New Software Implementation is a Team Sport at Happy Hollow Club


March 1, 2024

When Happy Hollow Country Club in Omaha, Nebraska made the decision to implement Clubessential, they made sure that the people that were impacted the most were involved in the process.

Because the timing was right before their busy season spring and summer season, that was critical. Ensuring that everyone knew and believed that it was not just a manager’s decision gave ownership to all involved and were invested in the project’s success.

We met with Gil Russell, Assistant General Manager, to get his perspective on their Clubessential implementation.

Q: How would you describe the transition to Clubessential?

Gil Russell: I think it was really good. Our staff really embraced it. We made sure that this process wasn’t just Dave and Jeff, our GM and CEO here. Jeff was a big proponent in saying, this is not a manager’s decision. This is a service staff members’ decision. Whether it’s a server or a golf shop when we were doing those tutorials and really evaluating software companies, we sat down with everybody in the ballroom and they walked us through the demos.

We had demos with everybody and one of the things that stuck out for us with Clubessential is the ease of use through the point of sale. It made a lot of sense on how things were laid out. The tools are there for us, whether it’s countdowns on specials or a countdown on items. Those are things that as an operator or manager I’m not going to necessarily notice, but those are big things for our front line that are taking care of the members every day. Those are the things that matter to them. Now we allow that server to be more comfortable at that table, to have all that information, instead of having to say, I’m gonna have to check, let me go back to the kitchen and I’ll follow up with you.

That’s time away from service to that member. That’s time away from that second table that’s maybe ready for a drink, but they’re in the middle of taking that order. All that information is now at the table with them on that iPad and they can easily provide that feedback to the member when they ask. That was very important to us when we were going through that process.

Q: How would you describe the implementation and go-live process?

Gil Russell: For implementation, we went to the 10th degree. We expected there to be some hiccups, but we had backup plans in place because it was a lot of changes for us.

I think that’s a tribute to the managers preparing their staff throughout the implementation of what’s going to happen. We were able to adjust on the fly,  knowing that our season really starts middle of April, and we were right in the thick of it when we implemented –  that’s not easy. It was a good process for us.

We’re still all learning about the capabilities and the updates that come from Clubessential as they continue to update the software and add new features. That is a huge benefit to us. They’re listening to our feedback of what we would like to see and they’re working on it.

That’s huge for a company. They’re listening to their customers and making sure that we are the focus. It’s not, “this is our product, and this is what it does, and that’s it. That is really, really big for us because the hospitality industry has changed so much in two years. What COVID and the pandemic have done for us was require that touchpoints and menus that we never used to have online are now used daily.

Q: What were some of the big questions you had before the changeover and how did you address them?

Gil Russell: How was the training? How was that initial law launch? Those are two big ones. We actually took our food and beverage staff to another local club and they lined up six iPads with Clubessential and walked us through how they use it. What are the benefits that they’ve seen? It’s about your due diligence. It’s talking to other people. When there are so many products out there, you want to see it in real life and you want to see how do other people use the software.

That’s something that we try to do as clubs have reached out to us. We want to share because we’ve been in their shoes. I think when you have a product that quite frankly, works the way that Clubessential does you’re wanting to really open the curtain and show them how it works for you. Then they can take that back to make that decision. We really appreciated being able to reach out. There was a club in Kansas city that we reached out to. Each department head was in charge of making a phone call to ask those questions at other facilities. From a leadership perspective, we realize we’re not going to be able to ask every question, because we may not understand exactly how everybody does it. That was really part of our due diligence.

This was our opportunity to really clean up what has been in the old system for 20-plus years. That did make our controller nervous. That’s where that conversation with Greg Gilg, (Field Club of Omaha) who had made that transition and has a background in accounting, was very beneficial to our controller. He was able to pick up the phone and walk him through the benefits. When other people are volunteering to do that and show how well the product has worked well for them they see the value in making the change. That was a big seller for us.

Winning Together

Preparing ahead of time, doing their due diligence, and asking lots of questions was critical to the success of Happy Hollow. Drawing on their associates and the club community at large helped them to get the perfect solution for their needs. Check out what other Clubessential customers have to say or get a custom consultation.