Club owners are searching for new ideas and more knowledge to help them survive and thrive in today's economy. You can find many proven and practical business and operational ideas from seminars, conventions, business magazines and books, but they are all worthless until they are implemented. Remember, just because your members join your club, it doesn't mean they will be healthy. They actually have to show up and do something to get healthy. Your business model also needs execution for your club to get results.

Ideas have no value until you do four things. First, you must adapt ideas to your club, your market and your management style. Unfortunately, many club owners hope to operate their businesses by just stating their goals. Most club operators get distracted with operational, day-to-day issues and forget their goals. Because they are operations focused and not marketing or sales focused, they must change their attitudes to survive. Many facility owners have a blind spot for sales. They want sales. They even invest in sales training now and then, but they lack the discipline to create a sales and marketing culture. To be successful, they must either change their focus — which is unlikely — or invest in a person who naturally focuses on sales, which means paying this person well. (The return on investment that this person can offer makes this worthwhile.) If club owners don't hire a sales-focused individual, they must arrange for a professional sales coach to come in several times a year. The cost is the same either way, but a coach often can be easier to find.

Second, ideas must be converted into actions, which is the implementation or execution phase. You must decide who will do what, how and by when. Deciding on who, what, how and when converts the idea into action. You need the discipline of accountability and follow through to implement your good ideas.

Third, you must follow up, assess progress, and uncover barriers and problems. This is the accountability phase. Selling is challenging in 2009. You need to ensure a strong selling process to get the best results. It should include tracking sales numbers daily. Give sales people tools to generate their own leads. Hold brief, daily sales coaching meetings. Create a marketing/promotion plan for the next six months using different guerrilla marketing tools. Track and report monthly on performance, retention and all other numbers. You also should track ratios, such as the cost of sales. Examine the total dollars spent to produce your desired quantity of new members. Also, look at revenue per employee to determine the efficiency of your staff in producing revenue, and review your total labor cost to serve the number of users you have.

Lastly, you must improve on all the action steps and make this part of your organization's habits and culture, so it is done consistently even when you are not there. Your team must be focused on execution and accountability. This is the results phase.

Having the right people on your team makes a real difference. Their ability to learn and create is what enables productivity. If you have a 5 percent annual increase in productivity, your business will be healthy. It is about working smarter, not just harder. Clubs without this focus need more people, more time and more resources every year.

Club owners of most well-run organizations have realized that getting the best people and making them better is the critical element in success — not capital, not land and not equipment. Even when the economy or your business slows down, do not stop recruiting the best. Do not stop developing and training your people, and do not stop holding them accountable to get the best results.

Ed Tock, a club sales and marketing consultant, specializes in performance/profitability programs. He also is a partner in REX Roundtables. He can be reached at 845-736-0307 or eddie@eddietock.com.