Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Outfit Table

In traveling around the country the last few years doing Sell-Through boot-camps, sectional presentations and educational seminars, one topic that always comes up and demands retail discussion and scrutiny is the ladies business. Are we devoting too much time, effort and inventory? Does everyone have the same low bar of “break-even and be happy”. The tone of these discussions is almost always negative.

I’ve also found in traveling to various clubs that quite often the amount of apparel inventory overage is usually disproportionately ladies to men’s no matter what the overall percentage of business per these two categories. Typically, both as a concept in conversation and in the reality of scrutinizing the inner workings and merchandising of many shops the questions manifest themselves around collection buying. It starts with “do we have room to devote to this kind of presentation” and almost always ends with “do women buy this way any-more?” Collection buying defined for this conversation as buying all the items in the collection or a goodly portion (12-15 skus).

 It occurred to me while I was working at a high volume club with a relatively small shop that ladies collections were not appropriate to the space available when sure enough the next customer (a very patronizing male member) came in to complain that he always had trouble finding his wife an outfit in the shop. So much for that line of thinking or MAYBE not. Outfit became the key word.

This particular shop was doing one-third of their apparel volume in ladies categories but had an over-inventoried situation that was 50% ladies goods. In an effort to minimize the amount of space and skus devoted to the collection mode of buying and merchandising while at the same time perhaps improving our critical member’s ability to buy for his wife we came up with the concept of the OUTFIT TABLE.

 This is a great way to showcase ancillary items (totes, pillows, jewelry, etc.) that complement the outfits and easy for the shopper who may be looking for the perfect gift. Rather than wandering around the store, he or she will find a table with a finish look from head to toe. This gives the consumer a few options with different colors and allows the buyer and staff to showcase their facility’s style.

Grace Schory – Golf Shop Buyer – Ponte Vedra Inn and Club

An Outfit Table displays multiple ladies’ bust forms -dressed with 4-5 piece outfits, surrounded by a size run inventory for each sku as well as shoes, headwear and accessories that coordinate well with the outfits and create a lifestyle presentation.  Outfits do not necessarily have to be from the same vendor but should look great together on the busts and be diverse in color. As the table sells through outfits should be replace by new outfits (perhaps a new vendor) and certainly a new color palette. 

In this case, the table chosen was already housing 12-15 skus. We placed the table in a location where the three full-size ladies’ bust forms on the table would not block any view across the shop. It is anticipated that there would be no back-up buy per outfit. Although the dilemma of “we’ll be out of it if you wait will certainly be true of some outfits from some vendors, it will certainly not be true of ALL outfits. The point is fill-in purchases for new outfits could be pre-booked, filled as needed either or a combination of both - this could be viewed as a 'count and fill' area - bought for as needed.

The Rule of Three

In creating displays, most visual merchandisers will often refer to the rule of three, which means that when creating a display, try to work in sets of three. This means that based on how you’re arranging your products, you’ll want to have three of them side by side, instead of just one. For example, if you were arranging things by height, you’d have items that were short, medium, and tall. 
The reason behind this thinking is that our eyes are most likely to keep moving and looking around when we’re looking at something asymmetrical, because when we see some symmetrical or balanced they stop dead in their track.

This also alludes to the "Pyramid Principle," where if you have one item at the top, and all other items “one step down”, it forces the eye to look at the focal point and then work it’s way down.          Humayan

The hope is to inspire more multiple piece purchases with this approach by showing more combos and colors in less space and create an area of interest that will encourage regulars to check out immediately what new outfit is being displayed in the shop. This could replace collection buying in the shop, but not necessarily, depending on the size and history at the facility. The main goal is to free up valueable space and to have less residual inventory at the end of a sell -through.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Wow Factor

Of all the concepts and buzz-words developed in my manual “The Winning Golf Culture” the one that has gotten the most feedback is “The Wow Factor”. I have had dozens of pros tell me that their staffs are buying into the idea that every day, every round and every customer are opportunities to create exceptional experiences and memorable moments that will have people talking about their facility and staff.

There is no question that the best prospect for a new member is a wowed guest and that customer loyalty is the by-product of proactive customer service. This is the chapter in the manual that directly speaks to this aspect of a winning culture but it is also one of the key underlying principles that runs through the entire manual.

The Wow Factor

There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.
-Roger Staubach

Simply defined, the Wow factor is the process of creating positive impressions consistently above the normal customer expectations. Wow service leaves the customer with such a favorable impression of the experience that they grab the first person they see and look them in the eyes and shout – “You need to play there, it is really special.”

I was in the Philadelphia airport recently and I was wearing a belt with a repeating Kinloch Golf Club logo. A man I had never seen before approached me, half-gestured at the belt and asked me if I was a member. I had to reacquaint myself a bit with my outfit and replied that I was not but had the pleasure of working with the staff particularly in regards to the shop. The fellow introduced himself and began his “Then you will appreciate what I am about to tell you” story.

"I was in Richmond recently on business I played there with a member and can’t wait to go back."

"It’s a great course isn’t it", I said.

"Yes, it is – but the whole experience was incredible. I drove to the course and when we first went in the shop the head pro introduced himself, shook our hands and asked me if I wanted my car detailed while we played. The staff at the front door had already valeted the car and had the keys, all I had to do was say yes and I did. When we finished for the day my car was waiting at the front door, bags loaded, staff thanking us for being there. It was a hot July day and two things that struck me when we got in the car was that the car hadn’t been this clean since I bought it and there were cold bottles of water in the console with a ‘Thank you for spending your day with us’ note. I drove the car about 50 feet in the driveway, re-parked and went into to the Pro Shop to thank someone for the thoughtfulness. I ended up buying $500 worth of shirts and shorts and the friends that I had played with did the same. The shop was great also by the way."

The point of this story is that you never know what will be the Wow Factor that will have people talking about your facility in airports, with people they don’t know. The devil is most definitely in the details and it is more often than not the small thing that ends up counting the most. You want the underlying philosophy of your culture to be that any visit that does not provide such a story and the desire to tell it to someone is a missed opportunity.

The Wow factor and the subsequent word of mouth are worth more than can be measured and other than well trained staff often doesn’t cost anything. In the case of the Philadelphia gentleman – it cost a bottle of water.

There are many aspects of impressing people that are unique to Golf and Pro Shop retail.
There is the layout, maintenance and design of the golf course. I’ve heard people come home from a weekend at the Greenbrier and talk for day’s about the ‘best ham sandwich I ever ate” or the “best tomato soup on the planet.” Of course one of the most obvious pluses or Wows as regards Pro shop sales is the notoriety of the facility’s logo and the inherent history that it represents. It would be nice if every facility had a reputation for any or all of the above or had a U.S. Open logo to retail but the ultimate success of any facility including Pinehurst or Pebble Beach in today’s competitive market place has to do with the hard work and planning it takes to create a culture geared to providing Wow experiences. No one talks about how wonderful it was to pay for all the goods and gifts they bought at Merion or Hagan Oaks when they were there as a guest but they may tell you how willing and informed the staff was that helped them.

In summary, we have a Leader who is not satisfied with basics and is committed to the Wow Factor philosophy of exceptional service throughout the customer’s experience at his facility. Executing this process successfully involves the following actions:

• Set the bar high during the hiring process.

• Continue to define the Wow factor both by example and in one-on-ones with staff members.

• Provide a forum for everyone involved in the process to introduce ideas for discussion of ways to enhance the customer’s experience.

• Discuss negative as well as positive incidents at these meetings, realizing that any and all customer problems are an opportunity to make a friend.

• Identify barriers that may exist and could potentially interfere with your customer service commitment.

• Challenge your staff to attempt to personalize every customer interaction with their own particular style.

• Communicate that it is not only key staff that understands this commitment.

• Involve local reps or vendor sales managers in educational staff meetings –having them provide product knowledge and their input and stories on salesmanship and service. They will become some of your best word of mouth.

Other specific actions:

Challenge yourself and your key associates to pick a member/regular per day who you will totally Wow with a personalized service.

Make a point of directing the Wow techniques that you and your staff have developed toward those members/customers who do not typically patronize the shop.

Communicate to all employees regularly that the Wow Factor will make their future and careers more meaningful both professionally and personally.

Set as a goal of the instituting of the Wow factor to turn the 80/20 rule into a 60/40 realization. To the extent that you are successful your retail should grow accordingly.

The Table of Contents of the 40 page manual shows best the other topics addressed:

Table of Contents

The Culture
The Leader
The WOW Factor
The Intimacy Factor
Salesmanship is Service
Shop Salesmanship
Follow Up
Hire to the Culture
The Result

The opportunity for the golf industry and more specifically golf retail to separate itself from the box store mentality of no-service has never been more poignant. Fine men’s clothing stores are fast going the way of full-service gas stations but a goodly number of their customers are members of the local club. Many of the shops at these clubs are a revamped product selection and tweaked salesmanship level away from being able to replace this part of their member’s lives and this is the reason I wrote “The Winning Golf Culture”.

The best way to introduce someone to my services is to let me spend a typical day. Since I work per-diem, this is an easy proposal. I can develop a buy plan in the morning, merchandise in the afternoon and have a staff service seminar early evening after the shop closes. Anyone interested in getting to know me and what I do can call me at 443-309-3005 or contact me at and we can discuss details.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

European Panache

Decayeux is a French metal processing mill north of Paris that has been providing major high-end fashion brands with luxury goods such as jewelry, leather and luggage accessories for over a century. They describe their mission as “High quality materials, precision tooling, best practices, perfection and execution are at the heart of our company.”

Decayeux Golf has made its mark at prestigious golf clubs and resorts in France and is now looking forward to bringing their prestigious line of metals and apparel to the United States. I have the pleasure of working with Stéphane Decayeux, Erwan Spohn and Pierre Lequeux to help tell their life-style story to our green grass community.

Click for Decayeux Video

We first need to talk about the decision to create Decayeux Golf and enter the green grass market.

Stéphane Decayeux represents the 5th generation of the industrial family Cie. The company was founded in 1911 in Picardy, in the north of France near Normandy, beginning with the manufacturing of alcohol cookers and umbrella mechanisms. Throughout European industrial history the French domestic company evolved into a European Group with a staff of more than 500 people manufacturing both industrial and luxury metal products.

It is Stéphane’s passion about golf shared with his son Benjamin which drove him to start this new venture. Having a long industrial background, strong product knowledge and close collaboration with the fashion industry led to the idea of creating this new luxurious brand.

A unique aspect of your vision for Decayeux Golf involves the concept of partnership which includes the sponsorship of tournaments culminating in the Decayeux Cup.  Could you discuss this very special program and how you see it being implemented in the U.S.?

When Decayeux Golf started three years ago in France, we decided to promote the brand by organizing a competition tour, the Decayeux Cup. To make it more attractive and chic to the participating clubs, severalmajor brands interested in the golf environment joined the venture, Champagne Henriot, La Colline cosmetics, Bücherer jewels…

Our tournament with these sponsors has become a great success with participation by all the top golf clubs in France and created a wonderful venue to promote golf and our brand awareness.We believe participation by the U. S. golf community in this tournament would be an exciting partnership and we would welcome U.S. sponsors to join the project. What a wonderful opportunity for a U. S. company to associate its name in sponsorship to a final day at Chateau de la Messardière palace resort of Saint Tropez.

                                                         Chateau de la Messardière


Sainte Maxime golf course

One arm of your product line includes metals and commemorative pieces that can be customized and personalized.Let’s point out the materials and the process involved in producing these exceptional pieces.

Luxury accessories worldwide is synonymous with classic brass. Our entire product line is made of solid brass, hand polished and plated in our facilities in France. We apply only precious material for the finishing such as 24 carat gold, palladium and ruthenium.As the manufacturer, it is possible for us to produce personalized and unique product. We offer our customers the option of branding their products with their own picture, name or text message and most of our product can be engraved to make them unique.

One of my favorite products is the scorecard commemorative. It is perfect the perfect small tasteful piece for the desk and the perfect prize for club tournament.

There are so many applications for this type of re-memberance: a hole in one card, my lowest score at the home club, my round with Dad, only round ever at Bandon Dunes, my round that won the member guest, etc. This is one of those pieces that exemplifies the elegance of the line.

The line also includes men’s and ladies’ golf apparel. These boutique collections have very distinctive features and benefits. Tell us about the apparel and how you see it as merchandising with the rest of the line.

Decayeux Paris is a lifestyle brand and thus it seemed appropriate to design and merchandise an apparel line.The idea is to introduce a bit of French touch within Golf courses and proshops by promoting and merchandizing our global look.

Many people reading this article are getting ready to attend the PGA Golf Show in Orlando and make decisions regarding something new and special for their member/guest and member/member favors and prizes. What do you see as possibilities with Decayeux product, particularly how some of your items could be personalized per participant and the time frame needed to fulfill such a request?

Attending the PGA show for the first time will give us the opportunity to present our unique products to the professional attendees. We are very confident in presenting our personalized product such as the brass engraved score card, the engraved tees collection and our belt line. Our whole line must be seen to be appreciated because product details and finishing is not something that can be seen in a catalog. We are convinced that prominent golf clubs and resorts in the states will soon welcome our product and be glad to partner with our brand.

Click for Video

Stéphane, Erwan, Pierre and I will be in Orlando in Booth 3416 and look forward to discussing the product and concepts that are introduced here.  This should be a booth you make a point to visit in Orlando as Decayeux has a one-of-a-kind product line, placement incentives and incredible European panache. The line absolutely needs to be seen in person to fully appreciate the quality and presentation appeal of the metals as well as the distinct customization of the apparel.

I will be happy to mail anyone a catalog and price list if interested in previewing before Orlando. Email me your name and address to  Also, email or call me at 443-309-3005 to make an appointmentfor a GoToMeeting or to meet with us in Orlando to discuss Decayeux Golf and the possibility of representation of your facility’s tournament winner at the Decayeux Cup in Saint-Tropez.