© wolterke | adobe

He was simply known as “Mr. Sam” and the business principles that Sam Walton spent on his chain of five hundred stores that became the retail giant of today were equally simple. They are known as the Ten Rules, and the company’s 2.2 million employees must follow them daily in Walmart’s more than 10,000 stores in 24 countries.

Club superintendents and leaders can draw inspiration from these same principles, knowing that while these are not ordinary times, the rules for providing exemplary value and service are timeless. As you finalize your plans for 2023, heed Mr. Sam’s advice:

Commit to your business. Believe in it more than anyone, always said Mr. Sam. The annual agronomic and commercial plans allow you to reaffirm your commitment. Now is the time to update those plans to ensure new labor and expense management tactics are in place, as well as safeguards for unpredictable supply chain challenges.

Share your profits with your associates. Money matters. But most employees equate “being treated with respect” and “playing on a winning team” with financial compensation. Generosity can take many forms, many of which come at a small price. Be generous and your associates will reciprocate. “In return, they will treat you like a partner, and together you will all perform beyond your wildest expectations,” Mr. Sam said.

Motivate your partners. Mr. Sam knew that motivating employees took more than money and even property. He advocated setting ambitious goals, encouraging competition and keeping score. Make sure your team knows what is expected and how it works. Let them see your dedication to a job well done.

Communicate everything you can to your partners. Mr. Sam believed that “The more they know, the more they will understand. The more they understand, the more they will care. Once they care, there’s no stopping them. Make sure everyone understands how their performance will be evaluated. Explain how overall club and facility activity is judged by your managers and owners – and how they fit into the bigger picture.

Appreciate all that your associates do for the company. Showing appreciation for accomplishments is a demonstration of leadership values. “Nothing else can quite replace a few well-chosen, well-timed, heartfelt words of praise,” Mr Sam said, noting that they are “absolutely free – and worth a fortune”.

Celebrate success. Most hardworking people and organizations don’t take the time to celebrate the accomplishments, big and small, that make up a day. Mr Sam believed in having fun and showing enthusiasm, which he said was “more important than you think”. Remember that recognizing birthdays and work anniversaries reminds people that you care about them on a personal level.

Listen to everyone in your business. How often do you schedule listening sessions with your team? How about individual interviews? These are opportunities to uncover morale issues, suggestions for improving practices, and learning how team members are doing in their personal lives. Listening is a leader’s most valuable skill and, as Mr. Sam knew, it’s also the best way to get people talking.

Exceed your customers’ expectations. “Give them what they want – and a little more,” Mr. Sam said. Your customers and stakeholders have their own hopes and dreams. Make sure you know what they are, then do everything in your power to meet and exceed them.

Control your expenses better than your competitors. Mr. Sam knew that was where the real competitive advantage was. Labor and oil supplies are at record highs. Updating your peer network to find out what comparable clubs and courses are spending and what they consider to be priorities is also a smart tactic.

Swim against the current. Mr. Sam would not have become one of the most successful business leaders in the world if he had followed the crowd. Our teams must be encouraged to come up with new and unconventional ways of doing things. They get everyone thinking about what’s possible while empowering your teams to think in non-traditional and strategic ways.

Henri DeLozier is a partner of GGA Partners, trusted advisors and thought leaders. He is currently Chairman of the Board of Audubon International.