Thursday, April 28, 2011

"We can't find good people"

You would think in a down economy the level of service at most businesses would go up, not down as only really good employee’s are left working...but it seems just the opposite is happening everywhere.  To put it bluntly, service sucks!

We can’t find good people”.

“Everyone wants a big paycheck but doesn’t want to work for it”.

“Kids today aren’t willing to work like I did when I was their age”.

I have one hyphenated word for you:  Chick-fil-A

Have you ever been to one of their stores?  

I eat there ALL OF THE TIME.  Why?  They have great food, exceedingly friendly service, and do it all for a fair price.  The elusive trifecta of business!

Have you ever wondered why McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s (just to name a few competitor’s) consistently hire worse people than Chick-fil-A?

Does Chick-fil-A interview better?  Do they pay more?  Do they have higher expectations with regards to service?  Answer:  Yes, not usually, and without a doubt.  

Think about it for a second.  They consistently hire the same people that you can’t get to lift a finger without being reminded, beg to be friendly, and are frequently unreliable...yet they somehow manage to find the cream of a “bad” crop consistently?  By accident?  I think not.

“So what are you suggesting we do?”

1. Hire exceptionally friendly people or don’t hire at all.  Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A current President said, “You have to be very, very careful because that is the most important decision that we make (when asked about the companies screening/interviewing process). It’s not location, location, location. While that is important, for us it is more about people, people, people and making a good selection.  We typically select based on what we call the “three C’s.” Competence, that’s their business acumen and the skills that they have. Character, which is their whole values set, and also their Chemistry, their likability – is this someone we would want our own sons or daughters to work for?”  Did you notice he didn’t mention anything about paying a boatload for top talent?  Interesting.
2. Once you hire that great person, train the crap out of them on what you expect.  You have heard it a hundred times, “inspect what you expect”.  I would go a step further and add, “what is not clearly explained and made clear will not get done”.  Sounds simple but many companies training program consists of a few minutes with their hiring manager or worse, shadowing an apathetic veteran employee that can quickly “poison” the new hire.  Do you get better service at a Hilton or a Holiday Inn?  Guess who spends more time on training? 
3. Offer to hire people on the spot at businesses you admire.  Have you ever received great service from a waiter or waitress (sorry, I think “Server” sounds a bit too p.c. for my taste) a few miles from your club, why not offer them a job?  Ever picked up a load of lumber from Home Depot and met a young person that had “it”?  That youngster could be your new cart attendant.  
4. Quit whining about not being able to find a decent employee.  Do you generally hire from ad’s or referrals?  Guess which method yields better results (the same principle applies to getting new members by the way)?  Does your business have a good reputation in the community?  Does your club come off as a fun place to work or stuffy?  Blame is a an excuse best handled by looking in the mirror.  It’s you, not them.  
5. Hold them accountable.  This last item is actually the toughest to accomplish, but produces the most long-lasting effects.  Every quarter, sit down with your employee(s) and review their performance.  Period!  Yearly reviews are too infrequent to be effective.  The expectations should be clearly stated in writing on what is it is you feel is needed to carry out the job.  Once you and the employee agree on action items, you are off and running.  I know this last item sounds very basic, but few businesses do the basics well.  They instead get mired in the minusha of implicit, not explicit expectations and tasks.  Employees that don’t know exactly what they are supposed to do become ineffective and confused, no matter how good they seem(ed) when you hire(d) them.  The practice of management by mind-reading is common and in my experience, is a recipe for disaster down the road.  

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Food for thought #5

    You are not in the golf business.  You are in the “maximization of expendable income business”, and nothing more.  Your job to maximize the value and experience each member receives (from you) in trade for the labor dollars they decide to give you each month.

    You want me to do what?

    Board member:  Look, I appreciate that we have heaped a bunch of responsibilities on your plate but if you haven’t noticed, we’ve lost 110 members over the last two years.

    Person now in charge of keeping new members happy, preventing “about to leaves from leaving”, and getting new members:  Well, then what is it you want me to do?  I can’t think of anything I have personally done to lose all of those people?

    Board member 2:  We’re not trying to place blame.  We are trying to figure out what to do going forward.  For instance, we have 10 outside events coming to the club this year...what are you going to do different this year than last year?

    PNICOKNMHPATLFLAGNM:  What do you mean do different?  What am I supposed to do?

    BM1:  We were wondering how you are going to market to all of these people?

    PNICOKNMHPATLFLAGNM:  Market to them (are these guys off their rocker?)?  They are coming to the club already.  I did market to them.  Guys, I give lessons.  I oversee the restaurant.  I fill in at times in the Pro shop.  I am super busy (that is going to cut into my personal time a bunch).  

    BM2:  We know you are busy, but is there anything you can think of “outside of the box” to maybe pull these people visiting in?

    PNICOKNMHPATLFLAGNM:  Like what (the nerve of these people)?  I mean, how much can I really do when my staff has been cut down to the bone?

    BM1:  I’ll give you that times are tough, but that isn’t completely economy driven is it?  I mean, do you really think all 110 members just quit playing golf completely or did they just quit playing here?

    PNICOKNMHPATLFLAGNM:  GUYS (these people must think I’m Superman), listen, I do the best I can with what I have but you can’t lay the blame on me.  Look, what is it you want me to do?

    BM2: We were hoping you might come up with some creative way to market to these people, that’s all.  Do you have any ideas?

    PNICOKNMHPATLFLAGNM:  Can you just spell out what it is you want or maybe brainstorm over some ideas that the board might want and then I’ll see if I can implement them?

    BM1:  I know this sounds like we are asking a lot, but we don’t have 400 members any more.  We can’t meet ad nauseam.  We don’t have the time.  We are hurting.  You know our budget.  We are simply asking for you to think of ways to pull these people in.  Think about it for a second.  We have 100 potential guests coming in 10 separate times this year.  What if you took a day and contacted every one of them and out of those calls 3 people joined per tournament?  We would have 30 new members!

    PNICOKNMHPATLFLAGNM:  So you want me to contact 100 people after each tournament...guys, you have to be kidding (these people are officially nuts)...

    BM2:  No, we aren’t.

    PNICOKNMHPATLFLAGNM:  My plate is so full right now though.  It seems like you want a salesperson and when you hired me, I thought it was to be the Pro/GM/Assistant Pro.  Maybe what we really need is a salesperson on staff to handle this?

    BM1:  We were hoping you might take that on until we get more members?

    PNICOKNMHPATLFLAGNM:  I wouldn’t even know where to start...but I guess I can try (I need to find another job).

    BM2:  What do you mean you'll try?  We have cut everything except your pay since this entire member exodus started.

    PNICOKNMHPATLFLAGNM:  Guys, you are blaming the wrong person.  I have taken on a ton more responsibility and have not asked for one cent more.

    BM1:  And that has not gone unnoticed.  But we aren't having a management problem right now, we are having a sales problem.  Or maybe I'm wrong?  Maybe it's both?  I mean...if we would have managed things better and really loaded people up with reasons to stay, they would still be here now minus the few that the economy truly did take out.

    PNICOKNMHPATLFLAGNM: I think if we just give this until next spring, things will turn around...

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    The Guest List (a step by step guide to converting guests to members).

    It’s the first of the month and time for your (monthly) board meeting.  What should be, without fail, the top three topics you need to discuss every time you convene? 

    1. How do we get new members?
    2. How do we keep our current members really happy?
    3. How do we keep the bottom 10% spenders from leaving?

    Today, we will address the first action item, getting new members.  

    Usually this falls on the lap of (if you are a larger club) your Membership Director.  If you don’t have a Membership Director, than your Pro or Gm may handle these duties...or worse, your former Assistant Pro turned Head Pro/Gm/Restaurant Manager/Membership Director.  Whatever the situation, you still need to review new membership acquisition with someone.

    Here is what they should be able to tell you:

    1. Who visited the club as a guest in the last thirty days?
    2. Did a representative of the club eat lunch or play a round of golf with them?
    3. Who else on the management team or board did they meet on their visit?
    4. When you called them the next day after their visit, what were their impressions of the club?
    5. Are they married? Have kids?
    6. Does their spouse play golf?  How about their kids?
    7. Where do they generally play?
    8. How often?
    9. Out of all of the golf courses in town, why do they consistently choose answer #7(convenience, cost, conditioning, where their friends play, etc.)?
    10. When you showed them your monthly event calendar, did they act disappointed or excited?
    11. What marketing material are you going to send them in the next thirty days?
    12. When are you scheduling another invite for them to the club?
    13. Does anyone know the guest personally that may be able to give them a personal testimonial about the club?
    14. Who else is in the pipeline for the next thirty days?
    15. Who signed up as a new member in the last thirty days?
    16. Which members did you set them up to play with for their first few rounds?
    17. When you asked for a referral, how many names did they give you?
    18. Did they feel pressured when you gave them guest passes or were they excited?
    19. How many web hits came through on the home page?
    20. Did we capture any new email addresses/names when they looked at the course layout page?
    21. How many new people signed up on the club’s Facebook page?
    22. How many potential members did we contact from the outside outing(s) we hosted?
    23. Are they (the person responsible for gaining new members) getting enough resources from the club to properly mine for new members? 

    Guess how many clubs out of fifty are this thorough each month?  0.00%.  

    Guess how many should be doing this each month?  Only the one’s that need new members.

    Are they too busy deciding whether to add the blackened option to the Sea Bass dinner?  Who knows?

    One thing is for sure, if you aren’t at least following a few of the steps listed above, your potential for new members is very high...and in the words of Carl Spackler, "you've got that going for ya'".