It’s Time To Remove Barriers That Are Stopping People Joining Your Golf Club
I am a nomadic golfer, I play here, there and everywhere. My group of golfing friends are dotted all over the place so when we see who is playing we find a course we can all get to and go and play it.
However, I am getting no short game practice in and as a result it’s currently dreadful. So I thought I should join a local club, at least on a social membership which would allow me to use their practice facilities.
So I check out one of the local clubs online that I was thinking about joining and download their application, and written on there is the following (I’ve removed the name of the club):
“Enclosed is an application form which should be completed together with two references as follows:
Proposer/Seconder – Current Members of …………………”
Letters of reference from the Secretary/Official from previous Club or recognised person of standing within the community, i.e. Doctor, Employer etc.”
Sorry… because I am new to the area, and I don’t know any members of your club, you want me to go and get 2 references from a “recognised person of standing within the community”, ie., my doctor…..
Are you having a laugh?
Well I had to laugh when I read it, because it literally sums up some of the issues the golf world has.
For a start, this implies the doctor knows that I am reasonable human being… I don’t even know my doctors name, I haven’t been there yet. And then you want me to ask them to write a letter recommending me to the club?
If you want a really quick way to get people NOT to join your club, that’s it right there!
And people from the club might say, “oh we don’t really do that anymore”… well then don’t put it in writing in the application document. Because it immediately pissed me off and put me off even applying.
One line/section in your application document put me off applying. That’s it.
Or they might even say, “when people call up and ask we tell them that’s not necessary”, great, but how many people do what I did, and not call and not apply?
You potentially lost a new member because of one line in your application that you don’t even stick to! Bonkers, right?
Every barrier you put in place will stop people taking action and joining your club.
Now don’t get me wrong, putting barriers in place can work well as a marketing tactic… put a velvet rope around a door and people immediately want to go inside even they have no idea what it is.
But this particular barrier is not increasing the amount of people wanting to join, it’s putting them off.
The Mate’s Test
Whenever I see something that I think is ridiculous I’ll often send to some people and see their response, here’s what they said in response to needing a doctor’s note to join…
“And they wonder why participation is down”
“What a load of bollocks”
“When we have our own golf course there’ll be none of that bullshit” (Everyone wants to own a golf course right?)
Now, should you maintain high standards, should you create an awesome culture within the club and membership, should there be basic expectations of what’s acceptable behaviour and not… Yes, obviously.
But there is a difference between creating an amazing culture within your community and asking for letters of recommendation from their doctor before they can even apply.
By the way, the friends suggestion of entry requirements for when we do own our own club went something like this…
- Do you like golf?
- Do you like golf gears? (Gears is our phrase for clothing, equipment, anything golf related that we can buy)
- Do you like a post round pint? (This isn’t even essential)
Great, you’re in!
I’ll add this to the requirements….If you turn out to be a dickhead then we will tell you this club isn’t for you (Yes you can get rid of members if they aren’t a good fit). And by the way the “No Dickheads” rule comes straight from the All Blacks Rugby Team, the most successful sports team in history. Check out the book, Legacy by James Kerr, it’s an excellent insight into building an awesome team and culture.
Alright so I’ll stop my moaning and turn this into something useful, hopefully…
What can you do as a golf club to get more members…
Make It Easy For People To Apply
If you put in place a load of barriers, then quite simply people won’t join. As I said, that one line about needing to go get a letter from the doctor means I won’t apply… or at least won’t apply right now, I’ll put it off for a while.
If you make it difficult, if it requires a lot of effort, people simply won’t do it.
Let me explain with this example…
In the current process you are asking me to download, print, fill out and then send back the application…
I mean that in itself is a massive barrier. And very outdated. How much easier can we make that process now?
For a start I don’t have a working printer (and I am in no rush to get a new one because I literally never use it), so I’d have to go ask my neighbours if they have one and could I print something off. I would have to log in to my account on their computer, or email them the application form to print off.
Once filled in, I then have to send it off… Well I definitely don’t have an envelope or a stamp… because I’m not 90. So now I have to go out and buy those too, or I am really hoping they would just let me drop in the application, but that still means I’ve got take an extra trip to go and drop it in. Everyone values there time, it’s the one resource they can’t get back and you’re using up a lot of it right now.
Then you receive the application, probably take 3 days to respond to it, invite me in next week, by which time I’ve changed my mind, bought something else with the money I had for it, or joined somewhere else.
Whereas you could have all that same information collected on an online form on your website and it would have taken me maybe 30 seconds to fill out.
You could have then called me 60 seconds after I submitted it, and invited me in for a chat to find out more and to sign up… I literally could’ve have been a member by the end of the day…. And happily would’ve been, I was ready to buy.
Instead, I’m a little bit annoyed by the whole process and can’t be arsed to go find a printer and a stamp… so I won’t, and it’ll probably be ages before, if at all, I go in and try to join.
You have to make things easy for people, otherwise they won’t do it, even if they want to.
It’s Probably Not Even Your Fault
If you are the general manager of a golf club I am by no means saying it’s your fault that that type of language is in there.
Chances are its the same application that has been used for years and years, possibly before you even became the manager at the club. And even if it was you who wrote it years and years ago, it may have been fine then, but now it needs to change.
We should never stick with things just because “that’s the way it’s always been done”. We should always be looking to improve, don’t you agree?
So here’s something that I hope will help…
What’s Your Customer Journey?
I thought I would share a process with you that I take business owners and their teams through. It goes like this…
Have a look at the customer journey and look at every touch point, from the person having never heard of you, through to becoming a member, and even once they are a member.
Look at every interaction and see what’s going on, what are we asking them to do? Is there an unnecessary barrier? Could we make the journey easier? Could improve their experience of our club even before joining?
Every interaction needs to add value, not remove it. Forcing me to take unnecessary time out of my day… not cool. Removing value right there.
You should spend a bit of time going through this and do it with the team. Get everyone on board and coming up with ideas of how to improve each stage.
This process then leads into a whole other conversation around customer service etc, but let’s save that for another day.
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