Net Neutral? How Boards Mistake Losses For Excellent Member Service

by Ed Shanaphy, Club Manager, CMAA

Club departments are businesses under the umbrella of the club. They should be run as efficiently as possible, posing not as a liability to the club’s budget, but as avenues to add to the member experience. Concierge service, attention to detail and responding to members’ wishes and desires are an intangible on any line-item budget. These intangibles make running a club department at a profit almost an impossibility. But can, or the deeper question is, should the department run at break even?

Countless is the number of times I have heard while creating a budget with a club treasurer that a club’s department should run net neutral in terms of revenue and cost. I have been through this process so many times that my initial question is well-versed. What does net neutral mean? The answer is all too-often that a department, whether it’s golf, tennis, or food and beverage, should run at no cost to the club.

But we often forget, that members pay a premium to be a member, and that premium is annual dues. These dues should cover operational shortfalls within departments

a man playing tennis
Photo by RODNAE Productions on

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