Profit from coaching

    Tony Clark looks at the opportunities for generating coaching revenue from groups outside of the avid golfer community.

    Tony ClarkFree lessons for juniors; Free lessons for ladies; Free lessons for seniors… and so it goes on as golf instructors around the world look to increase their client base, whilst in my view devaluing themselves and the role they should be playing in growing the game and their business.

    Now I’m all for giving back and I know plenty of PGA pros out there who, like me, donate their time and services to charitable causes working with the disabled and the disadvantaged. We know that golf can be a wonderfully inclusive sport with physical and social benefits, but I’m not talking about these groups, all of whom should receive as much support as our time and resource allows.

    However you dress it up, I’m firmly of the view that there needs to be a commitment from the student that demonstrates an appreciation of the qualified instruction that they’re receiving. Free doesn’t achieve that. This is where we need to put in place a clear strategy for client development.

    Juniors (boys and girls): A golf instructor should not be a free childcare provider. However engaging the parents, grandparents or guardians and offering free taster sessions for juniors alongside a paying adult makes sense. You’re still getting paid for your time and you are welcoming, potentially, a student of the future, plus you are demonstrating to the parent your ability to relate to their child and motivate them.

    Simply ask the question: “Do you have a grandchild, son or daughter that would like to join you, with my compliments, next time you have a lesson?” It’s a numbers game. Two out of ten positives added up to a healthy number to build upon.

    Are you approaching nearby Schools or colleges and meeting with the head-teacher to present yourself and your services? With golf in the Olympics and Rory in fashion, now is a great time to target this attractive sector.

    Ladies: You create the ‘Ladies Only’ environment and package and they will come. This is an area worth some marketing effort. Use testimonials from existing female students and feature these with a photo on materials. The scope to develop a female client base is huge. Consider these opportunities: lady members and their female relatives, local ladies business groups (see LinkedIn), local ladies charities to incorporate funding activity. Group lessons undoubtedly work well initially coupled with coffee and biscuits after the lesson. This generates some revenue for the club and creates a group environment meaning that you’ll likely get fewer drop-outs. If you are a male instructor then you may want to consider ‘recruiting’ some female support in this area. Perhaps your partner, a lady member or one of the club office team? Alternatively seek an external ally in a ladies business group.

    Seniors: Many seniors have a healthy disposable income with plenty of time on their hands. You’ll know the key issue preventing many seniors from improving, even when in their seventies. It is flexibility (wrist hinge is gone), rotation (shoulder turn doesn’t get past 65 degrees) and the mistaken belief that their handicap is irreversibly on the way up! Not true. Achieve success with one or more and communicate that throughout the club and your senior client list will grow. Remember: “You can’t hide a good golf game!” Consider also Rotary Clubs and other local associations.

    To grow this increasingly important area of your business you need to invest and increase your resource. Where you add training aids look towards those that deliver a commercial return. If you can’t immediately identify where that commercial return will come from, ask the supplier to provide suggestions. At PlaneSWING we provide every PGA pro with a copy of the PlaneSWING Programme, a powerful recurring revenue programme that’s simple to introduce and administer.

    From a resource perspective it isn’t always about money. By involving one or more assistants you develop your team and increase your client base. Let them share in your success and structure a remuneration package that ensures you both benefit from the revenue uplift. Bring different skills to the party. Find out what your team knows. Is one a social media whizz whether it be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google? Is there a born salesperson in the shop that can be utilised better?

    Advertising locally is a great way to build awareness but you need to know what medium to use. Press, radio, social networks etc…? Sometimes the answer is closer to home. Do you know whether or not any of your clients or members can help? Is there a journalist, a radio presenter, a graphic designer, a marketing guru amongst them or someone that’s well connected?

    Whether there is or isn’t these are the considerations that can save you time and money. And remember, golf lessons are great currency!

    Starting with Christmas 2014 now is the time to draw up your marketing plan for transforming your coaching business for 2015. Decide what you want to achieve; where the areas of opportunity lie; what resource you need and how you’re going to get the message out there. And as they say, any plan is better than no plan at all!


    Tony Clark is Owner/Managing Director of PlaneSWING Golf and a business consultant with Clark Management Group Ltd. He can be contacted at 01604 830880 or 07870 562777 or by email at

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    Miles is the Owner and Managing Director of Robel Media, and the award winning GOLF RETAILING Magazine. With over 25 years in the media business, Miles has a wealth of experience in magazine publishing, digital media and live events. HANDICAP - 7.2