Take a few moments to think about several ways you can enhance the member experience within your club. Chances are your mind does not go to flowers, greenery and lawn care. But the truth is, landscaping is something members take notice of. That is why at Leisure Sports, landscaping is taken seriously.
“We conduct regular facility audits and the condition of landscaping represents several important audit points,” said Brian Amador, the vice president of club and hotel operations at Leisure Sports. “For this reason, I believe our landscape looks full, healthy and colorful. We try to choose plants that thrive in specific locations of our clubs, which typically give us the opportunity to reflect the indigenous character of the region.”
The facility directors at Leisure Sports work with landscape contractors to ensure the grounds are kept up to the high-standards members expect and desire. “Any time that you impact the environment, you impact the member experience,” explained Amador. “When you add intrigue through landscape design, when you add beauty with healthy plants and interesting stone placement, you impact the member experience. Landscape is part of a cumulative experience.”
When it comes to improving and maintaining your landscaping, Amador explained there are a few key lessons to consider. First, pay close attention to the plant choices you make. What is the environment of your club? What plants will thrive in this environment? What is the plant lifecycle — perennials, annuals, biennials? How does each plant choice look year-round?
“This will dictate your replacement schedule and your replacement budget,” explained Amador. “Since most of our clubs are in California, we’ve learned a lot about managing landscaping through drought conditions. With the right plant choices, you definitely can maintain a beautiful, colorful, even lush, drought-resistant landscape. Several years ago, we began reducing the size and number of grass lawns we had throughout our club. Just this simple reconsideration proved to be an upgrade and saved us some money along the way.”
Second, it is essential to remain considerate of the members and be thoughtful about scheduling. The work associated with landscaping can impact the member experience otherwise. It is hard to relax by the pool when a loud lawn mower is humming alongside you. Try to schedule all landscaping work during times when fewer members are using the facility, in order to minimize the impact.
“It wouldn’t be a great member experience if you were maintaining your landscape alongside the aquatics center when members are trying to relax,” said Amador. “We pay attention to the member journey through our clubs and we try to schedule this kind of work earlier in the morning or during pockets of time when we know there will be little demand for our outdoor areas. We have also shifted to electric tools wherever possible and, once again, we’ve reduced lawn space.”
The bottom line is landscaping is not something that should be overlooked, because it is a detail your members will take notice of. Ensure that you make allowances for landscaping when developing your budgets. “Don’t let your landscape be an afterthought,” suggested Amador. “A well-conceived plan will pay off in the long run.”