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The Rolling Hills Country Club Essay
Rolling, Hills, Country, Club, Essay
The Rolling Hills Country Club is an established club in a major eastern city. Jimmy Johnson, the general manager of the club, had just convened the regular weekly meeting of the executive committee. The first item on the agenda was the Hunt Room. Hans Krueger, the food and beverage manager, claims that sales have been declining for the last five years. He states the overall concept of the room is excellent. There have been some minor upgrades (replacing the chairs and the carpet), but no major renovation has taken place since 1990. He feels it is time for a major renovation.
He claims that the food, service, and pricing are fine, but the atmosphere has grown tired. He claims that the comment cards returned by the guests have been highly favorable. Mr. Krueger has submitted plans for a $500,000 renovation package. His package calls for an updating of the same concept. Alice Whitaker, the catering manager, claims the concept is no longer viable. She states that patronage of the restaurant has dropped.
She says the people who use the Hunt Room may still enjoy it, but a very small percentage of the members use the room. Jimmy Johnson is concerned that if the changes to the room are major he may lose the room’s current customers and not be able to replace them with members drawn to the new concept. He is tending to side with Hans, viewing minor changes to the concept as a safe alternative. The club has three restaurants: the Venetian Room, the Hunt Room, and the Terrace Room.
The Venetian Room is the main dining room. It is a light, open room that overlooks the golf course. Its menu is eclectic and includes a selection of European, American, and Asian cuisine. The average check in the Venetian room is $22 for lunch and $45 for dinner. The Hunt Room is the casual dining room. It has rich wood paneling, red leather chairs, and features paintings of hunting scenes on the walls. The Hunt Room’s menu features beef, quail, and several seafood items. The average check is $40 for dinner. The Hunt Room closed for lunch in 2007, due to declining lunch sales.
The Terrace Room is an informal room with the same menu for lunch and dinner. The menu is similar to one that might be found in a family-oriented restaurant. It is on the ground floor and features a patio that is popular with members using the swimming pool, who want more than the snack bar offers. The average check is $10 for breakfast, $14 for lunch, and $20 for dinner. Dinner business is very slow, except for the summer.
In fact, Johnson is thinking of closing this room for dinner. Referring to the Hunt Room, Alice Whitaker claims the club’s members no longer want a heavy beef menu. She has also observed what she feels is a trend: Members are seeking new dining experiences. They want excitement in the menus and would enjoy a room with a casual atmosphere. Additionally, she claims that the restaurant prices have gradually crept up, and the restaurant is no longer considered casual dining.
Those guests who want a casual meal usually end up in the Terrace Room or in a local restaurant. Ms. Whitaker feels the local restaurants offer better value for the money. Mr. Krueger responded by stating that the restaurant offers a much better value than it did when it opened. He claims that beef prices have risen by 140 percent since 2000, but he has absorbed some of these increases and menu prices have only increased by 100 percent.
He further stated that he was not in competition with every restaurant in town—the club has prestige and members come here because it is their club. Krueger claims the club gives good value compared with the fine dining restaurants in town. Jimmy Johnson did not want the discussion to escalate into an argument. He, therefore, tabled the discussion on the Hunt Room until more information could be obtained.
He was also proceeding very carefully. He has only been at the club for two years. He has been able to maintain the status quo of the club but has not made any significant changes. The club’s membership wait list has continued its downward trend. The club had an average wait of four years in 2005; today the wait is 18 months. Food and beverage sales have remained flat over the last three years
despite an average menu increase of 4 percent per annum. Jimmy feels he has “stabilized the club,” but he has not been able to show increases in sales. He feels the turnaround has come, but he also knows some board members are growing impatient. Thus, he feels a mistake with the new concept for the Hunt Room could cost him his job. He also knows many of the older board members enjoy the Hunt Room. Another problem with the club is that the membership is aging. Most of the young members are sons or daughters of members.
The club does not seem to attract members under 40. This makes it hard for Johnson to make changes because many of the older members do not want change, and the younger members who came to the club with their parents have grown used to it. They seem to like the club the way it is, yet they do not use the food and beverage facilities. Most of the younger members use the golf course and drop their children off at the pool. For the most part, their food and beverage sales are limited to the snack bars at the golf course and swimming pool. Johnson ponders his options:
Do nothing, or try to keep things from declining. He knows preventing further declines is a significant accomplishment. However, he feels the board is looking for increases. If he makes a mistake with the Hunt Room, he will quickly lose his job. If he does nothing, he may be able to hang on for several more years but if he does not turn sales around, eventually he will lose his job.