Over the years of emerging membership challenges, the solutions have varied greatly. However, as most any institutional training programs and experts on the subject will agree, solving a membership (marketing) issue requires a process. In membership, there are basically two components that describe success, growth and retention. Hidden inside each of these components are the core issues or values driving their degrees of success.
For the past fifty years, through significant market research and case study evaluations there is significant data suggesting that nearly any membership challenge can be solved, if you have a process of evaluating and objectively addressing the core issues.
As MembershipRx was being developed, our team looked back on nearly 1300 past club experiences to ascertain the key components of not just a successful membership program, but a model that created sufficient attractiveness to its members and community that growth became organically driven by existing members. Likewise, we researched the factors adding initiation fee value and long-term retention across demographic profiles.
I thought it might be interesting to see how a club can be successful if it deploys three basic tenets for success; Diagnostics, Prescription and Health. Here is the story of Dunes Golf and Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Core Issues – Diagnostics
This member-owned, beach front country club was faced with an aging membership and limited interest from younger families. ClubInsight’s analysis indicated a severe trend in declining membership numbers and usage, primarily based upon age. However, the market analysis indicated a significant availability of young families within a 10-15 minute drive time.
Further research of the Club and its branding image, indicated that nearly all club offerings were relevant only to the current, older membership with nothing for younger families. There was no specific category of membership addressing younger members, including age-based pricing. There was no engagement or communication processes in place for a younger aged member or families with children.
Process to Success – Prescription
Through a collaborative restructuring of the membership categories and pricing to become more attractive to the younger, more affluent population of families, the Club created an attractive membership opportunity, but would it be enough. As the diagnosis had indicated, to attract younger members would take more than a membership category. The next step was to collaboratively create a strategic communications and internal array of events and activities geared toward this untapped market. The key opportunity was to introduce a new and relevant lifestyle to this demographic market while retaining the older members who had supported their Club for decades.
As a result of a thorough diagnostic process, the Club was able to address the core issues mitigating their success and matriculated over 238 member families in less than three months. Through a robust process of programming these new members immediately ingratiated to the Club and created a long-term process of organic member referrals.
What occurred was a repositioning process, creating an atmosphere that was conducive both to the existing members but also to a new generation of members. The Club, to this day, continues to benefit from a total membership health process.
Sustainable Membership Health
The Dunes was wildly successful as a result of recognizing the dynamics of their specific marketplace and creating categories and activities that addressed changing member needs. Sustainability and retention occurred as the Club adopted a retention program, listening intently to the members and providing an ever-changing array of activities and events. The members responded by using the Club more often, bringing guests frequently and referring new members, eliminating the need for annual programs. Bottom line: By relying on a diagnostic process, collaborating on solving the core issues and then listening to the members, The Dunes has remained “program free” and financially sound for nearly a decade. Here’s a general recap of creating a process rather than a program.
- Over 238 new member families
- Increased engagement and event attendance by nearly 25%
- Improved satisfaction to result in a 3.5% attrition reduction
- Organic membership growth from member referral
- Increased initiation fee value
- The Dunes has restored community perception as the family club of the future.
Club Mark/ClubInsights led The Dunes Golf and Beach Club through one of the most successful membership programs in the country. The CMC team’s guidance put the Dunes on the right track to recruitment of new members and more importantly retaining them. 238 new members!” Phenomenal” A club full of new families making memories that last a lifetime, and a sound financial future for the club. “Priceless!”.Donna L Eddington, General Manager, The Dunes Golf and Beach Club, Myrtle Beach
To learn more about how MembershipRx can become your total and sustainable membership solution, please contact me at 214 679-8496. If you would like to schedule an initial assessment and a consultation with you and your decision makers, please click on the link.
Rick Coyne, President