The economic experience has not been the same for every club owner during the past four quarters. Some have experienced a profound loss in their club's financial stability, while others simply have been financially flat. A fortunate — and, no doubt, sharp — group of club owners has experienced growth over the past four quarters.

To maximize your club's return now, and when the economy begins its upward trend, you need to assess how your club does on these six elements:

  1. Strong growth systems, both externally and internally. Does each salesperson at the club have a consistent, monthly, five-point, lead-generation plan (referral, group sales, community outreach, alumni and current lead wrap-up) for generating external leads for new membership sales? Does the club have goals for and a systematic way to get new members involved in non-dues revenue programs as they join? Is each non-dues revenue program run like a business with a business plan, sales plan, marketing plan, daily goals and accountability measures to insure goals are met? Is the staff that is responsible for selling these programs and services trained on how to sell them? Are the programs and services market/member driven?

  2. Strong programming and facilities. Are the group and one-on-one programs at your club regularly updated? Are the programs you offer any different from what your competitors offer? Are your programs structured for specific results or are they more general in nature? Do you market your programs based on benefits and results, or do you market by price instead? How does the facility look physically, both internally and externally? If you have put off the fresh coat of paint or carpet cleaning, perhaps it is time to invest in that now so the club looks fresh to current members and new members alike when they are comparing you to your competitors. What small changes can you make that will have a big visual impact?

  3. Strong differentiation. Have you done competitive analysis over the past three months to determine your club's uniqueness in the following areas to help attract and keep staff and members: facilities, programs, equipment, staff, services and the culture of your business? If you have not, do it today, and be objective on what is unique about you and your competitors.

    If you can find at least three unique elements in the six areas mentioned above, then you are less vulnerable to competition and more ready to bounce back quickly. If you cannot find at least three elements, then you should be concerned about your sense of value in the marketplace.

  4. Strong service systems in place. When it comes to hospitality, does the staff understand the difference between their primary and secondary purposes? For staff to be clear about the bigger picture of their roles, include the following sentence in every job description: To create and deepen relationships with members whom we know and do not yet know that will add value to their membership, enhance their sense of belonging and enhance their sense of community within the club. The secondary purpose for each position should be the actual task of that position.

  5. Does management practice the principal of M&Ms (members and margins) in all decision-making? Long-term profitability does not come from cutting costs but will come in combination with serving members, serving staff and being innovative with services and products.

  6. Does every staff person believe and behave with results, retention and revenue as their core values?

Assess these points objectively, and make the necessary changes that will allow you to capitalize on the recovery faster.

Karen Woodard-Chavez is president of Premium Performance Training, Boulder, CO, and Ixtapa, Mexico. Woodard consults and trains clubs throughout the world. She can be reached at 303-417-0653 or at karen@karenwoodard.com.