by Dale Petrie
Amenity. I dislike the word. It comes to English from my native French: aménité. I looked it up again today in my Webster’s. “Any feature that provides comfort, convenience or pleasure.” I’ve heard it used at restaurants: “Do you know where the amenities are?” These days, women prefer to use powder room rather than rest room – again an odd term as one does not usually rest in the rest room.
But I see this odd word amenity or amenities on most country club websites. As one scrolls across the links comprising the main menu, amenities shows up. Hovering over it long enough, the website drops down into a secondary menu – Tennis, Fitness, Salon and Spa – all relegated to a secondary menu. We all know that two clicks or two hovers of a mouse is just one too many for most website visitors. It’s the killer blow to your website keeping the viewer’s attention.
The major ingredients of the main menu requiring just one click? Golf and Dining. These two departments are clearly the emphasis for most clubs. Understandable. But what struck me odd is that dining is, well, more difficult in these Covid times. And salons and spas might as well just be on a tertiary menu for the time being. But tennis and fitness – they just stay secondary. But will they remain secondary in a cost versus profit basis in the new normal that will follow Covid?
This question brings up an even more fundamental one – a question which has been around since clubs started collecting dues. The answer may be found in just how a club manager allocates funds. How much should each department make (or lose in most cases) in terms of profit? Does a club take a larger cut of on-court and on-floor revenues in order to make the department look more healthy? And how does a general manager or board allocate costs? They do it every year as part of their tax return, right there on page 10 of the club’s IRS Form 990 if they are a non-for-profit 501 (c) 7 organization.
As the Club Managers Association of America releases this coming month its F & O (Financial and Operations) white paper studying specific, key performance indicators and their Financial and Operations throughout the club industry, I have been sparked into action. Digesting certain ideas emanating from the draft that I have had the pleasure of reading on the CMAA website, I spoke with a few tennis and fitness directors across the nation. And one thing really stuck out – fitness held its own in terms of revenues through the Pandemic thus far. Tennis, at most clubs and facilities, grew. Not only did it grow, but revenues from tennis went through the roof.
So, are tennis and fitness just amenities to shore up the waiting list for membership but lose money at the same time? We don’t think so. And the CMAA has suggested an interesting method in their new report as to departmental allocation and metrics. Following are the numbers we have collected from our own research and tax returns. And allocations of costs and usage. And here’s why tennis and fitness are much more than just comfort stations at a club.
Dale Petrie is a well-respected UK-based marketer who works with clients ranging from the FMCG industry through to sports marketers. He holds a marketing degree from the Sorbonne in Paris and works with clubs across Europe and the world.
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