Never Waste a Good Crisis

September 11, 2020

By definition, a crisis is considered a negative thing that forces organizations to batten down the hatches and weather the storm. But if this year has taught us anything it’s that a crisis also brings opportunity for change—hence Winston Churchill’s famous quote “never waste a good crisis.”

 If you simply wait for the storm to pass rather than leaning into the wind you may find yourself three steps behind when it comes to picking up the pieces. In other words, you can’t control the wind, but you can set your sails, as the saying goes.


The guidelines and regulations that led to business shutdowns or reduced capacity forced changes upon clubs as they were thrust into survival mode. Club leaders had to quickly adapt to lost revenue streams and the financial realities in the flow through to the bottom line while also protecting employees and members. In these challenging times, many General Managers found new leaders within the ranks as their team brainstormed ways to add value to the membership. Clubs quickly embraced technology for virtual wine events, happy hours, and cooking demonstrations. Many clubs made money in food and beverage for the first time due to the rapid increase in take-out business requiring much less labor expense. It was inspiring to see how quickly clubs could adapt their outdoor dining spaces, put QR codes into effect on menus and learn to embed video to better keep their membership informed.

Scott Craig

I watched in awe and pride as food and beverage industry leaders shared ideas throughout the industry, like Chef Scott Craig forged a path forward for all of us by adapting operations to efficiently offer Easter and Mother’s Day takeout meals for the whole family. Golf rounds have spiked and there is a renewed interest in the game, which is wonderful! Family activities have seen a resurgence and club communities with real estate have seen record sales. Now that we’ve all had a taste of working from home, teaching from home and developed closer relationships with friends and families, clubs are providing a safe and comfortable haven in many different ways. These changes shouldn’t be categorized as a new normal as much as an industry transformation and an opportunity for clubs to evaluate what to start, stop and keep doing and the transition continues.

Market Garden-1

What to Start

Rethink everything – in every department. Remap your service journey and evaluate touch points. Here’s a quick example for food and beverage. Come together as a group and determine how you want your club to be remembered once 2020 is a memory. Use this opportunity to re-evaluate what it means to deliver personalized service while protecting members’ safety, such as reducing touch points at a buffet, delivering take-out, and offering great events. With technology comes more data, giving us the ability to target market events and activities more than ever before. We’ve learned that it is okay not to cater to every member’s desire in the dining room and have found alternatives. Now is the time to create more personalized experiences through intimate dining programs, community outreach to local suppliers and schools, and embracing technology to maximize sanitation and safety practices, like using QR menu codes or Club apps like Pacesetter or your POS app for ordering away from the club. It’s a bonus when you find that your technology can not only keeps members and staff safe, but also provides a more efficient service while giving management valuable data to make impactful decisions.

What to Stop

The practices that give the club industry the reputation for being static and slow to change are a great place to look for what your club should stop. This is an opportunity to set yourself apart. Many events and activities have been on autopilot for years, and now is the time to set your transformation into motion. For safety reasons, buffets will likely become a thing of the past and it’s time to take a look at how to stop putting your events on autopilot. Many clubs have also looked at other practices and processes that had become habit, like board and committee meetings, staff scheduling, budgeting, meetings and member communications. Now is the time to hit the reset button.

Ferris Bueller

What to Keep Doing

Keep offering safe, personalized service to your members. You may have had to rethink your programming in order to adjust for social distancing and perhaps you may have had to offer more family programming in order to accommodate working parents in need of support during the day. Some clubs have even begun looking at offering teaching facilities or after school “school” programs.

These new programs may have opened your eyes and tapped into your creativity for ways to connect and deliver personalized experiences with your members like never before. Guess what the great unintended consequence of this crisis is? These innovations have also made your club that much more valuable in the eyes of the member.

Ferris Bueller once said “life moves pretty fast, and if you don’t stop and look around once in awhile you could miss it,” 2020 has provided the club industry with the perfect opportunity to stop and look around, and in doing so, find opportunities to rethink everything and transform into the club of the future, today.

Banner Ad

Join Whitney as she hosts two panel discussions as a part of the 2020 Golf Inc Strategies Summit: Golf Operations During COVID-19 on September 15 at 12:50pm EST and Programming and Events Post-COVID-19 on September 16 at 12:50pm EST. Register here: