Prioritizing Food & Beverage Programs at a Private Club

Chances are your private club is gearing up for the summer, which means there’s gong to be a rush of members enjoying the pool, golf and tennis facilities.

Fueling this swirl of activity? Your club’s Food & Beverage program, of course!

As an F&B director or manager of a private club, your restaurant(s) is not only a top priority, but also a draw to keep your current membership fed and happy, and to attract a new membership base.

It’s widely known that F&B programs lose money at private clubs because the number one goal is to provide guests whatever they want, whenever they desire it.

VSAG understands that.  But, as seasoned restaurant consultants and restaurant operators, we know that there are restaurant and general hospitality industry best practices that can be implemented to ensure the losses are minimal, and in many cases, profits created.

  • Budget, Budget, Budget: A loss is palatable, so long as you plan and budget for it.  Uncontrolled dollars are a loss; budgeted use of dollars with a specific measured result and the desired outcome is an investment.  Since summer and winter seasons differ, we recommend tracking each season’s sales and staffing needs, and using your own sales and usage data to help guide your decisions. Adjusting your operating plan to suit seasonal requirements will allow you to develop specific budgets and be prepared as the seasons change.   One key is great data; by day, by daypart, by outlet.  If you can’t “see” the financial performance and operating metrics of the individual outlets, you are truly flying blind.
  • Don’t Forget Your Team and Kitchen Facilities: While it can be easy to control costs by not spending money, deferring maintenance is never the right path.  A “like-new” kitchen facility is an important ingredient in the recipe of employee morale…which as we all know, can be the hallmark of a winning enterprise, or the kill-shot to a struggling one.  Clean, safe, working equipment in a well organized F&B operation is worth investing in and maintaining.
  • Focus on Menu Development: Brainstorm with your chefs to introduce new ingredients, dishes and local suppliers to liven up your menu.  A rule of thumb: If you don’t have more than one restaurant on the premises to vary offerings and dining experiences for members, then vary your restaurant’s menu to appeal to everyone with specialty nights, limited menus and seasonal changes.
  • Think Outside the Box: Members want to feel special.  Devise unique ways to entertain them and their guests: Whether it be make your own sundae nights for kids; pool parties with burgers and ribs; movie nights with freshly-popped popcorn, food is a great way to help bring specialty events to life and to drive attendance – and sales (of both food and memberships)!
  • Ask for Feedback:  Ask guests for feedback! Whether after a special event or after an experience in your restaurant, this will allow your guests to know you care and are thinking creatively about the next affair!