Rethink Everything


Rethink Everything

By Whitney Reid Pennell, President, RCS Hospitality Group

Times of significant transition are rare in the club industry. Golf is a game of tradition and people get settled into their habits and routine. High volume can hide a multitude of sins and a tight labor market had us all frazzled just a few months ago. Routine can produce nice, predictable behavior and without much thought we can slip into a rut ourselves. With the recent shutdowns and limited operations we were forced into, we have had to rethink everything that we did before. As we continue through these transitional times, how do we come out stronger on the other side?


Rethink EVERYTHING. Reopening or expanding services isn’t an event, it’s a process. You may have lost critical employees, lost loyal customers or discovered new ones. You may have uncovered new ways to operate that are more efficient and profitable, or you have simply been pushed out of your comfort zone and rediscovered innovation and inspiration for your future. Now is the time to capitalize on it.


Imagine driving a high performing stick shift sports car – things are zooming along nicely. Changing gears is a habit and easy to do without thinking about it. It’s consistent. It’s predictable. Now imagine that a big hill creeps up on you – or in our case - a public health crisis. You must downshift to first gear to continue up the steep hill. The unexpected hill forces awareness of the gear change, the road slope, and everything around you that wasn’t readily observed before. In first gear, not much can happen and it’s slow going. It takes more focus and awareness of surroundings. If you take your foot off the gas, you may stall but you can’t shift up because of the steep hill. Now, we’ve reached a point in time to think about shifting into second gear on our steep hill - from transition to transformation. Transformation will take a few more gear shifts, but those will come faster as you are able to pick up speed; until we climb the hill and get to the other side. That’s how a change process happens. Slow at first with a lot of focus and sometimes frustration at the speed, then you move forward suddenly until finally you reach top speed.


During these upcoming weeks and possibly months, it’s important we remain focused on the physical plant, employee and customer safety. While doing that, rethink everything – what are other areas of opportunity or ways to mitigate risk? What lessons have you learned? What worked? What didn’t? What innovations should stay? What events knocked it out of the park? What expenses did you cut that you don’t miss? What did you realize is a good value for what the investment you make? What have you learned about your customers? In simple terms, what have you learned that you should start doing, stop doing, and continue doing as you transition to your next phase? Start there as you rebuild your strategy for the future.


This is the ideal time to build your strategy into your operations, marketing and communications plan. Of course, I believe in hospitality as a driving force behind customer attraction and retention. Courses that are most human-centric – driving personalized engagement with both customers and employees will emerge from these challenging times faster and likely, stronger in my opinion. People need to know they matter and are well cared for. Those basic human needs have never been more important than now.

Whitney Reid Pennell, president of the RCS Hospitality Group, is a celebrated management consultant, educator, and speaker. RCS, the creators of Food and Beverage Service Boot Camp™ and founding sponsor of the NGCOA Hospitality Center, specializes in operations consulting, strategic planning, food and beverage management, and training programs for public and private clubs, fine dining restaurants, and luxury resorts and hotels. For more information, phone (623) 322-0773; or visit the RCS website at