Before You Raise the Dues at Your Golf Club
Now before we get to the sensitive subject of raising dues, let’s also realize that income can be raised in every other non-dues category first, with a little effort.
Add five dollars on guest fees here, $1 on cart fees there.
A more aggressive attempt to book Monday outing business alone can add $100,000 to your bottom line. (See the Complete A-Z Guide to Outing Success) While a simple in-house effort to remind members monthly, that you’d love to host their birthdays and special occasions can easily increase income by 10% or more with very little effort. (None of the clubs I have ever belonged to has EVER sent my wife or me anything suggesting we hold a surprise party at the club a few weeks ahead of our birthdays and I can assure you our birth dates are on file.
Just using a high-level member communication tool such as Legendary Marketing’s campaign manager, increases incremental income at most clubs by at least 8%. Changing or updating your club’s logo can easily add $50,000 to the pro shop’s income, so there is plenty of room for extra income at most clubs in these OTHER INCOME categories first. Now, we will get into the tough.
Are Your Existing Members Paying Enough?
This is a question few clubs want to ask, but it’s a question that needs to be asked. At the end of the day, revenue must be more than operating expenses and a certain level of standards must be maintained.
Three years ago after years of artificially low dues for many years, my club decided to catch up all at once by raising the dues 100% taking them from a low $3,000 per year to the mid $6,000 plus trail fee. The move naturally caused outrage among the members. All types of clandestine meetings were held, petitions were sent out, e-mails flew around and the battle lines were drawn but you know what? When it actually came down to it no one quit. No one that is who wasn’t already on their way out the door or moving to another area. Of the forty to fifty people with whom I play; NO ONE quit.
The fact of the matter was that the new fees albeit twice what we had paid the year before were still smack in the middle of the ballpark for a higher end course in our particular market.
Secondly, everyone could easily afford the increase even if they didn’t like it. To most, it was less than a half decent day’s gain in their stock portfolio and so despite the words, despite the threats, they simply paid it and went on as if nothing had ever happened.
Most people are simply not going to change a lifestyle choice over a few hundred dollars a year, no matter what their income!
Softening the Dues Increase
One thing you can do to ease the problems in raising dues and raising money for short-term capital improvements is to announce a dues increase but then allow your members to pay X amount of dues in advance at the old rate. This simple strategy will produce an influx of cash and reduce the pain of an increase. Just be sure to use the cash wisely!
A second way to soften dues increases is to compare the cost of membership to other clubs in the area pointing out your clear superiority in several categories. (Do not do what my club did and compare yourself to clubs 300 miles away to which you are in few ways superior too)
A third way to soften dues is to clearly spell out in the same letter, your ten point plan for improving the club along with the specific projects the increase in dues will fund. In short, sell them on the value; more about this later.
All The Best,