Pro tips

Golf membership fee increase: 6 tips for retaining members

A hike in membership fees is not music to some members' ears. In fact, it may force them to search for cheaper alternatives or leave the club altogether. But don't worry. We've got you covered with six tips to help you retain members when increasing membership fees.

Lucas Balleby
May 8, 2023

Increasing fees is like navigating a tricky dogleg - it may take some skill and strategy, but it can lead to a better outcome. Yet in both cases, you are definitely running a high risk if you don't know how to pull it off properly. 

For example, unhappy members will most likely bounce if you force them to pay extra out of nowhere. And even the happy ones might become disappointed if they start feeling a sting in their wallets without getting anything in return. 

But you are not doomed to failure when bumping up the price. 

Here are 6 tips for retaining members when increasing the membership fee.
Players 1st

1. Get to know your members 

This may sound like a hoax. But knowing your members' characteristics, like age and NPS, can actually help you predict who'll stay or leave because of the increase. This information also allows you to customize your retention strategies for different groups and show them that you care about them.  

For example, let's say you've identified that your new members are unhappy with their first experience at the club. If that's the case, you might consider doing something extra, like hosting welcome events, to lighten their mood before increasing the fee.  

Also, if you give them a price hike that those specific members tend to find fair, you'll have a better chance of keeping them happy and sticking by your side through thick and thin. 

2. Listen to feedback 

No one likes to feel unheard or ignored, and your members are no exception. So, be open to hearing their concerns and feedback about the increase. 

But listening to feedback alone is not enough; you must also take action. After collecting feedback, follow up with your members and let them know what steps you're taking to address their concerns. This approach to feedback is both known as closed loop feedback or the closed loop process.

Image of the closed loop process - the power of feedback.
Image of the closed loop process - the power of feedback.

If you can provide them with a timeline of when they can expect to see changes, even better. This shows that you're not just all talk, but you're actually taking their feedback seriously.

When your members see that their feedback is being acted upon, they're more likely to continue giving you valuable insights in the future - and this will come in handy if you want to harvest the benefits of customer experience at your golf club. 

3. Communicate the reason for the increase 

When it comes to explaining the reasons for the increase in membership fees, it's important to keep things straightforward. You don't want to confuse or mislead your members and damage their trust in your club. So, present the factors that have led to the increase, such as rising maintenance costs or other expenses, in clear and simple terms. 

Also, don't forget to prepare for any follow-up questions. You could even create a dedicated webpage on your club's website with an FAQ section to offer more detailed information about the increase and its impact. That way, you'll be able to address members' questions before they even ask them.

And above all, honesty is always the best policy. By being upfront and open about the increase, your members are more likely to understand and support your decision.  

4. Highlight the benefits 

Your members don't just pay to swing a club and chase a ball – although that is pretty satisfying. They pay for the whole club's experience. So, don't forget to remind them of all the benefits they enjoy as part of their membership. We're talking top-of-the-line facilities, access to exclusive events, and discounts on all the best equipment. 

When you remind your members of all the perks that come with their membership, it can help them feel like they're getting more value for their money. For example, if you have a member who likes attending social events, make sure to highlight all the fun and exciting events you host. Once they realize what they stand to lose, they'll probably think twice before quitting. 

5. Provide flexible payment options 

Aim to make the membership fee less of a headache by providing flexible payment options. For example, you can offer monthly or yearly installments to help members manage the fee increase. Or give a discount for those who pay upfront for the entire year.  

Image explaining the benefits of providing flexible payment options.
The benefits of providing flexible payment options.

By offering different payment options, you're making it easier for your members to manage their finances and continue enjoying their membership without any added stress. And when members have payment options that work for them, they're more likely to stay, keep their current membership, and be committed to the club in the long run. 

6. Reward your members for staying on board 

Who doesn't love a good incentive? So, consider offering rewards to encourage your members to renew their membership at the new fee. This could be early-bird discounts or referral bonuses. 

And ask your members what incentives they would love to see and what would inspire them to renew their membership. For example, if someone loves networking, an exclusive invite to a networking event could be more appealing than a discount. That way, you can tailor your rewards and make them even more attractive, improving the chances of retaining members - even in the face of a fee increase.

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