Understanding “The Club Adventure”
Gregg Patterson, President
Creators of WOW—Builders of Community
Golf’s having a tough go of it these days. Too many courses chasing too few golfers. Too many roadblocks to play—too slow, too complicated, too stuffy, too low tech and too boring.
And people are asking—“What’s the value of this thing called “club”? Why, with lots of pay and play courses and lots of cheap deals “online”, would a well healed golf enthusiast or a no-heeled “wanna be golfer” invest in a club membership???
If you were to ask me The Big Whys—Why club? Why golf? Why join?—I’d stand on a table and shout “Because you’re born with a BIG Hole in Your Soul and Club and Golf will fill that Big Hole with relationships and community and the stuff needed to create relationships and community. You NEED The Warm Embrace because there ain’t nothing worse than living a life with a Big Hole in Your Soul.”
Walk into any club that deserves the name and you’ll be hit by The Warm Embrace—staff who say “hi”, give you a smile and call you by name; members who pass you in the hallway and give you The Eye Touch, the smile and the Big Hello; the foursome who’ll make the round of golf a memorable journey whether you shot par or forty-seven over.
People have more social networking than ever—and are lonelier than they’ve ever been. And “club” and “golf” are the anecdotes for loneliness.
People are born Empty, alone in the world, crying for nourishment. Needing hardware—the milk. Needing software—the hug. Wanting to fill—The Big Empty.
Grown-ups want to fill The Big Empty with stuff—“hardware.” Food. Booze. A golf course, tennis court, gym. They want “stuff” and stuff is an important part of filling The Big Empty.
But in a world filled with more “stuff” than ever before, people are re-discovering that “stuff” isn’t enough.
People want to fill The Big Empty with software—“non-stuff” stuff that fills an emotional void. The smile. The hello. The wave goodbye. They want “non-stuff” to go with their “stuff” and in hard times “non-stuff” is a huge part of The Big Empty.
Lots of businesses do “stuff.” Hotels, restaurants, fast food joints, pay-for-play golf courses—they all do “stuff” and lots do it really well. Hire the right architect, interior designer, gym specialist and you’ll get good “stuff.” But “stuff” isn’t enough. The Big Empty is only half full—and clubs who are doing “club” and “golf” right, know it.
Clubs compete best when they emphasize the “non-stuff” side of The Big Empty equation. Equal their “hardware”, beat ‘em with “Software.” People contact. Relationships. Community. The love. The emotional “non-stuff” that makes the chairs and the carpeting and the furniture and the golf course and the pro shop and the locker rooms memorable, unique and special.
Rules are needed.
Here are mine.
The Big Wants
People have powerful emotional “wants” that are simple and applicable whether in Miami, New York, North Berwick or Scottsdale. These “needs of the spirit” are the starting point for filling The Big Empty with software and “whupping” the “stuff guys” with their new spas, new irrigation systems and new tablecloths.
- People are born wanting dignity. They need to feel that they are special, worthwhile, important.
- People are born wanting status. They want to feel that they’re “someone” in a world where there are lots of “someones.”
- People are born wanting relationships. They want to be connected to others, to a tribe, a family, a group.
- People are born wanting community. They want to commune with people who share their values and live the values they share.
- People are born wanting to feel the joy. They want to be surrounded by others who are powerfully positive, who give them The Buzz and who express an un-quenchable passion for living.
- People are born wanting to feel the love. They want to experience an emotional connection with people who care, deeply, for them as individuals and for what they feel, to be embraced when they arrive for a day’s outing with a blanket of warmth and emotion.
- People are born wanting to be touched. They want to affirm their connection with others with a gesture, a look, a handshake, a scribbled note hand written and illegible.
These Software needs are universal, part of The Human Condition, common to everyone everywhere—to golfers, diners, gym rats. Useful to know when filling The Big Empty.
Time to fill.
Principles of “Fill”
Everyone wants to fill the Big Empty with software. Club people know how.
Club people emphasize hospitality service—“stuff” delivered with a relationship. A door opened with a smile and a name.
Club people deliver “stuff” with E.I.I.P.—empathy, inspiration, information and personality.
Club people live Service Ethic—they deliver happiness and dignity; they anticipate needs before those who need it know it; they make sure the details are attended to; they deliver the Stuff that’s needed when it’s needed; they make sure they’re a presence, focused on the consumer, when delivering Stuff; and they see shortcomings in the Stuff and Non-Stuff and do something about it.
Club people understand The Touch—how to “touch” people with a word, a gesture, a note or a symbolic something.
Club people deliver Stuff differently than the Hardware Guys. They know that “how” it’s delivered—matters.
Filling The Big Empty requires tactics to deliver “the stuff” with soul.
Tactics are the full part of the “software cycle.” Get a facilitator—the marketing director, the general manager, someone who understands hardware and software, someone who has “facilitator” in their genes. Gather people together. Throw The Big Wants out for discussion. Do some “experience mapping” to determine where and when “contact moments” arise. Drink coffee. Talk lots. Ask questions. Toss ideas about. Take notes on a flip chart. Reflect on needs, wants and expectations. Discuss “the software holes” that the hardware guys missed. Facilitate the conversation.
Most of all—ask questions.
- What member segments are we dealing with? Kids? Mammas? Twenty-somethings? Empty nesters? Grandmas?
- How do we welcome people when they arrive wanting The Stuff?
- How do we show people appreciation when leaving after consuming The Stuff?
- How do we create a relationship between the Consumers of Stuff and the staff?
- How do we create a relationship between the Consumers of Stuff and other members and guests?
- How do we give “the warm embrace” in the parking lot?
- How do we show happiness when providing The Stuff?
- How do we make those who are consuming The Stuff feel special, unique and important—before they arrive, when they arrive, while they’re here, when they exit, and after they’ve gone?
- How can we deliver The Touch—verbal, visual, written, physical—to The Consumers of Stuff?
Endless questions. Thousands of good answers. Unlimited opportunities.
Time to Fill
People are born needy. They want hardware and software to fill The Big Empty.
Marketers love The Big Empty. Empty is opportunity.
Let the “stuff people” invest in the hardware. Let the “club people” master the software. Blend the two together “just so” and a house becomes home, people become friends, friends become community, clubhouse becomes CLUB.
And CLUB is a very, very good purchase in hard times like these.
Drink the wine. Feel the love.
And enjoy the journey