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Growing Bowls Club Membership

Now that most of the autumn renovation work is completed on the green and the winter green maintenance program is well underway I want to take a week away from agronomic issues and focus more clearly on how your club is doing. Of course if there are any pressing, green related issues, we can continue to discuss these through the usual channels.

So over the course of the next few days I will publish a series of articles on Bowling Club Membership Retention and Growth. These will look at the following subject areas:

  1. The Importance of Member Loyalty (today)
  2. Where are you with Member Loyalty?
  3. Understanding your Target Audience and their needs.
  4. Fulfilling audience expectations
  5. Delivering exceptional service to your members.
  6. Perpetuating your club’s vision through training.

These articles are extracts from my forthcoming eBook, titled as you might have guessed Bowling Club Membership Retention and Growth, which will be available here from 14th November 2011 onwards.  This builds upon the concepts of the “customer” or club “user” as discussed in Bowling Club Survival and Turnaround.

So to start off the week I want to take a brief look at Member Loyalty. I hope you enjoy these articles and get some positive outcomes for your club from them.

Member Loyalty

Customer loyalty is the single most important element to retain within any business relationship and readers of Bowling Club Survival and Turnaround will know that the single most effective strategy for any bowling club that’s serious about survival is to start thinking and behaving a lot more like a business.

So, as in any other business your bowling club will derive a lot of positive benefit from a well established and loyal member base.

In business and increasingly in bowling clubs, large proportions of the available budget (or other resources) are allocated to attract new members, club users and customers, but through the cultivation of a loyal member base this expense and energy can be channelled towards other projects. The word “member” as proposed here, can and increasingly, must include disparate, non-traditional (keep in mind the danger that lurks in tradition as detailed in Performance Bowling Greens) user groups whose primary interest isn’t necessarily bowls.

Clubs that have a satisfactory percentage of loyal members have the advantage of channelling funds and energy into a self reinforcing system in which the club delivers constantly evolving, superior value and high quality products, facilities and services to its members, thus creating a perfect feedback loop that attracts more loyal members.

This ensures that the existing members consciously help to introduce friends and family to the facilities at the club based on personal testimonies and enthusiasm.

Another important aspect of retaining loyal member numbers high lies in the fact that your club is then able to focus on providing good member induction schemes that contribute to a higher yielding member base (they spend more at the club) and thus provide for higher income by reducing the need to spend money attracting potential but not necessarily valuable members.

Members must trust that the club management team will continue to strive to deliver an ever increasing level of service and value to them and this has to be demonstrated rather than just communicated; you have to walk the talk.

This trust factor will then translate to converting the casual member into a loyal one. Thus any complaints or misgivings regarding the facilities available or the management of the club should be addressed swiftly and to the satisfaction of the member.

If things do go wrong, clubs that take the grievances and concerns of members seriously are usually the ones that have the highest loyal member base on record. Sometimes a problem well handled is more valuable than there being no problem in the first place!

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