf club communities today.
Additionally, any programming that focuses on servicing latent demand is critical. We have successfully increased golf, tennis and fitness usage WITHOUT growing our membership by doing this.
Specifically, personalized instructional programming for athletics that makes entry or reentry into a sport a user-friendly experience is a must.
For example, by hiring world-class professionals, we saw increases in golf and racquet instructional activity upwards of 400% in one year with relatively flat membership growth.
Why & how should private golf clubs provide exceptional employee experience?
There has never been a time in my working life that the labor market was as tight as it is today. Add to that the reality that expectations for service levels in every aspect of club life have never been higher.
In addition to ensuring that compensation and benefits are competitive in our market, providing an exceptional employment experience is paramount: doing the basics exceptionally well — making expectations clear, providing the proper training and tools to do the job, recognizing when it’s done and, from top to bottom, creating a nurturing work culture, steeped in genuine care and engaged visibility — along with ongoing and intentional enrichment programs such as life-skill learning, social events and other staff-centric activities.
Bottom line: this is the happiness business and you cannot be successful in the happiness business without a happy staff!
How to make private golf clubs relevant and attractive for Millennials and future generations?
Millennials are not our market in Naples, but I do have a viewpoint:
Millennials are more likely to engage in a club than x-ers were. Inclusiveness, diversity, ease of access to amenities and embracing technology are all critical elements in attracting millennials.
Is it time to rethink membership development techniques?
Yes — I call it the paradox of exclusivity. Quail West, generally speaking, is considered to be an exclusive club.
However, the primary reason behind our extraordinary membership development successful lies within our intentional inclusiveness.
We have clearly differentiated ourselves from our competitors in this manner — and the market has noticed.
In Southwest Florida, exclusive clubs with exclusive membership behaviors are a dime a dozen. It’s critical that we continue to offer a compelling mix of lifestyle amenities and a culture of world-class hospitality, but to be sure, inclusiveness is our “secret sauce”.