Private Clubs Save Thousands
for Smart Professionals
...increasing sales is about meeting the RIGHT people.
Facing a country in a recession and looking for ways to increase business, and cut expenses at the same time, Orlando area businesswoman, Sue Copening, did something a little "out of the box."
She joined an exclusive, private membership club.
"I needed a place to meet with clients and had budgeted for a "office suite" where I would have an office, access to conference rooms, etc. At the same time I was looking around, a business associate invited me to join him at his private membership club, The Citrus Club, and, suddenly, my whole focus changed."
In Orlando, the home of the "movers & shakers" has always been the Citrus Club. A private membership and dining facility on the top floor of the BB&T high-rise in downtown Orlando, the Citrus Club offers a panoramic view of the Orlando skyline and all the amenities a busy professional could need.
"For me it was perfect. I didn't need clerical support on a regular basis and, when I do, I use a Virtual Assistant. But I did need a place to meet with clients that was affordable, offered a quiet environment, had WiFi, and where we would feel comfortable having a small, or large meeting. The club fit my requirements perfectly."
Many professionals are scaling down now. Companies are trying to lower overhead costs, Small business owners are looking for ways to compete. For many, private clubs are a viable alternative to a full time office and can save thousands of dollars a year.
For instance, a smaller insurance company took the opportunity, when it's lease ran out, to close the doors of it's larger 3,500sf office building and to rent a small office for the CEO, VP and some of the support staff to work out of. The members of the sales force are now "homeless" ... still "virtually" connected to the corporate office, but making calls and doing paperwork from their home offices most days. Because the company has had a corporate membership at a private club for years, their sales force meets with clients at the club and, when the company has it's weekly meeting, it uses one of the conference rooms there as well. Estimated savings was about $80K year.
"It is certainly a win-win" ...says one club member. "The club has free WiFi, complimentary coffee, tea and cookies throughout the day, plenty of comfortable and semi-private seating in the living room style setting of the lounge area, a full dining area serving breakfast, lunch and dinner most days, a business office with computers, printers and copier and, if I need a private conference room I can often book it on very short notice. But what I REALLY like, is the service. Frankly it is just more prestigious, and more comfortable, to invite a client here. I find that my client meetings actually last longer, giving me a better chance to close a deal. I give the staff credit for that, they make us feel special."
Private business and dining clubs can be found in most larger metropolitan areas. But what if you are in a more rural or suburban area? If you are, then golf clubs are the way to go. Found all over the US. Golf Clubs have long recognized the value they provide professionals, and many have recognized the importance of attracting even more "up and coming" business professionals. To this end, many have added WiFi, business centers, and meeting areas to accommodate their needs.
In these high-tech times business professionals have the capability to work pretty much from anywhere. Even though Forest Dunes in Roscommon, Michigan, is located inside a National forest, and is a spot where people typically come to UNplug.. Forest Dunes still recognizes the need for the 21st century professional to stay "connected" and so provide a business center and WiFi in their luxurious clubhouse.
"For corporate execs, we're really more of a 'get away," says Will Ott, a Sales Executive at Forest Dunes "But we attract visitors from nearby cities like Detroit and Chicago, as well as from the south, such as Florida. Because our golf course is ranked 18th in the country, and our luxury cabins have 3-4 bedrooms, we can also be very attractive as a meeting spot or executive retreat for small corporate groups.."
How do you find a private club? Well, obviously you can just look around your own area to see what is convenient. But, if you travel much, you will also want to check into whether the club is "networked" with other clubs, or part of a chain. One of the leading networks of private clubs is Club Corp. A network, or chain, offers the added benefit of reciprocal privileges at fellow clubs and often a variety of "add on" perks to suit any lifestyle (think spa packages, tennis, golf, etc).
In business it's not WHAT you know... it's WHO you know. And getting connected, or "business networking" is another motivation professionals have for joining and "working" out of a club. Members really get to know each other and steer business to fellow members. Many Clubs have regular events for the members, such as educational breakfasts, networking events, luncheons, socials and business seminars.
Need to impress a group? If your company needs to host an event... a private Club doesn't just rent you a ballroom, they have the staff to handle all the details of the event for you.
"I think it's a tremendous value," says Sue Copening. "In looking at office suites I found the rents to be from $900 to $1500 a month, and I would still need to decorate my office, and pay extra for use of the conference room. At the Citrus Club I get use of the Club, including their fitness center, for about $150 a month. It does cost a bit extra to use the conference rooms, and of course meals and cocktails, but their prices are the same as any upscale restaurant and the ambience is so much more relaxed and conducive to conducting business. I have calculated that membership is saving me 85-90% of what I would have spent on a office, and for a setting that is second to none."
Some Clubs have an initiation fee and some require that you be "sponsored" into the club by an existing member. If you don't know an existing member? Then call and find out what events they have coming up that are open to the public (ask about charity and networking events), and attend. You'll meet members there and you can express your interest in joining to them... they'll be happy to help you.
Whether you are looking to downsize, or are looking for a more affordable, and prestigious, setting then a office "mini-suite," then a private club might just fit your needs and save you thousands of dollar a year. Explore your options and think "outside the box."
Nov/Dec 2009 is a great time to think about membership at Orlando's Citrus Club as, if you join this month, you will receive 30% off your yearly dues!
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