Cherokee T&CC and Charlotte CC teach their teams to go beyond a rigid set of scripted rules to create a service-driven culture that thrives on personalization and care.
For clubs and resorts, member satisfaction takes precedence above all else. To make members happy, the teams in both the front and back of the house must do more than listen and respond. Now they must anticipate needs and surprise in creative and useful ways.
When successfully achieved, the experience for the member and guest is smooth and uncomplicated. Everyone is delighted by the details and marvels at the ‘wow’ moments.
While all clubs strive for service excellence, each achieves that end in different ways. Here are two different approaches from clubs that have been lauded for their high service standards.
Cherokee Town & Country Club, Atlanta, Ga.
At Cherokee Town & Country Club in Atlanta, Ga., service falls under the umbrella of principles and objectives embodied as the “Cherokee Standard.”
These standards are driven by four statements of Principles, says Michael Wheeler, MCM, CCE, COO & General Manager. These statements are:
- Anticipate needs and exceed expectations with a sense of urgency.
- Consistently deliver superior experiences.
- Pay attention to details.
- Have heartfelt caring and respect for all.
The club’s standards are rooted in a “bottom-up” approach, where key managers as well as influential hourly staff are involved in defining the specifics of service. By including frontline employees, the results are more harmonized and inclusive, Wheeler explains.
To further the point, a manager will share a Cherokee Standard story at every single staff meeting, to illustrate how those values were put to use in a real-world example.
“By telling Cherokee Standard stories, we can better illustrate what is expected of each staff member,” says Wheeler, who went on to share an example.
During Cherokee T&CC’s annual meeting, clubhouse operations were closed to inspire maximum member attendance. But just as the meeting was getting started, a member arrived with a guest to dine in the formal dining room.
Katie Mercier, CAP, OM, Executive Assistant to Wheeler and the club’s Governing Board, approached the member to explain why operations were closed. Mercier suggested a steakhouse not too far from the club, and even offered to call ahead and secure a table.
After Mercier’s duties were finished with the Annual Meeting, she took it one step further and drove over to the steakhouse to cover the member’s tab, without him ever seeing her.
“Sure, the member should have known about the annual meeting,” says Wheeler. “But instead of making him feel uncomfortable or unwanted, we were able to flip the coin and exceed his expectations in a way that completely surprised him.
“We will have that member for life, and he will tell everyone he knows about how Cherokee T&CC went above and beyond,” he adds.
Charlotte Country Club, Charlotte, N.C.
At Charlotte (N.C.) Country Club (CCC), service standards are rooted in three defining characteristics: Personalization, Professionalism and Care.
Like many clubs, CCC strives to be its members’ “home away from home.” In pursuit of this goal, the club emphasizes familiarity. Staff members have been trained to know members’ names, faces, arrival times, tastes, preferences and aversions.
“With the knowledge we gain, we are very good at anticipating and even exceeding expectations,” says Quinn Moe, Assistant Manager.
With so much knowledge to glean about each of its members, personalized service has become interdepartmental and communication is paramount to success. The team, across the club, shares information throughout the day so that service is consistent and collective.
CCC’s practice to identify every member by name extends to guests whenever possible.
“Having multiple team members from different departments address our members and their guests by name throughout the duration of their visit leaves a lasting impression,” says Moe. “Oftentimes guests will not remember what they ordered, or the wine they had, but they will always remember how we made them feel.”
This sentiment is the foundation for CCC’s service culture and it’s the top priority for Michelle Cocita, who is responsible for hiring and training CCC’s new hires. Cocita has created a standardized training program as well as a new-employee orientation procedure that emphasizes service standards.
“Our new hires must truly understand our culture before they even begin their first shift,” says Moe. “Our members recognize and appreciate our efforts. They are proud when our team is able to use their names as well as the names of their guests.”