Do you have a strategic member retention plan?
Andres Prieto
/ Categories: All, All, Opinion, Blog, Membership

Do you have a strategic member retention plan?

Most of our private club clients recognize that their business lives and dies on the strength of the dues’ ability to fund operations at their club.  Often these operational needs extend beyond the golf course and service the other amenities that members enjoy and want to look great when they bring their guests. 

We find the difference in dues strategy often reflects need over a defined strategy centered around a cohesive business case.   These need-based dues approaches also come with a significant amount of fear that the wrong decision will be made and there will be negative ramifications that put the Club in a worse position than prior to the dues increase.  If you don’t have a plan to retain your members and put them in a position to spend more money with your club over time, then you don’t really have a plan that can evolve and manage the future increases in expenses that will undoubtedly impact your club.

Every private club we encounter has a plan to acquire new members, and often this new membership acquisition strategy is heavily reliant upon referrals from existing members.  However, we don’t often find a strong and smart plan in place to attack member retention as a key indicator of a club’s current and future success. 

We also realized a positive shift in the new member demand curve for many of our private club clients in 2020, with golf demand at public courses spiking and the lack of tee time availability in many markets led to significant increases in new member applications.  Now as we enter the golf season in most markets in 2021, there’s never been a better time to really dig into your strategy to embrace and retain these new members for the next 3-5 years and beyond.

Retention: Do you have the Supporting Data?

When a member resigns, nearly every private club performs some interview asking the member the cause of the resignation.  If you are reading this and you spent a few minutes thinking of the most common reasons, there would likely be a lot of similarity from one private club to another.  The member has moved, had an injury keeping them away, a job change or career transition, or a deteriorating health condition.  While these are all real reasons why members resign from a private club, do you know the PRE-cursors to the resignation that is specific to your club?  What membership specific behavior triggers your team to interact with a member that is at-risk of resignation?

Of course you have your key performance indicators that lead to membership strength overall annual retention rate and annual increases in Rounds per member, and Revenue per member.  And nearly all of these indicators are a reflection of what a member has done behaviorally at your club.

But what about the metrics that reflect what a member has NOT done at your club?  Are you tracking these indicators?

Recency – Frequency - Financial

At Total E Integrated, we continue to evolve our behavioral data metrics to give our private club partners valuable insight into the behaviors that happen before a member resigns.  As mentioned, the precursor to member resignation is usually a lack of behavioral interaction with the club.   Every private club should be strategically creating cross collaborative lists to allow your team to identify members at-risk and employ an initiative to get them back on track. 


The recency of a member interaction with the club, whether a round of golf, dinner, event attendance or retail purchase is a strong indicator of engagement with the club and the member receiving some value from their membership.  Are you managing recency as an indicator?


The frequency of the interactions is equally important as the primary reason a member joins is to enjoy the amenities of your specific club.  If they aren’t enjoying those amenities frequently, do you have a means of identifying them?


Every member has an annual “spend” within your club’s operation.  Do you know who your highest spend members and lowest spend members are?  Many clubs have a plan to identify their highest spend members, reach out to them with a call to thank them for their support at the club, and strengthen the relationship they have with these members.  Not every club has a plan to do the reverse, which is identify their lowest spending members and give them a call to identify the conditions leading to their lack of engagement with the club.  These conversations not only strengthen and build relationships and connectivity with the club, but they can lead to service evolutions that benefit the percentage of members that might also feel the same way. 

An Easy Example:

If you had a list of members that met the following criteria:

  • Under the age of 60
  • Averaged fewer than 3 rounds in a month
  • Spent less than $100 in food and beverage
  • Spent less than $100 in retail/golf shop
  • No range or practice purchases

If you had a list of the members that met all of the following criteria, would you pick up the phone and give them a call? 

Club leaders need to focus on developing a sustainable member retention strategy centered upon behavioral metrics highlighting the precursors to member resignation.   This strategy should take a long-term view and employ consistent execution across multiple administrations.  

Want to collaborate on a plan?  At Total e Integrated we are highly engaged with our clients looking for ways to innovate, improve our technology tools, and develop smart plans.  Let us know if we can help!

For more information, please contact:

About Total e Integrated

Total e Integrated is a leading provider of end-to-end business management solutions for recreation, retail, hospitality and community organizations. For over 20 years Total e Integrated has helped organizations to integrate departments, automate marketing, streamline operations and boost revenues with our innovative solutions and expert consulting services team.


Lance Merrihew


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