Connection is the core reason most private clubs were created. “Clubs are and always will be about the people and the relationships they forge with others,” Steve Graves of Creative Golf Marketing said. You may have the finest facilities, large membership base and the best club leadership team, but without connection you have nothing, according to Graves.

“Private clubs do not devote near enough time, energy, effort or resources to building a strong connection throughout the club’s culture,” he wrote in a recent company blog. Connection occurs on two levels—the connection between members themselves and the connection between members and staff. The relationships between members expand each member’s connection with the club. Members often have equally strong relationships with club staff, ensuring another level of connection with the club. This emphasizes the importance of staff knowing members’ names, likes, dislikes and needs.

Connection is an essential component in member retention and engagement. Graves believes members resign from private clubs for three reasons:

1) Justification of expense.
When members find that the expense (monthly dues/fees) of being a member has gone beyond their actual usage of the club, they tend to calculate exactly what each round of golf or each tennis game costs them. This constant justification of membership creates a black and white decision on whether to leave the club.

2) Allocation of time.
“Busy members may discover they do not have enough time to devote to being a member of their club as compared to other aspects of their lives that demand time and discretionary dollars,” Graves explained. This reality creates higher attrition rates than most clubs are accustomed to experiencing.

3) A lack of connection.
When club members do not feel connected to their fellow members, the staff or the direction in which the club seems to be going, increased resignation rates tend to follow.

Clubs that do not focus efforts on building relationships with members may struggle to retain current members, he warned. “Make connection a priority and you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.”

The Private Club Advisor – February 2017