Over the past two decades I have witnessed and been a part of this amazing industry that continually evolves and disrupts the status quo, especially in recent years. But no matter how amazing your venue looks and the diversity of facilities for all generations and cultures that you offer, the true asset that makes the difference between you and your competitors is the “human factor” — those individuals who put on their club uniforms, are proud to work for you, and give focused attention to their roles and your patrons each day.
Businesses that have experienced continued growth are those that spend time with their teams to develop individual abilities and create a team that is on the same journey to provide patrons with an experience that makes them want to come back and refer others to your venue.
How much do your front-line team members matter to the patron experience? They are everything. If they remember and greet members by name on entry, if they ask visitors how their night was on departure, if they remember a specific detail about a member, then patrons are amazed. In fact, they are wowed — these employees greet thousands of people but still they remember specific patrons. That’s the lasting impression. That’s what your patrons take home as the door shuts behind them.
Great team members make the effort because they genuinely care. They are your true business assets. But before you can market your greatest asset — your team — you must have a positive workplace culture with strong values led by management who live and breathe those values.
There are of course many challenges to creating a great team [see below], but once you have developed a team that you are proud of, who work well together, who support each other and are a true asset to your business, then market that team to your members and visitors. Tell them how proud you are of your team and how important they (the patrons) are to the team.
But connecting the ‘heart and the head’ in your marketing is more than just a photo of the team on the back panel of the bus — bring the team alive in all your marketing material. There are numerous ways you can do this, with a few examples below to get you started.
Always publicise, celebrate and show your team’s efforts and achievements across all the platforms available. Write an article each month on a specific team member and publish it in the club’s newsletter or magazine and on social media.
Celebrate cultural diversity. Identify the number of languages spoken by team members and tell your patrons. Interview a team member about their cultural heritage, perhaps even include a recipe that your readers can make. This is a unique way to start a conversation and connect patrons and your team.
Patrons are always interested to know what your club does for the community. Take a video of your next charity BBQ with your team dressed in their venue-branded T-shirts, cooking the sausages and interacting with people. Put it on your website or social media.
If you are going to market your team as your best asset, then it is important that all team members are confident and knowledgeable enough to recommend your venue’s facilities and events. This means team members must be well informed, proactive and outgoing.
If you can make a patron feel valued and appreciated it will lead to sustained and repeat business. If every single one of your team can do that for every single patron who enters your venue, then your team truly is your best asset.
8 CHALLENGES OF BUILDING A VIP TEAM
You want all your members and visitors to feel like VIPs. To achieve that you need a VIP Team. The first step is to actually build a team, not a group of individuals, that you are proud of and entrust to market your club to existing and prospective members and visitors. To do that you’ll need to overcome these challenges:
The Challenge of Recruiting a VIP TeamToo often, what we see is ‘warm body recruitment’ — if you turn up at the front door, you are hired. Recruit with the end result in mind and never in desperation.
The Challenge of Selecting and Inducting Your VIP TeamSmart club management provides great training and support to all team members, commencing with a full introduction to the venue and the workplace culture.
The Challenge of Dealing With Younger Team MembersThe new generation expect quicker promotions, but they often bring great, fresh ideas with them. As well as older colleagues re-entering the workforce, they can be great promoters for the new workplace culture you are creating.
The Challenge of Building a Multicultural TeamAn understanding of the various cultures within your team is critical for team harmony. Breaking down communication barriers between team members and patrons (particularly dealing with enquiries or issues) by encouraging the use of a common language creates a harmonious and welcoming venue.
The Challenge of Creating a Workplace of ChoicePublic recognition of a good deed makes everyone feeling happy and motivated but truly great team members feel good just when they do something good. They don’t do something to get a pat on the back — they do it for that internal reward, and they transfer their positive feelings to the patrons.
The Challenge of Rostering/Scheduling Your TeamKnow your staff. Undertake a lifestyle survey each year to be aware of any changes in their availability. Show respect to all of your team members so that when they come to work, they work as a strong team.
The Challenge of Engaging Your Local CommunityBuild your team using socially responsible and charitable events. Sponsor and support local sporting teams and have your team engage with the community outside of your venue.
The Challenge of Building a Genuinely Caring and Compassionate TeamEncourage team members to deliver above-and-beyond service. Regularly share examples of great patron experiences delivered by team members.