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.
By: Andrew Johnson, Golf Operations Manager, Fraserview Golf Course
A True Legend
The Fraserview pro shop crew and I gathered for our annual year-end staff party on Sunday night. It was there that I learned of Arnold Palmer's passing. I remember how frail he looked during his tournament, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, earlier this year. So, while it wasn't a complete shock, it was certainly blindsiding.
Once I got home and settled following our party shenanigans, I immediately turned on the Golf Channel. The tributes and stories were heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. I've always felt quite aware of the legend of Arnold Palmer, but felt myself quickly gaining a whole new perspective and volume of that legend.
The Golf Channel's continuing tribute coverage has been phenomenal. Since I started watching around midnight and continually fell in and out of sleep on the couch all night and into the morning, the live coverage never broke for commercial. I kept watching until about 3:00pm and they still hadn't broken for a commercial. It was like watching 9/11 on CNN.
By the time I had finished watching all the stories and tributes for 12+ hours, the feeling that stood out more than any other was a regret that I never had the opportunity to meet the man. And I've never felt that regret so strongly about anyone else before. The golf industry is a great institution that I feel so privileged to be a part of. And I come away from today feeling the obligation to thank Arnold Palmer more than anyone else for that privilege. And how suitable it was that he passed on the Sunday of the last PGA tournament of the season. A storybook ending for the ultimate hero.
Thank you, Mr. Palmer.
By: Andrew Johnson, Golf Operations Manager, Fraserview Golf Course
With so many moving parts and so many people (staff and customers) moving them, it's incredibly easy for the elements of your golf operation to fall victim to a lack of attention to detail. As the manager, as hard as you might want to try, it's literally impossible for you to oversee and control every element of the operation at all times. But, what you can do is build a foundation for your staff to mold around.
Start with COMMUNICATION. Look at the operation through the eyes of your staff. A new program has just been announced in a newsletter sent to all of your golfers. It's not going to take long for the first person to call the golf shop to ask for more details. Is your staff ready to handle that phone call or are they going to know as little as the fly on the wall? How foolish is that staff member (and your entire operation) going to look when they don't know anything about something you're "selling" that you just sent out to the world? Think about everything that your staff could be asked about. Are they prepared with answers? Is the person working next to them going to be able to help them if they don't know the answer?
COMMUNICATION to your staff can happen in a variety of ways...
Email is a great tool for reaching everyone at once, but you don't want to go crazy here. It's very easy to want to just blast away with everything you want everyone to know all the time, but this will just drive everyone crazy and you run the risk of eventually being tuned out. Keep the emails to "essential knowledge" and keep them as brief and to the point as possible.
Leave a note. If something is being picked up or there's something the morning staff should know about the next day, let them know about it. Don't skimp on details. Let them know exactly what they need to know.
"<this is something you should know>, pass it on". If it's not quite worth an email or a note, tell whomever is in front of you at the time or whoever needs to know at that moment, and encourage them to let the others know. Word of mouth can be a beautiful thing.
If you look at the operation through the eyes of your staff, whether in general or with regards to a specific situation, it should be easy to anticipate the knowledge they need communicated to them to allow the operation to run smoothly. And they will appreciate your effort to communicate with them. One of the worst feelings in the world for someone in a customer service position is not knowing the answer to something they clearly should have the answer to. Don't put them in that position. Don't forget that you're not the operation on your own, you all are! Give them the knowledge they need to allow things to operate flawlessly, regardless of who is answering that phone call.
By: Cody White, Pro Shop Manager, Bowen Island Golf Club
Acknowledging the existence of the hand that feeds us….
I have been to too many places in my life, where upon entering the establishment something just doesn’t feel right. You know these places…. The ones where your existence is not acknowledged. there is no “hello” no “how are you today” just silence. I am sure that you have all experienced this and frankly the vibe just makes me want to turn around and walk back out the door.
Too many people who work in the service business are truly not thinking about the people they deal with on a daily basis. They are living in the humdrum monotony of collecting their pay check. A business with employees with this mentality will get by, but will never reach its maximum potential. A simple “hello” with a smile can go a long way to a customer. Greeting those who enter your business immediately sends a positive vibe of welcome, the more welcome an individual feels the more likely they will not only be to return but speak about your business to others in a positive manner. This may seem like a minor thing to bring up but the attitude and morale one carries throughout their shift goes a long way. There are a few things I take pride in when I’m at work, and that I like my staff to pride in as well.
“Good morning Bob, how are you this morning?” This simple line with the addition of a smile is worth more than any amount of money and could make someone’s day. When you deal with people every day in your business, it is your job is to ensure the customers are happy and walk away with the feeling they’ve had a positive experience. This is a daily goal of mine, and that of my team. In the end, it is all about the customer. Remember… without them we would have no job.
By Tom Monaghan, PGA of Canada, President, Monaghan Golf Group
The Changing Business of Golf
The golf industry has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. Private golf courses were predominant for the first 50-60 years of golf in North America. Golf professionals were the proprietors at the local golf course and sold their services and inventory to a membership who had few options in the marketplace. Golf Courses were run by a Board of Directors who’s members were typically local businessmen who came together for the singular purpose of having a place to pursue their passion - golf.
The business of golf has changed. Today public or daily-fee golf facilities outnumber private facilities and clubs have steadily taken back their golf shops, instead hiring salaried PGA professionals to oversee services. Gone are the days of excess and clubs being fast and loose with their purse strings; now it’s about a tight and transparent bottom line. Golf facility owners are seeking more creative and fiscally prudent ways of making their operations profitable while still providing an exceptional customer experience. And a growing industry trend is hiring a golf management firm to make this happen.
Why a management company? In a word: efficiency. Since the early 1990’s - when Troon Golf, the largest golf management company in the world was founded - more owners are relying upon the expertise of arm’s-length companies to help make their properties more profitable. There are a number of reasons owners might consider this option.
Golf management companies are very specialized. Unlike hospitality management groups, their sole focus is on the operation of golf facilities. Typically, the teams are composed of PGA golf professionals, professional golf retailers, industry-savvy financial and human resource professionals, and food and beverage teams with experience in the golf business. And as golf differs from the hotel and restaurant industry, having a group of experts familiar with the nuances of the business will prove beneficial to both the company’s bottom line and their customer experience.
2. Economies of scale
A third-party golf management company with contracts at a number of facilities can provide owners with buying power. Whether it is getting a more attractive price from vendors and wholesalers for retail offerings, bulk-buying insurance, using a single accounting or human resource company for consistency or getting the best price on a fleet of power carts, a management company has the clout to work these economies of scale in the favor of the owner. Who gets the better price on a fleet of carts, a single owner who wants to buy 20 carts or a company who is looking to procure 150 carts?
Behind the facility’s General Manager (GM) and his/her onsite staff, a management company provides a dedicated network of professionals working to provide support to the team. If issues arise at a facility that the onsite team cannot resolve, the management company’s larger web of golf-specific resources are there to help. With a broader array of experienced employees from which to draw upon, most issues can be effectively resolved.
4. Less headaches
Owners who seek to mitigate stress and anxiety about the intricacies of daily operations are increasingly turning to management companies. Typically, a third party management company will meet monthly with owners to review financial statements, problem-solve anticipated issues, and celebrate successes. The company may also work with the owners to provide a strategic plan and/or capital improvement plans so the club is able to grow in tandem with future industry changes.
The golf business has had its ups and downs. With a future of changing player demographics, emerging environmental challenges and new technologies, owners benefit from the help of third party golf management companies and will find new ways to make their facilities more profitable and keep their customers returning. The future looks bright!
By James Presnail, PGA of Canada, Director of Operations, Monaghan Golf Group.
Businesses are born from an idea. An inspired person – or team – will take that thought and grow it into a profitable and smoothly running system. However, with growth comes responsibilities, and an evolution of vision. Effective managers must know when to give up control and allow their staff autonomy in the workplace without the fear of being hyper-managed or nitpicked. Delegation is the key to a successful business model that allows a manager the time to cultivate his or her vision and not get caught up in the nitty-gritty of every day operations.
Typically, businesses are made up of three parts: managers, employees, and customers. In a perfect world, this division of labour is a simple one. Managers live and breathe the companies’ vision, and they will develop a plan to execute it. They then utilize his/her employees to implement this plan, typically by providing a service or making a product to sell to their customers while earning a profit.
In this top-down model, managers usually design the pathway to the end goal and instruct their employees to follow it. It’s not surprising that the manager may be the most capable of executing this vision, as he/she was its creator. A popular saying is, “If you want something done well, do it yourself” and many choose to live by this mantra. However, this perception of management is a sure-fire way to stunt the growth of a business.
While managers may be the best facilitators of their plans, this all-consumed perspective will leave them without the necessary time or energy to develop new ideas to further the business. In order for a vision to evolve and grow with a changing marketplace, managers must keep planning, orchestrating and overcoming obstacles. After all, a manager only has two hands; it takes many hands to run a business smoothly.
This blog post came to me after an experience I recently had with my wife. Delegation ended up lightening my “manager’s” load, and in turn, greatly increased productivity in our household.
During an afternoon, there was a to-do list of three things that had to be accomplished in the span of an hour. The trouble was, each one of these tasks took about an hour to complete, and my wife was the one typically in charge of all three of these tasks: laundry, grocery shopping, and making corn tortillas.
One of these tasks was beyond my skillset, while the others - if you can believe it – were ones that I had tackled before. I may not have had the same panache as my wife when it came to getting these items completed, but I could muddle through.
So my wife did something that not only inspired me to write this post, but also left me feeling quite proud of her.
She assigned me to the tasks of laundry and making tortillas while she went and did groceries. This was delegation in action. This was the start of a successful business! We had a vision, and the leader laid out the plan. She even left me clear directions on how to make the shells.
And sure enough, after an hour, there we were:
1. The laundry was done. Clothes remained the same colour and size and were clean.
2. The tortillas were done. They weren’t beautiful, but they were edible
3. The grocery shopping was done. My wife did it so, of course, it was done perfectly.
More hands get more done: this is a fact. Yes, the towels might have gotten washed in warm water instead of hot, and yes, perhaps my tortilla shells resembled more of an ink blob than a perfect circle….
… but this was ok. My wife was proud of me and my unintentional Mickey-Mouse- looking tortillas, because in the end they met their purpose: to be eaten.
In order to get more out of a team, managers need to do three things:
1. Scour employees for skill sets, and assign them tasks that they are capable of taking on without requiring a manager’s constant supervision.
2. Give clear, concise instructions, and then have faith that employees can get the job done. Be available for questions, but don’t hover over staff, nitpicking over details.
3. Have quality standards, but realize that when a team is striving toward a vision, results may not be exactly how it was envisioned, and that has to be accepted.
The moral of this story: I’m looking forward to the day when I hear the boss say, “Kids, make the tortillas and do the laundry, I’m going grocery shopping... James, looks like you have time to go golfing.”
“Many hands make light work”, which leaves more time for golf!