As recounted in 8 Keys to Country Club Success, country clubs continue to adapt their facilities to the evolving needs of their members. Many club managers indicate that they see this as a favorable time to undergo improvement projects. With this in mind, one question consistently arises when we meet with our country club clients: “When should I start planning for my next improvement project?”
As one of the most frequently asked questions we get from club managers today, we decided to sit down with Marcus Vess, our country club market leader, to get answers and advice for navigating improvements.
Q: Marcus, thanks for your time. You’ve overseen many facilities improvement projects throughout your career, what’s surprised you about the country club market over the past two years?
A: Probably the renewed focus of club leaders to work in realigning the vision and mission of their clubs to better serve their members and stay competitive in the club marketplace. Clubs of all sizes are taking a hard look at the service offerings, amenities, physical facilities, and member demographics. Perhaps the pandemic was an opportunity for club leaders to reassess many of these aspects of their club.
Q: Why are more clubs renovating now than ever?
A: Largely, clubs renovate to stay relevant and competitive. Expectations of members and the services their clubs offer seem to be continuing to grow. Clubs are being pressed to respond beyond just the regular facilities maintenance and upkeep. Many clubs (if they haven’t already transitioned there) are making the move to attract younger members, most of whom have families with children. As a result, programs and amenities for youth are increasingly important.
Q: So, on to the question everyone is asking, “When is the right time to start planning an improvement project?”
A: In my experience, the answer is typically yesterday! Many times, clients underestimate the list of “to-dos” that need to happen ahead of construction. It’s important to remember that the more time you give yourself, the more time you have to study options and make decisions that will affect the outcome. In today’s market, play it safe and give yourself time. Aggressive schedules put pressure on everyone involved.
Q: Speaking of “today’s market,” what are the biggest factors influencing the construction market today?
A: Certainly, supply and demand are driving construction costs in almost every market, including club construction and renovation. Supply chain issues, shortages in skilled labor, and the overall volume of construction activity has created a super-charged market; and unfortunately, costs are up as a result.
Q: How are clubs defining ROI today?
A: Most clubs realize that their view of ROI needs to be based on measuring the “return” on member satisfaction and not revenue. Ultimately, it does relate financially but that is through increased member use of the club and the attraction and acceptance of new members.
Q: If you could offer one piece of advice to club managers, what would it be?
A: Plan ahead and have a strategy for tomorrow. It’s important for club leaders to pause, assess the club’s position/status – where you’ve been and most importantly, where you’re going. Take the time to develop a strategic plan. Having a roadmap for the future is a valuable tool.
Closing: To bring certainty in uncertain times, you must give yourself time to plan and the best time to plan is now. Getting started on a strategic plan and developing a roadmap for future construction and renovations projects will help club managers stay ahead of their members’ needs.
How we can help: If you are thinking about your next country club improvement project, it’s never too early to plan. Reach out to Marcus Vess to schedule an evaluation of your facility or to discuss how to develop a road map for the future.