Making up for lost time
For those facilities, like ours, that were forced to close as the spring season was just getting under way, you’ll need to come up with a policy to make up the lost membership and program time. Some clubs may offer refunds or credits to players, while others may simply choose to pick up right where they left off and extend their seasons. There is no right or wrong approach; each facility needs to do what’s best for their particular situation.
Keep in mind, it will be impossible to make everyone happy, as each person or family has their own set of circumstances. Whatever decisions you make, the important thing is to clearly communicate to your members your decision-making process.
In my situation, once I knew when I could reopen and I decided on a makeup policy, I stressed to my members that the decision was reached with one goal in mind: fairness to everyone. And by “everyone,” we mean the players, the pros and the club.
Regardless of how you handle the time lost, be prepared to be challenged, and this is where your customer service will be put to the true test. Those who are unhappy with the policy will undoubtedly come looking for you. Do not run and hide. I’ve seen club owners and managers make controversial decisions and then immediately go on vacation. Apparently, their theory is to get out of town, let people cool down and then come back when the fire’s died down. Not only is that poor customer service, it’s terrible leadership.
Be accessible. Keep your door open and spend more time than usual in the lobby. Make it easy for your unhappy members to find you. Let them vent and then, calmly, explain your decision- making process and that it was done with the goal of being fair to everyone. Remember, people generally see things only in terms of how it impacts them. Our job is to gently lead them into seeing the bigger picture. “Yes, you lost 10 weeks of lesson time, I’m sorry about that. Unfortunately, our pros also lost 10 weeks of income and the club lost 10 weeks of revenue. To be fair to everyone we decided to ….”
They may not agree with your decision, but if you take the time to explain it to them in a way that ultimately leads them to a place of seeing the larger picture, you’ll have done all you can, and 99 percent of the time they’ll understand.
Greg Moran is the Owner/Director of Tennis at Four Seasons Racquet Club in Wilton, Conn.
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