Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cutting Edge Sourcing And Partnering

I recently had the pleasure of spending a day in the New York offices of the Greg Norman Collection visiting with Mike Elliott (V. P. of Sales), Jim Annese (Sales Manager) and their talented staff. The acquisition of GNC by The Tharanco Group is being applauded on the inside as a partner who will greatly enhance Norman’s efforts to be the leading authentic golf lifestyle brand, combining performance, luxury and style and they already seem to be projecting a more international aesthetic.

Several aspects of the brand that I have admired over the years are its focus on green grass distribution and its diversity of price points not only in fashion collections but essential in-stock programs which, when used properly, can significantly improve inventory turn rates and margin. Mike, Jim and the entire back -end operation are professionals who realize that each customer has unique needs; they pride themselves on being flexible and accommodating to specific needs.

Mike Elliott is a long time friend and incredibly business savvy and so I asked him to give us some general incite about the current state of affairs in the industry and the future of GNC specifically. This is what he had to say:

We are currently operating in the most challenging business environment of the modern day. That means customers are gravitating to well known quality brands offering a high perceived value relative to what the consumer has available to spend. Accordingly, brands that offer a diversity of products and price-points to meet the diversity of the consumer are well positioned. Additionally, brands that offer the latest in fashion and technological advances capture the imagination and attention of the consumers desiring the latest and greatest. Greg Norman Collection is uniquely positioned to appeal to all.

While Greg Norman Collection does offer a range of products that retail from $45 to in excess of $100, the niche positioning of the brand is $69 and under. In fact, the average retail price for 2010 will decrease slightly from 2009 levels based upon the need to respond to price compression in the marketplace today.

As for the fashion and technological inspiration, Greg Norman Collection is a clear leader in both respects. Since the inception of the brand, Greg Norman Collection has been widely known for its fashion offering with the hottest selling styles of today being the Raglan Mesh Performance Polo and the Argyle Body Mapping Polo. With the advent of the Play Dry sub-brand beginning in 2000, Greg Norman Collection made a commitment to lead the golf industry in performance fabric innovation. That commitment to product innovation has led to the offerings of today including ML50, 2-Below, TCT and G-Tech among others. Within the performance area, customers are raving about the ML50 fabric that is also used in conjunction with the 2-Below and TCT offering. ML50 represents a micro-luxury 50 denier synthetic fabric that provides a soft, silky hand, easy care and moisture wicking at $69 and less. 2-Below and TCT (TEMPERATURE CONTROL TECNOLOGY) both incorporate technological advances that provide cooling and heating of the skin for additional comfort on extreme days. In 2010, ML50 will be enhanced becoming ML75 and thus an even more luxurious fabric. As for the fashion aspect of this fabric, Greg Norman Collection began a new "embossing" process in Fall 2009 that will be expanded in 2010.

To Mike’s point - in merchandising the shops that I work with for spring the product that has caused the most enthusiasm and sell-through has been the GNC ML-50 shirts.

No one on either side of the table would deny the statement that golf is relationship-selling. Productive relationships in business are based on empathy that results in concerned colleagues managing to walk the same path towards matching goals. Mike and company have done an impressive job of putting together a hard-working team that ‘gets it’ - that do care about their partner’s business and are willing to think outside of the box if it benefits the customer. Mike and Jim and the rest of their team are the go-to guys for corporate needs, tournament needs and good business advice. Give them a call – I do, their Site link is to the right.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Million Dollar Dollar

The May Newsletter from Pima-Direct headlines two retail strategies and suggests that you choose one for 2009. The ‘Ostrich Strategy’ shows a cartoon of an ostrich with his head in the sand and enumerates the keys to the strategy of doing nothing and the expected results. The ‘Get Promoted Strategy’ contrasts the ostrich cartoon with a picture of a shirt and tie merchant carrying a huge ten dollar bill under his arm.

There is a restaurant in Newark, Del. that sends out a newsletter, much like Pima-Direct’s and the newsletter most Country Clubs and many public facilities keep their members and regular customers appraised of promotions with, called ‘The Scoop’. The restaurant is called CafĂ© Gelato and the owners think outside the box. The Scoop’s idea for May was obviously to entice patrons to bring Mom in to dine for Mother’s Day. The hook was marketed as ‘Millionaire Mom ‘ and the offering was that all Moms dining there on Mother’s Day weekend received a Delaware Lotto Ticket.

Most Pro Shops assuming decent weather have customers coming through the door; the challenge is to provide quality and expertise, sales help, product knowledge and to create an atmosphere that inspires shopping that is value-driven and fun. The two newsletters led me to this entry which will suggest that Mark Killeen at Pima-Direct is completely on target that all the ostriches with their head in the sand in the golf business are losing the retail battle. I want to contrast that with a merchant carrying a huge check for a million dollars instead of a ten-spot.

Here is the Pro Shop Strategy:

  • Pick a day of the week that is appropriate not only for your business but also coincides with the local Lottery drawings. Call it Saturday for this example.
  • Decide on a number of Lotto tickets you will be comfortable purchasing and that will make a difference for the day you have chosen based on your history of total sales for that day.
  • For this hypothetical let’s say 100 so we have a $100 investment.
  • Send out email announcements, a newsletter entry and a huge promotional sign in the shop. On Sunday have your own second drawing. Most lotto tickets have 6 numbers so you draw 6 numbers also.

'Millionaire Saturday'
The first 100 purchases of $50 or more
receive a Lotto ticket

Save your ticket for our Sunday Drawing!

5 numbers matched and Saturday’ purchase is free
4 numbers matched and Saturday’s purchase is 80% off
3 numbers matched and Saturday’s purchase is 60% off
2 numbers matched and Saturday’s purchase is 40% off
1 number matched and Saturday’s purchase is 20% off

Father's Day is fast approaching - you could have Millionaire Dad. The idea here is that Ostriches won’t be trying this hard but your shop will have some fun and have people talking about the promotion. Your cost is $1 per sale and hopefully some winners; hopefully a millionaire (then the word of mouth goes through the roof) and worst case scenario a quick 100 sales on Saturday morning. In the case of bad weather maybe you win the Lotto.

Hats off to Eddie Suchora at Park Country Club in Buffalo who beat his April sales forecast by double digits. Eddie very successfully instituted the Custom Ball Program for his members this spring and ran a promotion all month giving a free hat with the purchase of a shirt.

John Marino at Old Chatham in Durham, NC puts a signup sheet at the register for each of the Major Tournaments. The cost to the member is $25. There are eleven names per pool. After the cut at each tournament the staff randomly chooses the top ten names on the leader board and plugs in against the member names 1-10 per pool. Number 11 is the field. The winner per pool wins $275 shop credit. John credits this idea to Bob Ford who apparently has a $50 version as well. This idea works For Triple Crown races also and this Saturday is the Preakness.

Get out of the sand - it takes an idea, occasionally a small investment and the time it takes to print a sign.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

LinkedIn - The Group

The readership of the blog has grown exponentially since the Orlando Show to the point where there are readers in 40 countries. While some of these readers arrive at the blog as a result of Google searches and the like most come to it because an existing reader has forwarded them the Blog address. In other words, the major growth has come about as a result of those in the industry who have an interest in improving their business have networked to their friends and peers who have similar interests that reading the blog may have some value. Two things have become true as a result of this growth:

· Sending out entry announcements becomes too burdensome in volume for normal email services and can be perceived as spam.
· Services that are in the business of email marketing become more expensive as the readership grows and people ask to be added to the announcement list, and even as that growth is desired the blog was not supposed to become an expense.

In an effort to facilitate the networking aspect and evolve the value of the blog to the next level I have set up ‘The Successful Pro Shop” Group on has over 39 million members in over 200 countries including executives from all the Fortune 500 companies. It is the business version of Facebook or Myspace and will allow members of the group easy access to other group members, the profiles of other group members and the profiles of other groups such as “Global Golf’ and the ‘USGA’ group. It is also a great place to post your resume and network job opportunities. It allows me to send a weekly announcement to members about what’s new on the blog with no expense or spam issue.

If you haven’t already received an email invitation to join this group please accept this entry as that invitation. If you are already a member forward this entry to anyone you think may have an interest in this type of networking. The link to LinkedIn is to the right under ‘Sites to Visit’ and will remain there. Leaders in the industry from all sides of the table have already joined and I hope you will take a look and realize the value the Group can provide.

There are some other projects in the works that will also kick the blog up a notch including:
· Videos of product presentation by some of the best in the business and virtual tours of some of the infamous Pro Shops
· E-Books on merchandising and the science of creating a buy plan
· More interviews with leaders from both sides of the table

There is a Discussion area for ‘The Successful Pro Shop’ Group where members can post and have others comment on what they would like to know more about from one another as well as from the blog. Stay tuned but better yet join the group to stay in touch not only with the blog but potentially all those in the industry who realize that the BIG PICTURE is to improve Golf retail collectively.