Let me start by asking you a question. What do you think of when you think of these airlines, which one stands out?
Ok, I’ll admit it, it was trick question. They all suck and have nothing that differentiates them from each other except a few routes. I have personal horror stories from each and “United Breaks guitars”. ( See YouTube hilarious)
However If I added Southwest to the list, you might have come up with something different:
- At the very least I am sure most of you know that “BAGS FLY FREE” on Southwest.
- Their tickets are much more flexible.
- Their personnel are more fun.
- Their frequent flyer program is much easier to understand and use plus the perception is that they are cheaper, (although that is very often not the case)
Which airline is the only one of the four not to have gone bankrupt? And to actually have made an operating profit the vast majority of its existence. Yes, that would be Southwest.
Here’s another key example in rental cars, what’s the difference between these rental car companies:
Ok, Hertz is “Number one”, budget is “cheaper” and Avis “Tries harder” at least based on their advertising slogans. But based on my personal experience the counter staff are just as indifferent, the cars are all the same and on any given day one is just as cheap or expensive as the other. My Avis Wizard card doesn’t seem to get me better rates or upgrades so why bother. At the higher end Hertz does have a better selection of sports cars but they are only at select locations and they carry a stiff premium.
National on the other hand at least lets you choose the car you want and Enterprise will pick you up and drop you off! Something that the big guys don’t offer, something that stands out as different!
What’s The Average Club Experience Like?
Now let’s look at the golf industry. Let’s take a half dozen private or daily fee golf courses in a town near you. What makes one demonstratively much different from the next?
Usually absolutely nothing at absolutely every touch point (A touch point is the various places that a customer interacts with your business)
- Ads, brochures and sales letters are average
- Parking lot is average
- Website is average
- Clubhouse is average
- Locker room is average (Downright crap in the UK)
- Bathrooms are average
- Pro shop is average
- Range is average
- Menus are average
- Food is average
- Look, feel sounds smells are average
- Course is average
- Carts are average
- Social media engagement is average
- Service is “Awesome”, just kidding its average too very average!
IN FACT the total sum of the entire experience is alarmingly average even at the so called, “better clubs”!
Perhaps the most profound breakthrough I made in my former life in the karate business was the discovery that, unlike any of my competitors, I was not actually in the karate business. Nor was I in the self-defense business, health club business, or the more generic service business. I was in the personal development business of helping people “Maximize their potential physically and mentally.”
This profound difference in business philosophy meant that our ads were different, our look and feel was different and of course, our curriculum was different. While 21 other schools in the city of Irvine, California, battled it out for the karate business, I was the only school competing for the personal development business by using karate as the delivery method! This resulted in phenomenal growth despite the competition.
Haven’t some of your best times been on some pretty average tracks that were still very memorable?
It’s Not All About The Golf Course
Far too much emphasis in the golf industry is put solely on the course, which for better or worse is usually about where it’s going to be. On invisible “service” or in creating an “experience” which in most places exists only as a word in their outdated brochures!
I bet you have had some of your most memorable days ever at some sheep infested club in the Scottish highlands, with awful weather, a colorful caddie and wee dram of local whisky afterwards as you warmed yourself around a fire in the pub! The total sum of club membership, a nice day out at your local daily fee course or a weekend away at a resort includes far more than just the quality of the golf course. Some of it is tangible some of it not but the “experience” they get, whichever one it happens to be, is what will bring them back or not!
The more you do to make every step of that experience memorable for all the right reasons the more chance they will choose you. That does not mean spending a ton of money. That does not mean trying to pretend your club is something that it is not. What it does mean is that you have to think out of the traditional, conservative golf box. It means transforming your operation into something different with a simple paradigm shift in the way you think and operate.
At seminars when I ask the audience usually made up of course owners, managers and golf professionals what business they are in, the top three answers are always;
- The service business
- The people business
- And of course the golf business
What few people realize is that the answer to this critical question fundamentally changes how an operation is marketed, sold and run and therefore changes the experience it provides to the customer.
The customer shows up at the club, ultimately for the one key factor few ever mention. He is there to be entertained, by your course, range, staff, food, drink and the experience you provide by allowing him to interact with people of similar interests.
Golf is the vehicle by which you entertain your members and guests
The more entertaining you make your marketing, emails, website, letters, social media posts, tournaments, social events and just the everyday experience of wandering around your clubhouse, the more value you will deliver. Therefore the more people you will attract and the longer they will stay.
If your customer is not entertained he will look for his entertainment not just at other courses but at the stadium, mall, bowling alley, movies and a million other places. Understanding that your competition is not just other clubs but every other form of adult entertainment makes a profound difference to how you approach the creation of value at your club.
For more information on club management and marketing, please visit GolfOperatorAssociation.org
Andrew Wood is CEO of Legendary Marketing, a Tampa/Orland-based ad agency. He is the world’s leading expert on golf, resort, destination and real estate marketing although his successes go far beyond these core industries. Author of over 20 books including; The Golf Marketing Bible, Cunningly Clever Marketing, Cunningly Clever Entrepreneur and Making Your Business The One They Choose! Andrew has spoken to thousands of audiences worldwide and was the top ranked speaker at 97.7% of the events where he spoke on sales, marketing, entrepreneurship or leadership. A pioneer in Internet marketing his creative talent, out of the box ideas and copywriting skills are at the core of his expertise. Regarded as one of the top marketing minds in the world for his ability to craft a winning strategy, generate leads and increase income!
Contact: Andrew Wood, Direct @ 1 352-266 2099