Industry Trends: September

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The PGA Tour wrapped up in August with the Tour Championship, just in time for the start of school and a reminder that fall is fast approaching.  The last three months are always exciting to see the youngsters in summer camps, or ‘newbies to the game’ in individual lessons and group clinics  at our golf courses – The growth of the game is in full-swing. Below are few thoughts and insights that might prove useful.

Growth of the Game

Despite all the money spent trying to create more golfers, a silver bullet has yet be discovered.  The NGF recently shared an eye-opening statistic: The odds of a youngster playing golf without a parent are 250:1.  That said, we have had significant success utilizing introductory  Golf programs at elementary schools and offering Parent - Child Tournaments. Setting up an event on the last few holes during weekend mornings – i.e. 8AM event on 17 & 18 – encourages development without displacing regular golfers. 

Once juniors are hooked on golf, PGA Jr League provides a natural transition to competitive play.  Teams of boys and girls, age 13 and under, compete in a structured league environment.  The goal - create a fun team environment for all levels of junior golfers, teaching sportsmanship and valuable life skills. It is hard to ignore the swelling participation at several of our facilities.

Our last recommendation - kids play free.  Engage your community with a “kids play free” program when accompanied by a paying adult. Offer unfilled tee times throughout the day – not just weekdays after 3 pm.  The result at one of our facilities was an astounding 8,000 rounds – of which half were a paying adult.

Ever-tightening Labor Market

While traveling to and from some of our clubs, I was recently shocked that a prominent fast food chain was promoting starting pay of $12.50 per hour.  For context, this state had not raised their minimum wage above the federal minimum wage, nor was I on the periphery of a high cost metropolitan area.  So, not only is the job market for managerial talent tightening, but there is a dearth of hourly workers due to the stiff competition between retail, restaurants, healthcare, etc.  In this tight labor market, we are spending more time cross-training and identifying innovative ways to further engage and retain existing team members - our most valuable asset. 

Needless to say, now is an ideal time to meet with team members, understand goals, and provide a framework for achievement.  BCG developed multiple training tracks focused on three overarching themes – give employees the autonomy they desire, provide guidance to master each skill, and reaffirm each employee’s impact on guests, members and the business at large.  Transforming jobs into career opportunities reduces turnover, allowing you to re-allocate your time from training new hires to growing your business.

The Book Corner

In light of the tightening labor market and employee attraction/retention, I am reminded of an excellent how-to manual called “The Coaching Habit” by Micheal Bungay Stanier.   It provides simple questions to help transform performance management conversations into performance development.  The feedback from those utilizing the book in our Mentorship Program has been a resounding two-thumbs up.  If you want to improve the way you lead, grow, and interact with your team, I highly encourage implementing the seven recommendations in “The Coaching Habit.”

Facebook and Social Media Usage - Implications

It was recently reported that Facebook will become even stickier this fall, incorporating a news tab to deliver "trustworthy news" to users. The tab would give news high prominence on Facebook, alongside core features like the News Feed (which includes updates from friends), Messenger and Watch (for videos).  It appears the stickiness of Facebook will only increase and updates from friends on the News Feed will become even more prominent to increase social reach and influence behavior.

In the good old days, the social reach for your golf course was driven by the golf group’s organizer – the planner in your group that makes the tee times and drags 3 or 7 friends with them when they play.  In past analysis, 15% of golfers were identified as the “planner,” yet they accounted for 40% of the golf revenue.  Keeping it old school, there is a simple two-step process to increase a la carte revenues at our facilities - identify the planner and communicate with them directly - #4More – It works.      

Happenings within the Herd

Despite the trepidation with the economy, BCG has seen significant growth at our facilities.  There is no magic dust, just solid blocking and tackling – develop and implement a winning business plan that clearly identifies the 4 major tactics and strategies that work for each type of club – a “Coursona” - whether daily-fee, semi-private, resort, or community centric.  There is no cookie-cutter approach, rather proven tactics based on commonalities to maximize the success of each facility. If unsure of your club’s “Coursona,” or if anything resonates and you would like to discuss further, do not hesitate to contact myself or our team.

mcutler@billycaspergolf.com | 703.891.3387