Why stakeholder surveys are the key to better golf clubs

In the final part of a series of articles, The Gameplan’s Jim Overend emphasises the importance of listening to your stakeholders.

If you’re serious about upping your game and your profits in 2023, you need to listen to your stakeholders. For a golf club that’s every one from your members to your staff, board, and all other customers who use your facilities.

Listening can be anything from passing conversations and feedback slips to more formal focus groups and surveys. Whilst informal feedback can help you get a sense of what some stakeholders are feeling, organised and carefully prepared and surveys will enable you to reach out to a broader range of people and the opportunity for anonymity means you can get some really honest insights. You’ll also have a whole host of data that can be used to aid and support your decisions.

Don’t underestimate the power of involving your stakeholders. Whilst it may seem like additional admin or cost, it will pay dividends long term; your club community will feel more involved, they’ll be more engaged and less resistant as a result, and you’ll all be working to shared goals.

Commercial sports specialist Jim Overend explains: “I recently attended an AGM for a local sports club. The management were outlining their 10-15 year plan, but it was clear they hadn’t engaged with the membership at all. Attendees were up in arms at what appeared to be a done deal with many hearing plans for change for the first time, including decisions that affected the membership. Involving them in the process would have remedied this – you need to take people on a journey, and they need to feel a part of it all.

“Conversely, I’m working with another local sports club who are prioritising getting their stakeholders all on board before they make any big decisions. We’re sending out surveys to stakeholders which will be integral to building the club vision and mission. They’re involving them from the get-go which will make the path to change much easier.”  

Surveys are a brilliant way to gauge opinion and are a lot simpler and more cost-effective than you think. Jim works with business and sports clubs to deliver surveys from their  members/board/client/customer feedback to 360 manager reviews and staff happiness measures.

“Surveys mean you get the feedback from the majority rather than the vocal few. And when you actually respond to the results, you’ll be able to action change quicker and be more effective.

“They’re particularly good for bringing those difficult members on the journey; they have a formal outlet to vent and share their thoughts, rather than keep on knocking on your office door!

“And they’re a really good communication tool too – questions can be used to hint at future plans, and a survey makes it clear you want to involve your stakeholders.”

On the topic of surveys, a number of clubs recently responded to a Fitness Test survey run through Jim’s company The Gameplan in association with the GCMA. The Fitness Test measures clubs on 34 key business operations criteria, including a club’s culture, vision, performance evaluation, recruitment, meetings, reporting, communications, team engagement, strategy, and planning.

On average, golf clubs scored just 8 out of 34! Whilst this figure is low, it shows huge opportunity for improvement – by tightening up and improving your club management and operating systems you’ll see strong uplifts in your bottom line.

Read The Gameplan: Part One
Read The Gameplan: Part Two

In 2023, Jim will work with a group of clubs GMs to review their operations and get growth systems in place to supercharge their profits. Email [email protected] to find out how to get involved. 

By GCMA Content Team

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