Legendary golf instructor, Butch Harmon, has ten rules to change a golf swing. Clubs making cultural or business model changes sometimes fail for the same reasons it is so difficult to change a golf swing. Borrowing a few of these rules from Mr. Harmon, I have come up with a few of my own for making major changes at your club.
1. "Your ball flight tells you when it's time to make a change with your swing." A drastic change in club performance is the indicator for a club to revisit their strategy. These indicators are manifested in lost memberships, and, therefore, dues. Yes, spending habits change, membership demographics shift, and golf rounds trend downward.
If you view the overall impact collectively, it may be time to make a change in your 'club swing'. And, like golf, this is not an easy journey.
2. "Don't make a change alone."
A swing change requires a series of steps that must be mastered in the correct order coming together perfectly. It is the same for a major club change. If one is invested emotionally and financially in anything, it becomes more difficult to remain objective.
Without a coach keeping us focused on the bigger goal, the tendency is to give up.
3. "Commit to it."
After Tiger Woods' Masters win in 1997, he famously changed his swing. Mr. Harmon asked him to "commit to it." By Tiger's standards, he did not have a good 1998, but by 1999 he was back on top with a new swing. Lofty club changes require a concerted Board commitment, even though results may not be immediate. It takes faith to believe you are going in the right direction, especially when it appears otherwise. Changes like those Tiger made take an unbelievable amount of work and dedication.
4. "A swing tip is not a swing change."
A band-aid solution will get you through a month or a year, but it will not facilitate the change needed for the long haul. In fact, sometimes those short-term fixes can be more costly than the permanent solution would have been.
5. "If it feels good you are not doing it right."
Nothing could be truer when making wholesale changes to a club's operation, strategy, or service culture. The pain felt making big changes often forces many to turn back; return to their 'feel good' comfort zone.
Consider the club that made a decision, embarked on big changes, underwent a small renovation, and brought in the right management team to carry the new vision forward. That club took the small steps necessary for big success and it worked. Membership engagement improved, revenues increased, the feedback was positive and service levels were at an all time high. Yet, when the leadership did not see immediate financial improvement, they panicked and turned back. This club will likely return to a crisis state, because they did not keep faith in their commitment to change. Much like anything with great rewards, if it felt good and was easy, everyone would be doing it.
6. "Keep your eyes on the prize."
It is not easy to see the payoff right away. The club did not get to the point of needing a 'swing change' in a year; therefore, it cannot easily change course in a short period of time. When you decide to take this journey, it won't always feel good, you may not be popular, and you may even regress for a short time. Have faith, because when the changes kick in, you will see a lasting difference in long-term performance.