Highfives: Private club shops can still compete

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By Jack Dillon

The golf shop has struggled to remain relevant in this age of the Internet, big box stores, and the mobile purchasing power within our pockets. No doubt it is tough to keep an identity and remain a draw for the private club golfer - the most demanding golfer in the game.

There is, I believe, an opportunity to present a wonderful merchandise story and service program, even with all of the noise and interruption that surrounds life in 2019. It begins with a commitment of the club leadership. Once that has been achieved, it then takes talent for purchasing and presenting merchandise for men and women on the shop floor. After that, it takes ongoing training of the entire shop team so that everyone on staff gets it right. Training should never end.

The private club golf shop can succeed in this very different era of buying and selling. It is about going down a different path while showing each member they are special, different and unique. Golfers love golf equipment. Many also love the great apparel that golf brands present today.

The great advantage the private club has is that its member wants to own this gear and possesses the means to do so. The team needs to always be on their game in reading the signs that each golfer presents. In addition, the club leadership needs to know that the golf shop is service central for the club. What matters is taking care of every member all of the time.

Here are six thoughts about the private club golf shop:

1)    Create a wide selection of vendors. Do not do what all of the other local clubs are doing with brands, selection, and color stories. Be different with additional brands, and new styles in great colors for your men and women members.

2)    Be sure your people are doing the choosing and purchasing. Your golf shop is about your members. The selection and styles should be about your members’ tastes, ages and interests.

3)    Women purchase a great deal of clothing for their husbands. During trunk shows and other events for your women members, be certain to add a few men’s brands for review.

4)    The inventory should be wide and thin, not narrow and deep. If the members are not buying from your shop, look at two things: product and price. Change it all to be about gaining volume and providing amazing service!

5)    When it comes to shoes, balls and specialty clubs: offer choices based on what people are buying today, not what worked five years ago. The entire golf merchandise space is changing today - are you aware of what’s hot & what’s not?

6)    Create a service standard that makes it easy for your members to see, test, try and own what they need/want. Your team must play the role of experts. The team should be the merchant coach, making certain each buy makes sense for the member.

The golf shop is a fantastic place for your members to learn about new goods and own new goods. As a private club, the service side is about education, recommendation and trial. Think about all of the purchases a member and family members can make over the course of the year. Think, too, about corporate opportunities within your member base. There is probably great opportunity bubbling beneath the surface. Operate your golf shop as the members’ happy place. It might just become the reason people join and stay. Make it lots of fun, too!

Jack Dillon writes the highfives series. Jack has been in golf for 46 years. He is a speaker, merchant, consultant. Reach Jack at 407-973-6136. For more information on building a better golf shop call Jack.

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