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Covid-19: Amazing Things We Learnt from The Success of The American Club Singapore’s Business Transformation

By June 6, 2020Current

TL; DR: A peek into how The American Club Singapore has continued to engage their Club members and the lessons struggling businesses can learn from their transformational journey

The Dive is our new weekend feature where we bring you in-depth news, interesting insights and different perspectives on the latest trends or issues that matter.

When Covid-19 hit our sunny shores, we didn’t need a crystal ball to predict that many businesses were going to suffer badly. One organisation, however, has managed to transform their business, even clocking their highest ever revenue during the Circuit Breaker on Mother’s Day, through their newly launched Food Delivery programme, despite their Clubhouse closure!

Not convinced? We spoke to Ms Patricia Au, Acting General Manager of The American Club on their success story!

On Upholding Social Responsibility

The American Club Singapore recognised the potential disruption to its operations very early on, given that a large percentage of their club members are foreigners. Many members of The American Club had family flying back from the UK and the US, hence there had been more concerns within the Club community about the potential for exposure to imported infections.

A socially responsible organisation, The American Club was one of the first Clubs to implement precautionary measures such as a ‘No-guest’ policy as they understood the risks of spread with high foot traffic at the Club. Apart from that, the General Committee of the Club also sent a strong signal by announcing potential disciplinary consequences for members who fail to uphold social responsibility. This was very much appreciated by the general membership who could continue to feel safe using the club facilities!

Springing into Action

Wait and see? Not for The American Club! Even before the Circuit Breaker measures were announced, looking at the way things were evolving, they already sprang into action, reviewing their programmes to ensure that Club members would continue as much as possible with their routines one way or the other. ‘At Home with The American Club’, a virtual programme with segments ranging from kids’ activities, to fitness, wellness, and food & beverage was born.

From the beginning of the transformation journey, The American Club’s focus has always been making sure that even during stressful times as such, members could continue to engage, socialise and enjoy the activities they had before, and more! Members’ feedback was sought every step of the way to ensure their plans were on the right track.

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The Transformation Journey

Transformation wasn’t always a bed of roses. Along the transformation journey, they soon realised that lack of the right type of video equipment, technical issues or even practical issues such as shyness among some staff in front of the camera will pose some challenges! Yet, every hurdle was meticulously worked through, new ways of doing things adopted, plans were improvised along the way. With that, they began to see results.

Fitness First

With the goal of member engagement in mind, The American Club started with fitness related events – their Zumba and yoga sessions saw close to 2000 signups in the first two weeks of launching! Well, exercise is always a good idea, ain’t it! Tennis and swim coaches even recorded videos on drills that members can work on at home to improve their game. Effort went into ensuring that these videos carried the The American Club branding, with photos of different areas of the Club as backdrops. This little touch of familiarity was really appreciated by Club members!

For the Kiddos

For the little kids, they continued the Storytelling sessions, with scenes of the Club library as the backdrop. Craft activities were also carefully selected for them. No details were spared to ensure their members could take comfort in their regular routines, as far as possible. The mark of a successful organisation!

Thinking Out of The Box

With the success of their fitness programmes, they started to look into more creative social events that will allow them to engage Club members more. One example that was a roaring success was the Happy Hour Trivia Night – complete with prizes – to encourage family interaction and help members beat the cabin fever! Members also had the option of adding on a ‘Dinner and Drinks’ Bundle.  In no time, the Trivia Night built a strong following with up to 20 teams to date!

Happy Hour Trivia Night to encourage family interaction and help Club members beat the cabin fever

Virtual Wine tasting

Can wine tasting even be virtual? Yes, only with The American Club!

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Virtual wine tasting sessions led by the Club’s restaurant manager, a familiar face to many of their Club members, was another programme that allowed members to interact and ‘talk wine’! It also gained traction soon after its launch.

Learning with The American Club

A wide range of very relevant and interesting webinars were offered to encourage member engagement as well. For example, the webinar ‘The New Normal of Kindness’ spoke of how being with the family 24/7 has its delights, and its challenges. Dr. William Wan, the General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement shared with Club members on how one can make their new life ‘kinder’ and ‘better’. Webinar topics were carefully selected based on member suggestions.

TAC2Go! and Essentials2Go!

When the Circuit Breaker measures kicked in, the American Club introduced two new services –  TAC2Go!, a food & beverage takeaway and delivery service, as well as delivery service Essentials2Go! for groceries, gourmet products, wines and spa home care items. It wasn’t a smooth journey, as with most new initiatives. Because of the restrictions on the number of onsite staff, they had to work within their staffing allowance and grow the program gradually over time.

TAC2Go! was launched as a pick-up service and the take-up rate was slow initially. The American Club added delivery service using their catering van. As the plans took off, they tied up with a delivery company to offer delivery, and offered an even more diversified menu – a whooping 300% more than what they offered previously! More vegetarian and gluten-light options were also introduced at really reasonable pricings for their members. How were all these possible? By keeping their ears to the ground!

Appreciation notes from happy Club members!

Open-mindedness and The Perseverance to Overcome Hurdles

Like many organisations out there, The American Club was not spared from the impact of COVID-19.

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Yet, Patricia shared that these did not stop them from adapting fast and trying even harder, “Ultimately it is about constantly gathering feedback and being open-minded enough to do things differently, tweaking your plans, being extra creative along the way to make things work”.

Business will not be ‘as usual’ for a while. The normal we knew? It no longer exists. Moving forward, Patricia expects that the Club will be adopting a hybrid model where they will continue to build their online presence. It’s obvious from our interview that Patricia and her team are always planning two steps ahead – truly inspiring!

Those Who Are Willing to Transform Will Not Be Left Behind

The pandemic has crippled businesses in Singapore. Looking at the way things are going, even after Phase 1 of the reopening, our lives would not be the same as before. Organisations that want to stay in the game should start adapting to the new norm – if they haven’t already – and have a strong plan in place. One that should evolve along the way!

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on traditional business models, affecting the livelihoods of many. In his delivery of the Fortitude Budget, DPM Heng Swee Keat announced the National Jobs Council that will oversee efforts to help Singaporeans gain skills needed to remain employable. The National Trades Union Congress’s Job Security Council, that has since matched more than 10,000 workers to new jobs, will play a supporting role to the National Jobs Council. More than S$500 million will also be allocated to support the digital transformation of businesses.

The future might look grim, some days will be harder than others, but with strong support from the Unions and the Government, businesses in Singapore are in a good place to transform and get themselves ready for the bounce back in time to come! As DPM Heng said, “Those who are willing to transform will not be left behind.”

 

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