GSI Executive Search Blog

How Can Your Private Club Benefit From Outside Consultants?

As a decades-long private club industry veteran, I’ve been honored to work alongside top club professionals and serve wonderful members as a general manager (GM), as well as a private club executive search consultant. I’ve learned many lessons from many people throughout my career, but there’s one in particular I’d like to share.

Private clubs – from country clubs, athletic clubs, city clubs and yacht clubs to other business and professional clubs – are blessed with very smart, very intelligent professionals and members. General managers (GMs) and senior staff are experienced, highly capable, caring and focused on optimizing member experiences. Likewise, private club members are overwhelmingly successful within their chosen fields, intelligent, intellectually curious and driven. They also tend to care deeply about their club.

This bounty of intelligence, experience, drive and care on both sides of the aisle serves clubs very well. Yet, no club has all the answers, does everything perfectly or couldn’t improve in some way. In this respect, the lesson is that outside consulting offers significant benefits for clubs of all sizes and scopes.

Throughout my years as a private club GM, I turned to outside consultants for ideas, insights and tactical execution in a number of areas, from executive placement and operations to marketing and more. Here are two areas in which your private club could benefit from outside consultants:

Executive and senior staff searches: Experienced search consultants who specialize in private club placements truly understand the private club landscape; have deep contacts within private club professional networks; possess unique insights on the operations and specialized considerations of private clubs; and give your club the best chance of landing a top GM or senior staff professional.

At GSI Executive Search, we possess more than a century of combined executive search, club management and association experience. We’ve placed successful professionals at hundreds of the most prestigious clubs and organizations throughout the U.S. Equally important, we recognize the crucial qualities that enable club professionals to succeed in their roles. As private club recruitment specialists, we understand what you need and we utilize a proven process to achieve your goals. Our principals are involved at every stage of the recruiting process, and we guarantee our placements for two years.

Operational, leadership, human capital and legal advisory consulting: Experienced consultants offer private clubs access to leading best practices in essential areas of club operations. Private clubs may do many things well; but as member demographics and tastes continue to shift, clubs must adapt and continually train their people in ways that make tangible differences in member experiences.

As an Ethos Club & Leisure Alliance company, GSI Executive Search offers private clubs an integrated suite of human capital management, operational consulting and legal advisory solutions in addition to its core executive placement services. In the past, such services were only available through separate engagements with individual firms. Representative consulting services we offer include:

  • Coaching, Mentoring, and Guiding the New Executive Leader
  • One-Year Formal Review of the GM/COO
  • One Vision One Voice: This board retreat program focuses on strategic planning as an essential component of constructing the roadmap to the mission and the vision of your club. The sessions focus on key topics such as leadership, business continuity, succession planning, communication planning and member recruiting.
  • The Master Planning Process: This workshop is designed to help GMs understand the importance of master planning, as well as master planning components and processes. It also offers practical strategies for implementing a successful master planning initiative at their club—including strategies for leveraging management and staff input within the process.
  • Turning Trainers Into Great Teachers: This interactive, engaging team-building workshop for private club department managers, supervisors and senior staff is designed around one objective: Helping you transform your club’s conventional training programs by instilling a culture of teaching from top to bottom.
  • Operational consulting services, including:
  • Strategic planning and brand strategy development
  • Planning and implementation services for real estate, facilities, new development and redevelopment
  • Leadership and management team development
  • Governance
  • Membership plan development
  • Bylaw development
  • Operations/management
  • Asset management
  • Finance
  • Training/team building
  • Club revitalization services, including conversions for member-owned clubs
  • Transaction services
  • Human capital management services, including HR administration and compliance
  • Legal advisory services, including
  • Acquisition and sales
  • Development
  • Operations
  • Licenses and permits
  • Membership
  • Due diligence

As you hopefully can see, experienced outside consultants can help private clubs achieve their goals in nearly every facet of their operation. I hope this blog helps to highlight the value of outside consultants to private clubs, and I welcome the opportunity to answer questions or talk about ways that outside consulting can help your club optimize the member experience.

Ned Welc has been a general manager of private clubs in Ohio and Florida for many years. As a leading expert on private club mergers and acquisitions, Ned offers a full range of private club management and operational consulting services, including improving staff training and team building. In addition, he conducts a variety of seminars for club professionals on M+A, club industry trends, and operational management strategies such as improving organizational health and management and board retreats. In addition to his role as a Principal with GSI Executive Search, Ned is an adjunct professor of the Hospitality Management School at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. You can reach Ned at 440-796-7922 or