Sunday, May 27, 2012

The A, B, C's of Service

No one argues with stressing the importance of "exemplary customer service", in fact everyone I speak with in the industry believes they have it at their facility. This aspect of the business has been described at this site as cultural, Salesmanship, mandatory to success and the great differentiator. It has been discussed with PGA professionals such as Phil Owenby, John Marino, Gene Mattare and Scott Nye. It is the subject of "The Winning Golf Culture" which I consider to be the best thing I have written about our industry and so it is pretty obvious that it is something I feel strongly about. It is however like so many other factors involved in the business of managing golf facilities not cookie-cutter.

Below are descriptions and evaluations of four different clubs, all providing a terrific product but clearly not in the same manner.

Club A has a low handicap, die-hard membership that enjoy the challenge and comraderie commiserate with their high-slope course. They like and respect the head pro and his staff but there is not necessarily much contact as the member can park and walk to the first tee. Tee times not being required is part of the exclusivity and attraction to this avid and affluent member. The staff is always available, friendly and professional but seem to be needed only on special occassions. The shop is well-merchandised and the logo is recognized and desirable, but visiting the shop often is not part of the day's round.

Club B also has a quality staff and shop as well as a well maintained golf course. There are a lot of national members and cottage accomodations. Tee times are quite often booked well in advance for business golf and members are proud of the attention paid to their guests. Staff interaction focuses on this aspect of the experience and it starts with inquiring early on as to special needs, guest names and affiliations. The head pro and key staff see to it that all guests are welcomed and thanked for spending the day. Great service is often described as anticipating needs. The head pro at this club will tell you this is not magic. The shop does considerably more than the national average in dollars per round.

Club C is more family oriented, has a competitive ladies group and a huge junior program. The head pro not only adheres to the 10 foot rule of acknowledgement but mandates that his staff is capable of doing this on a first name basis. Invitational guests names and club memberships are memorized and at the end of any event all guests have been introduced to the entire staff at some point. Birthday cards are sent daily by the staff as well as appropriate congratulations for graduations, etc. Tee times can be made on-line but most members prefer to call as they enjoy the banter with the staff.

Club D has a small local membership but the vast majority of its 30,000 rounds are destination clientel.
Outside staff greet the arriving players at the bag drop and courteously ask names and tee times. The focus of the greeting has recently been changed by new management to more of a welcoming and less of a listing of the rules. Once the group and carts are organized a member of the staff introduces himself by name and accompanies the group to the shop where they are introduced to an inside staff member by name who helps them settle up the day's rate and inquire as to the day's needs. The starter at the first tee shakes everyone's hand. Carts are equipped with range finders, the rules and suggestions per hole as well as the ability to take lunch orders. They display shop promos and offer a discount after the round for anyone opting in to recieve email notifications about booking and ecommerce specials; you can also email yourself your score. The bartender at the 19th hole is informed as groups finish their round and the names of the guests that will be entering his domain.

All of these facilities provide their brand of service and culture in an incredibly informal and friendly manner such that any golfer whether he or she be a frequenter of an A,B,C or D type of facility will speak highly  and often of their experience with any of the above descibed staffs. While the term "exemplary customer service" is nebulous and diverse there is no mistaking good from bad and I still believe it to be the great differentiator, instituted and nurtured by a true leader and followed through with by a quality staff that is always only as good as its weakest link.