STERLING GOLF

How does a CEO manage not one, but two, successful private clubs, be appointed to the PGA President’s Council on Growing the Game, and still find time to cheer on the Houston Astros? We spoke with Sterling Golf CEO, Rene Rangel, to learn how he manages the aggressive demands of the business, while still planning for the future of his clubs.

Q: Managing two clubs requires you understand all areas of the club twice over. How do you approach this?

Rene Rangel (RR): It starts with reporting. Reporting is one of our biggest needs. Each of our clubs are multi-million dollar operations. We need reporting that can let us see what is driving revenue at our clubs, and that requires access to information like spending history.

Delivering a great member experience is very important to us. We want to know what our members are buying so we can better cater to them.

We’ve always known our members on a personal level, but seeing their spending habits, as well as which members are using the club and which members are not, provides new insight. That’s important because in the club business we can’t afford to get too stagnant. Some of our members frequent our club five to six days a week, so having information on what they like and don’t like helps us stay ahead of the game.

Q: That’s ambitious! How do you monitor and execute on this data?

RR: We used to struggle with a time-consuming reporting process. When we ran reports in our old system it just wasn’t efficient. In order to offer a great member experience, we need to avoid workarounds and manual processes. We need tools that can help us make more informed decisions.

I CAN’T EVEN DESCRIBE THE TIME SAVINGS FOR MY ACCOUNTING STAFF. THE WAY THE ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE AND POINT OF SALE WORK TOGETHER IS JUST A NIGHT AND DAY DIFFERENCE IN TERMS OF EFFICIENCY.

With Office, we are far more intimately aware of what our members want, which is important because clubs rely on discretionary income. And while we have to operate like a business, it can’t seem that way to our members. They come here for a good experience. But there are tremendous costs to operating a club, so being able to see our trends clearly – in the way of popular menu items, or guest activity, helps us make more informed decisions about member service. Now that we have more information on what members want, we are acting on that information and are seeing increases in member usage of the club and in member dining.

The pre-loaded reports in Office allow for easy execution on this data. My staff can easily answer questions about member spending and member usage – Who is buying steaks? Who is buying wine? Who is bringing guests? – And it only takes a couple of clicks in Office to run those reports. Reporting takes me 50% less time compared to our old system.

Q: It sounds like you’ve really put the member first. How are they responding to these improvements?

RR: It is easier now for our members to see their account information using self-service options. Our members don’t have to call us as much anymore with questions about their accounts, because they can view their statements online. Members can also pay their bill online or even on their phone. Taking care of our members – which is what we’re all about – is so much easier now.

Q: And what about your staff? What benefits are they experiencing?

RR: I can’t even describe the time savings for my accounting staff. The way the accounting software and Point of Sale work together is just a night and day difference in terms of efficiency. Our end of day processes are so much easier now. In our old software, if a ticket had an error, we had to credit that ticket, re-enter another one, and the whole process for fixing one ticket could take 30 minutes. Now if there is an error on a ticket, a manager can easily re-open the ticket, correct the error, and they’re done instantaneously.

Within 90 days of implementing Office, our accounting team was comfortable with the new software and excited to use it. It’s easy to correct any mistake you might make, so the staff is willing to use the software without fear of having to do a time-consuming correction.

My accounting staff has even told me if I switch away from Office, they will revolt – they like using it that much. And keep in mind that they were all familiar with our old accounting software, having used it at other clubs.

Q: You’ve really made great strides in creating members for life. Would you say you’ve seen quantifiable benefits?

RR: I’m comfortable saying we experienced a return on our investment in the first year. Our management staff has also become a lot more efficient. I’ve personally experienced a big time savings when running reports. With Office being so easy to learn, it’s also helped us onboard new staff members, which is something clubs often have to account for. So, in short, Clubessential has helped us save time and money.

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