Services director touts club changes

  • Published
  • By Ed Miles
  • 78th Services
A recent article on clubs in the Rev Up spurred me to submit this article to clarify some of the misconceptions about the current Robins club configuration and use of each club. Hopefully, readers will get a better understanding of what the Robins' clubs are and are not, as well as where we're headed in the near to intermediate future.

By way of background, let me first revisit a little of the club history here at Robins. At the end of fiscal 2005, Enlisted Club membership was at 3,156. Financially, the club lost $40,000. Officers' Club membership at that time was 2,323 and the bottom line in that club was a loss of $79,000. Continuity of management in both clubs had suffered for some time, as managers in each club had come and gone for various reasons. Services leadership recommended to 78th Air Base Wing and Air Logistics Center leadership that the two clubs collocate in order to improve overall efficiencies of the two clubs and reduce the financial losses.

The two clubs at Robins collocated for accounting purposes in January 2006 and operationally in April 2006. We made the lunch and dinner meal program "all ranks" and moved nearly all of the food staff to the officers' club because the kitchen there is bigger and could better support day-to-day operations. Kitchen staff could support the weekday lunch buffet program while still allowing preparation and delivery of special function events at the museum as well as to the enlisted club whenever ballroom use at that facility called for catering support. The enlisted club kitchen was too small to support this volume of operation. The enlisted lounge (JR Rockers), bingo and the barber shop remained operational within the enlisted club and the ballroom still supports special events such as weddings, the quarterly awards ceremonies and similar programs.

There are differences between "collocation" and "consolidation." To most of our customers, these two terms are used interchangeably when discussing clubs. Each means something a little different than the other but significantly impacts the way the two clubs operate. "Collocation" means that there are two separate club facilities operated by one management staff, one kitchen staff and one catering staff. "Consolidation" means that there is one club facility, one management staff, kitchen staff and catering staff.

Separate officer and enlisted lounges are operated but are under the "same roof" in a "consolidated" facility. To the average club member, these terms don't mean a whole lot as long as the food, entertainment and service are good and meet the expectations of the membership. To club management and staff however, each is very different and presents unique operational intricacies and concerns.

Since the collocation back in April 2006, there has been much discussion about how the clubs should operate at Robins, the pros and cons of current operations and where we need to take the program from its current status. Our intent is to continue operating two clubs. We will continue to offer "all ranks" programs open to the entire club membership where it makes sense.

As an example, we offered a "Casino Night" in January at the officers' club. It was well attended and we plan to do this again in July at the enlisted club, again as an all ranks event. Similarly, Football Frenzy and Texas Hold 'Em tournaments were conducted at the enlisted club, open to all ranks and they too, have proven successful. The first Friday of each month, "First Friday" events are conducted at each club.

We run separate events for these because the primary emphasis is on bar operations and current guidelines are that enlisted and officers will have separate lounges. We're currently planning a joint membership "Family Night" for the second Friday in July. This event will be conducted outside the officers' club around the pool and will include entertainment for the whole family. We thought it only smart to make this an all ranks program so that the entire club staff can focus on providing members a night of fun and enjoyment. Assuming we conduct another joint membership night towards the end of the summer, we'd alternate and run that one at the enlisted club.

So why don't we do separate membership nights at each club? Conducting combined membership nights is more efficient for the club as participation is maximized. We can do one large event with the same staff it would take to provide two separate events, so we save membership dollars. If the joint programs aren't successful, we'll return to separate membership nights and stagger the nights on which we provide them. We'll continue to look for opportunities to provide joint programs and services where it makes sense and guidelines allow. Hopefully, this will allow us to be better stewards of membership dollars and to provide better service to attendees.

So where are we headed? In March of this year, we convened a joint Club Advisory Committee. These representatives from across the base are working hard to identify programs and services for the entire membership as well as to provide us feedback on our ongoing events. In May, we moved the Pizza Depot into the enlisted club, allowing us to provide better support to bingo operations and catered events in the ballroom. We've pulled all the JR Rockers paraphernalia out of the enlisted lounge. It's currently operating as a sports bar and we're discussing further renovations to that part of the club.

We've added the MousePad, which offers free computer access for all and we've created a separate billiards room adjacent to the Pizza Depot. ITT has also moved in so the enlisted club is now an active hub for a number of community programs. Long range, we're working on a plan to build a new consolidated club and golf facility that would house both clubs with separate lounges, the golf pro shop and possibly even the lodging front desk operation. This project calls for including the existing pool and tennis courts as a part of this facility and would be located somewhere near where the current officers' club and Pine Oaks Lodge currently exist. The plan is still in the concept stage and will take several years to materialize.

In the meantime, what we need is support from the membership at both clubs. I've heard a lot of discussion about what clubs are and what they aren't. The success or failure of a club isn't dependent on the building. It isn't dependent on the entertainment program or the hours of operation. What makes a good club program is the people who support it. When the membership is strong and supportive of one another and the club, all the pieces come together and you get vibrant memberships enjoying a variety of programs - a little something for everyone.

Our goal is to deliver the best programs and services we can with the resources we currently have available. Membership participation and feedback are critical to the success of these efforts as neither Services nor the advisory committee can accomplish anything without membership support. It is my sincere hope that we'll see you at the club!