The Secret to Effective Golf Course Marketing & Increasing Revenues
It doesn’t matter if you own or manage a private club, public facility, resort, or municipal course – the secret to marketing success is hiring and training a qualified and dedicated sales person. The secret isn’t a marketing service that you contract for at $500 a month or sales/marketing software you buy for $3,000. Dedicated sales is the key to a profitable golf course just like any business with available inventory (i.e. tee times).
Every year I receive more calls from superintendents, golf professionals, general managers and owners asking marketing questions. How do you start a marketing plan? What are the most important elements of a marketing plan? How do you monitor the plan? How do you determine the priorities of a marketing plan? How do you know if a plan is successful? These questions, and their frequency, lead me to believe the industry is becoming more progressive and sophisticated.
Many owners realize they have to do something different to compete in the current oversupplied market. You have to compete successfully, or you won’t be in the golf course ownership business long. I use the term dedicated sales effort because each staff member has a full-time job. Putting a part-time effort into generating the incremental revenue you need isn’t going to get you where you want to be.
Sales is an investment. If you can afford to make the initial investment, a salesperson should be able to pay for him/herself relatively quickly. Then they can begin to return three, four, even five times (or more) their total cost of sales (base salary, commissions, benefits) to your bottom line.
Realize “sales” is a unique skill. Not everyone is suited for it. I guarantee you won’t be able to just pick someone you like or know and put them into a sales position and watch them flourish. If you’re going to make this initial investment, be sure your choices are qualified and hungry for a sales position. Most of my best hires come from “intangible” sales backgrounds: hospitality, insurance, financial, etc. They’re service salespeople, not the stereotypical “car” salespeople. If trained properly, they assure your prospects they’ll be personally responsible for their experience at the club, not just sell them a membership or an outing.
The most important step in hiring salespeople is qualifying them as service sales-oriented. This is accomplished by classified advertising and e-classified advertising to determine what sales talent is available, followed by interviews and aptitude testing to determine if they’re predisposed to sales.
The next most important step is organizing their efforts to generate the most revenue possible. I’ve never liked the term job description, so I call my written organizational plan a Daily Sales Tasks and Objectives. Briefly, here’s what’s included in such a plan to help organize the efforts of your sales person:
Standard work week. Typically, I include the standard work week Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The reality is that a salesperson is on call when a prospect needs him/her. If your chosen sales person wants their work hours defined specifically, choose a different sales person.
Prospecting expectations. I start sales people off with all priority sales lists and require 20 new contacts – not calls, contacts – per day. Once they begin following up with prospects, this daily new contact goal will be adjusted based on market response.
Priority sales calls and contacts. Clearly a prospect walking in your door desiring information about membership or an outing, for example, will always be your first priority. Start there, and fill out the list: promised follow-up calls, new contacts, etc.
Record-keeping and reporting. Set up a system of daily, weekly and monthly call reports and a summary of sales efforts compared to previously set goals.
Sales paperwork. These include contracts, proposals (taxable and tax-exempt), client-needs forms for operations and food and beverage, thank-you letters and follow-up service surveys.
Weekly sales information meeting. This sounds easy, but it will be one of your greatest challenges. Pick a day and time for all department heads to meet weekly for a review of all contracted events planned for the upcoming two weeks. If clients’ needs and expectations are reviewed with all departments well in advance, there can be no mistakes, right?
Ideal time to hire a sales person. Thanksgiving. During the holidays (Thanksgiving through New Years) the sales cycle is low across the country. This is the time to set your marketing and sales goals for the next year. From Jan. 2 through Easter, my expectations are that a minimum of two-thirds of all sales goals (contracts signed, filed, and deposits in the bank) will be accomplished.
The golf business has changed. Has your golf business changed? Are you changing the way you conduct business? Or are you staying the same and “toughing” it out? There are very few golf courses that can “do nothing” in this economy and remain successful. GCI
Jack Brennan started PALADIN Golf Marketing in Tampa, FL in 1984 to assist owners and operators with effective marketing and sales practices for their golf courses. For a FREE marketing consultation contact PALADIN Golf Marketing & Associates at: 813-545-4600, firstname.lastname@example.org or through the web site www.golfcoursemarketingplans.com
PALADIN’s Principal is affiliated with:
The United States Golf Association, affiliate
The Golf Association of Florida, Founding Member & Vice President on the Board
Florida Golf Alliance, Founding Member & Treasurer on the Board
International Network of Golf, affiliate
Golf Course Business Consultants, Inc Founding Member, 2003-2005 President, 2005-2007 Chairman