Johnston’s Five-Star Approach Reaping Loyalty Dividends

Andy Johnston.

Singapore: Creating a culture of caring and respect among staff and towards members has been a key contributor to the success of Sentosa Golf Club.

“We work really hard on what we call the seven five-star touch points,” said Andy Johnston, Sentosa’s General Manager and Director of Agronomy, speaking during the latest LinksAsia webinar.

“The very first one is looking members in the eye and saying: ‘Hello’. The last one, which I say often, is: ‘Every morning we need to wake up and think how am I going to earn my five stars today – because nobody cares about the awards we won yesterday. It’s behind us. We have to earn them today’.

“Every day it’s so important that we win the day, that we solve the problems, that we make people happy, that we sell an experience that makes you say: ‘I want to do that again’.”

Providing further insight into the inner workings at the venue that was named World’s Best Golf Club at the 2019 World Golf Awards, Johnston added: “We have a couple of key things that we talk about around here. I don’t usually say them publicly, but one of the things I talk about with the team is ‘no toxic talk’.

“We’re not allowed to talk bad about each other. If you do, you’re going to find yourself in my office … and if you find yourself in there twice it’s going to be a big problem.

“Having the respect for each other to make sure it’s a safe place so that we can all work together as a team to provide the culture that’s needed to bond – and then that oozes out into the membership. When we can look members in the eye and say ‘Hello’ and we can do it to each other the same way we would a member, it just seems natural.

“We’ve made sure our team are aware of all the health and safety things that they need to do … all the way down to simple things like cleaning their phones. Your phone is probably one of the dirtiest surfaces that you’re putting up to your face. As well as cleaning your phone and washing your hands, it’s about doing all those little things and continuing to remind everyone on how to take care of each other.”

During the webinar discussion on Social KPIs: The Engines of Loyalty in Club Management, Johnston also outlined some of the ways in which Sentosa Golf Club has been building staff loyalty in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “I have 200 full-time staff and some we provide housing for. When we saw the lockdown coming, we pulled them out of that housing and put them in hotels. We have more than 35 staff that live in Malaysia. We also pulled them back and put them in hotels. So, we’ve had over 50 people for nearly four months now in hotels at our expense to make sure that they were looked after and protected and that we had them close by for when the club would be opened up so that they could come and participate.

“Their health and safety was the most important thing to me. To make sure our team could respond and were happy in their families so that when we do come back to work, we can take care of our members.”

Joining Johnston in the webinar were Gregg Patterson, Founder, Tribal Magic!, and Jim Prusa, Director, Golf Courses & Laboratory at Korea’s Sky 72. The session was moderated by Kate Burton.

Johnston followed Karen Proctor (Regional Sales Director, APAC – Textron Specialized Vehicles) as the second Asian Golf Industry Federation Board Member to participate in the LinksAsia series. AGIF Chief Executive Officer Eric Lynge was a panellist on the first webinar.

Other representatives from AGIF member clubs and organisations who have taken part in LinksAsia webinars are Rick Blackie (General Manager, Sutera Harbour Marina Golf & Country Club), John Blanch (General Manager, Thai Country Club), Cho Minn Thant (Chief Executive Officer, Asian Tour), Simon Mees (General Manager, KN Golf Links) and Mark Siegel (Managing Director, Golfasian).

*To view the webinar, please visit: LinksAsia_SocialKPIs_Webinar

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