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Standards of Operations and Performance:
What Does “Excellent” Look Like in Your Club?
What does “excellent” look like -- to you?  How about to your Food & Beverage Committee Chair, or to your President, or to your Bartender, or Waiter? Would they each see it the same? Describe it the same? Not likely.

Now ask: What does “excellent” look like to each of your members?  The old hospitality saying is that the “Customer is always right.” But, what happens when the customers (i.e, our members) see things differently than each other?  One member might demand a high level of detail, instant recognition and immediate service, whereas, another member might see  such service as wasted dollars and a possible increase in future dues.

How do you approach this kind of discordance in a club?  One solution is to seek early agreement in what “good” or “excellent” looks like. In other words: Set the Standard.  A standard, however, is not as effective in reducing discordance if it is not established before a disparity presents itself. It is most effective when established though a process of proactive development and agreement, rather than reactively and retroactively as a result of conflict or confusion. When there is agreement, there can be a “standard.” 

A standard has numerous definitions, such as: a principal; a code of ethics; code of behavior; a benchmark; a certain caliber; a level of merit; a model; a measure; a set of criteria; an example; or a touchstone. One definition of a standard (or set of standards) that serves club operations  the best is that of “a source.” 

Once established, they are most effectively employed as a “source” document. As a source document, standards are the “heavy lifter” for club operations. They can and should be the primary source for developing club documents, setting up procedures, establishing rules, designing training programs, preparing performance reviews, defining services and quality of goods, and much more.

The following is a sample of operational items that are typically developed by starting with the respective “standards” for that subject:

  • Employee Handbook   
  • New Member Orientation Packet
  • Employment Agreements   
  • Purchasing Specifications & Guidelines
  • Annual Service Plan   
  • Bookkeeping Procedures
  • Admission’s Procedures   
  • Kitchen Cleaning Schedule
  • Annual Membership Marketing Plan   
  • Reservation Procedures
  • Job Descriptions   
  • Mowing Procedures
  • Club Rules & Regulations   
  • Bunker Maintenance Procedures
  • New Employee Packet   
  • Dish Washing Procedures
  • Outside Services Procedures   
  • Golf Cart Maintenance Checklist
  • Employee Training Manual   
  • Wine Inventory Guidelines
  • Employee Schedules   
  • Bartender’s Drink Recipe Guidelines
  • Side Work Schedules   
  • Pool Maintenance Procedures
  • Weekly Departmental Reports   
  • Clubhouse Maintenance Checklist
  • Club Brochure   
  • Locker Room Supplies List
  • and many more...   

These items can have a profound effect, both directly and indirectly, on most aspects of the club. The effect of “standards” are fairly easily measured in overall member satisfaction, but the effects go much deeper into more detailed aspects of satisfaction, such as member attrition, member referrals and member usage levels. The widespread impact of implemented standards goes beyond what are actually noticeable and visible to the members. They directly influence such items as: dues levels, fees and prices, merchandise inventories, clubhouse cleanliness, staffing levels, purchasing specifications, staff compensation packages, employee turnover and other critical areas.

The development of the club’s Standards of Operation and Performance involves beginning with a template of industry standards and coordinating the efforts of the department heads and the membership committees to develop their respective department's standards. There is much initial work involved, however, this work is an investment in the quality foundation of the club, from which member satisfaction, pride and appreciation, staff professionalism, organizational integrity, reputation and overall stability arise.

If you are interested in developing a comprehensive set of standards for your club, Club Resources can help in several ways. First, we literally wrote the book when it comes to club standards. Our Standards of Operation and Performance for Private Clubs publication is a comprehensive 157-page template for customizing your own set of standards. It has been endorsed by and licensed to the Club Managers Association of America.  Secondly, we have coached many clubs through the entire development of club standards. Lastly, we are hosting a 90-minute Educational Webinar on the Development of Club Standards on May 20th at 1:00 p.m. (EDT).
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Contact Bob Bodman at 800-267-6758

Bob Bodman is the Author/Publisher Standards of Operation and Performance for Private Clubs and is the Founder and Principal of Club Resources, a club consulting firm specializing in membership solutions and strategic planning. Contact: