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September 2020

Addison Reserve Country Club Continues To Be Community Concierge

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By Steve Eubanks

The pandemic spawned countless innovations and inventions. Necessity will do that. From folding tables in parking lots while indoor dining was banned, to kids selling homemade hand sanitizers from their lemonade stands, capitalism, like flowing water, always finds a way. 

But many of the products and services birthed during the crises of 2020 will continue long after things return to something resembling normal.

Golf is a good example. From high tech to no tech and all points in between, many innovations that operators put into place during the height of the coronavirus turned out to be good ideas. And good ideas always tend to survive.

In Florida, one of the biggest hotspots in the nation during the height of the pandemic with a vulnerable population, club managers went to extremes to keep the revenue spigot open while working to ensure the safety of their members and guests. One of those managers, Michael McCarthy, who runs Addison Reserve Country Club in Delray Beach, reimagined his entire food and beverage operation and, ultimately, transformed the entire concept of club service.

“I shut down (the club) before the government shut down,” McCarthy said. “I’m a bit of a germaphobe and we also have an older-than-average membership, so I set the goal from the beginning of having the best non-contact facility in America. We are not going to have our older members coming into contact with our younger staff members.

“So we never did takeout because takeout required members to come into the club and interact with the staff. We went with home delivery. We have 717 homes in a gated community, so it was easy. We set everything up on golf carts and did all our business out the back door.”

It started with standard menu items, a delivered meal from the club to the home. “Back in March we were doing almost 900 deliveries a day,” McCarthy said. “We did over $500,000 in food-and-beverage business out the back door in the month of March alone.”

But then the members started making requests beyond individual meals. According to McCarthy, “Almost immediately, people started asking for groceries. So we set up a market. You need eggs? Done. You need a gallon of milk? We’ve got it. Whatever you need we will deliver it to you.

Then it expanded into us picking up members’ prescriptions for them.”

Realizing what was happening and seeing an opportunity to provide another service to his members while turning some inventory, McCarthy asked the state of Florida for special permission to sell packaged alcohol. Once that exemption was granted under the state’s emergency measures, according to McCarthy, “I decided that we were going to get rid of our inventory by selling wine at $10 over our cost. We cleaned out the alcohol inventory.”

He also was ahead of the curve in stocking up on the most popular item in the coronavirus age. “I ordered 6,000 rolls of toilet paper the last week of February,” McCarthy said. Despite snickers from many of his fellow managers in the beginning, McCarthy sold out the toilet paper and had to re-order another 4,000 rolls.

In addition to the low-tech merchandising, Addison Reserve joined the rest of the world with high-tech meetings, including Zoom trivia nights and online bingo. “If there is a concert going on overseas and it’s online or comedians doing concerts and we have access to the footage, we send links out to our members and have online watch parties,” McCarthy said. “As crazy as everything in the world has been, we’ve been really creative and had fun with it.”

But the big idea has been expanding club services into areas that aren’t normally associated with clubs. Once the world returns to some semblance of normalcy, residents at Addison Reserve will return to the club for dinner and golf. But some services created during the crisis will remain.

“I’m looking to expand that whole concierge concept to include (personal) pool services, plumbing, electrical – everything the members could imagine,” McCarthy said. “All they need to do is pick up the phone and call the club. We’ll send someone over to you.

“Even when things get back to normal, down here with an older population, I’m not sure they’re going to be ready to jump right back into club life. I have to keep that (delivery) option open to them. We have a lot of retirees. We’re their lifeline and I won’t take that away from them. Plus, it’s become a big profit center. Think about it: There are no linens (on the dining room tables to clean), there are no table settings, there are no bread baskets or flowers on the table. It’s a product out the back door, delivered on golf carts. And it’s a service that they appreciate.

“The members know we care. We’re doing this for them. Nothing could be better.”

 

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