Successful Pro Shop entrepreneurs are always looking for new ways to enhance the ambiance of their shop, their product selection and their level of customer service. This blog will serve to facilitate that process by providing entries that address basic retail principles; new ideas in pro shop retailing and interviews with leaders in the industry. Stop by often, send a friend. firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Haley is probably as
well known in the golf business as anyone and has over the course of his career
been involved in every aspect of the business. Bob was the head pro at Ocean
Pines and owned the Bay Club in Ocean City, Md. He started his 30 years of
apparel experience as a rep with Izod- LaCoste, was promoted to Eastern
Regional Manager and has been President of both Sport-Haley and the Nick Price
Collection. He is currently the owner of the Cabo Shirt Company. The company’s objective
is to bring the casual lifestyle of Cabo San Lucas to the green grass channel.
The product is reasonably priced and easy to merchandise but I thought since
Bob and I have been around so many corners together it would be fun to get
together and have him tell the story.
Bob what niche do you
see Cabo shirts filling in the market place and why did you choose Cabo as the
name of your shirt company?
As far as the name Cabo - 2 reasons. We use the outside of the coconut in our Cocona technology, so that brings tomind palm trees and the ocean along with the setting sun. This made me think of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - the lifestyle and beautiful colors.
The fabrication of these
shirts is worthy of a thorough description and brings many important features
and benefits to the product.
We are a true hybrid. We are 63% cotton and 37% poly Cocona. Anyone who enjoys the hand and drape of cotton and the easy care of polyester along with the Cocona technology has found the best of all worlds. The fabric is made in Peru from Pima cotton (63%) blended with Cocona ployester technology (37%). The shirt provides the ultimate wearing experience with the luxury and feel of the Pima cotton fast drying odor inhibiting properties of the Cocona yarn. It also provides UV protection of up to 50 SPF.
The line seems designed
to be bright and easy to buy, but tell us in your words what you envision as
the designer and how you see the product being merchandised.
You are right. It is a bright, vibrant colored line yet it is simple, conservative classic understated elegance. The line has been designed in such a way the buyer can merchandise our product by color story or by category. You can hang it on a four way or fold on a nesting table. Because the majority of the content of the shirts is cotton based, the shirts will not slide off the table like most polyester shirts.
Bob this seems like a
good spot to interject some testimonials. I’m sure you have some as I’ve heard
nothing but good from everyone I know that has worn one of your shirts.
“Cabo shirts provide our members with the feel and comfort of
cotton that they have known for years. The UV protection and breathability make
it a perfect shirt for south Florida in the hot, humid climate; a great
combination for the traditionalist who is looking for cutting edge performance
and comfort in their golf attire.”
Director of Golf
Jupiter Hills Club
“The Cabo Shirt Company’s polo is an excellent seller. Overall
it’s high quality, has a nice hand and the price is a great value. I’ve been
very pleased with the results of carrying Cabo polo shirts in the Golf Pro
“We have been very pleased carrying the Cabo apparel. The price
point, colors and unique Fabrications have made the Cabo apparel very
successful in our golf shop.”
PGA Head Golf Professional
- Columbia Country Club
“Great idea! The process of direct online ordering of Cabo
products for the golf shop is of great value in regards to saving time and
minimal interruption of the buyer’s daily priorities.”
- Maui Clothing Company
What do you see as your
key differentiator – your Blue Ocean Strategy for Cabo Shirt Company?
Craig, as you know, there are over 100 men's apparel companies trying to get into golf shops. What differentiates us is the following:
1. Exclusivity: We're not overexposed like some companies.
2. Direct Order Entry: Easy to do business with us.
3. Hybrid: Cocona Technolofy
4. Value: Low overhead - no duty from Peru means keystone or better pricing = great margins.
5. Small Company: No red tape - you get an answer right away.
6. Focused: We are not all things to all people like some of our competition; we focus on what we do best.
Bob we talked at length
about the way you want to bring this line to the golf shop buyer. Explain that
here if you will?
We want to be one of, if not the first apparel company, to bring direct order entry from the golf shop to our plant in Boulder, Colorado. Whether it's an original order or a reorder, it will save the buyer time and aggravation. The order form is on the website as well as pictures and full descriptions of all our apparel. We are offering a 10% discount to AGM buyers who order online. Our website is www.caboshirt.com.
Cabo shirts are a fresh and value driven way to provide your customer something new in "classic understated elegance." The line is everything Bob implies includes easy to buy, easy to merchandise and easy on the pocketbook. Any followers of the blog wanting to try the online ordering should send General Manager, Tom Herabstritt, an email or call for a password, discount, and wholesale pricing. Email: email@example.com Office: 720-652-9726 Ext. 111.
The Broadmoor, which opened in 1918, was the vision
of Spencer Penrose and has gained the reputation as one of the finest resorts
of all time. Mr. Penrose set the bar high on employee expectations, challenging
all resort staff to provide a level of service and hospitality that was not
known in the U.S. but had come to be expected at five star hotels in Europe.
Everyone from executives to bagboys received comprehensive training to enable
them to provide meticulous service as well as enhance employee loyalty.
This spirit of service excellence was quite evident
when I visited the resort on business in the late nineties and had the pleasure
of getting to know Russ Miller who joined the Broadmoor as Director of Golf in
1998. Russ oversees all golf-related activities including instructional
programs, staff training and retail operations. Over the years I have written
many articles about service and culture and have interviewed Phil Owen by of
Kinloch, Gene Mattare of Saucon Valley, Scott Nye of Merion and John Marino at
Old Chatham. Most all of these entries and interviews concentrated on club service and customized staff
training. In an effort to look at the bigger picture of dealing with the public
and in Broadmoor’s case the high-end resort guest there is no one better to
discuss golf staff training and the creation of a service culture with than
the visit I referred to years ago frankly blew me away. It has also made me one
of those word-of-mouth ambassadors in that I have told the story of that visit
hundreds of times. I’m still trying to figure out how the first employee to
help me get my luggage out of the trunk of the car knew my name but once he did
everyone I encountered the rest of my stay referred to me as Mr. Kirchner.
Obviously this is part of the modus operandi as well as the training. Outline
if you will the procedure that a new recruit goes through from the time they
agree to take the position.
We (as an overall hotel operation) believe the most important process when acquiring new employees is the training process which they go through before they actually begin work in their operations. It is unfair for the hotel guest and the employee to be placed in their work environment without proper training. This includes not only job specific training, but most importantly, training on five-star/five-diamond standards.
A newly hired employee will need to successfully complete the following prior to beginning their specific duties;
Two days of employee orientation class
Four to six hours of job specific training
(Using golf operations as an example), Completion of a check-list of 13 job specific duties, which must be witnessed by a supervisor and acknowledged that the employee has successfully completed the check-list at 100% accuracy. This includes training areas such as: how to properly wash a golf cart, how to properly clean a golf club, how to properly set up the range, knowledge of five star standards, etc. Another very important on-going training tool is a process we call "daily lineups". Prior to every shift change, a manager within the Golf Department will review all important aspects of the current day's business plus verbally review the hotel's service standards. This process takes place every single day and while it may seem redundant, when an employee hears "use name recognition" constantly, they will buy into that standard.
"It is unfair for the guest and employee to be placed in their work environment without proper training", and yet elsewhere the prevailing progression seems to be on the job training with a lot assumed about the new recruit's qualifications depending on their resume. Granted resorts are better equipped to provide extensive service training, but would you not make the same statement if you were at a club or daily fee operation and what do you tell club pros that ask you about this aspect of the business?
I really do believe that all avenues in the business, (private clubs, daily fee and resorts) can create a disservice for their employees, members and guests by depending primarily with "on the job training". An exercise that is very successful for us is "guest specific" situations that can be taught in a classroom or in the operation when it is closed prior to the employee working on the floor. Specific situations that do occur can be practiced and the employee can learn to say and do the "right" things which will correctly and positively assist the guest. On the contrary, if the employee faces these situations on the floor when they begin employment, they may not know what to say, or how to properly serve the member or guest in a way that enhances the guest's experience. The member or guest doesn't care if the employee is new or not, they simply expect great service and deserve it.
I was reading an article recently that mentioned the 10 foot/5 foot rule and it seemed to me the first time I heard it was at the Broadmoor. "A guest within ten feet of an employee should at the very least be acknowledged by the employee making eye contact and at five feet the staff should welcome the guest with a warm greeting." This is fundamental to me for any business that wants to become more customer-centric. I'm assuming part of your training is to add the guest's name to that warm greeting whenever possible.
In our opinion, there is nothing more important than acknowledging someone by their name. It makes them feel welcome, important and special. Even in the case where an employee is busy with another customer, they need to acknowledge the guest and let them know they are important. This can be done by simply saying "Good morning, Mr. Smith, I will be happy to assist you in just a moment." There are many ways to find out a guest's name, i.e. luggage tags, golf bad tags, travel bags, shaft labels on clubs, name badges, etc. Once you learn their name, it is important that you use their name at least 3 times during a conversation with them. And .......always end your conversation by thanking them and using their name.
There are two other areas that I wanted to discuss with you. One is follow. Do you have any type of standard guest follow-up in place and are your people empowered and/or trained to stay in touch somehow with the golf guest? Also, I wanted to know if you provide retail salesmanship training specifically accompanied with product knowledge seminars.
Every employee here at The Broadmoor is empowered and obligated to follow up on a guest's needs. We have a guest service training program called "Taking the Problem to Heart." Any time a guest approaches an employee with an issue or need, the employee will work with the guest using these five steps: 1) Hear what they have to say, 2) Empathize with them, 3) Apologize, 4) Respond to them and 5) Take action and follow up. Once again, every employee has the empowerment to follow these five steps and assist with the guest's needs.
We have found the best way to incorporate product knowledge training is to have the sales representative for the product line assist us with the training. Who knows the product better than the representative of the company? This training is typically done after store hours so there are no interruptions and is conducted with all Retail staff, Golf Professionals and any other staff who have contact with customers. Additionally, our staff wear key soft goods lines as uniforms that we offer in the Shops. There is no better way to promote and understand a product than to actually wear it.
The "daily line-ups" concept is new to me. I'm sure every facility has a handoff of information from one shift to the next but to reiterate the basic five-star tenets on a daily basis is, I'm sure, more reinforcing and inspiring than it is redundant. Are there any other service culture tips you could share with us?
The most important aspect of the daily line-ups is the constant reminder of five-star standards. We find that employees, (no matter how long they have been with the hotel) benefit from constant discussion of the standards. Eye contact, name usage, anticipating needs and follow-up are just a few of the standards that are reviewed daily.
Another culture that is very important to us is the ability for all employees to have "empowerment" to review standards with another employee when they see that other employee not doing the correct thing. An example would be where an employee passes by a guest without acknowledging the guest with a "Good Morning" or other type of greeting. If another employee witnesses this, they are empowered to speak to the employee and share with them that they should have greeted the guest and that we never pass a guest without an acknowledgement. Empowerment within the employee ranks accomplishes great things.
Russ, I have one more question I'd like to ask and I thank you for your time. I have heard you speak about the importance of hiring the right people. What do you look for specifically during the interview process?
We have a saying within our operation when interviewing potential employees, "You don't have to be smart, but you sure have to be nice!" Basically, we are saying attitude is everything when hiring staff. We have learned form experience that we can train and teach important traits of the job that need to be learned. However, we have also learned that we cannot alter "attitudes" in people and we cannot turn a non-personal or sour employee into one with a great attitude. I strongly believe that "Success is a Choice" and with the proper attitude and work ethic, anyone can be successful.
The Broadmoor experience as much as any I have encountered represents no only how special true hospitality can be but that it is trained, and that the training is particularly effective if quality staff member are the recipients. There is no more important differentiator than exemplary service. All else pales in comparison: if you haven't created a culture worth talking about you are missing incredible opportunities for free advertising. "You are only as good as your weakest link" is the cliche that comes to mind in driving home the importance of the training of service.
I'm sure Spenser Penrose would be proud of The Broadmoor, its reputation and Russ Miller. I am honored to know him and only wish I could get to Denver more often.