Competing for Golf Club Membership Sales
Membership sales are vitally important sources of revenue for private and semi-private golf clubs.
Over the years through the downturn in the market, many clubs have crafted all sorts of membership offerings, fee structures, and even discounts to bring people in the door.
While these solutions sometimes yield quick wins, it comes at a cost in the future.
It’s important to evaluate from time to time the nature and number of membership offerings available at your club. We’ve stepped into operations with more than 45 different membership offerings.
Too many offerings is confusing for both the customer and for golf club membership sales.
It’s generally a good idea to narrow the field of options. The goal is to provide opportunity for your target market, but maintain price integrity.
For all but the most elite clubs, membership offerings must be presented at market rate levels.
Just because there’s a group of members who originally paid $50,000 to enter the club, doesn’t mean that $20,000 isn’t the fees number today.
Market research is vital. Learn what other clubs are offering through secret shopping or other research. Understand the value proposition of each, and determine where your facility fits into the marketplace.
Develop a set of membership offerings that makes sense for your target audience and then stick to it. If someone can’t afford the club, that’s okay.
Price integrity is a hot topic today when it comes to green fees, guest rates, corporate and charity events, and services like golf lessons. Once again, it’s always relative to the market that you’re in and what sorts of fee structures can be supported.
Take an objective look at the value proposition for people coming to your facility. What’s the quality of the goods and services that they receive versus the competition? Note the inherit bias to over value your own club as well. Be objective and seek 3rd party opinions where possible.
“If you’ve got 45 different membership offerings with deals and price breaks for all types of customers, maybe you’re just not best served as a private club anymore?”
Memberships Aren’t What They Used to Be
We recognize that there are certain clubs boasting unspoken historical value or prestige. They’ve either been around for a long time, or maintain some level of exclusivity.
Pricing and fee structures certainly need to balance a number of considerations – it’s both art and science.
That being said, the golf marketplace for private clubs is not what it used to be. We’ve worked with clubs who have been struggling mightily to bring in new members. Many have opted for switching to semi-private or public structures.
Consider antiquated systems like membership approval processes. In the old days, new prospective members would have their photos posted in the locker room for 6 months. Current club members had the chance to speak up or veto their entry into the club.
Meanwhile, more forward thinking local golf courses with better facilities were much more open and accommodating.
In today’s market, the value proposition has changed. People don’t seem to assign nearly as much value to privacy and exclusivity.
It always come back to empathy and thorough market research for individual solutions, but family elements seem to be the order of the day. The golf courses that are succeeding are focusing on becoming the hub of social activity in their local communities. Amenities like child care are commonplace.
Identifying your ideal target market, understanding your local competitive set, and objectively evaluating your own value proposition helps to guide golf membership sales initiatives.