Here are the rest of the sessions I attended at Club Industry East:
How to Manage Without Losing Your Mind, Ajay Pant. Ajay is the national tennis director for Midtown Tennis Clubs and works where I live and work in Overland Park, KS. He spoke at one of my “Tennis in No Time” sessions last summer (which I wrote about here), plus I ran into him in Chicago last fall when Midtown‘s Alan Schwartz was honored as our Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Ajay talked about how to deal with staff members. If they are willing and able, they are superstars. If not, you have to decide whether they‘re worth the time and effort to improve them. If they are willing but just not able, they need to go, Ajay says. Managing friends can be difficult, and Ajay talked about how he fired a friend who was a great tennis pro, but just not a very good manager. The two still have not spoken since.
Club Design: The Most Popular Design Trends for Successful Clubs, Part 2, Bruce Carter. I don‘t want to spoil some of the highlights Bruce hit upon here, since he also writes about them in our upcoming May issue. For a sneak preview, Bruce talked about how green is a popular color these days, as are “earth” colors, such as brown and tan. Bruce also talked about how Curves (not the club company) are in for club design, and owners should reduce the amount of mirrors in their clubs to prevent people from seeing themselves right away. Some sales areas are off to the side in some clubs, Bruce says, and water walls are inviting and give off positive energy in a club.
Legal Issues Involving Running a Small Business, Alan Roth. Jennipher went over some of the highlights in a previous post, but I‘ll add a few things here. Even if you‘re a small business, there are so many things to consider and hoops to go through before opening your doors, more than I realized. My favorite line from Roth was that a private equity lender is like a home-run hitter, and a mezzanine lender is like a singles hitter. Roth and Sara Kooperman are a husband-and-wife team who also happen to be lawyers. I wonder what they talk about at the dinner table.
Retention: Why Members Quit and How to Prevent It, Thomas Kulp. Can you imagine if your club no longer had contracts? That‘s what Kulp is considering in about a year or so at his Universal Athletic Club in Lancaster, PA. Kulp‘s club has had a lot of success over the years, going from 500 members in 1994 to more than 11,000 members today. Kulp says his club has an 84 percent retention rate. Owners need to get “married” to their members and encourage family memberships over single memberships, says Kulp, who adds that working out at a club should be recess for members.