Mike VanZutphen

Mike Van Zutphen has had over thirty-five years of experience in Tennis Instructional Program Management, including the design and development of direct mail and promotional campaigns. He's a Certified Master Professional in the USPTA. The recipient of 5 Southwest Professional of the Year Awards, 2-time recipient of the Southwest Coach of the Year Award, 2-time recipient of the National USTA Community Service Award (the only Professional in the US to ever receive it twice).


Mike was also the recipient of the Humanitarian Citation given by then Phoenix Mayor Terry Goddard.

Mike is a Board/Committee Member of the USPTA National Testing Committee, designing and administering content and certification for USPTA, and a longtime member of the USPTA National Executive Committee, representing Southwest USPTA, four years as Divisional President.

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I read this article by Jarrett Chirico Linkedin "The challenges we are facing as an industry" Awesome. This motivation inspired me to put my 2 cents on the board.  A look into the future and member needs/satisfaction and the future job of "Director of Racquet Sports" 


I can only think as a Director of Tennis for 35 years. How times have changed.  I have written 10 books on the subject of club/tennis functions that address my day to day operation of a club. Plus tennis videos/books, like 'Get a Grip', 'Strings, Tension, Racquets', 'NTRP', website minutetennis.com. All the common questions I get every day. 


What I am outlining is the basic foundation of member retention and general managers who want the culture to represent that behavior in the functionality of all aspects.   I can ask the question of what stage of development is the operation/culture in on a scale 1-10?  Do your front desk staff show you super service or are they resting behind the desk reading? Do your Pro's promote the events so they are full with a waiting list? Do your Pro's upsell your pro shop racquets/strings? Does the front desk upsell memberships?  I understand the menu of club activities needs to match the needs/wants of the membership.  The purpose is to give you step 1 of super service in-house behavior which increases (revenues, retention, referrals) the heart of the club. So here is what I put down in an outline easy to read/bullet point form.




When we think of success in business, most of us think in terms of dollars, cents, statistics, facts, and figures.  Yet all those measures of success are determined by the behavior of members/customers and the employees who serve them.  Reward employees/members/customers and you'll create and keep them. Fail to reward employees/ members/customers and you're out of business. That's the greatest business secret in the world.  So simple. so obvious. And so ignored. (Dr. Michael Leboeuf Ph.D.)


Club Objective

Managers want to change the "culture" (Nehemiah in the Bible) He was the Jewish leader who supervised the rebuilding of Jerusalem (analogy clubs & GM's).


The programs at your club are to reward you and every other employee who provides super service to our/your members and guests/visitors of the club.  This means service excellence, the one factor that separates us from our competition. As an employee of a TEAM, this behavior represents super service when: (define to all employees what the expectations are: GM's, Directors of Tennis/Racquet Sports, assistants/staff) remember, Club = Family, not facilities (Robin Shelton GM, CCM)


  • You welcome all members/guests of the club/resort/frequent visitors to your establishment by name.

  • You are courteous, helpful, and efficient.

  • You are knowledgeable about the club's programs/amenities and functions and you're enthusiastic about them and encourage participation.

  • You take a genuine interest in all members'/guests/visitors' activities at the club/resort/restaurant. You're interested in everyone's workout/golf game/tennis game/meals at the restaurant to ensure a successful experience for guests/members/visitors.

  • You are always busy keeping the club/resort/restaurant/grounds clean and take pride in this club and your being part of it.

  • You listen to members'/guests'/visitors' concerns and make every effort to resolve their problems. The"member/guest/visitor is always right" is your attitude and if you are not empowered to make the changes they desire, you will approach management on their behalf.




From Dr. Michael Leboeuf Ph.D. book "Customers for life"


Providing super service will certainly separate us from all other resorts/clubs/restaurants/amenities. More importantly, it will benefit everyone aware of it and associated with it in any way.


By you providing super service, you will ensure that the club/family satisfies its members/guests/visitors in many new ways and do everything possible to make them want to use/come back/frequent/participate/stay again at your club.  This ensures that members/guests/visitors continue being members/guests/visitors and tell their friends about the club and the service available here.  !!!!! Nothing is better than word of mouth advertising **** Nothing !!!!!


Data/Rational: Us Government survey


A survey on "Why customers quit"  found the following reasons:


  • 3 percent move away

  • 5 percent develop other friendships

  • 9 percent leave for competitive reasons

  • 14 percent are dissatisfied with the product

  • 68 percent quit because of an attitude of indifference toward the member by the management/staff or some employee


Additionally, seven out of ten complaining customers will do business with you again if you resolve their complaint in their favor.  If you resolve it on the spot, 95 percent will do business with you again.  On average, a satisfied complainer will tell five people about the problem and how it was satisfactorily resolved.


Data/Rational continued


Several years ago, a white house study of consumer affairs found that only one out of 25 clients takes the time to tell you about a problem they have had with your club/company.  So for every complaint you hear, there may be 24 others just like it you never hear. Study results also indicated that:


  • 50-70% of customers who complain will do business again with company if their complaints are resolved and that figure increases 95% if the complaint was resolved quickly.

  • The average customer who has a complaint tells 9 or 10 people about it and 13% recount the incident to 20 or more people.

  • Customers who have had complaints satisfactorily resolved tell an average of 5 others, many of them prospective customers, about the great treatment they received. 

  • How can you get positive results from complaints? Think of a time when you were really upset and frustrated.  You called to complain and the first response you got was an argument.  Your "upset temperature" probably went right through the roof.

  • Listen. Focus all your attention to understand what the customer tells you,-- you"ll get valuable customer information.

  • Ask "would you mind if I took notes?" That question will create in the customer's mind a picture of you devoting your energy to understanding his complaint. It will also help you to keep a record of complaints.

  • Ask "what would you like us to do?" (don't make the mistake of telling them what you will do).  About 80% of the time they will ask for less than you will be willing to give.  What complainers really want is understanding, reassurance that it won't happen again, and a guarantee that they won't suffer a financial loss.  If you've done a good job of listening, the customer will not take advantage of you.

  • Even if you feel it is not fully justified, give a refund if the customer wants one or redo the order. Make sure the customer is satisfied.

  • Businesses having low service quality average only a 1% return on sales and lose market share at the rate of 2% per year.  Businesses with high service quality average a 12% return on sales, gain market share at the rate of 6% per year and charge significantly higher prices.


Signs/Markers: just to name a few


1. Membership is consistent and attrition low---------   = good to average culture

2. Membership is growing and attrition is low--------    = above average to excellent

3. Membership programs are full and waiting list-----   = about average to excellent

4. New member participation very good ---------------   = above average to excellent

5. F&B food wait time is quick and efficient -----------    =above average to excellent

6. F&B service is prompt and friendly-------------------     = above average to excellent

7. Members racquets strung well and on time--------     = above average to excellent

8. Golf tee box/greens/sand traps beautiful ----------     = above average to excellent

9. Cleanliness Wow everywhere too important---------   =above average to excellent

10. Promptness, follow-up,consistency, dependability- = excellent


Finishing Notes/Thoughts


These are a few reasons your club will grow and some reasons it's in fail mode.

Same for the tennis/golf/ food/restaurant/service business industry.