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SPOTLIGHT ON Jeff David, President, Fitler Club

By Sharon Hirschowitz, Global Head of Media & Communications for The International Luxury Hotel Association
7 October 2020
4 min read
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Jeff David’s survival strategy has many layers, taking the austere measures necessary to thrive during a pandemic while also remaining mindful of their staff, community and brand DNA.

What has been your focus the last few months?
We have learned that in times when everything is uncertain, everything important becomes clear. March 15 we closed our doors and began a journey that has shown us how faith and leadership is essential towards business recovery.

Within 48 hours of closure, we created a food bank for terminated staff and absorbed 100% of their eligible healthcare during the worst 100 days of the pandemic. Taking care of our team and members reminds us of our original DNA, that we were founded as a progressive community that represents and includes the diverse people of Philadelphia.

Our next step was to create a post-COVID playbook Fitler Forward: Safe & Clean, to provide an essential resource to our team, based on scientific evidence and multi-industry local expert advice, that they could use to control our physical environment and ensure the highest levels of safety.

We are committed to being a beacon of hope for our community and continue with our efforts, repurposing our offices as learning pods for students, providing pop-up opportunities for struggling restaurants and reimagining our outdoor dining space so that it can provide enjoyment to both members and locals.

What is your recovery plan?
We had to realign our habits with a strong resolve of thriving after surviving and being warriors, not worriers, taking on depression-era values like frugality, flexibility and persistence.

We renegotiated our contracts with landlords and vendors to conserve cash and rescheduled banquet catering events to 2021, holding onto deposits and ensuring some base business for next year.

We reinvented our strategy over and over again, reconfiguring common areas to centralize around our common garden, creating risk-free, no deposit event packages and repurposing The Terrace as a private function space and also a group fitness studio. Staff also agreed to an on call contract to be flexible around unpredictable business levels due to city declarations.

We created “Fitler University” that obsessively trained our staff on safety and cleanliness protocols, accumulating almost 100 hours of leadership development and service skills.

How is the Filter Club ready for an uncertain future?
As a private lifestyle club we are able to offer the highest levels of service and safety to our members while controlling every aspect of our vast 135,000 sq ft campus. Increased creative programming, food and beverage quality and the enhancement of club amenities are all key differentiators from existing clubs. We will have extra resources for service training and organizational development as well as a robust sales strategy to reinvigorate our membership program.

We cannot ignore the social transformation in the wake of George Floyd’s tragic death and the Black Lives Matter movement and are invested in playing an integral role in that change, sponsoring and donating the equivalent of over $1.1 million dollars in 2019 to fight bigotry and defamation, supporting the arts, contributing to medical research, creating a foundation for our local underprivileged youth and assisting our neighbors with a safe space for Philadelphia Youth Basketball.

We have created a micro-wedding package for couples who can’t wait to tie the knot on a special day with a small group of friends and family. The Fitler has 10,000 sq ft. of flexible high-tech event space including The Garden, where nuptials can take place in a magical space under the stars. The package starts at $5k and includes a one-night stay in the Wedding Suite for the newlyweds, in addition to a complimentary membership from time of booking to the wedding date, granting access to The Field House, a world-class gym, The Dining Room, which is overseen by Culinary Advisory Chef Marc Vetri and more.

It’s been such a hit, we’ve sold seven in less than a month. I think the success has been that it is easy to understand, all inclusive and the perfect way to show one’s commitment to each other with a promise for a later event for extended friends and family. We have a vast campus, a balcony, a secret garden….