Editor Dan Owen spoke to Will Hewitt, General Manager at 59Cclub, to find out how they can help your business.
If a retailer has never heard of 59club, explain what you do and how you can help retailers?
What we do can actually be summed up in 3 words: Measure, Train, Support. 59club provide performance data to partner venues with the goal of supporting sales growth and enhanced customer experience. Our data is generated through independent mystery shopping and industry specific survey software and we provide ongoing support with training, both in person and via our online learning platform , myMentor.
Working with a global audience of over 250 venues, including Resorts, Private Clubs and Retailers gives our partners the ability to compare their own results against chosen competitors, best performing venues and the industry as a whole, providing a very clear picture of strengths and weakness.
How has 2020 been
2020 for us, like many has contained highs and lows. One week before lockdown in the middle of March we celebrated the fantastic achievements of our partner venues at our Annual Awards at The Forest of Arden. It was our biggest event to date and fantastic to share in the success of those within the industry who had worked so hard to develop their product and service in the previous 12 months. A week later we were faced with a national lockdown and news very quickly emerged of the challenges being faced by many of our good friends within the industry.
With part of our business unable to operate during lockdown, and then gradually returning from July, we had the opportunity to focus on the development of our services and the completion of a number of projects which had been in the pipeline for a couple of years. Our online learning platform, myMentor and our benchmarking tool, my59Metrics are incredibly powerful tools that we are immensely proud to add to our portfolio.
Everyone at 59club has a huge passion for golf and we have shared in the excitement of the surge in popularity of the game in recent months. Operators have done an incredible job to adjust their procedures to manage increased footfall in a safe manner, often whilst managing reduced teams. We have supported our venues through some very specific changes in our mystery shopping criteria to help them measure the effectiveness of their COVID related safety adjustments, as well as supporting the industry as a whole with the creation and complimentary offering of COVID specific templates within our survey tool.
How have your partners improved their business with your help in what has been a difficult year?
There are a few common themes that have stood out this year. Communication with customers has been vital to maintain relationships, make the most of opportunities and understand the changing nature of their business. It would be fair to say that many of our partners primarily used our survey software to produce a traditional Member Satisfaction Survey in the hope of generating data to improve and therefore retain more members. 2020 has seen a significant increase in creative, proactive communication from operators, with survey data leading to strategies including retail click and collect, restaurant delivery, virtual shopping events and stock preferences.
We have also been pleased to see a real move towards proactive integration strategies, with a number of venues using our “Rolling Series” survey functionality to measure the journey of a member in the first few months of membership. We have always been a huge advocate of managing integration to create community and it is great to see an acknowledgement from the industry of a need to capitalise on the opportunity we currently have.
We managed to complete a full programme of mystery shopping at our venues between July and October and the facts for retailers are very simple, more footfall = more opportunity. One of the key drivers of our product is to create and support sales awareness throughout a business, the “Service Calculator” which is embedded within the software helps a Manager or Owner to understand the financial opportunity captured or missed by simply not requesting sales such as drinks, confectionery, hire equipment etc.
Our virtual training platform allows a venue to seamlessly link areas of development from their mystery shopping performance to the development needed by their individual team members, providing a timely, specific and effective training solution.
Speaking personally, I am looking forward to getting out and spending time with our partners during the quieter winter months, reviewing 2020 results and delivering training to ready the teams for a busy 2021.
Are there any long-term after effects that retailers need to keep an eye out for?
Golf didn’t change overnight but our lives did. We have seen a resurgence in golf, created by the perfect storm of lack of competition for time and disposable income, combined with the demand for fresh air, open spaces and a sense of wellbeing. It was initially felt that this boost might be short lived, but ongoing uncertainty may well lead to higher levels of demand continuing throughout 2021. That said, we have to acknowledge that there will be difficult times ahead, as competition returns to people’s free time and the inevitable impact of financial hardship penetrates deeper in to society. Never has it been more relevant to make hay and capitalise on every single person who walks through the door or makes an enquiry.
Numerous reports have suggested that the growth in golf has been fuelled by a younger demographic, perhaps a demographic with differing preferences than your existing audience, who research their products in a different way, wish to shop in a different way or even have a different style of interaction??
“Working with 59club has helped the team deliver a consistent and proactive service to our members and guests. The level of feedback they receive is a great motivator and has created a culture of learning and improvement”
Sean Graham, Golf Operations and Retail Manager at Foxhills was awarded 59club Retail Manager of the Year.
How has this year exposed problems that may not have been an issue before?
Much of the guidance related to the safe return to golf has encouraged golfers to arrive at the course ready to play and therefore reduces opportunity for interaction within clubhouses and retail areas. Retailers have quite rightly needed to prioritise the creation of a safe environment for customers over appealing retail displays and relaxed informal interaction. It would be easy for staff to slip in to functional and efficient behaviours, but this would sell ourselves short of delivering the huge amount of product knowledge and experience we have to offer. Asking the right questions to get to know customers and their individual needs and then showcasing the features and benefits of the right products are what will lead to trust, loyalty and the long term relationships that will lead to repeat business and referrals.
The ability to respond quickly to a changing landscape will also help retailers capture all possible opportunities at this time. Having a range of operating plans which are ready to be introduced within hours or days could be the difference between success and failure in the weeks and months ahead.
Going into 2021, what can golf clubs do to get ready, and how can you help them do that better?
The best plans are based on a sound understanding of where you currently are and what your customers are actually looking for. The next 12 months will undoubtedly bring many twists and turns, which will require careful planning, but also a need to change and be flexible at short notice.
59club tools can support a venue with generating valuable feedback on current performance and customer expectations and we are currently offering a 1 month complimentary trial of our survey platform to provide a little insight in to what we have to offer. We also have years of experience in upskilling team members across a variety of disciplines and our training is available on site or via our virtual GR