1. It only takes a smile
It’s good to have a focus on making a profit, but we are in the leisure industry (or as Disney puts it, the ‘feeling industry’). The people within your club (so people at your reception, waiters, greenkeepers, Marshal, staff and even your club members) are in constant contact with your customers (i.e. green fee players). A smile from them will amplify the customers’ spirit. Grumpy or rude behaviour will however dampen their spirits and will have a negative affect on sales and their overall feeling about your club.
2. Take care of business
Make sure people within your golf club are proud about what they are doing. This means, be friendly, clean the tables, dump the garbage, clean the paths and the toilets, provide towels, repair stuff that is broken, or remove it al together. Walk the golf course yourself, preferably with people who have never played your course, and see what happens. Do they understand the routing, are there enough bins, toilets, water points, etc. Often some small inexpensive changes will increase the overall experience.
3. Think as a golfer
Golfers are often pressed for time, they have quite a high level of expectations and they will spend 4-6 hours at your club. So, provide them the best experience ever. And, when they are there, try to help them by making relevant offers! Golfers always need food, drinks and tees/balls. So, have food packages available for them to take away, make sure you have (cool) drinks, fruit and candy bars available in the proshop. It’s so obvious, but only a few golf clubs do this. And, provide good rental sets, decent lake balls and good driving range balls.
4. Don’t oversell
Don’t ask a fee for the driving range if someone has just paid 80 euro’s to play at your course and 40 euro’s for a buggy. It just feels wrong. Give him the token for free. And don’t ask more than 5 euro for a strokesaver, it’s a direct turn off. Moreover, give golfers a free apple, tees, a water bottle or something else. Golfers will appreciate and remember it.
5. Be honest
If you are coring the greens or making adjustments to the course, then tell people on forehand. Provide a small discount on the green fee or give them something extra (like coffee or a drink for free). This will manage expectations and it will save you a lot of problems afterwards. People don’t mind if you tell them upfront. This will also give them the opportunity to decide to come back later.
6. Show some interest
If people have played your course, then the first thing your staff should do is ask them a few questions. The first should be: ‘how was your round and did you like the course’. The second should be ‘what could we improve? And the third should be ‘what they would like to drink or eat’? And of course it would be a great idea to direct them to our site to write down their experiences for their fellow golfers!
7. Inform and care about people
If people are at your club for the first time, then make them feel at home. Tell them how everything works. For example, tell them where the locker-rooms are, if towels are available, if you need tokens for the driving range, where the putting green is, where can you get food or drinks, etc. It’s very obvious but if you are honest, are you or your staff actually doing this? And if a golfers returns, then welcome him back. It’s so great when that happens. If you are a member club and there are only 2 green fee players arriving that day, then welcome them by saying their names. It makes a great and long-lasting impression.
8. Do small things to surprise people
Surprising people with small gestures is easy and it is a great way to give people an experience to remember. So, if it starts raining, bring people an umbrella. If it’s cold,bring them a cup of coffee. If it’s hot, bring them a cool bottle of water. And if you have a very difficult hole, then give golfers a free ball or a small bottle of spirit. It provides a great story, which people will share with all their friends and fellow golfers.
9. A good marshal/starter makes a difference
It’s vital for a nice round of golf that flights move around the course in a timely fashion. Slow players should be told to either pick up their pace or to let other flights pass. And a starter/marshal should inform people about the local rules, how to repair divots or pitchmarks and perhaps even tell a little story about the course and its characteristics. Telling golfers why certain choices were made (for example no vegetation and trees for an inland links course) will help golfers to understand the course, to manage expectations and to provide a good story afterwards.
10. Exceed expectations
If you have the email address of a green fee player who booked at your course, then send them a reminder a day before with the weather forecast and any other relevant information. Think about parking instructions, navigation hints or planned course maintenance etc. and tell people you are looking forward to their visit. Place free trolleys at the parking lot, so people do not have to carry their bags. Clean people’s clubs after a round or give them a personalized bag tag to remember your course. Try to find out the birthday of visitors and surprise them on their birthday. If you exceed expectations, people will definitely come back!
Our friends at Chronogolf have also written a nice blog about how a loyalty program can help you attract and retain golfers. Make sure to check it out!