Monday, December 21, 2009

Tough Questions for 2010

2009 was, in fact, “Darwinian”. Retail evolved, in many respects quickly, because of a much more value–driven and discerning consumer. Golf retailers, typically more insulated and slower to react, sat in some cases like deer in the headlights and were appropriately run over. Those still standing are in an incredible position to prosper as certain fundamentals have not changed.

1. Pro Shops have customers by virtue of the game that other retailers envy.
2. Pro Shops have a brand by virtue of the course they are associated with that is unique.
3. Pro Shops have only their own lack of vision limiting their potential.

The blog is a year old and has attempted with its 30 entries to touch on many different aspects of golf shop retailing from marketing to merchandising. An underlying theme has developed from which all other concepts seem to take meaning and that is that success starts and ends with superior service, everything else is in-between. The in-between is important and should be constantly molded toward perfection but people buy from people they have a reason to like. The cliché is as old as business and will be true for at least as long as there are Pro Shops.

This being the case and the barometer for next year being only temperately optimistic, let’s review 2009, answering some tough questions with an eye toward the New Year. I have hyperlinked some key phrases back to appropriate entries to give the questions added meaning.

1. Is your staff comprised of likable assistants and clerks who will provide an incredibly pleasant atmosphere and experience for your customer?
2. Are they educated with the product knowledge they need to talk intelligently about all the products you are attempting to retail?
3. Have they been inspired to provide that knowledge as a service and follow-up?
4. Have they been empowered to think outside the box, to WOW your customer?

These are the toughest questions, as they may involve some tedious answers, but staff cannot be expected to produce if they are not educated and inspired. Once the bar has been raised and the culture has become one conducive to retail growth it will become quite clear which players do not enhance the team.

Some of the more meaningful in-between questions that should be answered by way of review are the following.

1. Is your inventory level at season end one that your sale history says will turn 3-4 times a year or better?
2. If not, have you devised a strategy to get it to that level?
3. Have you developed a plan for 2010 that involves buying to space and projected turns?
4. Have you developed a promotional schedule that will inspire your customer base - that will WOW your customer?

These are the considerations that should preempt any plans in Orlando or any decision as to how to invest in inventory for the coming year.

The blog is one year old and I hope has been a useful tool in running your business by providing suggestions, ideas, and another point of view. I will be hanging out in front of the Peter Millar booth at 9:30 Thursday morning in Orlando. I look forward to meeting any regular readers whom I have not had the pleasure of shaking hands with and wishing everyone a Happy New Year.