By Alex Doucette, Golf Operations Manager at Gleneagles GC, Ambleside Par 3, & Bowen Island GC
The winter season, gives any golf professional a lot of the time to think. One of the things I've been thinking about lately is why I love golf and how much I can't wait for the spring to be here again. Here are, in no particular order, the ten greatest things about golf:
By Myles Leong, Golf Operations Manager at Fraserview & Langara Golf Courses
In an ideal world, employee training happens before the busy season with the hopes that your team will hit the ground running. However, this isn’t always possible and sometimes we are flying by the seat of our pants when we are dealing with mid-season employee changes. Nevertheless, training new employees and the continued professional development for your returning employees is essential to the smooth operation of the everyday workplace.
While training should be done at the beginning of every season, on-going training for both new and returning employees helps strengthen skills, develop a clear understanding of performance expectations and workplace culture with the end result of becoming a stronger member of the team. Training is also a great way to get to know your employees and their capabilities.
Let’s look at some reasons why formal training – as opposed to learning ‘on the fly’ – is beneficial:
Consistency of service
In a busy golf operation where we can see upwards of 300 golfers per day, it is absolutely vital that everyone from your newest employee to your most seasoned vet be working on the same page. To ensure a high level of consistent and efficient customer service, all team members should learn the standard way to answer phone calls and greet your guests, right down to how to park the power carts in the morning. An understanding of your service standard should all be consistent to ensure the best guest experience. This consistency will also prevent any confusion that may occur without proper training and will ensure a black and white understanding of the policies and procedures.
Proper training will increase productivity. If your employees are fully trained, they will know what their duties and performance expectations are which will positively impact the quality and quantity of their performance. Proper training engenders a certain level of trust and therefore there will be less need for constant supervision; you can know that your employees are doing a great job even when you aren’t around. With this trust and independence comes ownership over the tasks which improves the level of service and overall morale of employees; team members will be motivated to work and their job satisfaction will be higher. Sometimes untrained employees lead to unhappy employees, which in turn, leads to unhappy customers.
An enormous benefit to properly training employees is ensuring safety and proper risk management. It’s essential to cover all aspects of safety including WHIMIS, how to operate the AED and manage theft prevention. This will theoretically decrease work-related injuries. In case of emergencies, all employees should know the proper protocol and procedure without assistance. Furthermore, risk management training will assist employees in understanding the rights and wrongs of workplace behaviour involving customers as well as other employees.
Giving and getting feedback
Training will involve some back and forth, questions, demonstrations and conversations with your team members. Attuning yourself to both visual and verbal cues will help identify the strengths and weaknesses of employees. When giving feedback, try giving ‘guided cues’ rather than telling the employee what they did wrong and what they should have done. Ask the employee what they think went wrong in the situation and what they should do the next time. This gives the employee an opportunity for self-reflection, critical thinking and problem solving in determining a solution on his or her own. And don’t forget the positives! Always acknowledge and thank your employees when doing a good job, and be specific! This will make your employees feel acknowledged and accomplished and they will want to strive to do more. This opens to door to grooming the cream of the crop for more advanced positions in your business.
Proper training – and on-going training – results in employees who will have a strong understanding of all aspects of your operation. From consistent customer service to increased productivity, from an understanding of policies and procedures to an awareness of potential safety hazards, the trained employee provides enormous value to your company.
By Vanessa Salomons: Director Of Retail, Monaghan Golf Group
...and an aid to the men that have to do it!
I have been a purchaser in the golf industry for many years and still to this day, Women’s Wear remains my favourite category. I can already hear the grumbles! In my years of consulting and working in pro shops I have heard many of the male persuasion complain that this is indeed their nemesis.
I am here to tell you that leaving it out of your buying plan is not an option, because:
Now, a word about sizing…
Let’s begin with the Extra Small ladies. I am talking about your sizes 0, 2 and 4. They do not have many options in the golf retail world. My advice is this - gather up your teeny tiny ladies and consider purchasing for this group, ensuring you contact them when their sizes arrive in the shop. This is imperative; it is a guaranteed sale! I challenge you to look at your purchases over the years and to ask yourself the last time you met the apparel needs of this demographic.
Next let’s talk about the Plus-sized women. In my experience, this demographic is much more vocal about their clothing choices than others. The above premise applies to this group as well, however, in this case you must consider their in-shop needs to feel comfortable trying on items before purchasing. Consider a Plus-size section of apparel; consider your fitting room size (they are notoriously small and uninviting at many facilities); and consider training your staff to help service this group in your shop.
Finally, let’s not forget our bread and butter – the Small, Medium and Large ladies. This remains your largest demographic and the largest percentage of buyers.
Ok, so you have more inventory and more work…
But here is some helpful advice:
You will be surprised how your sales grow with these simple steps. Also, remember that this little bit of customer service will impact sales in your other shop categories.
If you are considering wanting out of this whole Women’s wear buying thing - don’t give up - there is help out there!
Monaghan Golf Group extends congratulations to Salmon Arm Golf Club’s head pro Jesse Crowe, for winning the Dunc Sutherland Distinguished Service Award presented by DGL Sports Enterprises Ltd. Crowe received the honour earlier this month.
The Dunc Sutherland award goes to a PGA of BC member who demonstrates exceptional commitment to the association by supporting and promoting the association’s brand, events and initiatives.
Crowe was also the Interior Region’s nomination for this year’s Junior Golf Leader of the Year Award for his work with Salmon Arm’s junior program.
Well done, Jesse!
By Tom Monaghan, PGA of Canada, President, Monaghan Golf Group
A year to remember or a year to forget?
2017 has been a challenging year for most golf facilities in British Columbia. A combination of prolonged snow in the lower Mainland, an extended early spring with cold and wet weather province-wide and flooding in the Okanagan has caused 2017 to be one of the worst starts to the golf season we have seen in many decades. For us at Monaghan Golf Group we have experienced all of these extremes and it has put us well behind for the year. There are a few things you can do to get through these challenging times and help to minimize losses or at least start to feel more comfortable as you approach year-end.
Sometimes it takes adversity to see how strong you really are.
Its not all bad is it?
By James Presnail, PGA of Canada, Director of Operations, Monaghan Golf Group.
The Importance of "Sales Team Buy In"
When developing a product or service, business owners may become so focused on the end result (sales), that they neglect to consider the importance of staff buy-in. Customers want to be sold an experience, and it is your front-line staff who represent both you and your product. Employees that are not engaged will fail to convey the passion that you want associated with your brand, thus turning away potential customers. But how can you ensure that your staff is just as enthusiastic about your services as you are? It was during a recent staff meeting that I realized how important it is to stir up excitement about our product, and how compromise and teamwork could get us there.
Selling an Experience
While at a golf course, visitors are sold an experience that may include, but is not limited to:
1. Polite and friendly interactions with staff, both on the phone and in-person
2. Spotless power carts, stocked neatly with a score card and pencil – every time
3. A well-stocked pro shop, with knowledgeable staff and an assortment of quality merchandise
4. A successful junior program
5. Competitive pricing
Because this experience is what our visitors have come to expect, we rely on our staff to carry out this vision in each and every interaction. In order for our visitors’ experiences to be authentic ones, our staff must believe in what they are selling.
Becoming a Sales Team
Recently, I was toying with the idea of creating a more accessible and fun junior program at one of our facilities. I was getting excited by the idea – it was not a traditional junior program - and decided that even if I was the only person selling it, I was sure that I would get a great response.
When I presented the idea to my staff members, I was surprised to see that I was getting a few eye rolls from some of my employees. For a brief moment, I realized that this new, amazing program might actually be met with resistance. Would I have to force it into existence? Could I sell it on my own?
Quickly, I decided to change my approach. If my staff did not believe in this program, how on earth could I expect them to sell it to customers with the same passion that I had? These were my front-line salespeople who would be encouraging parents and members to sign up. In order to ensure that they were promoting this innovative new juniors program, I needed to get them on board as a collective. We needed to become a sales team.
Instead of pushing my idea through to these sceptical salespeople like a freight train, I took a step back and reconsidered. I made myself vulnerable and asked my team, “What are your thoughts?”
The group was quick to share. Eventually, our conversation allowed my idea to evolve into a slightly different one, but it grew into a program that everyone was on board with. While I made some compromises during our discussion, I knew that my staff felt a sense of ownership when it came to this new junior program. They had a hand in developing it, and in turn, had created a passion for it. Their promotion of this program would be authentic, as it was not only my program – it was ours.
In order for this type of staff buy-in and discussions to take place, a culture of collaboration and mutual respect must be established. Our staff has the freedom and encouragement to share their honest feedback on any program or idea at the facility. It is this environment that ignites ideas, promotes discussions, and leads to a staff that plays together as a team and believes in what they sell.
Stay tuned for James’ next post on creating the right culture and environment.
By Tom Monaghan, PGA of Canada, President, Monaghan Golf Group
Your Partners In Business
Every industry has a related trade association that lends assistance and benefits to individuals or organizations that pay to join their ranks and the golf industry is no different. Each department at a golf facility has a corresponding association that can add value to the individual managers and the facility as a whole. The question is, what are these associations and how can they enhance your golf operation?
We will focus on a few of the larger associations such as the Professional Golfers Association of Canada (PGA of Canada), the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA), the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association (CGSA) and the Canadian Society of Club Managers (CSCM). This list, however, is certainly not exhaustive; if there is a niche within your club there likely is a corresponding association. The aforementioned ones cover everything from agronomy and golf operations to food and beverage and everything in between.
Professional Golfers Association of Canada
National Golf Course Owners Association
Canadian Society of Club Managers
Canadian Golf Superintendents Association
Trade associations can be an integral part of successful golf operations by providing support and the necessary tools to help your personnel be their best and contribute positively to your facility.
By Vanessa Salomons: Director Of Retail, Monaghan Golf Group
7 Steps to more revenue
Tis the season to begin coming up with your Golf Shop Promotional Plan for the new year. So Lets get started… first of all What is a promo plan?
A promotional plan contains a detailed strategy for expanding your business. This plan is not just about your retail discount programs but also about your grand marketing scheme for your retail operation. This plan should include your annual event days, your pop up shops, your monthly features, sales, markdown calendars, product launches and your member/customer in shop incentives.
Build it and work it and they will shop…..
1.0 Figure out a budget
Make sure that you allocate a dollar amount to making your promotional plan work. The more you have the more lavishly you can plan your promos. (Things like giveaways, wine and cheese evenings and props for the shop can get expensive).
NOTE: You can still have a great promo plan with little to no dollar – you just have to get creative and utilize resources like our vendor relationships. (Everything can be negotiated)
2.0 Establish a timeline
Since most golf shops are not open the entire 12 months out of the year use a plan that works best for your situation. Try to have one promotion per month to keep your plan clean and attainable to deliver on.
3.0 Identify your target clients
Include a detailed description of your ideal client base in the plan. As you target your market, you must also determine your product price because you cannot effectively promote your product if your target clients cannot afford to buy it.
You must consider who will be purchasing the products that you are promoting. You cannot be everything to everyone.
4.0 Product Placement Mediums
Decide where you intend to place your product and your advertisements, and write a list of the mediums you plan to use.
Member e blasts, Social Media, website, print etc. are all examples of how to get your information out to your clientele. (If you are not using social media to promote you are truly missing out on the least expensive way to get the word out about what you are doing)
5.0 Set a Goal
You must set a revenue- or sales-based goal for your promotion based either on a dollar amount or on a percentage increase in revenue.
(how many units do you plan to sell, how much in revenue will this bring in)
Make sure your goal is attainable.
6.0 Involve Your Employees
Write a list of the specific responsibilities that each department or employee must undertake as part of the promotional plan.
Your team needs to understand what it is that you are doing from a promotional perspective.
A Great way to work the plan is to make specific staff responsible for different promotions. Set up a meeting in the offseason for key staff and get them to pick which promos they want to be responsible for promoting. You must provide the framework and do the follow up with them.
7.0 Work your plan and evaluate it every season.
Some promos will work well to carry on to the next year and some won’t. Numbers don’t lie so be sure you are tracking your successes.
Point number 7 needs to be reiterated. WORK YOUR PLAN. Far too many times we get busy and forget about these plans so keep it simple. Like anything else it’s the execution of a plan that will gain you the benefits. Over 80% of plans fail because of the lack of execution. Executing a plan done right is a disciplined process.
By: Andrew Hajer, Head Golf Professional, Mount Brenton Golf Course
Its a Balancing Act....
The balancing act of maximizing green fee revenue and managing member expectations is very tricky. On one hand, you need to ensure that your membership is happy and feel they have access to the golf course, and on the other hand you need to watch the bottom line and ensure you are maximizing revenues.
Most semi-private golf courses rely heavily on green fee revenue to both pay the bills and to keep their membership dues affordable to attract and retain a membership base. Here are a few ideas to put in place at your golf course:
Public Only Tee Times
If you have an active membership you might want to set aside some tee times throughout the day that only the public can book. One per hour works well, but put one at the end of the hour and one at the beginning. 9:54 and 10:02 for example. That way if you happen to get a booking for 8 people you can accommodate. If it looks like they are going to go unused, you can open them up to the membership the night before.
Allow green fee players that are travelling to your golf course to book in advance
Quite often, public or green fee players playing your golf course are from out of town. Allowing them to book well in advance of the general membership can significantly increase your green fee revenue. Travelling golfers like to know exactly where and when they are playing in order to make their travel arrangements. If they can’t confirm a tee time until 2 or 3 days out at your golf course it could be a real deterrent for them booking with you.
Monitor when your members like to play and promote the slower times
Memberships at most semi-private facilities have preferred times they like to play. If they like to play in the mornings through the week but it is slow around noon, you can promote a a pre-twilight rate or lunch and 18 hole special. If they like to play weekends you can offer a lower rate through the week. By offering specials during slower member play times, it promotes green fee players to play when the members don’t, thus keeping your members happy by having access to the tee times they want and the green fee players happy by getting a bargain.
The bottom line is that green fee revenue at semi-private facilities is extremely important to the bottom line and it also helps keep membership dues affordable. Hopefully these ideas help maximize your tee sheet.
By Tom Monaghan, PGA of Canada, President, Monaghan Golf Group
The Cornerstone of a Successful Business
For the last 3 years, Monaghan Golf Group has invested in a professional development program for our senior management staff. I call this program an investment because that is exactly what it is - an investment in our talent. Having well-developed employees is one of the cornerstones of a successful business.
Our professional development program emerged from many sessions with Mark Thompson of McKinley Solutions who made this process very easy and has proven to offer an invaluable service. Most recently, Mark worked with our staff for two days to develop our company’s mission, clarify our vision statement and identify our core values. It is upon this philosophy and values that we have formed our program. Making this process a staff-wide enterprise not only fosters a cohesive and team-focused mindset but lends employees experience in developing a mission and vision statement which they can take with them as a skill set to other career opportunities.
Through our work with McKinley Solutions we have used tools to measure the individual and group Life Styles Index (LSI) of our managers. These tools identify the underlying thoughts and motivations that guide each individual’s behaviour. This data has been a tremendous help in highlighting staff strengths and weaknesses in order for us to then build effective teams around our senior managers; it has also given us a starting point for individual coaching programs for senior managers. Investing in these tools have helped us hire and retain loyal and dedicated employees at every level.
Further professional development with our team has also included educating staff in effective communication during “crucial conversations”, an important quality in developing a first-rate leadership team. Dealing with challenging customers and diffusing workplace conflicts is a valuable tool for employees and employers alike.
Investing in a professional development program for any size company will reap benefits however a company does not have to spend thousands of dollars on a consultant. Researching topics of interest and meeting with key staff to discuss these topics is a great start. Some companies ask employees to read a specific business book and convene to discuss it and its value to the organization. Also, the PGA of Canada offers excellent professional development content (webinars, podcasts, etc.) to its members. No matter what form of professional development you choose, the key is to initiate something. Employees feel more connected to your company and will bring more value to your organization through the professional development they attain.