Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Formula and the Result

I am often asked to summarize what it is that I do, at times I get the feeling that it is just an effort to make sure that I’m doing something. Over the years and from time to time I’ve had a little trouble with this depending on who is asking and what I feel to be their motives. As one gets older (and hopefully wiser) the tendency is to care less about these motives and the answers to such questions do become easier to formulate in an objective manner. “I institute the formula” begs the question “what is the formula and I have been able to summarize that quite succinctly of late and without fear of being copied as the formula is universal but the institution of it is really not about the knowing so much as the doing, the implementation and execution are about going down the right paths with a stick-to-it attitude that involves total focus and experience.

The formula: Service Culture plus Proper Merchandise Mix plus Proper Inventory levels plus Impeccable and Creatively Displayed plus Intelligently and Respectfully Sold equals The Best Chance for Retail Success.

The result of adopting a plan to become as customer-centric as possible is that your facility will become more competitive, more profitable and will have a better chance of surviving these turbulent times. The result for businesses that do not operate with this philosophy at its core is that they are not going to retain the customer base they have.  Consider the results of the following study done by the American Society for Quality and the Quality and Productivity Center:

Why Companies lose Customers

Customer dies ……………… 1%
Customer moves away …….. 3%
Customer influenced by friends ... 5%
Customers lured away by competition … 9%
Customer dissatisfied with product … 14%
Customer turned away by the attitude
or indifference of the service provider … 68%

Satisfied customers tell 4 to 5 people of their positive experience and dissatisfied customers tell 9 to 12.[i]

Wowed customers, on the other hand, tell everyone they speak with their story for days and any time the subject of service at a golf facility comes up for the rest of their lives.

What makes these numbers frightening is that you typically don’t know that your business is leaving until it is too late. It is much more difficult to attract new customers than to retain existing ones.

Club members can join other clubs.
Daily fee players have many courses to choose from.
You can buy clubs, balls, hats and golf knits on the internet.
You can get a burger and a beer after the round down the street.

How many hair salons do you drive by to get your haircut?
How many dentists do you pass to get your teeth cleaned?
How many restaurants exist between home and where we’re going to eat tonight?

If profitability in the pro shop is not something that motivates you, think about your resume and the next job you interview for where there will be applicants from facilities with Wow reputations. If you are at the job you will retire from I applaud you and your security and suggest that you use the Wow factor resume point at your next staff meeting or in one-on-ones, particularly with assistant pros who aspire to be head pros.

In summary, we want the golf experience at our facility to be so outstanding that members/customers want to patronize the shop whenever possible and tell all the golfers they know how wonderful we are.  In order to accomplish the big picture specific actions taken will be:

  Create a mission statement for the staff that declares this intention. This is not necessarily the mission statement of the club or facility.

  Create an orientation program for new employees that focuses on customer service, the Wow factor and sales skills instead of the typical tour of the grounds and primer on running the register.

 Make every employee accountable to creating the culture that will accomplish this mission.

  Promote the associates that best exemplify the culture.

  When possible incentivize associates that best exemplify the culture.

  Hire only candidates who you are convinced will enhance the culture.

 Make every day’s priority to be better at serving the customer than we were yesterday. 

[i] Ford, L. et al, Exceptional Customer Service, Avon, MA, Adams Business, 2009.