Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Woven

In the couple of weeks past, I had occasion to sit in on breakout sessions at the MOY conference, vendor presentations and many meetings with clubs where the subject of the viability of woven shirts comes up as an appropriate category for Golf Shop retail. All the major vendors that cater to the green grass channel have now added the category and of course all golf customers whether they are members of high-end clubs or playing municipals on the weekend wear them most of the time. A fairly traditional button down polo is what is usually implied when the invitation says casual business attire.

That being the case what is being merchandised regardless of the venue could be considered an impulse item in that the customer thinks to himself “I can always use another one of these”, and yet an oft heard comment from golf retailers is “well we tried them and didn’t do well."

So the key to selling this category is obviously to buy the right product and then to choose the proper mode of merchandising for your clientele, for the particular time of year and for the traffic pattern in your space. 

Giving your customer an opportunity to buy good quality brand name oxford basics is a good starting point when thinking of building a display – but just like selling white and khaki hats the display needs color to get the customer’s attention. The stripes, ginghams, and glen plaids are the interest arsenal and then you should consider the “gotta” have it because I can’t describe it piece where the only thing that comes to the mind of the shopper is “I don’t have one of those."

Table displays with bust forms layered with lifestyle pieces; vests, shirts and ties put together in gift boxes with tissue, and small tasteful logos on the left cuff are all important considerations. If the club logo doesn’t reduce well to a size appropriate for dress shirts use just the name of the club embroidered in script or the club font.

Make all of this effort very visible – perhaps a round table in front of the counter and don’t give up on it if it doesn’t take off immediately – it is a category worth showing dedication to and developing, it is a staple that your member/customer should be thinking of your shop as a resource for. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Shoe Time of Year

Preparing for the new season involves identifying the categories that are most affected by new beginnings. Everything starts with the staff understanding the product and the importance of the category and wanting to discuss their knowledge with the customer.

In an effort to increase sales in the shoe category provide your members/customers with better service and information about one of the most important pieces of equipment in their repertoire. The most effective way to accomplish this is to invite the sales associate from your major shoe vendor to make a full blown line presentation and product-knowledge seminar to your entire professional staff. They can provide detailed information regarding the construction and fitting of shoes, offer tried and true selling suggestion, but most importantly they explain that golf shoes are the foundation of the golf swing and drive home the significance of them being as properly fit as are clubs.

Create eye catching displays in the golf shop to attract attention and conversation about golf shoes. This is particularly true now that the spike-less phenomenon is still riding a crest. Install shoe displays in the locker room and enlist your locker room manager to assist in marketing golf shoe sales. Make sure that he is invited to the seminar and well versed on the benefit of having the correct fit and construction for comfortable and effective performance. Provide a catalog in the locker room as well as on the floor of the shop.

Put up a list of the entire staff in random order. Every dozen pair of shoes sold the next associate on the list gets a free pair of his choice and goes to the bottom of the list. Most vendors will participate in such an effort and are happy to give the baker’s dozen piece at no charge, let the sales rep announce the contest of sorts at his seminar and pick names out of the hat to create the random list.

 Have a spring TRADE-IN offering a significant discount to anyone bringing in an old pair and don’t hesitate to invite your key customers to the presentation with your staff.

Having just attended a number of Christmas parties where the entire Foot Joy line was displayed on tables for the purpose of taking special orders makes this suggestion seem a bit late except that it’s a good idea any time of the year as long the proper audience can be created; member/member and member/guest tournaments for example.

The strategy I use to create the proper inventory of shoes to sell from is to determine last year's sales and think in terms of two turns. Within that number of units I try to provide one style of golf shoe in all available sizes in whatever the most appropriate style and price is for that facility, so that anyone walking in who has forgotten their shoes can be fit in a pair for today's round and then build the rest of the selection around that depending on the importance and relevance of spike-less, street casual, ladies, etc. If special orders are a big part of a club business I order a number of onesies to fill displays.

The most important part of the strategy involves the staff understanding the product and the importance of the category and wanting to engage the customer as they enter the shop and discuss the knowledge that they are now so confident with.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Labyrinth

October 26th – 30th I had the pleasure of attending the PGA Professional of the Year Conference at Bandon Dunes. After a 30 year career which has provided me with the opportunity to travel to many of the high profile and big name clubs and resorts in the industry I feel like I just experienced the peak of that calling.  I would like to congratulate Ray Cutright, the recipient of this year’s award, and thank PGA Magazine for inviting me to the conference.

Almost any effort at recounting how spectacular Bandon Dunes is would be using redundant superlatives. The mission statement on the Bandon Dunes web page sums up my feelings about the whole experience – “Golf as it was meant to be.” This is true on every level – from the beauty of the links golf on the Pacific Ocean to the culture of warm, friendly, welcoming service that pervades the entire complex and comes through at every encounter with its employees.

It was apparent as I toured the facility’s retail that it would be only appropriate to interview an old friend, Beth Mozzachio, who is celebrating a year’s anniversary as the Director of Retail and is doing by all accounts an incredible job.

Beth, let me first congratulate you on the overall appearance of the shops I have visited and the staffs I have come in contact with. This is obviously a labor of love and you and your team’s passion quickly becomes clear.

Thank you.  We made visual merchandising a focus this year and we challenged the staff to create impactful displays.  We also introduced a mission statement which is to “Establish consistency in the achievement of an exceptional shopping experience for every guest.”  Finally, we spelled out our customer service standard which is to 1 )treat ever guest with respect 2) satisfy guests needs 3) build relationships 4) provide a comfortable store environment. 

You and I have talked for years about the importance of the staff’s retail skills and product knowledge: about engaging the customer as they enter their space. Tell us how you have managed to accomplish this here at Bandon - it is probably as good as I’ve experienced?

We utilize GAPACT which is something I learned when I worked for a major retailer….each letter stands for an action.  Greet the customer within one minute of entering the store, Approach them by walking out from behind the counter, Provide them with product knowledge, Add-on to the sale by suggesting additional items, Close the sale and Thank the customer.  If we strive to do this with each and every customer, we have achieved our mission. 

What do you use as the criteria for the lines you carry and the shops and space per shop you dedicate to those lines?

We look at a combination of things.  I am always looking at what our guests are wearing when they come here to visit.  We take into consideration the profit margin and rate of sale, but also what is the track record of the company as far as on time and complete deliveries.  Also, how is the service from the sales rep, does the company do a good job marketing to the end users, and finally, what is the data from the trade magazines and what can we learn from the statistics available about what is selling through at retail. 

How often do you have staff meetings and what is the basic format of these meetings?

We hold weekly meetings with the director of golf, director of instruction, head professionals and supervisors from each retail location to communicate what is happening resort wide.  We schedule product knowledge sessions as often as 2 to 4 times per month in peak season.  Typically the vendor will send a company representative and/or product designer and they are providing technical details of the items we sell.  We video these tech talks and then have them available for a staff member to view later.

Beth, the career that has led you to this point has prepared you in many ways for this endeavor and yet I’m sure that new challenges and learning experiences occur every day.  Tell us more about you, the uniqueness of the job and what the readers who run shops should look for in regards to retail help?

I grew up working for my dad in his golf shop doing everything from wrapping gifts at the holidays to striping range balls.  During college I worked in retail and then managed golf shops in both Pennsylvania and Florida until Zero Restriction offered me a chance to learn more about the manufacturing side of the business.  When I began at ZR, they were still producing garments stateside, so I learned what goes into product development and even participated in selecting fabrics, matching trims and critiquing prototypes.  After Summit Golf took over the brand, I was retained in a marketing role and learned even more about what resources are available from vendors that buyers and golf professionals don’t always know to ask for.  This includes imagery, signage, point of purchase displays, product knowledge training aids, fixtures, mannequins, hangers, etc. 

So as to explain the title of this entry and to explain more about the culture of Bandon Dunes please share with us the story of the Labyrinth and its meaning to you?

The culture here at Bandon Dunes is “Golf as it was meant to be” and you mention this in your opening remarks.  We want to develop long term relationships with our guests.  We have a large amount of repeat business and we want guests to feel comfortable while they are here and enjoy the surroundings.  In addition to the golf courses, we have a series of hiking trails that go around the property.  The Labyrinth is part of the trail system. 

The Labyrinth is a maze intended for walking meditation.  It is a replica of a maze on the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France and a memorial to Howard McKee, one of the founders of Bandon Dunes and friend of Mike Keiser. 

What it represents to me is a journey to my own center.  As I mentioned above, I grew up in this business but I didn’t necessarily see clearly as a youngster where or how I fit.  A labyrinth is an ancient symbol of wholeness that combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path.  I try to, as often as possible, walk the Labyrinth and I find myself thinking about where I’ve been and how we have so much to learn from those experiences if we allow ourselves to reflect on the past.

Everyone who has visited Bandon Dunes has expressed in their own way the journey and the experience, often poetically, as Beth speaking of the Labyrinth and the journey to the center.
I would just add to the praises of excellence, that this entire facility is more than worthy of, that a trip to Bandon Dunes to study golf culture as well as play some of the game’s  best courses should be “required reading” for anyone serious about a career in golf.