Friday, March 22, 2013

The Necessary Tool(s)

The entire golf industry is under enormous pressure to enhance its member/patron services while determining marketing strategies to grow the game. The future requires retaining existing customers and creating new ones and understanding the role that technology plays in this process. Without the efficiency that a well-integrated POS system brings to a facility these big picture marketing considerations become bogged down in the running of the ship. Technological shortcuts and logistic systems solutions will never replace the personal touch of exemplary service but can go a long way to providing the proper infrastructure and more importantly the time to grow the game and its revenues. I thought all this being the case it would be good to discuss some of these issues and the prevailing technology with a leader in the industry. Paul Gillard (Vice President of Sales and Marketing - Club Jonas Software) was good enough to take some time and discuss what is relevant from a systems point of view.

The problems in the industry seem to be focused of late on relevant marketing to promote the club/facility, its services and strategies specifically and the game in general. How does the POS management system help with this effort and what do you see in the relatively near future?

The four main goals of any club should be 1) increase member retention 2) increase the spending of members at the club 3) improve member loyalty and 4) attain new members.

Technology is just a tool which is needed to enhance or assist in strategies that the club can implement. Within our conversation today, when I talk about Point of Sale (POS) management, I am going to include not only the POS but inventory, Tee-Sheet Management and Membership as well. The first key to success is having one integrated system. The reason for this on the most basic level is that all applications talk to each other. When you enter information in one application, it flows out to the others (i.e. adding e-mail addresses). The more non-integrated systems you have in place, the less pertinent information you are getting and more manual entry the Golf Shop will have to do. The future in relation to POS and software within the club industry is the ability to glean the necessary information (data) out of the system, to become more effective.

I'm going to quote your web site and ask you to expand on a few of these concepts:

"From booking tee times to managing inventory, the integrated Pro Shop solutions provide all the tools your staff needs to efficiently serve your members and provide the level of salesmanship necessary to run any top-rated pro shop."

Our philosophy is to provide clubs with all of the applications needed to manage their business. The more integrated software touch-points a club has, the more the value it can provide to a club. Consider this - if information is captured every time a member interacts with club staff, just think how much more you would know about that member, and in turn, how much better their overall experience can be.

I mentioned in the opening that efficiency of systems is an important component of servicing today's customer and yet as I travel around I hear complaints quite often about functionality across departments.

I hear the same thing! Anecdotally, when I talk to clubs, the Jonas Club Management system can do 70-80% of what the client thinks the software can't do. The reality is that the individual whose job it is to use the software every day just doesn't know the functionality is in the system. One of the biggest failings I see in the industry is the lack of training or lack of knowledge of the systems that clubs have in place. One of the areas we have to continue to improve on as the innovators in the industry is doing a better job of communicating this information to our clients. You can't become a better golfer if you don't practice and the same is true of using software! In the end, software is just a tool the club can use to implement strategies and attain the goals we discussed earlier.

This is what i have come across also, most users of systems as diversified as the Jonas Club Management system only have a partial understanding of the use of the tool they have as you have just alluded to. How do you train your partners and this being the important issue that it is are there any new plans for education in the future?

In the past we have used what I will call a pull strategy in training our partners. What I mean by this is that we have a variety of ways to train or inform (annual user groups, monthly webinars, on site and remote training, knowledge base articles and documents on our website telling clients about the new enhancements) but in all cases it requires the user/club to go out and want to get trained or informed. We're working on changing this to a push strategy by "pushing" all of this information out to clients. Basically, in the past clients would have to look for this information and now we are creating strategies to keep them better informed as to what is available while making it more accessible.

Paul, give us an overview of Jonas Club Management's history and current place in the industry? I would like to think we could keep this conversation going periodically as technology and your ability to educate the user of these systems continues to grow.

Jonas Club Management has been in business for over 20 years providing software to the club industry! Currently we have over 70 applications that can be used by our clients. We have just over 2,300 clients using our software in more than 17 different countries with the vast majority of them being in the United States and Canada. The value proposition that we bring to the table is that we are the only fully integrated club management software in the industry.

Thank you Paul for your time and insight as well as your obvious empathy with your customers and the growth of the industry, perhaps we an use this venue to help with the educational push. My experience is that there are a lot of renovations going on at golf facilities in general that range from remodeling clubhouse and refixturing shops to redoing wesites and upgrading POS systems. It seems that any thoughts about the latter should involve at the very least a conversation with Paul and his staff. Click on the Jonas banner to the right to go to their website and/or to contact them.