Like every business in the UK Covid-19 has caused Michael Brooks problems. However the Pumpherston GC Head Professional, and Chairman of the TGI Golf Partnership did his best to keep his customers in the loop.
“I didn’t want to hide from my members during lockdown,” explained Brooks. “Engaging with members has been key, with Social Media being a fun way to help members keep up to date with course conditions, club messages, pro shop news etc.
“I created a Virtual Golf Order of Merit where members attended a Zoom meeting every Saturday for 10 weeks. Names and scores were thrown in a hat and I drew out a name and score, the lowest three scores won prize money plus we raised some money for NHS Scotland too.
“Operating a call/collect service when the course reopened worked well and provided my members with balls, tees, gloves, bagged for collection at their tee time. It was just great to see members back playing again.
The negative aspect is, no footfall meant no trade. This created problems with stock holding and cash flow as almost all of my pre-book had arrived in time for the start of the season, I managed to stop a couple of drops coming in before the inevitable lockdown.
Michael has a wealth of experience in the game. A former Scottish Amateur Champion, and one of only 3 father and sons to playing the Walker Cup for GB&I, he knows how to get the job done on the course. An assistant at Royal St Georges, Michael has worked across the UK including stints as head professional at Castletown GC in the Isle of Man and Malton & Norton in Yorkshire. Back home in Scotland now, Pumpherston is a historic club in Livingston, founded in 1895. The current course was opened in 2002 and the parkland course is a tricky test with plenty of water. And the members couldn’t wait to get back on the course.
“Our tee sheet remains full, competitions have started again, and we’ve seen a spike in new members, 60 and still rising. I have a new member of staff joining my team mid-July and help grow our Junior and Ladies sections plus coaching in our new indoor swing studio.”
With so much being unknown at the start of lockdown, Brooks was thankful of the support his suppliers gave him.
“I’ve received phone calls from supplier reps aiming to help with current stock levels or future orders that may need altering, it’s good to see suppliers reacting in this way and they’ll likely be some changes in the future to how the supplier/pro business relationship works. Putting in place alternative payment plans, agreeing to part delivery of pre-booked goods.
“TaylorMade were really responsive when I contacted them with my business concerns. I was offered options on payment of delivered goods. I chose not to return stock and sat on it until we reopened, as at that time I didn’t have a clue whether that would be a week or 6 months! The care and support offered by TM in helping me manage my stockholding, future orders and finance through such a difficult period is much appreciated. I received a ‘getting back to work pack’ including tea, biscuits, water bottle and rucksack, a great gift that gave me a little lift during the reopening.
“There’s been some time to get the shop looking immaculate with merchandising and using the TGI e-newsletter campaigns to keep the communication going with our customers. Getting the balance right with club info and shop promotions was something I was aware of, I didn’t want to flood customers inboxes but wanted to let them know we were still here.
“The TaylorMade PIX ball is getting good traction, the technology is great and feedback from the golfer is they get a better roll and have more confidence. SIM driver is a great piece of kit, the ball comes off the face fast and it has a brilliant feel, looks great behind the ball and all 3 head types are very easy to use. The variety of shafts available for golfers to use in driver fittings is excellent too, meaning I can get to the right conclusion for the customer pretty quickly.
“adidas shoes have been received very well as has Under Armour apparel. We are waiting to launch our new indoor studio with Trackman so the next few months will be very busy on the custom fitting front.
“I’m not going to get ahead of myself though, with the end of furlough in October there will be an increase in unemployment making recruitment and retention of members even more difficult come renewal time, then straight into winter months, it could be a very long winter and preparation is key, thinning out my existing stock, being frugal with any incoming stock and relying more on B2B order platforms will be critical for any pro shop business to keep the stock turning and maximising margin without the need for sales on overstocked goods.”
As the Chairman of TGI Golf Brooks was thankful for the support they provide.
“Throughout the entire crisis TGI Golf has been amazing for a whole host of reasons. The company’s decision not to furlough any of its staff and to support its partners through, not just an horrendous trading period but a worldwide pandemic, has been a genius move. The communication and guidance made available to us, not only from Eddie Reid, our MD, Amanda Wilson our FD and Adele McLean our Group Services Director, but from our partner suppliers has been invaluable, helping us plan and prepare our business positively and with confidence, over the last few months since the start of lockdown.
“The retail consultants worked from home and saw increased engagement from partners looking for support and guidance on wide ranging business matters. Our excellent e-newsletter program was made available for any partner to join up free of charge, those already on the system were given 3 months free.
“We are partners of a business run for our benefit and receive cash back each year rather than members paying a regular subscription to be part of a club.
“Eddie’s regular vlogs on industry news, help in managing our business expectations and encouragement that we will get through this together was a great source of reassurance to many.
“In preparation for re-opening reopening we had access to screen guards, safety posters and floor markings allowing us to set up our stores in as safe a condition as possible for our customers and staff.
“TGI has stuck with its partners, yet again, through the darkest of times, an act that won’t be forgotten. I’m a proud and thankful TGI Partner.” GR