Innovative Membership Categories for Success in Today’s Competitive Market

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Most clubs have one of two problems when it comes to the membership categories they offer: They either offer too many options in the mistaken attempt of trying to design something that appeals to everyone, or they have too few rigid options that haven’t changed since the Mayflower landing!

While having too few options and not responding to people’s changing needs tends to be the lesser of the two problems, it still hurts membership sales. Times are very different now than they were twenty or even ten years ago. People have less time and more demands on them than ever, yet many clubs have not reacted.

For example, at most clubs, a corporate membership tends to be a glorified regular membership rather than really addressing the REAL needs of the business owner. Many clubs still don’t even offer this category. Junior executive memberships are another class growing in popularity, yet are missing from many clubs’ options.

On the flip side, it’s amazing how many membership categories most clubs offer, many of which compete with each other to the point where making a decision between one category and another is very hard. One club had no fewer than 14 categories of membership handed down from various boards and long-since-dead marketing initiatives. However, rather than getting rid of some of the rarely used categories, which according to the club manager would require an act of Congress, they printed out all 14 options and handed them out to each membership prospect. To make matters worse, some options directly cannibalized the others, turning a potential club member’s decision-making process into a nightmare.

Other clubs have fewer membership options, but then they go and blow it by offering seven different payment plans based on the initiation fee and how quickly it is paid off. Too many options HURT, not help, the sales process. One of the key reasons people do not buy is fear of making a mistake: “What if I pick the wrong option?”

The Power of Three

Most decisions come in threes and typically you should have a low option, a medium option, and a high option. Add more than three and you are asking for trouble.

So what do you do if you have tons of options? Easy, you just work in groups of threes by always narrowing down their options to three or less on each decision prior to making your final sales presentation?

So the process for a club with multiple products would be to ask questions during the membership tour that would go like this:

“Are you interested in single, family, or corporate membership?”

“Do you want social, sporting, or golf?”

“Will you be paying your initiation fee in one lump sum or over time?”

Always try to narrow down the options before providing the prospect with writ- ten information to review; more is NOT better when it comes to making membership decisions.

Traditional Membership Categories

Full Family
Single Golf
Social
Sporting (combination of non-golf)
Swimming
Fitness
Tennis
Yachting
More Innovative Categories

With today’s competitive environment, now is a good time to look at adding some different categories that better match changing demographics and attitudes, or just re-looking at ways to enhance the value of your existing categories.


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