Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Wow Factor

Of all the concepts and buzz-words developed in my manual “The Winning Golf Culture” the one that has gotten the most feedback is “The Wow Factor”. I have had dozens of pros tell me that their staffs are buying into the idea that every day, every round and every customer are opportunities to create exceptional experiences and memorable moments that will have people talking about their facility and staff.

There is no question that the best prospect for a new member is a wowed guest and that customer loyalty is the by-product of proactive customer service. This is the chapter in the manual that directly speaks to this aspect of a winning culture but it is also one of the key underlying principles that runs through the entire manual.

The Wow Factor

There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.
-Roger Staubach

Simply defined, the Wow factor is the process of creating positive impressions consistently above the normal customer expectations. Wow service leaves the customer with such a favorable impression of the experience that they grab the first person they see and look them in the eyes and shout – “You need to play there, it is really special.”

I was in the Philadelphia airport recently and I was wearing a belt with a repeating Kinloch Golf Club logo. A man I had never seen before approached me, half-gestured at the belt and asked me if I was a member. I had to reacquaint myself a bit with my outfit and replied that I was not but had the pleasure of working with the staff particularly in regards to the shop. The fellow introduced himself and began his “Then you will appreciate what I am about to tell you” story.

"I was in Richmond recently on business I played there with a member and can’t wait to go back."

"It’s a great course isn’t it", I said.

"Yes, it is – but the whole experience was incredible. I drove to the course and when we first went in the shop the head pro introduced himself, shook our hands and asked me if I wanted my car detailed while we played. The staff at the front door had already valeted the car and had the keys, all I had to do was say yes and I did. When we finished for the day my car was waiting at the front door, bags loaded, staff thanking us for being there. It was a hot July day and two things that struck me when we got in the car was that the car hadn’t been this clean since I bought it and there were cold bottles of water in the console with a ‘Thank you for spending your day with us’ note. I drove the car about 50 feet in the driveway, re-parked and went into to the Pro Shop to thank someone for the thoughtfulness. I ended up buying $500 worth of shirts and shorts and the friends that I had played with did the same. The shop was great also by the way."

The point of this story is that you never know what will be the Wow Factor that will have people talking about your facility in airports, with people they don’t know. The devil is most definitely in the details and it is more often than not the small thing that ends up counting the most. You want the underlying philosophy of your culture to be that any visit that does not provide such a story and the desire to tell it to someone is a missed opportunity.

The Wow factor and the subsequent word of mouth are worth more than can be measured and other than well trained staff often doesn’t cost anything. In the case of the Philadelphia gentleman – it cost a bottle of water.

There are many aspects of impressing people that are unique to Golf and Pro Shop retail.
There is the layout, maintenance and design of the golf course. I’ve heard people come home from a weekend at the Greenbrier and talk for day’s about the ‘best ham sandwich I ever ate” or the “best tomato soup on the planet.” Of course one of the most obvious pluses or Wows as regards Pro shop sales is the notoriety of the facility’s logo and the inherent history that it represents. It would be nice if every facility had a reputation for any or all of the above or had a U.S. Open logo to retail but the ultimate success of any facility including Pinehurst or Pebble Beach in today’s competitive market place has to do with the hard work and planning it takes to create a culture geared to providing Wow experiences. No one talks about how wonderful it was to pay for all the goods and gifts they bought at Merion or Hagan Oaks when they were there as a guest but they may tell you how willing and informed the staff was that helped them.

In summary, we have a Leader who is not satisfied with basics and is committed to the Wow Factor philosophy of exceptional service throughout the customer’s experience at his facility. Executing this process successfully involves the following actions:

• Set the bar high during the hiring process.

• Continue to define the Wow factor both by example and in one-on-ones with staff members.

• Provide a forum for everyone involved in the process to introduce ideas for discussion of ways to enhance the customer’s experience.

• Discuss negative as well as positive incidents at these meetings, realizing that any and all customer problems are an opportunity to make a friend.

• Identify barriers that may exist and could potentially interfere with your customer service commitment.

• Challenge your staff to attempt to personalize every customer interaction with their own particular style.

• Communicate that it is not only key staff that understands this commitment.

• Involve local reps or vendor sales managers in educational staff meetings –having them provide product knowledge and their input and stories on salesmanship and service. They will become some of your best word of mouth.

Other specific actions:

Challenge yourself and your key associates to pick a member/regular per day who you will totally Wow with a personalized service.

Make a point of directing the Wow techniques that you and your staff have developed toward those members/customers who do not typically patronize the shop.

Communicate to all employees regularly that the Wow Factor will make their future and careers more meaningful both professionally and personally.

Set as a goal of the instituting of the Wow factor to turn the 80/20 rule into a 60/40 realization. To the extent that you are successful your retail should grow accordingly.

The Table of Contents of the 40 page manual shows best the other topics addressed:

Table of Contents

The Culture
The Leader
The WOW Factor
The Intimacy Factor
Salesmanship is Service
Shop Salesmanship
Follow Up
Hire to the Culture
The Result

The opportunity for the golf industry and more specifically golf retail to separate itself from the box store mentality of no-service has never been more poignant. Fine men’s clothing stores are fast going the way of full-service gas stations but a goodly number of their customers are members of the local club. Many of the shops at these clubs are a revamped product selection and tweaked salesmanship level away from being able to replace this part of their member’s lives and this is the reason I wrote “The Winning Golf Culture”.

The best way to introduce someone to my services is to let me spend a typical day. Since I work per-diem, this is an easy proposal. I can develop a buy plan in the morning, merchandise in the afternoon and have a staff service seminar early evening after the shop closes. Anyone interested in getting to know me and what I do can call me at 443-309-3005 or contact me at and we can discuss details.