Friday, March 2, 2018

Feeling Special

About five years ago I visited Nordstrom in Towson, Maryland and was kicking tires in the men’s department when I was approached by Amanda. Amanda had let me start touching the sport coats in my size before she struck up a conversation. She did not ask me if she could help me but began by telling me some things about the Joseph Aboud clothing line which happened to be the designer of the blazer I was admiring. She introduced herself and helped me try the coat on – all the while continuing a conversation about me – ‘What did I do for a living?’, ‘Did I wear sport coats on the job?’, ‘Had I been to Nordstrom before?’ Amanda assumed I loved the blazer and laid some gabardine slacks next to it, a couple of shirts and ties that were killer. My ‘maybe’ sport coat now looked like a photo shoot. Obviously I made the purchase. There is a lot that is worthy of discussion about this comfortably handled experience and we will come back to them in future entries. What I want to address in this entry is the professional follow-up.

 Amanda made sure she was present when I returned to pick up the coat and slacks from the tailor. She asked me for my business card and asked if I would be interested in being informed of new Joseph Aboud arrivals or the occasional sales in the tailored clothing department. I said I would and we shook hands.

A few weeks later I received a ‘Thank You’ email that expressed in a very positive way an assurance that the outfits I purchased would work well for me as we had discussed but that if for any reason that was not the case to please let her know and she would do whatever she could to make it right.

A few months later I was informed [again via email] from Amanda that the new Aboud line had arrived, and there were also some pieces soon to be on sale. She offered to put some items on the side in my size if I was interested. She inquired as to when I thought I would be coming in so that she could be sure to be there to assist.

 Now I ask you!

Who do you think I will call the next time I need clothes?

Amanda is a retail professional – they are not born – they are trained. The niche aspect of Pro Shop Retailing lends itself to an easy intimacy with very regular customers and yet there are almost no Amandas.

Instead of the proven ‘good customer’ just being informed that the new Taylor Made drivers or Peter Millar shirts have arrived, it could also be suggested that his/her son on the golf team at the University of Michigan might also be interested in one and by the way, we know his shaft strength and size and his birthday is a week from Friday.

Having an incentivized Amanda on your staff could possibly double your business; it would most certainly make your shop the one in your area that people are talking about. Even if I move out of state I will still buy sport coats from Amanda. There is no substitute for feeling special and it holds true in every case.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Custom Ball Program

Any initiative that reduces inventory and increases sales needs to be seriously considered. The most impressive promotion I’ve worked with over the years that accomplishes this has been the Personalized Golf Ball Program. This exclusive program maintains an inventory of at least 3 dozen personalized golf balls in stock at all times for members and/or any regular clientele. The service obviously requires access to the member’s locker or a properly shelved closet somewhere near the shop. It also requires a certain amount of count-and-fill maintenance but the upside is incredible. 

• Implementing this custom program says the ‘right stuff’ about the personalized service you and your staff are more than willing to provide.

• Suggesting that customers can personalize their inventory with not only the choice of any Titleist ball type, e.g. with any number they prefer but also the club logo, their name, and/or their corporate logo, plants the seed for more corporate business in a soft-sell way.

• Members or customers on the program tend to purchase balls only from the program.

• Customers are billed upon order placement eliminating the cost of inventory.

• Members/regular-customers cannot wait to show off this service to guests and friends. Your staff accommodates by having two sleeves sitting on the counter at client’s tee time.

• Solidifies partnership with the ball vendors chosen. My experience has been that Titleist is an excellent partner and you won’t lose any sales or interest due to brand.

The clubs that have instituted this tend to have more balls on campus, most of which are paid for and less of a need for retail inventory.

Email blasts and staff “talk-it-up” are the easiest way to market this to your clientele. Word of mouth will soon assist as long as the program is properly maintained. By offering a 10% discount off regular retail pricing the program becomes a no-brainer and a win, win, win!

The service feature of this program is best illustrated by an experience I had an opportunity to be witness to: 

Dr. Smith checked in at his club for his tee time with two guests. The first assistant had put a sleeve of his custom balls on the counter and asked if he wanted any for his guests. While this was going on I heard one guest say to the other. "I'm a member at High-End club and no one has ever offered that to me."

Friday, February 2, 2018

"Merchandise Buy Plan" and "Winning Golf Culture" - E- Manuals

When I first made "The Winning Golf Culture" and "Merchandise Buy Plan Guide" available no one had heard of Kindle and e-books were just beginning to rival print. I priced them to include printing, covering and postage. I have received requests that I make them available now as e-manuals and email them upon purchase. This post are the original testimonials and there are new BUY NOW tabs to the right and new pricing.

The Winning Golf Culture

Since making the Merchandise Buy Plan Guide available in July of 2009 I have had a number of requests to offer a manual of service and sales advice for those clubs attempting to raise the bar regarding staff and facility culture as I do with my clients.

I have written a 40 page handbook entitled “The Winning Golf Culture” providing tools and inspiration and taking advantage of the unique relationships that are a fundamental of pro shop retail to help you and your staff move forward in today’s market to wow your customers. It offers techniques employed by professional salespeople from approaching customers to cultivating their future business. The mind set and methods discussed have impressed every shop owner or manager as well the CEO’s and sales managers of companies in the golf industry that I have advised over the years.

There is no question that service is the most important and least expensive differentiator in the golf industry today and that great service that creates 'word of mouth' business is the result of a passionately created culture. All business plans and staff considerations should have this culture as their primary consideration. This manual is a timely pro-shop and golf facility management tool as well as an invalueable read for anyone calling on these shops and wanting to help them with their business. Here's what some leaders in the industry had to say about the manual.

One of the great things about Mr. Kirchner's Service Manual is that Craig shares his successful formulas for success. He does not stand on circumstance, nor hide behind his paid consultancy services with some secret messages. Instead, his easy-to-read booklet reveals his wisdom regarding service, initiative and plain ‘good sense.’ Craig shares his powerful sense of observation with examples of how we all benefit from customer care. We think so highly of his writings that we have made his manual required reading for all our employees...his insights are as useful for vendors as they are for merchants.

Richard White
President, Atlantic League of Professional Baseball
Strategic Marketing Affiliates

Craig Kirchner’s ‘The Winning Golf Culture – A Service and Sales Manual’ is inspiring to any PGA Professional who desires to take his or her service operation to the ‘next level’. It is one of the best things I have read in 30+ years in the golf business. It will be ‘required reading’ for my staff, present and future. After reading it carefully, it simply makes you want to do a better job providing service to your members and customers. Not only does the manual motivate, but it is enjoyable to read also. From this point forward, my entire staff will look for opportunities to create ‘wow factors’ each day. In the golf business, staff complacency can sometimes set in. Craig. Thank you for the wake-up call.

Dean Hurst, PGA
Bayville Golf Club
Head Golf Professional

Quite simply, Craig Kirchner gets IT! “The Winning Golf Culture” is a road map to a successful Golf Retail Enterprise. Golf Shops in America today are poised to succeed unlike ever before because their members, guests and customers believe and value the Clubs/Shops own Brand. That Brand is the sum of many parts, quite possibly the most compelling being SERVICE. That SERVICE element is completely under the shop’s control….it is the shop’s choice to make it important. Golf facility owners, GM’s, Professionals and Shop Managers can accomplish great things only if they raise the bar of expectations of their shop operations, understand their unique opportunity to compete, and execute as the best retailers in the world do every day. Craig can absolutely help them along that path.

Mark Killeen
Managing Partner
Pima Direct

The Winning Golf Culture’ is required reading for anyone in the golf business or the service business period. After reading the manual I feel like I could run a marathon. Craig inspires you with his stories and first hand experiences to be better and better with each customer interaction. His experience and superior knowledge has enlightened our staff and has made us aware that everyone’s WOW factor may be different and that our attitude will influence the desired results and for that we thank him.

John H. Marino
Head Golf Professional
Old Chatham Golf Club

Another home run for Craig Kirchner! This service manual is the blueprint for creating a culture of connection with the customer. Apply these principles and you WILL be more successful. And work will be more fun too.

Buddy Sass
Head Golf Professional
Ocean City Golf Club

The Winning Golf Culture

A Service and Sales Manual
for the Successful Pro Shop

Craig R. Kirchner

I am confident that this manual will provide your facility an incredibly competitive edge and fresh new outlook and therefore be money well spent.
For group presentations call me at 4443-309-3005. I look forward to hearing from you if you have questions or comments at

Merchandise Buy Plan Guide

Since putting the blog together in December of 2008 I have had a number of requests to offer a guide to the methodology I use to create buy-plans for my clients. I have written a 40 page guide providing, step-by-step, the thought process to formulate a buying strategy which will make your shop well merchandised but not over-inventoried. This buy plan technique is one which has impressed every shop owner or manager I have explained it to over the years and in my mind is bullet-proof in its ability to establish key shop levels. Most shops will be preparing to pre-book spring goods in August so I believe reposting the testimonials for this manual to be timely.

“At Kinloch Golf Club we have been fortunate to have Craig Kirchner as our merchandising consultant for more than five (5) years. He has assisted in reducing our inventory levels while enhancing the overall gross margins and increasing revenue substantially. Our professional staff has benefitted from his genuine and knowledgeable expertise in buying, display, inventory control and sales techniques. Craig can be an asset to any golf merchandising operation with his extensive background and product knowledge. I would recommend this guide to anyone.”

Phil Owenby

General Manager
Kinloch Golf Club

“Craig Kirchner started working with me over 4 years ago. At that time I carried an average inventory of $145,000 to generate $400,000 in sales. Today my average inventory is $85,000 and we still generate close to $400,000 in sales. There is no more inventory sitting in the "back room" and I have been able to adapt more effectively to the changing economic conditions. There is no doubt that the principles contained in Craig's Book changed my business significantly for the better.”

Buddy Sass, PGA

Head Golf Professional
Ocean City Golf Club

"A positive mindset accompanied by knowledge, experience and common sense are a formula for success in any field. Craig possesses and utilizes all these traits effectively in his approach to merchandising."

Mike Elliott
VP of Sales 
Greg Norman Collection

"For the last five years Craig and his methodology have been very instrumental in assisting us with both our golf shop buy plan and the LPGA Championship merchandise tent. His methods work and we have been able to increase our profit margins with his plan.

Richard D. Rounsaville
General Manager/Director of Golf 
Bulle Rock

"Golf Shops today have unprecedented opportunity to be successful. Economic dynamics are driving consumer behavior to be more demanding than ever of a value experience. That experience includes the presentation of the right products, at the right time with the right service in an efficient atmosphere. There is far grater value to the consumer in shopping for golf products in a golf shop where he/she can find properly targeted products that are easy to buy while being assisted by a knowledgeable staff member, versus driving to a mall and navigating a maze of shops with relatively no service in hopes of finding the right product. The key to a Golf Shop's success here is executing on this concept. While some shops most certainly do, many need help and Craig Kirchner has a proven track record of building successful golf shop operations. Now is the time for this industry to collectively pull itself up by its bootstraps and execute. I have used Craig's counsel and I highly recommend every golf shop who is looking for improvement do the same."

Mark Killeen
Managing Partner 
Pima Direct

Merchandising Buy Plan  
A Simple How-To Guide

Craig R. Kirchner

The cost for this e-manual is now $29.95 which will be e-mailed upon payment. I decided it was more practical and easier to deliver now in PDF. You can easily purchase this on PayPal (“BUY NOW” button to the right).

I am confident that you will find this guide to be easy to implement and money well spent. I look forward to hearing from you if you have questions or comments at