One Annual Renewal Versus Month Of Joining

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Golf clubs are unique in that they do insist on sticking to the tradition of one renewal month regardless of your membership history. This is particularly true of private members clubs but less so of proprietary, where they have been quick to catch on to the numerous ways of ensuring successful membership retention and renewal.

More and more golf clubs are now looking at month of joining as the preferred trigger of renewal. As most members tend to join in the summer months, this immediately negates the issues of a January renewal for example, which we all know can be the death knell to retention.

The arguments for and against one annual renewal month

  • More admin from renewals over split months. Not so – in these days of integrated management systems and direct debit facilities. Many who have made the split argue that it actually spreads the admin rather than the golf club becoming bogged down in the traditional renewal period.
  • Issues with cash flow. Why? There is no benefit in receiving cash in one hit these days. You can earn little if any interest and you should only be drawing off the cash reserves as you need them according to your budget, so managing your cash flow.
  • One renewal month enables golf clubs to monitor their renewals more closely. Not true. Many would argue the opposite. It can be very unnerving to have your whole membership renewing at the same time. Golf clubs can wait up to three months after their renewal date has closed before they know the true situation and only then does the true pattern emerge. Spreading the risk by having people renewing each month can allow you to monitor the situation much more closely as there are fewer people.

It allows for tighter chasing and even follow-up calls if necessary – and why not, if you are working on retaining a membership worth several hundred pounds?

Making the change

A golf club could combine the thorny issue of changing their annual renewal date with moving to month of joining at the same time. New members to a golf club know no different so if they join in June why not let them pay the full amount? Think of the organisations or businesses that you deal with on a regular basis. How many give you the opportunity to only pay for a few months rather than take a full year’s subscription when they have the chance.

Introduce it immediately for new members and your existing members won’t know the difference – or even care.

Managing the administration

If you are offering month of joining together with direct debit payments then the administration systems offered by your direct debit providers, together with your own membership management systems, should mean little if any administration, as it’s literally done at the push of a button.

Even if your membership management is not as seamless as you would hope, simple Microsoft office tools such as excel and mail merged into standard renewal letter documents in Microsoft Word should make the exercise of producing around 30 renewal letters a month in the busy periods a simple enough exercise. If you can switch to triggered emails then so much the better.

Leading membership organisations all employ month of joining as their renewal method. Why should golf clubs be any different? It’s a simple switch to more seamless and professional management of your membership renewal file which is worth thousands of pounds of vital cash and needs to be treated with care.