Can a points-based membership system help in retaining current members?

Member retention using points-based membership
By Brad Chard - 20/02/24

Article written by former General Manager and current COO, Brad Chard.

Increasing membership retention at your golf club 

You would expect us to say ‘yes’ to a points-based membership helping retain current members. What we would like to try and articulate in this article is that it will help to retain current members. We will also like to take away the fear that many golf clubs have that their current members will move into a points-based membership solution. We’ve mentioned previously that this is the biggest fear golf clubs have when considering introducing a new category of membership. 

Will current members move to Flexible Membership? 

So, let us try and address the elephant in the room. It would be remiss of us to say that some of your current members will not move into this new category of membership. The members that do move into this category tend to be ones whose playing habits are infrequent. They feel they are not getting value from their current membership. In addition, these are the members who sight time as one of their key reasons for not playing enough golf. Time issues could be temporary. Work commitments are a prime example of this, or they could be more permanent. The other key reason is health when member reach a point that they can no longer play as often as they would like to.  

One should ask oneself would they leave my golf club entirely to pay and play for their golf? Alternatively, should they try and retain them within my club with a view that they may move back after a period.  

We have a firm belief that by providing the members of your club and new prospective members looking to join, a choice in how they pay and play their golf will help to retain members in your golf club.   

For some clubs this may be deemed too risky and they will continue to operate to their current membership strategy. That is why this article has been written. To show having a points-based membership scheme in place can help to retain members.  

Is a points-based membership right for your golf club? 

To help Golf Clubs determine if a points-based membership scheme could help them to retain members you will not be surprised to hear us say let us look at your data.  As you know, we believe the data drives decision making. 

As a General Manager in a previous life, I would review the playing habits of my members. The key reason, trying to understand trends but also to identify ‘at risk’ members. The at-risk member being the one who has changed their playing habits to being infrequent. Understanding a little more detail from these at-risk members is always a significant help. It can sometimes provide useful insights to determine why they have stopped playing so frequently. Furthermore, it allows you too see what you could do as a club to support them. Surveys are a fantastic way to do this as is speaking with members direct. 

Let the data help make your decisions 

Now we have this data we could look to quantify the level of risk. If we know we have ‘X’ number of members who are at risk. Those members pay ‘£X’ in subscription fees. We can then understand the level financial risk to the club. If we know, because we have their insights, that they may decide not to renew at their next renewal we can determine the likelihood of risk. 

Using this data and insight, you can determine if a points-based membership could help your club retain more members. 

The morale of the story here is that we have thoroughly assessed our options using data to drive decision making and reached out to certain at-risk members to seek their views. Any conclusion that is drawn from this is not done on a whim but with a proper process. 

You may recall earlier in this article that we mentioned the biggest fear of golf clubs when seeking to introduce a new category is the fear of members what might be deemed ‘downgrading.’ We prefer to refer to this as moving to a different category to suit their playing habits. To address this point, it is our belief that with the right controls in place, this will be mitigated, and those that do move into this category will do so for the reasons mentioned earlier.   

We would urge you to read a previous article we’ve written. Will introducing Flexible Membership at my golf club cause all my full members to downgrade?