Monday, March 21, 2016

Start the Season

Successful apparel buying for any retail space, including the typical golf pro shop, is about 80% science and 20% art. Everyone is an “artist” but very few “buyers” in golf fully understand the science.

The philosophy that makes the most sense for golf pro shop retailing and the areas that I work to improve both with the blog and hands-on with consulting visits can be summed up in a few key phrases. A well planned shop, in order to be successful, needs to be attractively merchandised across all appropriate categories of goods that make it full service without being over-inventoried and it needs to provide service that is “above and beyond”.

Ask yourself a few pertinent questions:

Does your buy plan accomplish your sales goals?

Do you have the proper mix of apparel to make margin?

Is your retail space properly fixtured for maximum volume

Do you often find yourself over-inventoried and priced at a ‘no-margin’ level in an effort to get back to a healthy inventory level?

Whether you are attempting to manage your pro shop yourself or with the help of a professional retail consultant or buyer, the best way to institute a plan to address the scientific area of the formula is the ‘buy to space’ approach. This is the thought process that is the subject of the power point presentation I make at the Retail Sell-Thru boot-camps put on by PGA Magazine and it is explained in detail using a hypothetical pro shop in the Merchandise Buy Plan Guide that I sell here on the blog.

 Understanding the clientele and their wants and needs and tailoring this unique mix to the existing fixtures, traffic patterns and peak selling periods is part of the challenge. Having orders arrive that are expressly designed to fit a specific space, that are planned out according to the right turn ratio and that allow for a variety throughout the year of vendor, color and seasonally appropriate goods is also fundamental.

Another part of the equation involves establishing partnerships with key vendors both in hard goods and apparel. Titleist, Foot-joy, Zero Restriction, Fairway and Greene, Greg Norman, Sport-Haley, Imperial, Bobby Jones and Donald Ross are vendors that have partnered well for me and are willing to help key accounts with staff apparel, shop fixtures, visual display and product-knowledge seminars. Regional Golf Shows are the venue to be on the lookout for new and ‘next best’, but key vendors should be having their representatives visit the club often and with a purpose.

Staff appearance is critical for many reasons, not the least of which is that they are the first impression the Club gets to make. A staff that does not come to work well-groomed and properly attired will never be perceived as truly professional. Perhaps the most important part of the job of a Head Professional and the staff they train is to provide a ‘cutting edge service’, attitude and atmosphere. This can only be accomplished when the bar is set high, expectations understood and the proper education provided. This is the subject of theWinning Golf Culture which is the other manual available on the blog.

 A knowledgeable staff of walking mannequins that enjoys conveying that knowledge to members and guests is imperative to having a profitable shop that members/regulars are proud to patronize. A pro-shop that provides this type of service is open until the last member leaves for the day, it is also usually one with turnover due to promotion.

I am often asked this time of year about the manuals available for sale here on the blog. I’m asked why I wrote them and will they help me with moving my facility’s brand forward. I’ve written them because green-grass retail is my passion and I relax when I write. I think they will move the cheese.

For the last eight years Craig and his methodology have been very instrumental in assisting us with both our golf shop buy plan and the LPGA Championship merchandise tent. His methods work and we have been able to increase our profit margins with his plan.

Richard D. Rounsaville 
General Manager/Director of Golf
Bulle Rock

The Winning Golf Culture’ is required reading for anyone in the golf business or the service business period. After reading the manual I feel like I could run a marathon. Craig inspires you with his stories and first hand experiences to be better and better with each customer interaction. His experience and superior knowledge has enlightened our staff and has made us aware that everyone’s WOW factor may be different and that our attitude will influence the desired results and for that we thank him.

John H. Marino
Head Golf Professional
Old Chatham Golf Club

 Every season should start with a well thought-thru merchandise buy plan and a service oriented mission statement. There should be a methodology to educate your staff and execute these plans. This will most certainly evolve as the season moves on and should be reviewed at its conclusion. The facility that has not implemented this mode of operation will only move the cheese by mistake

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