New Essex cricket committee chairman Ronnie Irani believes the club's performance levels have been too low for the last "four or five years".
Irani told BBC Essex: "We need to try to get into Division One of the County Championship. We've fallen short of that for quite a few years now.
"We have to change and we have to improve massively."
Essex were last in the top division in 2010, when they were relegated after winning just two matches.
Irani, who played for Essex between 1994 and 2007, has recently replaced Graham Saville, who held the post for 27 years, as committee chairman.
"Our performance levels haven't been as high as they should have been and a lot of the members would probably say that," added Irani, who won three Test and 31 one-day international caps for England.
"We need to keep working hard and improving in all areas.
"Top players who want to achieve and be successful aren't necessarily bothered about the type of beer in the members' bar. That's down to the members, but the players themselves want to win things.
"We know the Test grounds have always got a bigger wage structure and bigger budgets, but there are ways and means.
"There's an amazing heritage here, and we're not actually far behind when it comes to wage structure."