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Systems for Success – Part Five

By James Cronk


By James Cronk, Principle, CRONK GROUP INC.

In this issue…. Part Five – Everything is Measurable!

In parts one and two of this series we identified the importance of defining our success, and then the importance of having a great plan. In part three we identified ways to attract the best staff, and in part four we showed some of the systems for success and other best practices that are being used by successful clubs to deliver great customer service.

In this final installment we will consider the most important element to creating success in the club business…. determining if what we are doing is working and if not, determining what changes we need to make!


The golf and club industry is truly a unique one. It attracts all types of people for all types of reasons. If we stood on the first tee and asked the first ten golfers why they played the game, we could easily get ten different answers. Some people love the competitiveness of golf – to get better each game. Others simply love the fresh air and exercise. Some people join a club to represent their affluence and their status in the community, while others join a club for the social connection to be with others that have similar interests. The reasons are many, and it is because of this fact that the golf club experience can sometimes be considered ‘un-definable’. When you have different customers that all get something different out of your product, it can be difficult to not only market what you have but also to sell it.  More importantly, because many golfers or club members can have a different need, it can become a challenge to maintain a consistent level of satisfaction for each and every guest. How often have we heard one group of members talk about how much they love the new menu while another group wants to fire the chef?

We often say that being in the golf and entertainment business ‘is’ more complicated than rocket science. Each visit to our club can include dining, special events, exercise, competition and, of course, social interaction. Therefore, how we measure what we do is a critical tool that is necessary for improvement. We can’t fix something if we don’t know that it is broken. There is a great saying “what can’t be measured can’t be managed’, and many clubs do a great job measuring revenues and expenses and other key performance indicators. However, the best clubs measure everything possible, such as member satisfaction, employee satisfaction, total revenue per round of golf, cost of maintenance per acre and many, many other factors. In our business, with so many different facets, there is no shortage of things that we need to measure to best understand where we are and where we want to go. The more we can measure, the better we can manage!

For the purposes of simplicity, let’s look at the three important areas that require constant evaluation; employee engagement, member/guest satisfaction and most importantly, business results.


The only way to truly get honest and open feedback from your staff is by sending them a confidential survey, either on-line with a program such as survey monkey or through the mail. In addition, hiring an outside firm to create, deliver and analyze the results will also ensure the sense of confidentiality that is necessary to get full disclosure.

Conducting a thorough and effective employee survey process can accomplish many objectives.

First, they provide employees a chance to share feedback on issues that they might not be comfortable discussing in person. While this might seem unfair to the managers or employers, the reality is that many people fear reprisals for speaking out. What’s important is not who say’s what about who, but more often, identifying problems so that they can be resolved.

Second, our front line staff will often have the best ideas on how to increase efficiencies, improve working conditions or better yet, enhance customer service.  We hope that these ideas will be shared each and every day, but for many people, they simply aren’t comfortable to walk up to the boss to tell him what would work better in their department. A survey process with lots of open-ended questions will usually produce at least a few brilliant ways to be better.

Third, and most importantly, the survey process simply enhances effective communication. When people share ideas, and those ideas are acted upon, it builds engagement and pride in the workplace.  Too often managers will say that they listen to their staff, yet when we ask employees they say they are ignored. An annual and confidential employee engagement survey eliminates the opportunity for negative employees to say the words, “Nobody ever listens to us”.

BEST PRACTICE: When you create your employee survey, make sure you include the questions below from Curt Coffman and Marcus Buckingham in their bestselling book ‘First, Break All the Rules”. If 85% of your employees respond YES to these twelve questions, you deserve a raise!


  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2. Do I have the equipment and materials I need to do my job?
  3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best everyday?
  4. In the last seven days, have I received praise for doing good work?
  5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, care about me as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who cares about my development?
  7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission of my company make me feel that my job is important?
  9. Are my co-workers committed to doing good work?
  10. Do I have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, has someone talked to me about my progress?
  12. This past year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?


It can be a challenge to gather good feedback from our customers. Studies show that the majority of people who are unhappy with our products and services won’t tell us, but instead they simply will stop coming. Obviously our business results is our best definitive measurement (see below), but if our numbers are in decline, how do we know if the reasons are caused by external forces or simply that we are performing below average?

Club’s that are effective in gauging member satisfaction will use multiple ways to gather feedback.

Comment cards remain a simple yet effective method for gaining ‘day-of’ satisfaction levels. By including comment cards with the bill or tab in the restaurant, or placing them on the steering wheel of golf carts, or even leaving a few around the locker room, comment cards can be helpful in providing managers with the ‘pulse’ of today’s guests.

Detailed satisfaction surveys are also very valuable, however it is important not to over do it. If your club is embarking on a large capital project, or re-envisioning your strategic plan, then a more extensive survey is justified based on the importance of the project. Best practices suggest an outside firm is hired, and one of the benefits of using a third party is to have someone that shoulders the blame if things go sideways.

Focus groups are an excellent way to not only gather feedback but also to create increased loyalty from your best customers. By inviting a handful of your happiest (or unhappiest) customers to a focus group you are sending the strong message that you care about your clientele and you value their opinion. Those who attend will often be surprisingly candid and better yet, they will tell all of their friends about their positive experience. It doesn’t hurt if you add some wine and appetizers to the meeting either!

Lastly, one of the most effective means for gathering feedback is to utilize a third-party to complete a site audit, often called a ‘silent shopper review’. In a silent shopper review the ‘shoppers’ rate their experience when visiting your facility. The third-party can be an industry expert, your fellow industry peers or even friends. What matters is that you get an impartial and detailed summary of what works and what doesn’t!


How likely is it that you would recommend our facility to a friend or colleague?

WHAT ARE YOUR KPI’S (Key Performance Indicators)

Having happy staff and/or happy customers doesn’t mean anything if you aren’t achieving your business results, and the only ratings that bankers and owners usually care about are the financial results that are being achieved. In that regard it is critical that we establish some effective measurements that will truly tell us if business is good or bad and if we are trending in the right direction. In addition, we need quick and easy access to this data so that we can consider changing course now… before it’s too late.

Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are the quantifiable measurements that will help us determine success and fail in our business. Each level of management and each department within our organization should know how to identify and target the goals that are to be achieved.  For example, one golf club may focus on member retention and attraction, number of rounds per month, and food and beverage sales per member round.

Developing effective measurements will be unique to each facility and will be based on their goals and their products. In addition, financial analysis may be more advanced at one club than another. That said, listed below are a few examples of some of the basic, and more advanced, metrics that are being used by club’s to determine their financial health.

Golf Industry KPI’s


Calculated by dividing the total green fee revenue (including membership dues) by total theoretical available rounds. This measurement gives a true indication of the revenue generating performance of a golf course year over year, month over month or day over day. Tee-time intervals must be standardized.


Also known as Average rate or yield and calculated by dividing total Revenue by total rounds played. This can be calculated by all departments (retail, food and beverage, etc). For Green fees this can be more beneficial if we can segment this by the different rate categories.


Weekly or monthly calculation of the cost of labour is critical when determining accurate labour numbers. We are interested in maintaining or lowering our Labour percentage, not just our labour dollars. Divide department revenue by total fixed and variable labour costs.

Other valuable measurements include; Food Cost, Retail Margin, Revenue per Customer, Weather and Average Pace of Play Per Golf Round.


Success is never guaranteed, and in our very challenging industry, when this great game of golf can sometimes be ‘un-definable’, success can be a floating target that is constantly just out of reach. That said, we can improve our chances for success if we implement systems, tools and processes that will create clarity, consistency and most importantly, a commitment to excellence from all of us.

JAMES CRONK – Principle, Cronk Group

James Cronk is a highly regarded speaker and consultant and his work takes him around the globe, helping clubs and organizations improve their people, their products and their profits. His clients include private, resort and daily fee clubs of all sizes and also national and international organizations such as NGCOA, CMAA, CSCM, EGCOA, PGA and GOLF 2020.

If you would like more information on best practices for Employee Engagement, Member Satisfaction and Club Industry KPI’s, contact James directly at james@cronkgroup.com.  For other information about Cronk Group please visit www.cronkgroup.com.

To learn more visit WWW.CRONKGROUP.COM or email us at james@cronkgroup.com




Download and apply these 10 ‘POWER ON’ principles and see immediate improvements in the satisfaction of your staff, your guests and your bottom line!

James Cronk

For the past twenty-five years James Cronk has been helping business owners get themselves, their people and their customers powered on. He uses a unique blend of creativity, experience and proven systems to help golf clubs achieve their goals and increase their profits by improving their systems, their service and their people!
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