Talking Rock has benefited from its relationship with its management “family” because of the ability to borrow ideas such as a new type of family membership plan.
Talking Rock golf club generally outperforms the private club market in terms of sales, but in today’s stagnant market, sometimes that’s not saying much.
“We haven’t seen a great number of sales,” explains Jim Leisenring, manager of the high-end private club in Prescott, Ariz. “All of our expenses continue to rise, everything we do costs more money and we don’t have that incremental and additional revenue to count on. We’re trying to be smart and efficient.”
Talking Rock, like many other clubs tied to residential communities, is trying to ride out the storm and not fall victim to the recent real estate decline. Marketing and membership efforts become especially important in its quest to reinforce the bottom line. Leisenring says he feels somewhat reassured knowing he has a family of sorts to turn to for support and ideas.
Talking Rock is run by the management company OB Sports. The company sees that the experiences of each individual club can be valuable for the other facilities in its network, so its leaders encourage dialogue among the managers.
Location: Prescott, Ariz.
“It’s always great if you have a network of clubs so you can talk about what’s worked for other guys,” Leisenring says. “Most of the traditional stuff is no longer working. We have to work together to come up with different ways to sell the programs we have, and the network is especially helpful there.”
From this practice of cross-company sharing, he took the idea of implementing an extended family membership plan as a way to boost sales.
“We took the current membership base and allowed them to register and invite their vertical family to use the club: moms, dads, kids, etc. Extended families are given the same privileges that vertical families have,” Leisenring explains.
As part of the plan, the club also extends membership to members’ sons or daughters who are older than 23. This comes into play when, for example, a couple in their 60s has sons or daughters in their 20s or 30s who aren’t quite on their own or haven’t started their own families yet. They would have the opportunities to become members with the same privileges as their parents while remaining under the umbrella of one plan.
Not only do the plans entice families who might not have found the right type of membership elsewhere, but they’re also appealing to strictly social members or members who only golf periodically.
“The economy has changed a great deal – especially for those of us who have a significant vision of being a second home-type community and club,” Leisenring says. “The biggest change is that people are finding out they don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money upfront for access to golf courses.”
Figuring out the demographic—and marketing to the group—might not have been possible if the management company wasn’t involved.
“We may never have thought about it if we didn’t have the relationship with OB Sports,” Leisenring says.
While OB Sports helps the club by passing along marketing and membership ideas, it also lets Talking Rock managers formulate and carry out many of its own initiatives, Leisenring says, adding the company remains ready as a support system any time help is needed.
“The management company has helped our project,” he says, “because every day they’re thinking and living (club operations). We get to gain that advantage and experience from them.”