Author Topic: Dealing with Club Growth  (Read 15962 times)

Offline bobby_m

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Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2011, 07:25:58 PM »
Brandt, our club just recently hit our cap for the year, as determined by the steering committee. It's a fact that we have to turn new people away for the rest of the year or until we realize some members on the books don't plan to return. As a part of the planning for actually capping membership, we implemented an application review so that we could weed out the "tourists". Afterall, when there are limited seats, we wanted homebrewers to fill them. That isn't to say a club can't have a mix of brewers and beer enthusiasts but when push came to shove, we wanted to be a homebrewing club and not a beer club.

Offline olllllo

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Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2011, 09:12:16 AM »
You may not have the luxury of time or resources to do this, but we've alleviated some the "beer drinker" problem in a couple of ways.
We really try and push beer education. We encourage them to be BJCP and/or Cicerone trained. At meetings, I'll generally press the non-brewers into service first with the setup and tear down/clean up. It used to be we had perhaps 100 brewers and 400 drinkers/Oktoberfest attendees. A recent survey tells us that we now have 350 brewers.

We've also began a series of happy hour meet ups at bars and breweries which give people the opportunity to get their drink on outside of the general/business meeting and out side of our rental space. Our membership provides discounts (azhomebrewers.org/benefits) so we may have a portion of our members just buying memberships for the discount. The net for those people is they gave us money for one of our sponsors/partners to give them a discount. I don't think its an issue yet.

Offline dbeechum

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Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« Reply #17 on: June 30, 2011, 10:30:14 AM »
I'll have to say - using a "night out" setup is probably a good thing for controlling the drinker's population. Another local club here - Pacific Gravity does that. I'd love to do it with the Falcons too.

(long question here - new topic though)

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Offline roxanne

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Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« Reply #18 on: June 30, 2011, 05:11:58 PM »
The non-brewing members often can be great volunteers to help at events and meetings.  They will learn and become evangelists for the hobby - even if they don't brew (yet).

Also - I'd be really careful about screening out members because they don't feel like a fit.  First impressions can be wrong.  In many cases, once I've gotten to know someone better, I can better appreciate what they bring to the club.  If they really aren't a fit, they will likely drop out over time.  If they end up being a problem - clauses in by-laws or a code of conduct can help you deal with that (usually - things that put the club at liability risk).  And - restricting membership this way can get you a reputation as elitist - even among members you may have wanted to join.  It's really hard to shed this type of label once you have it.
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Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« Reply #19 on: July 05, 2011, 12:11:50 AM »
I'm not much of a "joiner". Can I form my own club and be the only member? 8)

Even if you're a loner, the advantage of being in a club is that you can get ideas from other folks. Also, it's a good place to get rid of beer if you have too much!

As for club size, I think that olllllo pretty much nailed it. The leadership has to plan for growth or limit growth. Planning for growth has its own problems. Limiting growth can be problematic in that you turn away potentially great people and acquire a reputation for snobbishness. Also, what do you do with current members who temporarily turn into "dead weight" (i.e., stop brewing, don't come to meetings)?

From HB clubs in my region, I've see the following structures:

1) Small and informal - 5-10 people, usually friends, who informally meet, usually in someone's house. No real officers, no dues, no formal club functions.

2) Semi-Organized - 10-30 people, maybe not so tightly linked, who meet informally at a restaurant or bar. Might have officers, by-laws and membership dues. Might sponsor club events.

3) Small Organized - 30-100 people, usually with formal officers, by-laws, dues and so forth. Might be big enough to run an annual HB competition and hold similar club-sponsored events. At this level, there are some logistical strains and the possibility that new members are either not welcome, or feel ignored.

4) Big Organized - 100+ people, as above, but more organized and possibly more formal. At this level, budgets and logistical issues get big enough that the club starts straining unless it's got a very talented cadre of leaders and support people who want to make the club work. At this level, even finding a suitable venue for club meetings can be a hassle, and visitors and new members can feel excluded.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2011, 12:23:23 AM by thomasbarnes »

Offline brandt99

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Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« Reply #20 on: July 12, 2011, 08:25:18 PM »
Bobby M-
Been out of the loop for a bit. I'm wondering what your steering committee decided to cap the membership at and why? Meeting dynamics, meeting venue capacity? What you did might be helpful to what we're facing now.
Thanks,
Brandt
Cascade Brewers Society
Eugene Oregon

Offline punatic

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Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« Reply #21 on: July 13, 2011, 02:06:24 AM »
You can always start your own . . . find a couple of brewers you like and just start meeting.  You're a club.

Register on the AHA site too though, it can help people find you.

I'm not much of a "joiner". Can I form my own club and be the only member? 8)



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Offline bobby_m

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Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« Reply #22 on: July 15, 2011, 09:12:48 AM »
Bobby M-
Been out of the loop for a bit. I'm wondering what your steering committee decided to cap the membership at and why? Meeting dynamics, meeting venue capacity? What you did might be helpful to what we're facing now.
Thanks,
Brandt

I posted this in the other thread but I'll expand on it here:

Quote
Meeting location is one of the practical limits and it's probably a bigger issue for old clubs that have been in one establishment for a really long time. Before our explosive growth, the club had been at the same joint for 10 years. A lot of members were adamant against moving to a new place. The people that were in favor of moving couldn't come close to finding a suitable alternative (free and larger). We would have settled for inexpensive.

That's exactly what situation we were in. We had a good portion of the membership who were around for years and years and even some who were at the first meeting in 1996. Not that seniority has any play on decision making in our club, but there was a sense of longevity and stability associated with our meeting space and that space is logistically limited to a max of like 50 people. We held a vote on whether or not we should consider moving to a different venue. Leading up to it, we suggested that anyone that would vote yes would be better positioned to seek out alternative locations and find out what the cost would be. No one really did the leg work on that and the vote went something like 65% stay, 35% find a new venue.

That pretty much sealed the deal on our requirement to limit membership. From then, it was a decision on exactly how we'd do it. The options ranged from a hard cap with a first come, first served system of new membership acquisition to harsh scrutiny of existing members to make sure they weren't just holding a spot with no real participation. See, once you have 50 seats available, you have to think about what kind of members you want occupying them. That's a bit elitist in the realm of homebrewing, but how fun would the club be if a "homebrewing" club was 90% beer drinkers and 10% brewers?

We have capped at 57 so far this year due to how many people are showing up regularly. While the space can fit 50 or so, we only have enough room for 45 chairs before it's hard to walk past. With that limitation, we expect that new applicants are already homebrewers and if anyone inquires wanting to get into the hobby, we provide a list of resources and usually someone will lend a hand with mentorship.  Turning an interested beginner away from the club is the hardest thing to swallow and no one feels good about it. Finally, we implemented a strategy to remove stagnant non-contributors/non-participators. Every member earns points for participating in things the club has deemed worthy and in support of the mission. It ranges from bringing beers to the flight, giving a presentation, brewing at group brews, hosting events, being AHA members, going to NHC, etc. It's a huge pain in the butt to keep track of but the idea is to deny renewal if you don't earn points. Ugh, I know it sounds horrible and covered in red tape.

Bobby


Offline dbeechum

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Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« Reply #23 on: July 15, 2011, 09:37:55 AM »
Wow, that just seems like a helluva lot more work than I'd be willing to put in. Plus a ton of difficult conversations that you have to have. "Sorry Joe, but me and the boys have been talking and we've decided you're an asshole."

What we've found is that even with our limited meeting area (70-80ish tight squeeze, everyone real friendly like) - the membership is self limiting on showing up to the meetings. So we don't run into many problems that way.

Our biggest challenge is finding a way to transition a new member into a permanent, dedicated member.
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Offline denny

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Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« Reply #24 on: July 15, 2011, 09:42:24 AM »
I'm in the club Brandt is referring to, and for me it's a really difficult decision.  We've got a killer meeting place at our Rogue local and they treat us really well.  They even out on a firkin of some special beer for our meetings and give us special pricing on it.  I'd hate to leave, but I think I'd hate even more to turn away members.  To me, the purpose of the club is to promote homebrewing and get more people involved in it.  You can't do that if you turn people away. 
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Offline richardt

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Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« Reply #25 on: July 15, 2011, 10:12:14 AM »
Are they asking you to leave the premises because you're too big?
If I were the brewpub manager, I'd be loving having the place at (even beyond) capacity and keeping the cash registers ringing.

I agree with not turning people away.  Homebrewing is a fun hobby, and while everyone comes into it differently, they all started out as a "beer drinker."  Enlighten them.  Invite them.  Include them.  Help them along the journey.

Offline denny

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Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« Reply #26 on: July 15, 2011, 11:23:16 AM »
Are they asking you to leave the premises because you're too big?
If I were the brewpub manager, I'd be loving having the place at (even beyond) capacity and keeping the cash registers ringing.

I agree with not turning people away.  Homebrewing is a fun hobby, and while everyone comes into it differently, they all started out as a "beer drinker."  Enlighten them.  Invite them.  Include them.  Help them along the journey.

Not, not at all.  They love having us there and are very helpful.  But there simply isn't enough room for all the members who attend to be in the room at once, and most of the time the noise level makes it very difficult to get things accomplished.  I give a tech presentation at each meeting and by about 10 min. into it I can no longer shout over the general noise level.
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Offline dbeechum

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Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« Reply #27 on: July 15, 2011, 11:33:59 AM »
I can no longer shout over the general noise level.

Hey, you might want to check these things out - they're called microphones. I'm sure you can find someone in your neck of the woods who's an expert with them. :)
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Offline denny

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Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« Reply #28 on: July 15, 2011, 11:56:58 AM »
I can no longer shout over the general noise level.

Hey, you might want to check these things out - they're called microphones. I'm sure you can find someone in your neck of the woods who's an expert with them. :)

Yeah, that's been discussed.  But the club doesn't want to use one and we're afraid that if we get that loud we'd bother people upstairs in the rest of the pub.   We have discussed appointing a sergeant at arms to keep things under control, but haven't made that move yet.
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Offline richardt

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Re: Dealing with Club Growth
« Reply #29 on: July 15, 2011, 12:26:05 PM »
I would think that explaining the situation to people both in person and in written form (on club's website or newsletter), would be a better way of addressing the problem than to do something as harsh as to deny entry to new members.  Both the sergeant-at-arms and use of a microphone are great ideas. 

As you probably well know, sound intensity decreases as the inverse square of the distance.  If you have a cordless microphone and enough small speakers for the room you're in, you can keep the intensity down and still benefit everyone without disturbing the patrons upstairs.