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Systems for Success – Part Two

By James Cronk


A Five Part Series to help you improve your people, your products and your profits!

In this issue…. Part Two – Planning for Success!


True story! A few years ago I received a call from the ambitious owner of a destination golf resort, and he needed some serious help. They had been open for three years and they were only at 15% capacity. So I asked them some initial questions; “Did they have a great property?” “Yes” they said, “We have spent 50 million dollars on an award-winning golf course and a 40,000 square foot clubhouse”. I asked, “Did they have good accommodations?” “Of course” they said, “We have built forty cabins around the property that have an amazing view of the ocean”. Impressive I thought, so then I asked, “Can people get to your resort easily?” “Most certainly” they answered, “ a couple years back we bought our own Jet to fly people directly from the mainland to our resort”. Wow I thought, now that is commitment. So finally I said, “Okay then, please send me your business plan and your marketing plan so that I can see what is not working”.

Well, based on the long silence on the phone followed by a clearing of the throat, I quickly realized that they didn’t have a business plan, nor had they completed a market study before they started. Quite simply, they didn’t have a plan! They did however have a jet! They found the time and money to buy a jet, but they never took the time to develop a plan. It was only a couple months later that the next call I received was from the bank that now owns the resort after the ambitious owners went into bankruptcy.

It is surprising the number of clubs that either don’t have a plan or don’t have an up to date plan. Too often clubs are still using the original concepts that were created before the club got built, when it was simply a dream in the eyes of a billionaire. But today that same club can sometimes be dramatically different in the way that it delivers a golfing experience. Over the years a club can create its own brand, by catering to a certain type of clientele or staff delivering a certain style of service. It may be delivering results but is that because they are delivering on a plan or simply just luck? More importantly, if they are not achieving their goals, how can they create a plan that will change that?

So whether we are creating a brand new plan, or updating an old one, there are three important steps for successfully ‘planning for success’. The first step is to determine how do we define our success. What is the end goal of our plan? How do we keep score? The second step is to develop the plan itself. What are our key goals and our specific objectives, and what are the required tasks that are needed? Finally, our third and often overlooked step, is how have we communicated our plan to our team? Does everyone know what we are striving for and how each employee can help us get there?


How do we define our success? Is our goal to create member satisfaction, sell real estate, book more hotel room nights, increase land value or simply to make more money. A different answer will produce a different plan. We all define success is different ways, and it’s critical that as managers, and as a business, that we have clear and measurable terms of success.

More importantly, we need to identify what separates our club from our competitor across town. What is unique about our club that makes it special? A well-known course designer? A big clubhouse with a grand ballroom? Many clubs have that, but what is our Unique Selling Proposition and better yet, does every staff member know how to answer that question? If they are in an elevator and someone says, where do you work – do they say at a club that welcomes families? Or at a club that provides the highest level of service in the region? Or at a club that protects the environment? Or do they simply not know what to say… so instead they say “at a club that doesn’t pay me enough”.

There is great value that will come from clearly identifying what success means at our own club, and that is because golf is ‘un-definable’! That’s right – we work in a business where we are unable to define what we sell and what makes it great. If we stood on the first tee of any golf club in the world, and asked the first ten golfers why they played the game, we would likely get ten different answers. The game is great because it provides so many different benefits, from quality time with customers or family, to self-improvement, to a brisk walk in a beautiful setting. It is different for each of us and that is what makes managing the experience so challenging. We need to identify the reasons why our members play at our club and what they enjoy most, and then we need to implement those systems that will create a consistent and memorable experience.

Lastly, in regards to defining success, there is a great saying “What can’t be measured can’t be managed”, and when we define what success means to our club we want to make sure that our goals are measurable. If success means member satisfaction, then how do we quantify that? An annual membership satisfaction survey, quarterly focus groups and new membership sales are three ways to ensure that we can define membership satisfaction and also, compare improvements year over year.


Just like there are hundreds of different golf swings there are many, many different ways that you can go about developing a plan for success.  However, no matter how you put the puzzle together, a solid plan should include some of the following basic pieces.

First, a Vision Statement, which describes a vision or a mental picture of what the organization wants to achieve in the future. The words are inspirational in nature and easy for all employees to repeat at any given time.

Second, a Mission Statement defines our current situation and answers three questions about why our club or organization exists. It tells us ‘What we do’, ‘Who we do it for’ and ‘How we do it’.

Third, we will benefit from defining our Core Values, which help define behavior that we want our employees to follow. Core Values should be something that all employees can easily recall and should describe best practices for working together.

Fourth, our plan needs Strategic Goals, which outline for everyone specific and immediate goals and objectives that if achieved, help us achieve our vision. A strategic goal should be a ‘SMART’ goal, which is an acronym for ‘specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely’.

Finally, and most importantly, we need an Action Plan that provides a list of daily, weekly and monthly tasks that require completion. If our Action Plan supports our goals, and if we are successful in completing all of our tasks, then there is a much greater likelihood that we will achieve our mission and ultimately, our company vision.


A plan, no matter how concise our extensive, is useless without team buy-in. Many managers are great at developing plans and systems but often fail when it comes to communicating those plans to the team. New employee orientations, regular staff meetings, employee bulletin boards, staff newsletters and departmental log books are all effective tools for ensuring that everyone knows what game you are playing, what the score is at the moment and what it takes to win.


The business of golf is a complicated one, and although developing a plan is not a guarantee for success, it will provide a road map that everyone can use. If created effectively, and if it’s aligned with your goals and objectives, it should make the road travelled that much smoother and you should reach your desired destination that much quicker. Safe travels!

In future issues of blogs we will explore in more detail the four Systems for Success (Plan, Prepare, Deliver and Measure). In the next issue, how to Prepare for Success!

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. For more information 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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