Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Greeter

I was recently at an old club in the Northeast with a turn of the century clubhouse. I walked into the shop and was approached by a ghost. I say that in a very “matter of fact” way because that is how it happened. She welcomed me to the club, asked my name and introduced herself as Giddy. I only knew she was a ghost because she had the consistency of a young, cute and friendly hologram.

“Giddy, this is an amazing greeting to say the least. How come I’ve never heard about you?”

“Oh, I ask the folks I engage not to talk about me but to speak highly of their experience here, you can mention me in your blog if you like however.”

“How do you know I have a blog?”

“I do a little research before I approach someone. I’m connected in that regard.
Are you here to play – it certainly is a beautiful day for it?”

“Yes I’m waiting on three friends. I’m early for our tee time and probably going to hit some balls while I wait, but I thought I’d look at perhaps buying a new bag. Can you tell me anything about this bag (we happened to be standing next to a golf bag)?”

“No, unfortunately they don’t invite me to any product knowledge sessions. I don’t know if that is because they don’t have staff meetings or just don’t think to invite me. So I just greet. We do have quite a nice range – I’ve never seen it because I don’t leave the shop – but I’ve been told it is outstanding.”

“Well it has been a pleasure talking with you. I think every shop should have a Giddy.”

“That is so nice of you to say. It was my pleasure also and truly my privilege to greet you.”

It is a fundamental retail tenet that people are greeted as they enter your space and made to feel that their time spent here will be a warm and friendly experience. At an educational seminar I presented in October to the PGA of Alberta this subject was raised and the strategy to prod staff from behind the counter was discussed at length. The two main points I made were that the social component needs to be explained as an important part of the culture and therefore as a crucial area of the job description. This has to be mandated at point of hire, reviewed at subsequent evaluations and reinforced with both product knowledge and retail training with all Giddys invited. It is human nature to expound upon subjects with which we are knowledgeable and comfortable while avoiding those subjects where knowledge is lacking. It is incumbent upon leaders to understand and provide appropriate training.

The Staff at Southern Hills GC

 A case in point is Southern Hills where I spent two days recently with Cary Cozby and his staff. This visit was heartening because in two long days in the shop no member/guest came through the shop who was not welcomed and engaged usually by name and always in the friendliest and laid-back way. Even staff engaged in remerchandising at the time would break off their task if there was a customer to greet. Everyone in the industry believes they have good service. My experience is that is a very subjective phrase.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Three One-a-Days

A number of years ago I worked the Golf Show in Denver and attended a seminar given by Russ Miller, Director of Golf at the Broadmoor, entitled “Five Tips for Running a Successful Golf Operation.” The presentation was great and the reputation the Broadmoor has for service is well documented. I would suggest taking advantage of any opportunity you may have to listen to Russ speak. One of the main themes of this particular program was the importance of quality staff – hiring exceptional people and training them to provide exceptional service. He also stressed promoting the staff to be creative and challenging the staff to create ways to grow the business. These phrases have stuck with me over the years and I use them often as I’m doing here to preface what I want to nickname “Three One-A-Days”.

Vero Beach Country Club

 Here’s a story I often tell at service presentations:

A few Octobers ago, I received a phone call from the General Manager at Martin Honda Dealership in Newark, Delaware which is where I purchased my last car. It is, by the way, a very busy dealership with an incredible service department. Here was the message.

“Mr. Kirchner, this is Ron Applegate from Martin Honda. I’m calling to ask you to do me a favor.”

“Sure Ron, what can I do for you?”

“Please tell your wife that everyone here at Martin wishes her a happy birthday and thanks to both of you for your business. I notice you are on our maintenance schedule and I want to make sure you're happy with our service department.”

“Yes, they are great in fact.”

“Thanks again and anytime you need anything or just want to talk about cars call me – my personal number is 555-5555 and I’d love to hear from you. Thanks again.”

I hung up the phone thinking three things:
Why would I ever want to buy a car anywhere else?
Do the shops I work with make this type of call?
I’d better get my wife something for her birthday.

Prestonwood Country Club

At a golf shop consider the following two scenarios.

A club member at an east coast high-end club has a guest in from Chicago. He buys a Peter Millar shirt in the shop. The assistant at the counter introduces himself as Jeff, thanks him and asks him for a business card. A week later the young man sends our Chicagoan an email.

“We hoped you enjoyed your day with us last week and are happy with the Peter Millar shirt you purchased. If I can ever do anything for you including gift wrap and ship some similar logoed shirts to your friends please let me know. My number here at the shop is 555-5555.” 
All the best,

Hound's Ear Club

Mr. Chicago immediately forwards the email to the member who invited him to the club with a note praising Jeff. “The staff at your club are the best, no question about it.”  He then tells the story every time the subject of service at golf clubs comes up.

A customer buys a new driver, a rain jacket, two new shirts and a hat, spends $1000. It is two weeks later and no one has even thought about calling him to see if he’s hitting the ball further. There is no Jeff at this Shop.

The golf industry and your facility in particular should take heed. The successful, as we have been discussing, are those who are trying harder, much like “the more I practice the luckier I get.”

I don’t know if I have ever heard anyone in any shop make this type of personalized thank you and “anything I can do for you” call or email but it should be standard operating procedure and is almost guaranteed to create business. When the customer with the new driver is called with an inquiry as to his satisfaction and the comment is made to close the call “if there is anything I can ever do for you” the new-driver-guy is already thinking about what that could be.

“If there is ever anything I can do for you” implies that you know your business and the products associated with it. As I have mentioned many times in this space when referencing product knowledge and staff training, it is human nature to want to talk about something you are familiar with and to try to avert a conversation about things unfamiliar. Part of the following challenge program (‘Three One-A-Days”) is the acceptance of the philosophy that ‘Salesmanship is Service” and that every round is an opportunity to create word of mouth advertising because of “WOW” service.

By the end of the season each staff member should be well versed about all categories in inventory. They should have each wowed about 200 customers and had fun doing it and thank-you calls or emails can only enhance the culture you are creating as a differentiator.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Canoos on Sports Center

On May 18th I posted an interview with Matt Freedman and Josh Hannum the founders of Canoos and designers of the boat golf shoe. I entitled the entry "Traditional goes Casual" and made the point that this was an important trend that is being talked about in regards to all aspects of the game. The product has gotten a lot of traction over the summer months and is developing a following that is worthy of note.

What follows is an unsolicited testimonial by Field Yates - NFL reporter for ESPN and co-host of the Fantasy Focus Football podcast.

  Canoos - SportsCenter Causing a Debate! from Canoos on Vimeo.

Additional comments received:

"Shoes are very comfortable and surprisingly supportive for golf."

                            Chris Kenney – The Patterson Club

"Wore mine the other day… wow! They are amazing and sooooo comfy!"

                         Grace Schoory  - Ponte Vedra Inn and Club

"The shoes arrived and I finally had a chance to slip them on. They are fantastic! I was worried about the stability, but out of the box they see fairly stable."

Greg Glover - 3 Creek Ranch Golf Club

"What a great idea ...  a boat shoe for golf! These shoes are beyond comfortable and I wear them around the golf shop and teaching. You can bet these will be on my feet for some 'vacation' golf wearing shorts ...  with no socks!"

Michael Kernicki, PGA - Canterbury Golf Club

"Anytime you come across a product that is truly unique, has good quality and fits the demographic of your customer base it is exciting. At the private club level we are always looking for an item to generage new sales in our shop."

Brian Morrison - Olympia Fields Country Club

"Wore the Canoos shoes to play in. Very nice and surprisingly quite comfortable and supportive. Interesting product and certainly worth consideration for resale in my shop. I will b reaching out to them to set-up an account.

Shaun J. Bezilla - Harbor Point Golf Club

"Got the shoes and they are very cool. Definitely interested for next year. No sox and comfortable is a good start!"

Richard M. Stewart - Kalamazoo Country Club

"Thank you so much for asking the Canoos company to send those shoes over. They feel AMAZING!"

Erin Hinderliter, PGA - The Country Club at Castle Pines

"I wore my Canoos shoes in the golf shop after I got off the phone with you and one of our male members asked if I could get a pair of the shoes for him."

Ardie Cashman - Bearpath Golf and Country Club

These shoes are the perfect gift or tournament favor for the avid golfer in that they can be worn on a casual Friday at the office, go right to the range, hit balls, play nine and then look good at the nineteenth hole. is a cool site that features partnered clubs and is attracting a following of ambassadors. I have gone from ambassador to joining the team and would love to talk more about placing what should be considered as worthy of being the next new item in your shop. Feel free to contact me at or 443-309-3005.