Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Labyrinth

October 26th – 30th I had the pleasure of attending the PGA Professional of the Year Conference at Bandon Dunes. After a 30 year career which has provided me with the opportunity to travel to many of the high profile and big name clubs and resorts in the industry I feel like I just experienced the peak of that calling.  I would like to congratulate Ray Cutright, the recipient of this year’s award, and thank PGA Magazine for inviting me to the conference.

Almost any effort at recounting how spectacular Bandon Dunes is would be using redundant superlatives. The mission statement on the Bandon Dunes web page sums up my feelings about the whole experience – “Golf as it was meant to be.” This is true on every level – from the beauty of the links golf on the Pacific Ocean to the culture of warm, friendly, welcoming service that pervades the entire complex and comes through at every encounter with its employees.

It was apparent as I toured the facility’s retail that it would be only appropriate to interview an old friend, Beth Mozzachio, who is celebrating a year’s anniversary as the Director of Retail and is doing by all accounts an incredible job.

Beth, let me first congratulate you on the overall appearance of the shops I have visited and the staffs I have come in contact with. This is obviously a labor of love and you and your team’s passion quickly becomes clear.

Thank you.  We made visual merchandising a focus this year and we challenged the staff to create impactful displays.  We also introduced a mission statement which is to “Establish consistency in the achievement of an exceptional shopping experience for every guest.”  Finally, we spelled out our customer service standard which is to 1 )treat ever guest with respect 2) satisfy guests needs 3) build relationships 4) provide a comfortable store environment. 

You and I have talked for years about the importance of the staff’s retail skills and product knowledge: about engaging the customer as they enter their space. Tell us how you have managed to accomplish this here at Bandon - it is probably as good as I’ve experienced?

We utilize GAPACT which is something I learned when I worked for a major retailer….each letter stands for an action.  Greet the customer within one minute of entering the store, Approach them by walking out from behind the counter, Provide them with product knowledge, Add-on to the sale by suggesting additional items, Close the sale and Thank the customer.  If we strive to do this with each and every customer, we have achieved our mission. 

What do you use as the criteria for the lines you carry and the shops and space per shop you dedicate to those lines?

We look at a combination of things.  I am always looking at what our guests are wearing when they come here to visit.  We take into consideration the profit margin and rate of sale, but also what is the track record of the company as far as on time and complete deliveries.  Also, how is the service from the sales rep, does the company do a good job marketing to the end users, and finally, what is the data from the trade magazines and what can we learn from the statistics available about what is selling through at retail. 

How often do you have staff meetings and what is the basic format of these meetings?

We hold weekly meetings with the director of golf, director of instruction, head professionals and supervisors from each retail location to communicate what is happening resort wide.  We schedule product knowledge sessions as often as 2 to 4 times per month in peak season.  Typically the vendor will send a company representative and/or product designer and they are providing technical details of the items we sell.  We video these tech talks and then have them available for a staff member to view later.

Beth, the career that has led you to this point has prepared you in many ways for this endeavor and yet I’m sure that new challenges and learning experiences occur every day.  Tell us more about you, the uniqueness of the job and what the readers who run shops should look for in regards to retail help?

I grew up working for my dad in his golf shop doing everything from wrapping gifts at the holidays to striping range balls.  During college I worked in retail and then managed golf shops in both Pennsylvania and Florida until Zero Restriction offered me a chance to learn more about the manufacturing side of the business.  When I began at ZR, they were still producing garments stateside, so I learned what goes into product development and even participated in selecting fabrics, matching trims and critiquing prototypes.  After Summit Golf took over the brand, I was retained in a marketing role and learned even more about what resources are available from vendors that buyers and golf professionals don’t always know to ask for.  This includes imagery, signage, point of purchase displays, product knowledge training aids, fixtures, mannequins, hangers, etc. 

So as to explain the title of this entry and to explain more about the culture of Bandon Dunes please share with us the story of the Labyrinth and its meaning to you?

The culture here at Bandon Dunes is “Golf as it was meant to be” and you mention this in your opening remarks.  We want to develop long term relationships with our guests.  We have a large amount of repeat business and we want guests to feel comfortable while they are here and enjoy the surroundings.  In addition to the golf courses, we have a series of hiking trails that go around the property.  The Labyrinth is part of the trail system. 

The Labyrinth is a maze intended for walking meditation.  It is a replica of a maze on the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France and a memorial to Howard McKee, one of the founders of Bandon Dunes and friend of Mike Keiser. 

What it represents to me is a journey to my own center.  As I mentioned above, I grew up in this business but I didn’t necessarily see clearly as a youngster where or how I fit.  A labyrinth is an ancient symbol of wholeness that combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path.  I try to, as often as possible, walk the Labyrinth and I find myself thinking about where I’ve been and how we have so much to learn from those experiences if we allow ourselves to reflect on the past.

Everyone who has visited Bandon Dunes has expressed in their own way the journey and the experience, often poetically, as Beth speaking of the Labyrinth and the journey to the center.
I would just add to the praises of excellence, that this entire facility is more than worthy of, that a trip to Bandon Dunes to study golf culture as well as play some of the game’s  best courses should be “required reading” for anyone serious about a career in golf.  

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