The True Cost of Poor Service

    59Club, the golf-specific mystery shopper and benchmarking service, measures and compares customer-service levels and analyses key revenue streams for golf venues. Simon Wordsworth, chief executive at 59Club, shares some insights on customer service at golf retail

    Throughout the year, 59Club sends real golfers to more than 110 venues to measure, compare and contrast golf service levels – on the golf course, in the bar and restaurant and in the pro shop. The majority of golfers visit a venue primarily to play golf, but the golf shop provides a valuable service to members and visitors, often as the golf reception with the meeting and greeting of golfers. These first impressions can play a huge part in the experience of a golfer’s visit.

    Even more importantly, sales revenues within the golf retail outlet and additional golf services sold by staff, such as buggy and trolley hire, account for a large percentage of both income and profit for many venues.

    The 59Club service measures the service and sales interactions in every shop before a round of golf, and our stats reveal two areas for improvement that would increase sales through your shop instantly.

    Firstly, how often do you think the staff in the pro shop will try to upsell the visitor a small item such as course guide, pack of tees, three golf balls or similar? The industry average is just 15%, with the top three outlets only doing it 24% of the time.

    Secondly, do you think staff in either the pro shop or golf reception regularly mention that buggies or electric trollies are available to hire? The industry average is that on four out of five occasions, the customer is not offered one of these additional services. 59Club clients do this 42% of the time (up from 26% the previous year), while the best three operators have almost doubled their success rate – now upselling additional golf services on 71% of occasions.

    Both areas simply require you and your team to do one thing: ask the customer a simple question. What is the worst that can happen? They say ‘No’. On the other hand, if you don’t ask for the sale, you are unlikely to get one!

    Customer service interactions are also measured throughout the sales transaction, including elements as simple as thanking the client for their custom. The best three retail outlets achieve a score of 92% in these areas. 59Club clients achieve an average score of 80% (up from 73% in 2012) with the rest of the industry only achieving a 61% score.

    We promote a very simple concept. The management and staff in the better venues are attentive, help create a pleasant atmosphere and miss very little opportunity to upsell to their customers. Golfers leave these venues feeling content, having had a good experience and with less money in their wallets.

    Daniel Young collects his award
    Daniel Young collects his award
    Rewarding Success

    Rewarding best practice is also vital to raise standards and we champion those individuals and teams from whom others can learn. We identified the very best in golf club retailing for the Golf Retail Manager of the Year title, awarded in February at our annual Service Excellence Awards. Nominations for this award featured retail managers from all types of venues, including St Andrews Dukes, Breadshall Priory, Carmarthan and Belton Woods.

    The winner, Daniel Young, head PGA professional from Woldingham Golf Club, puts his success down to getting the basics right: simply exceeding customer expectations and not missing an opportunity to create an additional sale with every single customer.

    “Our improvement in customer service is positively reflected in our repeat business,” starts Young. “Familiar faces return to our store because they are happy with our level of service and product range.

    “The 59Club system allows us to keep an eye on our own performance while regularly comparing us against our competitors, to check how we are getting on. We also have a friendly competition against the other clubs within the Altonwood Group, to see who can achieve the best scores and this, in turn, has enabled us to increase our average spend per customer.”

    All that I ask is that you use these powerful industry statistics to motivate staff, influence committees and club management, and to focus efforts on weaknesses that consistently affect a golfer’s experience when visiting a venue, and therefore the amount of money they will spend with you.

    It is also fundamental to remember that a focus on customer service will dramatically enhance your reputation and repeat business. Retention of members, golf day and event bookings are potentially the easiest components to perfect if you are delivering great service; but if you are less than average, you are not just losing money on ‘the one-off experience’, you may have also just cut ties to future business as well.

    In a recent audience vote, in one of our customer-service seminars, nine out of 10 golf professionals felt more could be done to improve customer service levels at their golf clubs. It’s time to know just how good you are. Do you think you could do more to improve service at your golf club?


    59Club is a golf-specific mystery shopper service and a PGA Official Supplier, and it measures and compares customer service levels and analyses all key revenue streams for golf venues. 59Club is committed to the on-going development of club managers and PGA professionals.

    Its unique benchmarking and training service has already benefited hundreds of PGA members and golf course operators, who utilise the company’s performance analysis tools to enable managers to compare their standards of customer service and facility offerings to those perceived as their main competitors.

    The core service includes a series of mystery shopper recorded-enquiry calls and live visits, followed up with regular analysis and training to ensure venues can identify trends and improve, or maintain, service standards.