Simon Wordsworth, CEO of 59Club, compares sales performance at golf clubs in 2015 against last year’s stats and finds there is still room for improvement.
59Club’s successful mechanic does not just rely on its mystery shoppers. Sure, the visits provide the data that is fed back to the clients, but that counts for nothing if those venues are not able to act accordingly upon the information.
This is where 59Club enhances the product with training and supplemental offerings – for the data, in solus, simply illustrates the levels which need to be improved. So it’s interesting to look at, and compare figures, from year to year.
Here we selectively compare the staff performance in sales opportunities, including face-to-face ‘upselling’, from 2014 and 2015, across the ‘traditional’ three 59Club sectors: the podium score: a breakdown of the average score of the three best-performing clubs which have, during the period covered, offered the best overall customer experience; 59Club venues, clubs which are part of the 59Club benchmarking system; and the industry average, made up of clubs tested outside of the 59Club scheme but not privy to the management tool, which includes marking and training criteria. And, as you might expect, it makes for some interesting reading.
It’s worth noting, however, that the average 59Club member scores reflect the number of new venues which join throughout the year, so do not demonstrate a perfect like-for-like comparison, and are merely indicative. What’s more, some of the parameters for testing are improved slightly from year to year to give a more detailed appraisal. So we have concentrated here on criteria which have remained unchanged throughout 2014 and 2015.
The upselling of hire items – buggies and trollies – upon arrival immediately throws up interesting, and telling, statistics. In 2014, the podium score was 65 percent; a year later it had risen to 80 percent, suggesting improvements had been made at many venues, with the top-three performers – not necessarily the same three venues each year remember – raising standards substantially.
The 59Club average, however, has actually dropped from 43 percent to 37 percent, suggesting that while improvements have been made, the new venues are lagging behind, thus negating any small overall improvement and reducing the average. This, we will discover, is not an uncommon occurrence but its cause is understandable and should not in itself set alarm bells ringing.
The same trend is palpable in the golf shop when it came to the knowledge of product pricing. Last year’s podium score of an already impressive 90 percent has been improved upon and has risen to 94. However, once again, the influx of new venues – and, let’s be honest, they wouldn’t feel the need to join if they did not feel improvements were necessary – has again seen the 59Club venues’ score drop from 72 percent to 58.
One of the most dramatic indicators of the improvements which can be brought about by correct training and education is in the pro shop ‘sales approach and process’, which requires a staff member to approach the tester within a minute and engage in conversation while avoiding asking ‘closed’ questions.
In 2014, the best-performing venues – the podium score – achieved a respectable 81 percent; yet in 2015 they scored a perfect 100. Yes, no fault could be found at all. A big gold star to all involved there!
Still in the pro shop, a similar tale unfolds when it comes to knowledge of product features. Last year’s podium score sat reasonably at 81 percent, but has risen in the first few months of 2015 to an impressive 90, suggesting that staff have been encouraged to learn more about their stock.
We all know that ‘closing’ a sale is a skill; not everybody is a natural ‘closer’, but, as with most things in life, it is a skill which can be learned and developed. This is illustrated clearly with the improvement in the podium scores for ‘sale closure’: in 2014 it was 62 percent; a year later it has risen to 80, an increase of very nearly 30 percent. We can’t quantify what difference that makes to the bottom line, but if the percentage increase in performance is reflected in sales, then it’s likely to be a significant figure. The drop in the industry performance is slight, from 36 percent to 32, but the increased score of the podium clubs demonstrates clearly that improvements can be made… and quickly.
When it comes to food and beverage (F&B), the trend is not so identifiable – and the reasons not so clear cut. Here, the three criteria we are examining all concern ‘upselling’ – a common-enough practice, with which we are all familiar, whether it comes in a visit to a McFast-food chain or a gourmet restaurant.
The upselling of additional items – such as starters and side orders – has dropped across both sectors as 2014 moved into 2015. Yet, perhaps the most telling stat is that the industry average – for clubs tested outside of the 59Club scheme – was zero. The most likely explanation for this is, quite simply, complacency. It may well be that F&B is not as high on the list of priorities as more golf-related areas, such as pro-shop sales or registration.
The thought processes may be, “we all do F&B and it generates revenue whether you work at it or not”. That’s true up to a point, but, as in all the other areas 59Club looks at, training and education can – and will – have a positive effect on the bottom line and should not be overlooked, as the next set of figures indicate.
Our data breaks the upselling down even further, into desserts and drinks. Paradoxically, both these have seen an upturn in performance, suggesting that those two specific areas have been the focus of attention in training. The upsell of drinks has improved from 46 percent to 60, for the podium scores, while the 59Club average has risen to 41 percent from 36.
And, the upselling of desserts follows the same upward trend with the podium score rising slightly from 35 percent to 40, and the industry average from 15 to 23. The proof as it is often said is in the pudding.
These figures overall show that even those clubs offering the best customer experience still have plenty of room for improvement from a face-to-face upselling perspective, presenting an exciting opportunity for all clubs to increase their turnover and profit in the process.