Friday, June 8, 2018

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 craigrkirchner@gmail.com.


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 craigrkirchner@gmail.co


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Hitting Balls




“Hitting Balls” is an important part of the game not discussed as often as rounds and scores. It is something that anyone who considers themselves a golfer finds time for, in some cases regularly, but at the least occasionally. Deliberate practice is key to improving your game; warming up before a round is for most imperative and many balls are hit by golfers just looking to relax. Whether this activity is to practice for an upcoming round or to attempt to groove your swing you probably have a local course where you play in addition to a local range where you practice and they are not necessarily the same facility. They are by choice however where you feel most comfortable with these activities. The point of this entry is that anything that makes “hitting balls” more satisfying and enjoyable is good for and important to the growth of the game.



Power Tee provides an automated, calibrated, practical mode of accessibility to the ball and a markedly favorable surface to hit it from in a system that makes practice more relaxing. There are many other features and benefits important enough to be presented in subsequent and separate entries, but the one making a big first impression on me was -  it is more fun than “hitting balls” without it. Everyone in the industry spends a lot of time and money studying, talking and writing about bringing new people to the game. My granddaughter is an incredibly smart, slim, athletic nine year old whose only exposure to golf was a few trips to TopGolf. She is interested in creating a good swing as long as it’s fun and she loves Power Tee.

I met Martin Wyeth, the CEO and Chief Engineer of Power Tee through a mutual friend, Greg Lecker and was assured by Greg this was the practice system of the future. I am excited to share some of my conversation with Martin about the origins and business plan for Power Tee.

Martin, tell us what Power Tee means to you and how you came to develop it.

Power Tee is a never-ending pursuit of engineering excellence. It was developed as a training aid that would allow the golfer to get to grips with their swing and to learn the game faster.  My favorite analogy is to think of yourself as a race car team manager on practice day; you send the car out and time 10 laps.  When you bring the car into the pit lane you would never change the driver, tires, engine settings, airfoils and suspension before your next run. If you did you would have no idea on why the car was faster or slower, leaving you in the dark as to what is working for or against you.  Golfers teeing up a new ball change stance, grip posture and alignment between shots, both inadvertently and through lack of ability/knowledge/discipline/distraction or routine.

One of the most rewarding side effects of Power Tee is the way it facilitates golf practice for disabled and elderly golfers, we have helped a number of golfers in their 90's to keep hitting balls, a host of veterans use our equipment as Power Tee is being taken up at more and more military golf facilities. Nothing is better than seeing how children react to the ball popping up and having a whack at it, often you have to pry them away from what now has become fun.

As you progress in the game of golf, and particularly when you start, you lose the feeling and setup between swings due to teeing the ball up, Power Tee is there remove the need for this distraction.  It is a remarkably powerful tool for helping golfers get into position.  As golfers improve, Power Tee allows them to focus on one part of their swing or setup and experiment with it.  It’s a lot of fun to stay in position and experiment with your right hand for example, open it and the ball goes left, close it and the ball goes right.  As you experiment you can feel how each change effects your swing and the ball flight.  For warming up you can start with a quarter swing until you find the perfect contact and then lengthen your swing steadily while focusing on plane and contact.  The drills and feedback available are only limited by your imagination.  Once you are focused and hitting the ball well, you can repeat perfectly and be 100% sure that the ball flight is a function of your swing, not a poor lie, dirty ball or a compensation for an uneven stance.

Power Tee offers a repeatable environment for practice (REP), this means that you learn with every swing, whatever the the ball does is a function of how you swung the club, not an environmental change that snuck into your practice session. We've all been hitting the ball well in practice on a poor grass tee line, gaining confidence swinging out and then from nowhere a weak fade comes out of what felt like a great swing, confidence drops a notch and you wonder what you did wrong. This never happens on Power Tee, good swing gets good result, poor ball flight means you need to fix something. Jim Furyk and Ben Hogan are/were famous for never practicing from a poor lie. Jack Nicklaus himself teed up every ball on the practice range when preparing for competition.



My first experience “hitting balls” on Power Tee was that it was much more than a good mat that fed the next ball and I want to explore all the features and benefits in future entries but what are the key plusses in your mind?

Power Tee does so much good, it is hard to list everything, probably the best attribute is its ability to engage children.  It’s the iPad generation, like it or not.  Putting kids on a chewed-up grass tee line is ridiculous.  They are not interested and are unlikely to hit any/many good shots, this gives rise to no fun and a real challenge to have the child bond with the game. With Power Tee, the ball is there at the right height.  If the club head goes over the top the kid leans forward, out of the toe the kid steps in and before you know it “whack” a fun and rewarding result, then guess what, the child can repeat the shot because they don’t have to fiddle around teeing up a new ball.  Now that is fun and as a result, kids actually want to hit balls on Power Tee.  Not rocket science just common sense.

The website makes the point the product is well placed and assimilated in the United Kingdom and you received an innovation award from the Queen - that had to be pretty special.

I cannot believe we did it, one of the Queens first jobs on coronation was to allow Winston Churchill permission to form a government of the UK, she has had an unrivaled view of the last 50 plus years and is a great person.  My wife and I were invited to Buckingham Palace and introduced personally to the Queen.  She was a gracious host and we met a good number of her extended family also.  It is a lifetime memory and I owe my invention Power Tee for it.



The system obviously improves the efficiency and appearance of any driving range but what are the other markets for Power Tee?

Power Tee is great wherever balls get hit, in most country clubs for example the turf gets so heavily used that it is rarely in good condition and in the afternoons members are hitting out of sandy dirt.  This is really bad for the golfer who tends to shift their weight left and pick the club up too steeply to try and trap the ball to get good contact, consequently the ranges tend to be chronically under utilized in the afternoons and early evenings when members would most like to come and hit some balls.  I don’t bother taking my children to the range in the afternoon as they are not interested.

The club that has an in-door training facility and prides itself on having the best teaching staff and the latest technology to enhance the teaching experience should have Power Tee.

Driving ranges typically see a 25-50% increase in ball revenue as well as an increase in patrons and more frequent visits from regulars. There is typically growth also in the interest of ladies, juniors, seniors and beginners to practice more often.

Jim Furyk, Jason Duffner, Mitchel Spearman and a host of other keen golfers have Power Tee units at home so they can set up and hit a few dozen balls efficiently every day to stay connected with their swing.  Having one at home improves front 9 scores for weekend players as they don’t lose the feel during the week and it only takes 10 minutes to hit 50 balls.


What are the selling points you would make to inspire interest and/or offset the expense of installing Power Tee to a club looking to provide the optimum teaching, practice and warm-up experience to its members and guests, but does not realize a direct revenue from its practice area?

A few decades ago clubs used to charge for balls. This revenue stream has become a service to members that enhances the experience of play and the image of the club. Power Tee is the next logical addition to that service, particularly for the key groups of ladies, seniors, juniors and disabled that most clubs have identified as important to their growth. It is somewhat ironic that pay and play golfers are getting Power Tee when high paying members of private clubs are not especially since everything about the ambience of the range experience is enhanced. The lesson is so much more about grooving the swing and less about the lie or bending over to tee up the ball. The efficiency of the 20 minute warm-up is incredibly increased and of course practice becomes more enjoyable.

Without detailing a proposal, which would vary as to facility, how would one contact you for presentation, negotiation, installation and maintenance information?

Call us at 877-769-3781 or email me: martin@powertee.com. We will detail the ins and outs of vending Power Tee and send you a proposal.



Power Tee is the best “hitting balls” experience I’ve ever had. This is particularly true when I contrast it to concrete veneered mats and divot chopped turf where you feel as though you are practicing hitting bad lies and will be fortunate to not ruin your clubs or sprain a wrist. As I referenced in the intro, the game, especially for anyone just beginning to get involved, needs to be fun if the interest is to be sustained. Power Tee is fun. To the avid golfer, who sees not practicing as sacrilegious and only an effectively grooved swing as acceptable, Power Tee provides the best environment to develop to that level.  Driving ranges should sell more balls and more often to a wider range of customers with Power Tee as their hitting system. Clubs that spend tens of thousands of dollars providing practice facilities with indoor bays and world class instructors should add a few more dollars to the budget and have this system as part of those amenities to provide an optimum experience.










Thursday, April 12, 2018

Another Look at Open to Buy and Count and Fill


I am often asked about “Open To Buy” both as a retail tool and as a software investment. Typically, during my presentation on “How to Create a Buy Plan” I’ll have someone make the comment that the thought process and homework that I’m suggesting that will determine operative inventory levels and needed turns is very logical but not needed because they have OTB. Buy plans and OTB do not determine the same aspects of retail procurement. Buy plans are defined by space and fixturing. They determine capacities and apply seasonality to turns - by definition, OTB is only meaningful based on a solid plan.  


THE OPEN TO BUY FORMULA:

Planned sales + Planned Markdowns + Planned End of Month Inventory – Planned Beginning of Month Inventory = Open to Buy at Retail

Prudent inventory control is obviously critical to ensuring that there is adequate stock on hand to produce the amount of sales that hopefully can be generated. The above formula can be used as a guideline as to how to replenish that number of units and/or dollars but does not pretend to establish what those levels should be.



Being over-inventoried in total units or dollars or owning the wrong type of inventory will determine markdowns and limit cash flow but is only realized by comparing it to what is healthy and then buying or not according to the formula, or more to the point common sense.

Being under bought will create missed sales opportunities but can only be properly avoided if the Planned part of the above formula is based on solid principles and an analysis and understanding of the shop’s sale history, space and fixturing.

My point is that most shops would certainly be better run using an OTB formula and plan as a guideline as to the coming month’s inventory needs but only once the proper Opening Inventory Level (OIL) is determined, realized and adjusted according to peaks and valleys during the course of the season. The magic push-button formula is the simplest of math that is probably best calculated by hand and then adjusted according to tournament schedules, special orders, off-price opportunities, fast-selling items, mark up variations and count-and-fill categories. Also most pro shops think through they’re buying as a seasonal activity based on number of turns as opposed to a monthly decision based on what usually manifests itself as partial needs.



Another concept that is tossed around in the industry but rarely understood and properly utilized is that of count-and-fill. The phrase immediately brings to mind the maintenance of the proverbial solid shirt program but redefining and instituting its new meaning across all pertinent categories can lower inventories and insure against loss of sales more effectively than open-to-buy reports.

There are many important categories where par levels can be set conservatively and count and filled often so as to reduce needless inventory but have full size runs of adequate selection when needed. Gloves, balls, shoes, socks, peds, rainwear, basic shorts and of course solid shirts are just a few of these categories with solid shirts worthy of an updated look.

A typical solid shirt program five years ago was three shelves in a wall unit with 8-9 skus or colors of a Fairway and Greene lisle or perhaps a Polo pique folded in stacks of six shirts each with one medium, two large, two x-large and one xx-large. The par level included back up if the business demanded. Par levels are best determined using the two-week rule. Keep on hand all sizes per sku in the number of pieces per size that may be sold in a two week period. Most shirt companies that have sold you on the idea of using their in-stock capabilities will fill in between 7-10 working days, which makes two week’s worth of inventory a good working plan. Someone of course needs to take ownership of the program, understand its significance and call the partner vendor with a fill-in once a week.



Five years later a few things have changed. Solid shirts are still of major importance and now include performance or polyester shirts as a category which are best displayed hung on a four way or perhaps shoulder-out by color on a bar in a wall. There are also actually fewer vendors willing to make the financial commitment to in-stock inventories of basic product.

Many facilities are using the solid shirt category as the key ingredient in an effort to build their own brand with private labeling and add significant margin to these sales. Full Turn Direct has developed an in-stock program of mercerized Supima cotton that includes basic feed stripes as well as solid shirts and has done away with any complicated rules about fill-ins. You can call in whatever you need, have it embroidered and shipped ASAP and be proud that your highest margin shirt in the shop is not being offered down the street since it is your label and it is made of the finest cotton on the planet.

Selling a rain-suit and immediately calling in an order for its replacement should be SOP. I go to clubs that own size-runs of 6 to 8 different gloves. I’ve never heard an argument for more than two that made any sense to me. Owning 40 pair of shorts at the end of June but being out of 36 and 38 is the same as being out of business – the open-to-buy report however may not provide for this fill-in.



Count-and-fill categories properly merchandised and maintaining all other areas of the shop as they need to be re-merchandised and reloaded is a function of open-to-buy that is not explained by the formula or its reports. All aspects of retail are relative to the shop, its space and personnel but I would not invest in OTB software unless my shop was grossing at least 1.5 million/year. I would however make every effort to understand the concept as the valuable guideline and tool that it is.


The principles involved in determining the Opening Inventory Level (OIL) mentioned above and the importance of creating par levels for the proper categories of goods so as to establish the correct planned inventories are developed in the “Merchandise Buy plan Guide”. The importance of basing these planned numbers on the principle of space and an understanding of a healthy turn is the reason I wrote this guide.