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Under Doerr’s leadership, Strategic Club Solutions has been expanding its services and added industry specialists for marketing, membership, HR, finance, turf, golf, culinary, and food and beverage operations. The company delivers its consulting services through a team-based and Member-centric approach. Strategic Club Solutions has grown in the last five years to house 10 industry specialists in its ranks and aims to be the leader in the club management space in the near future. Following is the conversation that CIO Applications has with Ryan Doerr, Kevin J. Ehlert, principal, John Clark, finance consultant & strategist and Laura Leszczynski, the VP of marketing and strategy of Strategic Club Solutions on why they are the preferred partners for the best clubs.
What are the challenges that clubs face today? How has Strategic Club Solutions positioned itself accordingly?
Ryan Doerr: Our focus is to help clubs to get from good to great and great to awesome. Clubs collaborate with us either when they are stuck in one particular area, or looking to take a proactive approach to planning. When stuck, we find this is often a symptom of a bigger challenge that organizations are unable to apprehend. Everything boils down to communication, governance, lack of a plan, and poor understanding among stakeholders. The fascinating thing about the club industry is that this is the only business model where you have a board of customers that guides the business direction. Thus, the best clubs hire a CEO or COO to run the business, and then the board sets a strategic direction and governance among the membership. We help these clubs create a solution and plan for the next three to five years that is stable and representative of their membership.
For the clubs that don’t have this system, we assist through the next phase by leading them in the right direction. We lead in a way such that the way forward for them is effective and efficient, and they have a developed plan which combines strong data and an interactive process. We also equip them with tools to implement this plan on the backend.
John Clark: One of the things that clubs struggle with is a macro issue of changing roles and people. To this end, strategic plans can help them to plan for the future, and that’s where we come in. We help clubs with guiding and responding to people’s discretionary time and how they use it. The clubs must respond to the members, which will enable them to provide a rewarding experience, and that’s precisely what we strive for as a company.
If you don’t work with the right clean questions, you get dirty data. Huge problem. This can lead you in the wrong direction causing expensive mistakes and sabotaging your efforts
Ryan Doerr: Many times, a club will come to us with a symptomatic problem, whether it’s struggling membership or cash-flow. We operationalize an in-depth discovery to diagnose the real problem. Our core service offerings are surveys, strategic plans, executive search, membership engagement, recruiting and retention, and communication and marketing. Further, we also have HR support functions that we integrate into our core service areas.
We deliver an actionable and achievable strategic plan based on industry experience, relevant data, and proven best practices to help the club respond to unforeseen demands. We show the clients the path to roll out new initiatives and how to get the stakeholders and members on board. Even better, we uniquely partner with the clubs at every step of the way. Unlike other companies that fly in, airdrop a plan and fly out, we make a quick assessment and present the clients with a comprehensive strategic proposal, through which every facet is customized, which in turn supports and keeps them accountable throughout. The first and necessary step is to assess the Club with an Opportunity Assessment. This looks at the entire Club in every aspect and gives us a true understanding of needs and wants. Through this discovery, we are able to get to the root of the problem and uncover hidden opportunities. What differentiates us is our team. It’s a dream team with real-world experience. They have such a clear understanding of what the clients really need and what their main quandary is. We are focused on asking the right questions, and using neuromarketing and behavioural science to achieve better outcomes and help the Club truly not just develop a plan, but also define and understand their brand.
Kevin J. Ehlert: As someone with a thirty-year professional career in private club management with a specialty in 100+-year-old historic clubs, I was on the other side of our conversations. When I started with SCS, I found our listening was different than other firms I’ve worked with in the past. We are actively listening to comprehend the clients’ needs.
Laura Leszczynski: The active listening really comes from asking the right questions such that we can dig the root of the problem and then solve it. The information that we gain through this exercise is extremely valuable, and this allows us to get the best results for our clients. We apply the latest scientific neuro research and strategy to our process. This enables us to hit our target more precisely and work smarter. This has propelled and exploded our success results as we are using the science behind human behaviours and applying it to benefit our clients.
What does the near future look like for Strategic Club Solutions?
Ryan Doerr: As a company, it has been a great last few years for us. We have added industry veterans to our team, and the plan will be to continue to grow as the market responds to our services. One of the things that we have discovered is that the partnerships we have formed has helped us to be advocates of the industry, and we will look forward to continue partnering with those organizations and others as we go forward.
We will be innovating and helping our clients in developing a seamless management process for their clubs such that they can be successful at each step.