These days the word triggers thoughts of “has beens” desperately trying to get noticed by the next generation. We see it play out all the time - paranoid celebrities tipping off the paparazzi to make sure we all know they’re still fabulous (and on vacation in Tulum). Or in the reverse - products that died, gaining back relevancy and finding new influence (dust off your Levi’s 505’s - they’re baaaack.) By definition, this highly overused adjective means; to be closely connected to what is being done. In the club space, the battle for maintaining relevance is ongoing. For the past two decades most clubs have tried clinging to their former relevance by relying on the power of tradition. Unfortunately, most have fallen short when it comes to capturing the hearts and minds of current and future members; instead, they just look desperate.
It’s not a good look.
In my travels, I’ve found that clubs now fall into two distinct categories:
In all honesty, you could replace the word Clubs with GM’s and the same statement would apply.
Why such a clear divide between those who remain relevant and those who don’t? It’s simple. Relevance is synonymous with leadership, innovation and service.
Relevant GM’s and their clubs do three things - consistently:
Anticipate needs, before they are expressed.
For example, Robert Sereci at Medinah created a way that members can text a Medinah app to prospective members. It empowers the members to help grow the club organically whenever and wherever the opportunity arises.
Understand their audience and stay three steps ahead of them.
For example, Ed McLaughlin at Hollyburn created a way that members could unlock a club door with their phone. No card, no key FOB, no hassle.
Boldly change, even if it’s not appreciated for a few years.
For example, Pat Finlen at The Olympic Club created a way for the club to become almost paperless. He is also converting the plastic membership card (that is easily left at home) to a digital membership card on their member’s app (because no leaves their phone at home).
Fighting for relevance happens when you don’t matter enough to your audience. When you already matter, there’s no fight.
Think about it. Outside of our families and their wellbeing, how do we determine what matters? We ask ourselves two things before we spend time, money or attention on anything: 1) how much meaning am I going to get from the experience/product/service? and 2) how much effort is required for me to have that experience/product/service? If we don’t like the answers on those two questions, that experience/product/service doesn’t matter - it’s irrelevant. When GM’s look at their clubs through the eyes of their members and answer those questions, that is when they achieve relevance - that is when their club matters enough. When you walk into a club that is relevant, you immediately know it.
The attention to detail is palpable.
The style is unique.
The leadership team is focused and aligned on the right things.
It’s important to note, relevance is also a measuring stick when you look at it in reverse. Here’s a quick self-test:
Relevance isn’t something we can buy or fabricate - it’s a mindset we earn by focusing on what really matters.