Monday, January 21, 2013

Craig’s Crossing – 2013

There was certainly some upheaval in the industry in 2012. Looking to the coming season Tom Nolan (new Chairman of the Board for Summit Brands) said, “I am excited about the 2013  season. In my new position with Summit, I get the sense that the market as well as this company is ready to explode. The market has been in a period of retraction, but I feel like the strong have survived and now will re-establish themselves as leaders across all spaces - companies, people, clubs, etc. Darwinism is a good thing sometimes, and historically the best economies and periods of growth for this country have come at times after a retraction. I’m bullish on the future for the golf industry as well as SummitGolf Brands.”

In 2009, I wrote that the year had been Darwinian and so appreciate Tom Nolan’s phrasing and outlook. This past year has been no less epic in proportion. Retail continues to evolve, in many respects very quickly, because of a much more value–driven and discerning consumer. Golf retailers in some cases have responded to this challenge, others became stagnant and suffered accordingly. 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.

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 2012, 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.

Is your staff comprised of likable assistants and clerks who will provide an incredibly pleasant atmosphere and experience for your customer ? 

Are they educated with the product knowledge they need to talk intelligently about all the products you are attempting to retail?

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.

Is your inventory level at peak season one that your sale history says will turn 3-4 times a year or better?

If the answer to the above question is no, have you devised a strategy to get it to that level?

Have you developed
a promotional schedule that will inspire sales?

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. These were the key topics discussed at the recent Merchandiser of the Year Conference at the Omni Champions Gate Resort which was an incredible event put on by PGA Magazine and I’m sure will be discussed often as the year progresses.

On the lighter side, for the Super Bowl -

Tom Nolan picks the 49ers.

Mike Elliott (EVP of Sales-Golf, Tharanco Lifestyles) is excited about golf for 2013 and the prospects for Greg Norman Collection and Dunning Golf. Mike thinks Joe Flacco is the real deal and picks the Ravens.

Bob Ford (Head Professional at Oakmont Country Club and Seminole Golf Club) says “I am as excited and optimistic about 2013 as I was 35 years ago when I was first starting in the business.” Bob likes San Francisco in the Super Bowl.

Roger Landry (former Vice President of Sales for Imperial Headwear) now Vice President and General Manager of Ouray Sportswear Golf wishes everyone a Happy New Year and invites everyone to Booth #4573 in Orlando. Roger’s Super Bowl pick is the San Francisco 49ers.

Rob Stein (co-founder and President of Donald Ross Sportswear) and my MVP winner in 2009 wants to thank his employees and customers for an outstanding 2012 and looks forward to a prosperous 2013 for everyone. Rob says he is going out on a limb and picking a Harbaugh to win the Super Bowl.

Sharon Sunoo (founder and President of Birdy and Grace) says this is the year to pump up your ladies’ business and B&G would like to help. Their Booth # is 5058 and Sharon is picking the Ravens.

Patrick Seither (Head Professional at Carmel Country Club) says that this is the year to let software help you with customer/member profiles and surveys. Patrick’s pick is the 49ers.

Scott Stone (recently promoted to National Sales Manager for AHEAD) says “We have given both the booth at the show (#4757) and our entire apparel line an incredible facelift for 2013 and I like the Ravens to give Ray Lewis the perfect end to his career.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has graciously provided their time, energy and ideas when called upon during the year for commentary to be included in my various entries. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the vendors and facilities who have called upon me to help them with their marketing. I am always available to provide a visit to your facility to customize a buy plan and determine proper inventory levels and turn, as well as provide a customer-service and retail training seminar for your entire staff. It has been a pleasure to be of assistance and I look forward to working with new clients in the coming year.  

I wish everyone a prosperous season and look forward to seeing you in Orlando.  I am picking the Ravens to win the Super Bowl!