Ten Ways #3

Encourage New Members to Join

I was talking to some guys last fall. They thought the solution to their membership woes was radio advertising.

Are you kidding me?

The fundamentals are the fundamentals. You should definitely have a kickback arrangement with local real estate agents (pay them $1000 for a new member, $100 for a prospect). Give them the chair of the membership committee’s business card. And a note that you welcome newcomers to the area and will arrange a free round/cart/lunch with a member of the membership committee at their convenience. Local golf newspapers and magazines can be cost-effective to reach serious golfers. Local chamber of commerce mailing lists are a good idea. You need to have a competitive website these days.

What are you really doing to incentivize your membership? Bounties that require recruiting 3 or 4 seldom work — most people are pushing it to recruit 1.

I spoke to a local pro about a member for a day event. The events are a great idea, but it should be focused on new members, not having a “semi-public for the day” event. The pro told me he wasn’t sure he could fit a single in — that everyone had signed up as foursomes.

I wasn’t surprised when two months later the 100-person event hadn’t yielded a single member. It was a great deal — $60 for a private course with cart and lunch. Grab your foursome and go.

Instead of targeting 100, target 25. Charge $100 — private club membership isn’t about saving money. Consider $125 with a clinic beforehand. Every foursome should have a member of the membership committee in it (or every other foursome and switch a person at the turn).

Joining a club isn’t about the physical environment — it’s about the social environment. Every aspect of your recruiting from the website to in-person events needs to emphasize how easy it will be to fit in the social environment.

Fall river advertised a “member for the day” every day for a while last year. Just call the pro shop. Sigh. Two years ago, I called their membership chair (who suggested I drop by, no follow up, no engagement), and a few days later I gave myself a full tour of the clubhouse including the pro shop staffed with 2 people without anyone attempting to engage. To be fair, their previous membership chair had engaged several times over a two year period.

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