Every for-profit business needs one thing more than any other to survive: sales. This is the lifeblood that drives everything. Without adequate sales volume, you don’t have enough income to cover your company’s expenses, including payroll. For this reason, employees must understand that they’re all connected to and responsible for driving sales. In most organizations, however, employees who don’t have a sales job title typically separate themselves from this responsibility.
This type of thinking wouldn’t work in football, where everyone on the team must help the team score even if only a few positions actually do the scoring. The offensive line blocks for the quarterback and running backs. The defense fights to get the ball back to the offense. The back-ups push the starters in practice. The coaches work tirelessly all week devising the game plan and preparing the players to execute during the games. In essence, everyone must do their part to help the team win.
The club business is no different. Although designated sales people sell the memberships, everyone on the team must contribute to the effort. The person answering the phone must present a friendly, professional and helpful tone of voice on every call. The front desk attendant must be friendly and approachable. The support staff must make sure that the club is clean and well-maintained and that the property and equipment are in excellent condition at all times so that members and visitors are always impressed. The programming people must ensure that their programs impress participants so that they will refer them to their friends. Management must be active, visible and continuously modeling the club’s customer service standards.
Still, outside factors sometimes make “scoring” difficult for clubs. The economy is bad. The competition has gotten tougher. Perhaps some employees have left. This is when putting points on the board becomes more challenging but all the more important.
How can non-sales staff contribute to the sales effort and, more importantly, why should they care? The management must communicate to all employees that lack of sales means lack of income to pay their salaries. It seems obvious, but it’s amazing how many employees don’t understand this simple concept.
During tough times, everyone must go the extra mile. The front-line staff must be friendlier and more helpful. The housekeeping and maintenance staff must work harder to make the place shine. The programming people must be more creative in developing the right programs and executing them flawlessly. The sales staff needs to work longer, harder and smarter than during good times. When times are tough, successful teams must execute the basics better than ever to outperform the competition.
Everyone must continuously think of ways to drive more business to the club. In today’s 24/7 connected world, employees can more easily contribute personally to sales. They can send messages to their friends and contacts via Facebook, Twitter or other social networking vehicles. They can call, e-mail or text friends, relatives or acquaintances regarding club specials. They can keep their eyes and ears open for conversations between members and visitors that will help the sales staff know who is interested in club programs or memberships.
Employees also can contribute in more traditional ways. They can share news about the club with friends and acquaintances during sporting events, parties, parent group meetings, etc. They can invite their friends and their spouse’s friends to try the club or a particular program. They can hand out club guest passes to their own personal service providers (hair stylists, manicurists, accountants, real estate agents, landlords, etc.).
None of this is rocket science. Winning in sports and winning in business are quite similar. Everyone on the team must be committed first and foremost to its success. Everyone must execute their own role at the highest level. The team must be able to overcome adversity. Team members must refrain from any form of negativity toward fellow teammates. And the team must put points on the board, which means that everyone on the team must be selling all the time.
Herb Lipsman is chief operating officer of Houston Oaks Country Club & Family Sports Retreat in Hockley, TX. He also has been a consultant in the industry, specializing in design, development and operation of upscale facilities.