It is time for clubs to become data driven and that all starts with your club database

5 June 2019

When the world is racing to become data driven, clubs have an immediate advantage and its one that most other businesses would give their right arm to have. 

The Incorporated Societies Act 1908 and the Friendly Societies and Credit Unions Act 1982 both specify that these societies must maintain a register of members that at the very minimum records names, addresses and the dates when they become members.  Further information (data) to be collected is at the discretion of the club and if your club is not using that discretion to its full advantage then you are missing out on a golden opportunity that those armless businesses mentioned above would be jumping on.

Becoming data driven all starts with your humble membership database, once you have got that working for you then you can start exploring other data and metrics linked to your POS that will give you business insights and information to inform your decision making (and you don’t have to be a data analyst to start making the most of it).

Club databases come in all shapes and sizes

From the humble shoe box under the bar with handwritten cards to the latest and greatest cloud-based database solutions, club databases come in all shapes and sizes. 

For those still operating on handwritten cards, if you do nothing else this year you need to get yourself a database solution and there are great options out there that can be scaled to your needs.  Popular choices amongst clubs are Bepoz delivered by IndeServe or Swiftpos.

For those with digital database solutions that is the first step, but are you making the database work for your club or simply going through the motions? 

Another important consideration is consistency, while all clubs have different needs when it comes to a database and your clubs needs must be first and foremost when making decisions, there are many advantages to be had by aligning our databases where possible.

Below are some things to consider and tips to get your clubs membership database up to scratch and firing on all cylinders.

It all starts with your membership application form

A lot like Rome, databases are not built in a day, they are as the name suggests a collection of individual pieces of data that can be stored, sorted, updated etc to give insights and understanding, so of course what you put into that database will dictate what you can get out of it.

Your membership application form should be clear, set out exactly what information members need to provide and be clear in what information is mandatory.

At a minimum you should be collecting the following;

  • First and Last Name (legal requirement)
  • Address (legal requirement)
  • Date of Birth (you sell alcohol, it makes sense that you are collecting this information it will also allow you to offer promotions centred around a member’s birthday)
  • Email Address (not everyone has one, but if they do record that information, it is the most effective way to communicate with members, if they do not provide one on the form, get your staff to ask why)
  • Phone and Mobile (again you need to be able to communicate with your members)

Quick tips:

  • Get your application form out and give it an overhaul if required.
  • Talk to other clubs to see what they are doing.
  • Train your staff and get them reviewing forms when they are submitted to ensure all required information has been supplied.

Loading the information into your database

This appears to be where things go out of whack for clubs and it is unfortunately due to the human component of the process.  Those entering and maintaining your club’s database must be trained and aware of the importance of entering data from the application to the database accurately.

In addition to the information collected on the database, your club will need to enter additional information, such as (some of these are just plain common sense);

  • Gender (this doesn’t need to be a question on the form but could be something staff collect at the time of application)
  • A photograph (this is becoming more and more important in identifying people)
  • Membership type
  • Membership number
  • Membership expiry

Common mistakes that occur during the loading process include;

Misspelt names

  • Misspelt or incorrectly formatted email addresses no @, spaces, missing characters.
  • Inconsistent formatting i.e. some use all upper-case characters, some use lower, some use American formatting for date of birth some use the proper way.
  • Simply failing to enter information because the applicants handwriting is indecipherable.
  • Entering information into the wrong field, i.e. recording payment information in the address field.

This is where training and the setting of expectations regarding the databases management is key.  It is also where clubs need to assert themselves in stating that the collection of this data is non-negotiable i.e. if a person wants to become a member, they must be willing to provide this information.

Quick tips:

  • Get your database provider to come in a provide training and guidance to staff members who use the club’s database on a regular basis.
  • Ask your database provider about validation tools, while these won’t eliminate all entry errors, they provide another layer of protection and assurance.

Why, oh, why are you using multiple systems?

Another place where databases fail to deliver is when multiple systems are used that do not communicate with each other.  Most systems today do the job of many or have easy integration options so that club staff only ever have to enter or update data in one place – that one place is your source of truth.

We have seen clubs that are running a database over here for names and membership numbers, a database over there for email addresses and a database over there for all other data – and these systems don’t talk to each other, it is not efficient, it is likely not secure and is setting you up for problems.

Quick tips:

  • Consolidate your systems
  • Talk to your provider about integration options

Oh no, my data has gone stale?!

Yes, data has a shelf life, and this means your database needs to be regularly cleaned of stale and dirty data and replenished with the new fresh stuff.

At a minimum club have the opportunity to update their membership data annually at the membership renewal time.  Rather than renewal time simply being an exchange of cash and card, use this opportunity to ensure that members details are up to date.  Utilise promotions, events etc to double check key contact details are being collected and updated.

Quick tips:

  • Have a simplified application form which will become your “Renewal Form”, your database provider might even be able to assist in paperless solutions.
  • Require members to come into the club to renew or collect their new membership card (unless of course they live out of town). This of course gets them into the club to see what is happening but also provides staff with the chance to talk face to face to confirm details.
  • Use promotions and other club activities as a touch points for collecting or updating information. e. if you have a ticketed event coming up get members to confirm their email address when purchasing ticket so you can keep them up to date with event related information.
  • Have regular database clean ups. Make sure you have appropriate solutions to archive information for people who are no longer members (after a certain amount of time) or are deceased – there is nothing worse than someone receives an email inviting their recently deceased partner to the club.

Start exploring the possibilities

Once your membership database is clean, up to date and full of the data you need, then the magic can begin.  You can start to understand your members better, get a feel for your demographics (age, gender), determine the % percentage of members you can communicate with at the click of a button. 

Then you can start playing with the types of insights you can get from having your point of sale linked to your membership database, where members use their cards at the point of sale you will be able to start collecting information on your top spenders, the promotions that are getting people in the door i.e. the members with the least interactions who suddenly show a huge jump in interactions.  

You can employ further solutions and integrations to support your compliance efforts, your decision making and to just well make like easier for the team. 

And of course, you will be locked and loaded for getting on board with the Clubs New Zealand database and National Office will be able to employ integrations to support your compliance efforts, your decision making and to just well make like easier for the team.

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