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
About the same time as the Y2K scare there were a number of
companies competing to own and IPO the online tee-time business - Greens.com,
etc. Part of the marketing strategy of
these efforts was to promise the shops they were partnering with free in-store
kiosks where members/customers could make tee times online and/or shop with
participating vendors in real-time inventories tied into POS systems, which
were also going to be provided. As it turned out most of the promises were
smoke and mirrors, most of those companies are gone and the only thing
remaining is the bad reputation of the term shop-kiosk.
Daniel Island Club
One of the first entries on this blog in 2009 entitled ‘The Climate
in Orlando’ references reducing inventories by cutting back the space you need to
merchandise with a sitting area. One of the asides mentioned in that discussion
was that this area could be a spot where shop staff could sit and go through
readily available catalogs of partnered vendors and make special order recommendations.
This entry will suggest taking
that concept one step further by adding a laptop to the area with a desktop of
icon links to all of the major vendors affiliated with the shop. Envision this
laptop sitting on a coffee table in front of a small sofa that used to be
functional only as a place to sit and try on golf shoes and where now customers
can basically point and click to the entire inventory of goods that you have
access to by virtue of the shop’s accounts. The backdrop for this desktop of
links could be the message that the shop is in the business of servicing the
members/regulars corporate and tournament needs. This is obviously an effort to
drive the special order and corporate business, but it also accomplishes some
things that are more subtle and perhaps, not quite so apparent.
Most customers today fall into
one of two categories: Customer A – the computer savvy, who like most of the
population, are increasing their online shopping exponentially every year; or
Customer B – the computer fearful who have trouble opening their email let
alone point and clicking to drill down to a leather jacket from Peter Millar.
Sand Hills Golf Club
The laptop kiosk being
suggested would intrigue Customer A to take the time to become increasingly
familiar with all the goods and services your shop can make available. More
interesting perhaps is the opportunity for your staff to teach Customer B how
easy it is to navigate the desktop and shop online; more of the ‘above and
beyond’ service to which we keep aspiring.
The process of creating this
desktop should involve asking the following questions:
the vendors you are researching have web sites that sell to the public? If they
do you may want to reconsider your account.
your mix of vendors include categories such as tailored clothing, lady’s
handbags, luggage, crystal, blue jeans and tennis shoes. This is the perfect
way to provide these categories with a minimum of - or no inventory?
the shop want to go after ad specialty categories such as pencils, name-tags, key
chains, tee shirts; who are these vendors and how do we open accounts with
have someone on staff that has the computer savvy to make this seamless and can
they be incentivized to take ownership of the project?
this concept work better in the locker room or the 19th hole?
is going to be the best way to introduce and market this concept to the
customer base or membership? Obvious are newsletter and email announcements,
but a special order contest among staff members could be fun also.
Make the screen saver a rolling slide show of pictures from the member guest or corporate outing. Also icons to vendor videos would provide in-depth product knowledge that could enhance sales. This will certainly
attract attention and promote conversation.
For many shops, whether at
private clubs or public facilities with a regular customer base, the special
order business can represent as much as 20-25% of the total revenue per year
and with a healthy hard-goods business, maybe more. Special orders other than
the result of a lesson and club-fitting are almost always the idea of the
customer. The kiosk will help inspire more of these ideas in-house. If you are
already doing this or something similar please leave a comment.
Here is a simple but powerful rule – always give people more than they expect to get.
- Nelson Boswell
The major difference between Golf Shop Retail and other retailing is what I refer to as the Intimacy factor. The finite number of frequently visiting members and or regulars who are there to play golf, expanded by their guests is an intimate customer base. This is obviously more pronounced at private club’s shops than it is at daily fee facilities but most daily fee courses built in the last decade market themselves as providing a “country club for a day” experience. The point is we are not talking about providing superior service to the general public so much as we are creating relationships with avid golfers who are regular visitors to our golf course and shop and who are often as not the more affluent people in the community. This factor is only limiting if misunderstood; it is actually an incredible leg up.
It is easier to acknowledge someone and strike up a conversation if you know their name, their occupation, the rest of their foursome and their handicap. It becomes even easier if you know their likes and dislikes, the clubs they play and the beer they drink. You can personalize this visit by knowing their birthday, their wife’s name and everyone feels special if you ask about their kids. Jack Mitchell who wrote “Hug Your Customer” talks about being able to name his top 250 customers and in many cases mention their dog by name when they enter his domain. Capturing, retaining and then learning to use this information to enhance your customer’s experience should not be considered above and beyond but rather standard operating procedure for your staff and a fundamental of the culture you are striving to create.
Consider the following experience:
“Mr. Smith, good to see you again. We have some lockers set up for your guests and the Titleist ball that you play are on sale. By the way, how is your boy Kevin doing at the University of Michigan? Is he still on the golf team? We just put out some of those Adidas shorts he likes so much. When your friends show up I’ll check them in and send them up to the range. I am really looking forward to meeting them.”
Now consider an alternative typical occurrence:
Mr. Smith walks in to the shop and has a tee time in ½ an hour with three friends who have never played this course which is Mr. Smith’s regular stomping ground. The assistant pro behind the counter asks Mr. Smith his name and tee-time even though he has played there twice a month for the last five years. “Is the rest of your group here yet? Please see to it they check in and that will be $100 each for the tee time. Report to the starter, show him your receipt and he’ll get you on the tee.”
These incidents could as easily take place at private as well as semi-private or daily-fee pro shops. Mr. Smith A is impressed, bought his son a pair of shorts, himself a dozen balls and is going to make sure to introduce his friends to the staff. He will probably tell anyone who will listen about the way they take care of you at his course of choice. Mr. Smith B is not impressed, as a matter of fact that evening he runs into Mr. Smith A and decides over drinks to change up his regular haunt.
Capturing and retaining information to be used as in the Mr. Smith sample above can be as simple as asking for a business card or jotting some notes and adding to a file but retaining customer information is much easier than it used to be when good retailers kept card files or hand written rolodex. Thirty seconds in the right computer screen and Mr. Smith is becoming a relationship instead of a greens fee.
Both Mr. Smiths made their tee times for themselves and their friends a week ahead of time. Your staff is looking forward to their arrival and impressing them and their guests with proactive service or they are missing an incredible opportunity. It should be standard operating procedure to prepare for arrivals with as much of a personal touch as is possible. If the understanding of the staff/customer interaction at your facility is that they take the money for the tee time and go back to whatever it is they were doing when they were interrupted ala Mr. Smith B then you (the Leader) are a poor captain of a rudderless ship.
The leader and staff that serviced Mr. Smith A realize that in order to continue to effectively Wow customers we need to capture, retain and learn to use pertinent information about pertinent regulars.
Possible specific actions:
Challenge each shop associate to create a customer profile of all the existing members/regulars that they have developed a relationship with. This can be done individually but more effective is electronically with Excel or specific software that the entire staff can access.
Discuss at all staff meetings creative ways to use these profiles.
Challenge each key staff member to develop at least one new relationship and profile per day. At clubs this may seem like a finite number that would be quickly exhausted but it isn’t when you consider guests of members.
The best prospect for a new member and loyal customer is an impressed guest.