Learning from Teaching

With retail margins tightening, PGA professionals need to be aware of the existing revenue opportunities around them, and the earning potential waiting within their existing and future customer base, both for a head pro and assistants. Tony Clark, chief executive of PlaneSWING Golf, explains how to maximise the opportunities from teaching

It’s a known fact that it is easier to do business with an existing customer, with whom a trusting relationship and a commercial history exists, but how much do you actually know about your customers and students? Do you think greater knowledge of your students’ business and personal life would be a good thing? The answer is a resounding YES, and I’d like to share with you how to access this information, and then what to do with it.

I will focus on lesson students.

You spend between 30 mins to one hour in a one-to-one situation with a student. Before, during and after the lesson you can learn a great deal about the person, and the benefits go both ways.

For example: finding out about the nature of your students’ work can give you an insight into how that person may learn best in order to get the best results. Kinaesthetic, visual or audio? Detail orientated or not? You can establish their level of teachability and adapt your approach to them accordingly.

Find out what time pressures your student has. Family, work, travel… This will give you an indication as to the extent to which you believe the student will commit to his or her development, and could determine the type of improvement plan you should recommend.

Social networks can help you to research students. Check whether or not your student has accounts with LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Any level of online social activity will mean they’ll be comfortable with the selection of coaching apps that exist, allowing you to share lesson videos and other digital data.

You could begin with a chat about your student’s golfing issues and goals over a cup of coffee. Listen, listen, listen and learn. Remember, this is about them, not you!

Then you can explain your way of working and what your expectations will be of the student in order to achieve the agreed goals. Gain a commitment and put those ambitious but achievable goals in writing.

As you work towards these goals you will identify improvements that a golfer can make in their equipment that will accelerate their progress. These could include adjusting the lie and length of their existing clubs; re-gripping; shoes; studs; glove; full club fitting and ball fitting.

Not only is this going to help your students’ performance, it also provides valuable revenue and cements the relationship as they see an improvement.

Every student opens a window

Once you have gleaned valuable information about the individual, how can this transfer into lesson and other revenue that will be mutually beneficial to you and the student?

If you establish that the student has a family then you have the potential to access them and their friends.

Understanding the students’ work situation gives you the potential to access work colleagues either individually or as a group. Networking is key to developing the corporate and potentially more lucrative side of your coaching business.

A director or manager in a business will often be grateful for help in arranging team meetings and team-building events. Golf clubs are often excellent venues and by doing this you are also helping the club increase its revenue, and thereby increasing your value to your club. Golf is a perfect ice-breaker for groups, and you can easily introduce a fun and competitive element, even for non-golfers, with putting and chipping.

Plus this can lead to company golf days with ‘goody bags’, prizes and other items, adding to your retail business significantly.

There is no downside to this strategy, only an upside.

It’s difficult to estimate what percentage of students and newcomers could progress to become club members or regular players, but there’s no doubt that there would be a conversion rate. And THIS is what will secure the future of our sport and unearth the champions of tomorrow, and why commercial and progressive PGA pros are so integral to growing the game and why they are so valuable to the clubs!

Tony Clark is author of Business Development Articles for Golf Professionals. To receive other free articles and a copy of The PlaneSWING Programme, email: onplane@planeswing.com or call: +44 (0) 1604 830880

Picture courtesy of Foremost Golf