Behind the Counter: Belton Park, In Partnership with TaylorMade

    Belton Park is a 27-hole private members club in Lincolnshire, spread over 240 acres. We sit within the grounds of the National Trust property, Belton House, and have deer running around the grounds. We’ve got fantastic practice facilities, including a large tournament-spec practice green and driving range. We have around 750 members, like most golf clubs, it’s a more senior demographic, but they are active.

    First Time Retailer
    I’ve been a golf professional for many years, but I’d always concentrated on coaching. In fact, for the last few years, I had a sim business at home and was coaching and fitting equipment from there. I’ve also got the UK’s only inflatable simulator hire, So, although I am an experienced PGA Professional, it’s my first-time retailing.

    My biggest skill is engagement, knowing my customer, and just being myself, so I’m not forceful in the sale. I’m not afraid to sell somebody a full set of clubs and then offer them a trolley and a full bag. Customers feel comfortable that they’re spending their money wisely with me.

    That comes back in the reviews I get. I will have somebody call up and say, ‘You fitted my friend last week; I’ve cancelled the fitting elsewhere and I’m coming down to you.’ The better the service you provide, the financial side will sort itself out.

    Strong partners, great relationships
    I stock TaylorMade, Ping, and Orka. All three brands offer fantastic products, targeted at different players. That said, TaylorMade is my strongest selling brand. I’m a bit of a secret geek when it comes to club fitting; I’m incredibly meticulous. I have in-depth knowledge of products, brands, and the differences between this year’s and last year’s models. However, I don’t overwhelm consumers with technical details. Instead, I focus on providing clubs, shafts, and grips that I can stand by, citing reasons for my choices. I won’t stock items just for the sake of it.

    I have good relationships with my TaylorMade and Ping ASMs, and with Orka, I deal directly with the owner. Simon Squires, my TaylorMade ASM, is tremendous. The thing I was conscious of going into retailing was reps are there to sell to you. Whereas with Simon, there was never pressure; he wasn’t trying to baffle me with all the new technology and terms. He presents the product and clearly explains what it does. He is open and engaging, and if I ever need help with anything, he is always there.

    TaylorMade’s aftersales is also brilliant. My internal TM contact is David Curd. If we have any breakages, any stock shortages, or issues with an order, he is on the case. Every business needs a David. If you need something, he can get it. If he cannot get it, he tells you where he can get it. And if he cannot get it, it’s not available. I prefer honesty, rather than being made to wait for something that might never appear., their B2B site, is so simple and effective. In my 20 months using the system, I can’t remember any downtime. It works for both from the PC, but importantly for me when I’m out in a field fitting, it works live on my phone. It’s great to see that components are in stock and be able to give the customer an accurate delivery time.

    Being a Lincolnshire-based brand, my members do have an affinity for PING, and that is why we stock Ping apparel in the pro shop. They are rock-solid for providing crested products quickly; the price point is fair, and the style of the product improves every season. Again, my rep is excellent, which makes such a difference as a retailer. And I also stock J.Lindeberg. As soon as that comes into store, it sells through. It’s been a good brand to stock. As a Foremost member, I can order other products for our members, which is useful, especially for our lady members.

    I stock FootJoy shoes. They are the #1 brand for a reason, there are so many options, be it models, colours, and sizes. I inherited another brand from the previous head pro, and they are still causing me issues to this day. FootJoy is so reliable.

    Being a Foremost member is super easy. I’ve got all the time in the world for Charlie Hartley, my Business Development Consultant. My new marketing editor, Dan, is great to work with, and it’s so easy to get the correct materials put into my newsletters.

    My biggest challenge has been having no retail experience. But what I don’t know doesn’t hurt me. I am constantly fed back by members and visitors; it is the best they’ve seen the shop looking at Belton Park. Visitors especially say they wish their small pro shops looked this good. I make sure to follow Foremost advice. The shop is presented in a structured way, the ticketing and pricing is on point. Stock is moved around to create more sales and help get apparel specifically, in front of people. And I’ve learned most of this from Charlie Hartley.

    Instore Studio

    The first thing I put in when I went into the shop was an indoor studio. A lot of people thought I was a bit crazy to put a fitting studio in an 8m-by-8m shop, but it’s the best thing I did. I can now coach all year round, which is vital to me. But it allows us to do fittings whenever we wish. I can chat to a customer about something and have them hitting balls and trying a product instantly. I use a Foresight GC2. You get some more datapoints from later systems, but I do not think they are as important when it comes to fitting.

    My strength is knowing my customer and looking after my brand: me. My integrity is what makes the business work. I’ve enjoyed working with TaylorMade, and I get the most out of their support, and in turn, they get the maximum out of mine.

    Next articleTried & tested: EzeGlide Trolleys
    As an avid golfer since the age of eleven Dan lives and breathes all things golf.  With a current handicap of eleven he gets out and plays as often as his work life (and girlfriend) allows. Dan confesses to still being like a kid at Christmas when it comes to seeing the latest golf equipment. Having served as GolfPunk’s Deputy Editor, and resident golf geek for the past 13 years and working for golf's oldest brand, John Letters Dan brings to GOLF RETAILING an excellent understanding of the sector.