Identifying Opportunities through Unbiased Survey Data

Thursday October 6, 2022

If only we knew! Clubs have a lot going on right now. Economic uncertainty, all-time employee turnover and whipsaw fluctuations in membership demand have managers seeking to batten down the proverbial hatches to stay afloat in an angry sea of ambiguity. There are decisions to make – a lot of them – but what is correct? What do my players want? What do my employees need? Why did that dues-paying member leave after 12 years at my club? Can we afford to greenlight that capital expenditure? Can we afford not to? Clubs and club managers need answers, which means first they must ask the right questions. And if you and your club aren’t armed with data to support your inquiries and decisions, you’re effectively stumbling around in the dark. Best way to illuminate your path? Survey data.

Let’s look at two examples of how direct, first-party survey data arms decision makers to increase satisfaction at their club.

The New Member Example

After a lengthy courting and onboarding process, new member “Andrew” seems underwhelmed. He doesn’t seem to be taking advantage of club amenities he said he would love to use and hasn’t attended many club functions over the course of his first few months. The sales team is high-fiving and lighting cigars – it took a while to get Andrew into the club – but the member concierge is worried Andrew is experiencing buyer’s remorse. Could Andrew’s apathy have been avoided?

As we’ve discussed before, the new-member onboarding process is incredibly important, and if it needs to be changed, so be it. Adapt or die. But how should it change? That’s where first-party data comes in. Through member surveys, managers can identify not only what Andrew would have wanted during his first few months on property, but also what all other members would have wanted when they entered into their club agreement. Maybe a more robust orientation or a new member meet and greet would have helped break the ice for Andrew. Maybe the entire onboarding process is insufficient for a club of your caliber. Using survey data from existing members allows club decision makers to identify weak points and make important changes so predicaments like Andrew’s don’t ever happen again.

“If Only We Knew” Example

Perennial member-guest medalist “Jerod” wants to break the news in person – he’s leaving the club after 12 years. Jerod has grown with the club and loved every minute of it, but his life has changed and he needs to move on. Club managers understand – things change – and wish him the best. After a few months, another long-time member is leaving. Then another. Membership sales are through the roof so the exodus of a small few doesn’t seem to move the needle.

As the player experience coordinator is making his rounds at lunch, he strikes up a conversation with one of Jerod’s regular playing partners who tells him Jerod – and his three young daughters – are now members at a club with onsite childcare. The realization hits the concierge like a ton of bricks. THAT’S why Jerod left. If only he knew that’s what Jerod – and the other members – needed from the club.

In-depth member exit surveys eliminate this possibility. Whether or not the majority of your members need onsite childcare, understanding the reasons for member exit only strengthens your club’s ability to adapt and change to meet the needs of your members. Don’t get caught saying “there was nothing we could have done” or “if only we knew.”

Customer Experience as Club Currency

Thursday September 15, 2022

Time is money. It’s a phrase as old as the United States and as widely known in business circles as just about anything. The phrase was originally meant to explain the “cost of laziness.” But with the business world moving closer and closer to a fully digital experience, there’s a new “currency” on the market other than time with its own opportunities– customer experience.

What is customer experience?

Simply put, customer experience is how your customers feel about the sum of their interactions with your brand. It’s what shapes their perception of you. It includes every touchpoint and every interaction, from the first phone call and inquiry, to the 1,000th meal they had at your club’s restaurant.

Investment in customer service and a positive customer experience leads to increases in revenue from additional prospects, prospect retention, increase in retail cart size and time on property. And you can bet that increase in revenue can and will fund capital improvements at your club.

Here are three reasons to invest in your club’s customer experience:

Happy customers stay longer and therefore spend more

Customers tend to stay on property longer if they have a great customer experience. For our daily-fee clubs out there, this means more time – and more sales – at your restaurant, bar, golf shop or other retail/dining environments. For our private club clients, this means an increase in member retention and membership dues.

Positive customer experience increases member/customer retention

It’s much more expensive to replace a customer than to keep one and investing in an excellent customer experience will give you a leg up in the customer retention game.

Increase in new customers as word travels

While angry customers are still more likely to write a review than happy ones, people are much more likely to share positive stories about brands and clubs with their friends. Providing an exceptional customer experience creates a standing army of advertisers who are willing to share stories of your service with other potential customers.

Mystery Shopping – What is it Good For?

Thursday September 1, 2022

You have heard it 100 times. Maybe you read it in a textbook in business school. Maybe your mentor added emphasis to make it a point that stuck with you for the rest of your professional career. As a manager, you simply can’t be everywhere at once. Employing mystery shopping techniques allows managers to expand their reach and collect data and information they would otherwise be unable to acquire and is easily one of the most cost-effective data collection tools available in today’s business climate. But mystery shopping helps your club in myriad other ways outside of data collection and pain-point identification.

Here are four additional ways 59club USA clients use mystery shopping data to better their clubs:

Team Feedback with Specific Examples

You can’t run a business on “he said she said” whether the topic in question is good or bad. No matter what, there will always be a bias in the memory of the employees involved. Unbiased mystery shopping allows managers to acquire specific examples from real-world interactions and relay that information to your team as a teaching moment. This provides managers and club operators the opportunity to eliminate unwanted behavior from the moment it’s recognized and turn a weakness into a strength.

Identification of Trends and Future Training Opportunities

Oh no! There seems to be an unwanted trend developing at your club. Could be an apathetic attitude towards upselling. Maybe the collars around your greens aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Where did that come from? You might be able to correct the behavior of a specific employee, but if it happened once, it might happen again. This is the perfect opportunity to update the employee handbook and code of conduct to ensure your employees understand the importance to these specific club operations and eliminate these trends once and for all – something you might never have identified without mystery shopping.

Objective Reporting and Benchmarking

Is your club making money? Yes? Good. But does that mean it’s a good business? Not necessarily. There are limitless variables when it comes to owning and operating a club, and when you’re reporting to your board, an ownership group or other stakeholders, it’s imperative you come armed with specific, objective reporting metrics. The way 59club USA delivers objective, data driven mystery shopping analysis gives you evidence instead of hearsay to tackle risk/reward opportunities with confidence.

Rewarding the Right Behavior

We’ve talked a lot about poor behavior and customer service here, but one of the most fundamentally positive aspects of mystery shopping is identifying and proving positive customer service interaction from a specific employee. Mystery shopping – and the objective data it produces – allows club managers to reward employees based on merit and not the status quo. It has become a common practice for our data to be included in the annual incentive/bonus calculations for managers at all levels of the club. It gives you another objective tool, beyond just the financial statement, to measure how a particular manager is doing in their area of responsibility. Rewarding employees in the right way creates champions and a positive, collaborative culture – undeniably one of the easiest paths to success in the business world.

Upselling and Cross Selling at the Golf Shop – Proven Techniques

Wednesday August 24, 2022

The golf shop can be traced back to – who else – Old Tom Morris in the home of golf in St. Andrews, and over the past nearly 175 years, it has been a way for golf clubs to add value to their operation, increase their bottom line and offer a wide array of different products suitable for a very specific customer with very specific needs: the golfer. For a century, it was one of the very few places a golfer could purchase the necessary equipment to play the game. That is certainly not the case today.

Especially in the United States with a few clear exceptions, golf shops have become more of a loss leader and primarily operated by retail staff members hired by the golf club itself who do not have a stake in the company other than their job. And if that model is just fine with you and you aren’t looking at your golf shop as an opportunity to increase revenue and pad the bottom line, then this article won’t mean much to you. But, since people are still buying golf shoes at golf shops at the golf course instead of enlisting Amazon drones to deliver it to your house at a fraction of the cost, it means there’s ample opportunity for your golf shop to move from loss leader into a real revenue generating asset. Two tricks – upselling and cross selling.

What is upselling? Very simply. upselling is where you encourage shoppers to buy a higher priced item than the item that they’re looking at.

As an example, using those same golf shoes, somebody’s looking at a pair of Adidas golf spikes which retails for $79.99. Instead of simply allowing the customer to choose those shoes, instead you upsell them to the Nikes for $109.99. Providing margins are the same, which they likely are, this process increases your total profit. Easy. Right?

In the same vein as upselling, cross selling is when you sell complementary products to increase the overall basket size of this individual customer. Let’s use shoes again. If somebody is willing to buy shoes at a golf shop, they probably need socks as well. If they need a hat, they might need sunscreen or a towel to keep sweat off that brand new hat. This process can continue until the final moment the customer goes to pay. They might need balls, or a marker or a yardage book to go along with their Nike shoes, socks, hat, sunscreen and towel. All high-margin impulse buys to pad the bottom line one final time before they head to the first tee.

Easy in theory, harder in practice. What are some of the techniques for upselling cross selling that can make retail operators at the golf shop more successful than their peers?

Go Beyond the Counter

First, is personally interacting with the customer on the floor. Too often, especially in the United States, retail operators are stuck behind the counter. There are fair reasons for that – thwarting theft, answering phones, etc – but in order to really take your operation to the next level through upselling, retail staffers will need to come from behind the counter and work individually with customers to build rapport, and most importantly, ask questions.

Ask Meaningful Questions

A simple question with a yes or no answer isn’t going to build a ton of rapport and it’s not going to make the customer feel that you’re really engaging. Open ended questions are the best. Here are some questions for our shoes example. Why are you looking at this particular item? What did you like about your previous item in this? What didn’t you like? Was it too wide? Was it too narrow? Breathable? Weatherproof? Waterproof? Did it just not fit right?  Do you play normally in wetter climates or drier climates? Are you noticing any changes in your stroke when you wear them? All of these questions are open ended and going to entice the potential customer to connect with you and give you reasons that they’re looking for this new product. By by asking and answering these questions for the customer, you’re adding value to the proposition and the overall experience, you’re building rapport with the customer and you’re gaining their trust. Once you have their trust, you can go for upselling cross selling opportunities that match their answers.

Keep it Simple and Connected

When you’re cross selling or upselling, it’s important to not betray that trust by delving into seemingly random or unconnected things. Let’s stick with shoes. Customer A comes into the shop looking for Adidas golf shoes. Based on your cross-selling training, you know you need to provide an additional item to increase basket size, so you suggest a pullover to go along with the shoes. See the disconnect here? The connection between these items is a stretch at best. You’re much better off suggesting socks, replacement spikes, different color shoelaces or upselling more expensive shoes than a pullover. It’s very important to connect the dots instead of throwing out random things just for the sake of checking off your cross selling to do list as a retail operator.

Prime Product Positioning

The rule of three isn’t just for aspiring comedians. Retail upselling comes in threes as well. When upselling more expensive items, make sure to present a retail customer three options  while making sure to put the highest-margin item in the middle. Your customer might not want the highest priced product, but might be willing to pay for the product in the middle – especially considering the advantages and benefits it has over the lower-priced item. The middle product, in this case is STILL an upsell from the lowest-ticket item.

Want more tips and tricks for your retail operation? Visit 59club USA to inquire about training services.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE WRITTEN CONFIRMATION

Thursday May 12, 2022

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE WRITTEN CONFIRMATION

As the world continues to blaze the digital frontier, there are now more ways than ever to purchase a tee time or make a dinner reservation at your club. And that’s a good thing. Additional ways to bring in revenue means more ways to make your club profitable. But new digital pathways create opportunities for digital missteps. Mainly, customers want to know their credit card information is secure and they want to know when you have reserved their spot – whether that be for a tee time reservation or a dinner reservation. And if you’re not providing a written record of their spot on your tee sheet or a table at your restaurant, customers will feel uneasy about the entire process. Instead, look at the written confirmation as a first impression of the experience at your club – something that should match the overall customer experience at your club. And most importantly, written confirmation automation gives your club and your restaurant an opportunity to advance your marketing efforts by collecting first-party data – the most cost-efficient marketing strategy available to most clubs.

Unfortunately, nearly half of clubs in the United States do not provide written confirmations for restaurant or tee-time bookings. And, worse, only 12% of clubs ask any follow-up questions in the confirmation, leaving an enormous amount of room for improvement on the marketing side of your club’s business operations.

Let’s be candid. Sending a written confirmation for a tee time or restaurant reservation at your club is the bare minimum. If you ordered a widget from Amazon without a confirmation of the purchase, you would be left wondering if Amazon is, in fact, fulfilling the order. That kind of digital misstep creates enormous uncertainty and is unlikely to be the first impression you want to convey to your customer.

There are two types of digital reservation confirmations: standard and inquisitive.

The standard reservation confirmation gives basic information like the time and date of the reservation, number of individuals in the party, and – in the case of a tee time – the cost of the group to play. This type of written confirmation is rarely visually appealing, but it ensures your customer is aware you have reserved their spot.

The second, and monumentally better form of written confirmation is the inquisitive confirmation which aims to collect additional information about your customer and provide a more welcoming experience. These confirmations provide further insight into the club or restaurant like daily specials, information about the golf course or its history and trains your customer to expect additional questions throughout the booking process. Most importantly, the inquisitive confirmation opens the door to learn more about your customer – what dishes they like the best, what days they like to play or go out to eat, and how far they live from the club for example.

Armed with this new information about your customer, club and restaurant managers can now send out emails or other forms of digital communication directed specifically at these customers and their individual needs, adding to the overall experience at the property and making a personal connection with your customers.

The best of the best also send a reminder 24 hours ahead of the reservation (tee time or restaurant). Just a thought as we measure this in our mystery shops, and we have customers that do it.

59CLUB USA ADDS NEW BUSINESS OPERATIONS MANAGER TO THE TEAM

Friday April 8, 2022

59club USA announced today Patsy Forester has joined the team as Manager of Business Operations. Forester will manage the recruitment, training, and coordination of 59clubUSA’s Mystery Shopper team and assist with marketing and social media for 59clubUSA. 

“Patsy joins us with years of experience in customer and member service in the golf industry,” said Mike Kelly, Managing Partner for 59club USA. “She is an excellent fit for our growing company and her knowledge and skills will be immediately impactful. We’re thrilled to have her on board.”

Patsy started her professional career in the Members Program at the United States Golf Association, where she served as a liaison between the organization’s members and all of the departments making up golf’s governing body for the U.S. She then worked at a private golf club in Maryland, amassing many years of experience interacting with golfers. Patsy’s focus has been on member development, marketing, and publishing.

“I’m thrilled to join the 59clubUSA team,” said Forester. “The opportunity to join a growing business with incredible upside and a commitment to customer service is extremely exciting.”

Patsy holds a bachelor’s degree in English with emphasis on rhetoric and composition from Elon University. While a student at Elon, she met her husband, PGA Professional, Wesley Forester. The parents of two grown children, Patsy and Wes enjoy traveling, spending time outdoors, cheering for the Georgia Bulldogs, and being involved at their local church.

HOW STARTERS AND RANGERS ENHANCE YOUR CLUB’S OVERALL EXPERIENCE

Wednesday April 6, 2022

In the later parts of the 20th century before the recession of 2008 and its aftermath which all but gutted the golf industry, it was extremely common to find many specialized jobs within golf club operations. Starters, rangers and even bathroom attendants were at nearly every club – especially private clubs – and the reasoning behind these jobs was simple: to enhance the overall club experience. But as less and less golfers walked through the doors at golf clubs throughout the world, clubs look to stay in the black by cutting costs, and that meant cutting staff. And despite the United States economy rebounding after the recession, a lot of these jobs didn’t come back. Instead, many clubs elected to continue operating without starters, rangers and other specialized staff and the golf experience suffered.

There’s a reason starters, rangers and beverage attendants exist and are employed at all of the best clubs in the world. And if your club doesn’t have them or they are an afterthought, you better have a good reason for it because your competitors do and they work! Let’s take a look at some of the different reasons a starter or a ranger might be needed at your club outside of their “normal” operations.

Starters:

Starters today are employed for a very specific purpose – to make sure that the people that are teeing off at 10 o’clock are the people who reserved the 10 o’clock tee time. Simple. Right? Instead, look at your starter as the last first impression your customers will get of the golf course itself. The stakes are especially high for new players coming to a golf course for the first time. Without the starter there, the players are left to their own devices. They don’t know about that wash on hole 13 that’s going to eat up tee shots because no one told them to hit less than driver. They don’t know about the history of the golf course, who designed it or why they elected to build it way they did. New players don’t know where the restrooms are or where water is – exceptionally important in warmer climates. This is all the starter’s job and it doesn’t take very long to do it and do it well. Three minutes is all it takes for the starter to provide all necessary information to the players and make them feel warm, welcome and to educate them on how to have the best overall experience at your club. It’s a pivotal position. And if your club isn’t using it, then you might want to consider it.

Rangers:

Today, the most common reason players see a ranger is because they either they did something wrong or somebody’s taking too much time in between shots. Generally, rangers police players to make sure they’re not damaging property or the golf course itself and they’re there to keep pace of play. Again, simple. But the Rangers’ job shouldn’t be discounted to a golf course “security guard”. It’s a great opportunity to pacify what would be otherwise angry customers and build personal rapport with players.

Let’s look at the slow play example – the most common ranger interaction. A good ranger with good experience and proper training won’t simply ask a group to pick up the pace, but also let the waiting group know pace of play will pick up soon. It pacifies what otherwise be upset or angry individuals, and gives you an opportunity to not only correct the problem immediately, but also let them know that you care about their experience.

59club USA measures dozens of similar on-course services and benchmarks your club’s overall performance against your competitor set, the industry average and the best clubs in the world. And if you’re in need to hard data to confirm the need for a new starter or ranger, 59club USA can provide that in spades.

The Dos and Don’ts of Prospect Property Tours

Wednesday March 23, 2022

Any kind of golf property from the most exclusive private clubs in the world to ultra-affordable city municipal courses have some sort of sales staff and operations to bring new revenue into the club outside of regular tee times. If your club is a daily fee operation, event sales and group golf day sales are an absolute must to supplement your regular tee time revenue. And on the flip side, membership sales at private clubs are the bread and butter of club revenue generation. But if your sales staff is fumbling or the property tour, you can probably kiss that supplemental revenue goodbye.

According to 59club data collected over 15 years from thousands of golf properties all over the world, here are the most important things your sales staff MUST do to ensure the property tour goes smoothly and your club gets the event business or membership sale.

Be on Time

Be on time. Be on time. BE ON TIME! No one likes to wait and if your first in-person impression is of someone who doesn’t value another person’s time, expect for just about everything to go poorly from there. The good news is this is an easy fix. Just – say it with us – be on time.

Have a Warm Welcome Waiting

You’re on time. Now what? The best sales people in the world wait out front for their guests and present a warm and welcome greeting. That means smiling, excellent eye contact, engaging conversation to break the ice and the use of the guest’s name. It’s welcoming, disarming and the best first impression one can ask for.

Offer a Beverage

Offering a beverage to a guest is hospitality 101, but bonus points can be scored by telling the server your guest’s name beforehand so they can use it as they approach the table.

Recap the Phone Conversation

“How many people are you expecting again,” he asked before losing the business. The property tour won’t be the first interaction with a prospect, so make sure to dust off your sales notes to let the prospect you value his/her time and you were paying attention. Refer back to specifics from your notes and have answers to questions readily available.

Custom Tailored Tours Based on Needs

Chances are your club is not an arts center and your sales staff members are not docents, so make sure to avoid “museum tours” – the same tour for every guest. Tailor your property tour to match the needs and pain points of the prospect with specifics based on your previous conversations.

Confirm the Tour Length and Prospect Availability

Some people have all day to make sure your property is the best suited for their needs. Some have 30 minutes. Confirm the length of the tour twice – once on the phone and then again as your prospect arrives to ensure you get to everything you need to cover before time runs out.

Get the Tour Started

This goes for every your, but especially if your prospect has limited time. Get things started! No one wants to listen to your sales staff drone on about the wallpaper or the time they aced the 16th hole. Get your prospect something to drink, confirm the length of the tour, confirm the needs of the prospect and get going!

59CLUB USA TO PROVIDE MYSTERY SHOPPING SERVICES TO WESTHAVEN GOLF CLUB

Tuesday March 22, 2022

59club USA announced today they added Westhaven Golf Club in Franklin, Tennessee, to the 59club USA client roster. 59club USA will use their industry-leading proprietary software and objective data analysis tools to provide mystery shopping services to help increase member satisfaction throughout the entire club experience.

“Westhaven Golf Club is an incredible property and we’re delighted to begin working with them,” said Mike Kelly, managing partner, 59club USA. “We look forward to showcasing our world-class customer service platform and provide knowledgeable insights into their current operations.”

59club is a service-based management tool and customer service provider which uses objective data points and images to measure, improve and then maintain standards of customer service, in turn increasing visitor and member retention. Results of on-site testing from 59club are a boost to customer satisfaction, revenues and profits for clubs who use their services such as customer satisfaction surveys, mystery shopping services and employee training – both virtual and on-site.

“We’re extremely excited to use 59club USA’s mystery shopping services to help enhance our customer service, not only in our golf operations, but throughout our club experience,” Mark Lammi, General Manager of Westhaven Golf Club. “As a premier private club and a Troon Prive-managed property, we’re only as good as the service we provide to our members. We’re happy to employ these specific tools so we can continue to provide excellent service to our current and future members.”

Located just south of Nashville in Franklin, Westhaven Golf Club is located adjacent to the Westhaven master-planned community, developed by Southern Land Company. The core-golf design blends seamlessly with the surrounding hills and ridgelines of western Williamson County earning the club national recognition for outstanding design from both GolfWeek and Golf Digest. Westhaven Golf Club is managed by Troon Privé, the private club operations division of Troon.

59club USA has established and developed relationships with more than 150 well-known golf clubs and resorts in North America including 14 TPC Network properties, Reynolds Lake Oconee, The Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda, Haig Point in South Carolina and We-Ko-Pa Golf Club in Scottsdale. Additionally, 59club USA works with management companies Bobby Jones Links, Landscapes Golf Management, and Arcis Golf, three of the world’s largest management companies.

WELCOMING NEW MEMBERS THE RIGHT WAY

Friday December 17, 2021

You’re long past it now, but try to harken back to your days as a middle schooler or teenager, full of angst and hungry for friends and meaningful relationships. Maybe you were one of the cool kids who never had trouble making new friends, but for a lot of people – especially for those who moved into a new school district – building new relationships was full of difficulty and anxiety. The same might be said for new members joining a private club. And if your members are paying dues to be a part of a community instead of simply taking advantage of the facilities and amenities, it’s imperative to make them feel welcome and part of the family.

According to 59club data from their proprietary member survey tool, the majority of high-performing private clubs are welcoming new members the right way, but a large percentage of clubs are falling short in key areas of new member integration. Let’s get to the numbers.

The Welcome Call

If your sales staff or marketing team spent a ton of time and a lot of money wining, dining, courting and signing a prospective new lead at your private club, you would assume they would be running – and fast – to call the new member to welcome them to the club. According to 59club data, only 52% of new members at private clubs received a formal “welcome to the club” phone call. Not exactly a great start to a budding new relationship.

The Formal Induction meeting

The practice of hosting formal induction meetings for new members is not for every club, but all but guarantees your members an opportunity to meet, learn about and formally welcome a new member of your private community. On average, 26% of new members at private clubs took part in a formal induction meeting, but among the highest scoring clubs in the world, this number dramatically increases to nearly 90%. It might be worth fleshing out and implementing this program at your club in the future if not already in place.

Staff Introduction and Networking

As your members spend more time at the club, your staff will invariably pick up on some interesting tidbits, facts, likes and dislikes from your various members. And in that regard, your staff is armed with networking abilities well suited to help your new members make new friendships. Less than 50% of new members surveyed said they were introduced to legacy members by staff members, but again, the best clubs in the world make this a regular practice.

Knowing Your Name

One of the quickest and easiest ways make someone feel at home is simply by addressing them by their name. shockingly, less than 60% of members surveyed report private club staff members demonstrating they know the name of the newest members.

Adding it All Up

When you take a look at the numbers above, it’s easy to see why only 65 percent of new members at private clubs report making new friendships within their first few months. And for a model that requires camaraderie and inclusion, leaving it up to your members to make friends on their own without any tips and tricks to get the process started is a recipe for member stagnation.

Learn more about the 59club Member Surveys here: https://www.59clubusa.com/satisfaction-surveys/

The Power of the Phone Call – New Membership Prospects

Friday December 3, 2021

The internet and the myriad new ways it allows people to connect has forever changed the personal and professional communication landscape. Text messages, emails, digital direct mail and online forms make it possible for people to digest and respond to messages on their own time and keep a sense of privacy – which is great for rudimentary transactions and appointments. But when it comes to private club memberships or other high-value propositions, there is simply no substitute for the old-fashioned phone call.

According to 59club data, on average, only 31% of polled private club prospective members said they received a follow-up phone call from the club. When compared to the leaders in the industry, however, the number jumps up to 100%, meaning the best of the best in the country recognize the importance and power of the phone call.

“Following up with prospects after they have expressed interest in joining the club is a major issue,” said Mike Kelly, managing partner of 59club USA. “These prospects have taken time out of their day to call and tour the club and they simply aren’t getting a call back. Some clubs say they either send emails or text messages, but that is frankly not good enough. In order to continue to build rapport, nurture the relationship and be an effective sales staff, you have to pick up the phone. Period.”

According to 59club, while making the effort to speak with prospective members on the phone is the bare minimum, there are five key components of a truly successful follow-up phone call.

Timeliness of the follow-up call

Prospective members tend to lose interest the longer they have to wait for the next communication. Prompt replies after an initial site visit ensures the emotional connection to the club is still fresh in the prospect’s mind.

Direct communication

Gate keepers like assistants and voicemail messages make it easy to leave a message and move on, but successful sales calls are almost wholly reliant on direct communication so nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

Trial close

As a sales professional, your goal should be to sell the membership, not have a nice chat on the phone. Forgetting to engage in a trial close is the quickest way to lose out on new memberships.

A personal call specific to the prospect

Sales scripts are a great way to make sure nothing is left out of each individual call, but blanket statements with no regard for the other person on the line – their likes, dislikes, pain points, first and last name, etc. – have the feel of a text message or a disengaged staff member. Make the call personal and specific to each person you contact.

Friendliness

Above all, membership sales calls should be friendly and personable. After all, no one wants to be a part of a group of curmudgeons. Your sales staff represents the club at its base level and should reflect the positive aspects of your club.

59CLUB USA ADDS 19 NEW CLIENT PROPERTIES THROUGH AGREEMENT WITH ESCALANTE GOLF

Thursday December 2, 2021

59CLUB USA ADDS 19 NEW CLIENT PROPERTIES THROUGH

AGREEMENT WITH ESCALANTE GOLF

STATHAM, Ga. – North American customer service satisfaction and benchmarking firm 59club USA announced today they have agreed to terms with 19 golf properties owned and operated by Escalante Golf. 59club USA will provide mystery shopping services for each of the 19 properties – both private and daily fee – to identify strengths and potential areas for improvement throughout the individual golf experience at each property. To date, 59club USA has provided customer service benchmarking services like mystery shopping, employee and member survey tools and online training for more than 170 golf and hospitality properties in the United States.

“We’re extremely excited to be assisting the high-end properties in the Escalante portfolio with their customer service operations,” said Mike Kelly, managing partner of 59club USA. “We’re thrilled to get started and look forward to providing detailed feedback for each of their unbelievable golf courses.”

Click here to view a complete 59club USA client roster: https://www.59clubusa.com/venues-tested/

“The golf business demands attention to detail and extreme focus on the customer experience and member satisfaction,” said Jeff Kindred, EVP, Club & Resort Division . “We set exceptionally high standards at each one of our properties, but we also realize there is almost always room for improvement. By using 59club USA, we will be able to identify our needs more easily and, if necessary, make immediate changes. We’re eager to begin.”

59club is a service-based management tool and customer service provider which uses objective data points and images to measure, improve and then maintain standards of customer service, in turn increasing visitor and member retention. Results of on-site testing from 59club are a boost to customer satisfaction, revenues and profits for clubs who use their services such as customer satisfaction surveys, mystery shopping services and employee training – both virtual and on-site.

59club USA has established and developed relationships with more than 170 well-known golf clubs and resorts in North America including 14 TPC Network properties, Reynolds Lake Oconee, The Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda, Haig Point in South Carolina, and We-Ko-Pa Golf Club in Scottsdale. Additionally, 59club USA works with other owners and management companies such as Bobby Jones Links, Landscapes Golf Management, Arcis Golf, Brown Golf, Hampton Golf and now Escalante Golf.

About 59Club USA

59Club USA is specifically designed to elevate sales and service standards. 59club USA provides mystery Shopper Audits, Customer Satisfaction Surveys, and Training Services, empowering venue managers to analyze their entire visitor and member experience, enabling them to set targets, monitor performance and ultimately make informed decisions to enhance their guest services. To learn more about 59club USA, visit https://www.59clubusa.com/.

About Escalante Golf

Founded in 1991, Escalante Golf is a boutique owner and operator of 17 luxury golf properties across nine states. The Fort Worth, Texas-based company has quietly assembled an impressive collection of exclusive clubs in key markets. Many have hosted several prestigious amateur and professional golf tournaments including the U.S. Mid-Amateur Golf Championship, the Charles Schwab Cup, the WGC Match Play Championship and the Shell Houston Open. The firm’s culture emphasizes personal service, integrity, long-term stability, and operational excellence. Operating partners David McDonald, Elcio Silva, Robert Silva and David Matheson direct the Escalante team.

For more information: www.escalantegolf.com  817.386.9721.

59CLUB USA SIGNS MYSTERY SHOPPING AGREEMENT WITH THE CLIFFS’ SEVEN PROPERTIES

Thursday October 21, 2021

STATHAM, Ga. – North American customer service satisfaction and benchmarking firm 59club USA announced today they added The Cliffs and their seven golf properties to the client roster. 59club USA will use their industry-leading proprietary software and objective data analysis tools to provide mystery shopping services to help identify strengths in weaknesses in the overall golf experience at each individual club.

“The Cliffs represent some of the most beautiful and luxurious private communities in the country and we’re very excited to begin working with them,” said Mike Kelly, managing partner of 59club USA. “We look forward to providing 59club proven, knowledgeable insights into their golf operations.”

59club USA now serves more than 150 golf club and hospitality properties in North America. Click here to view a complete 59club USA client roster: https://www.59clubusa.com/venues-tested/

The Cliffs is a collection of seven private luxury residential mountain and lake club and communities encompassing more than 20,000 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains. One membership at The Cliffs grants access to an unparalleled suite of amenities, including seven clubs, seven nationally-acclaimed golf courses, seven wellness centers, boating and water sports, a Beach Club, full-service marina, paddle sports, cycling, tennis, an equestrian center, miles of hiking trails, more than a dozen dining and private event venues, an organic farm and more than 2,000 year-round programs and social activities to create timeless experiences.

“Adding 59club USA’s mystery shopping services to our golf operations is an important step in our long-range customer service plans at The Cliffs,” said Rob Duckett, President of The Cliffs and South Street Partners. “Customer service is at the forefront of all amenities at The Cliffs and something in which we invest heavily. We’re looking forward to taking that next step with 59club.”

59club is a service-based management tool and customer service provider which uses objective data points and images to measure, improve and then maintain standards of customer service, in turn increasing visitor and member retention. Results of on-site testing from 59club are a boost to customer satisfaction, revenues and profits for clubs who use their services such as customer satisfaction surveys, mystery shopping services and employee training – both virtual and on-site.

59club USA has established and developed relationships with more than 150 well-known golf clubs and resorts in North America including 14 TPC Network properties, Reynolds Lake Oconee, The Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda, Haig Point in South Carolina, We-Ko-Pa Golf Club in Scottsdale. Additionally, 59club USA works with management companies Bobby Jones Links, Landscapes Golf Management, Arcis Golf – three of the world’s largest golf management companies.

GET THE DETAILS! INDUSTRY MISSING OUT ON REPEAT BUSINESS

Thursday October 14, 2021

If you think back to your networking or sales calls in the before the last turn of the century, you might remember the humble business card – something now considered archaic and overly obsolete. But the simple business card was one of the greatest first-party-data collection mechanisms ever made. It provided necessary information in which to produce a customer profile including name and geographical locations, contact information, certain demographic information based on the company and card stock and built trust and rapport throughout the sales process – often in the form of a firm handshake.

With the advent of search engines, social media networks and a near full integration of the internet into most of our waking lives, the need for collecting first-party data waned to the point of near obsolescence itself. Why make what you can buy cheaper? But new rules, regulations and internet navigation habits putting a premium on privacy have changed the game again, and it’s now more important than ever for golf clubs and hospitality venues to collect as much data as they can about their clients and customers – straight from the horse’s mouth.

According to data from 59club USA, golf clubs and hospitality venues are simply not gathering first-party data from their existing customers. And just like past success is the best indicator of future success, getting a new customer is 10 times harder than retaining an existing customer.

Third-Party Data vs. First-Party Data – What are We Talking About?

Anyone who has followed social media in any capacity over the last few years is likely familiar with third-party data. Basically, third-party data is a set of geographic, psychographic or demographic indicators purchased from a third party like an internet service provider or social network. Ever seen an advertisement on Facebook for something you were talking about with your friends? How about an Amazon ad that seems to follow you around the internet for that gadget you wanted? And while your phone or computer is actively listening to you, Facebook and Google are not listening to you to immediately serve you ads. The fact of the matter is you, the user, are freely giving that information to these enormous conglomerates. You just might not be aware of how much you’re giving them. That’s third-party data. And it’s going away – or at least significantly and actively changing.

First-party data is information gathered directly between you and your customers. Someone walks into your shop, fills out a form and gives it back to you for input into your CRM or database. Information can include everything you might find on a business card, but can also include what customers like about your club, what they don’t like, what they expect, what they might want in the future and what they’ve purchased in the golf shop. It’s an infinitely more personal connection, very inexpensive and certainly much more reliable.

Advertising Third Party Info Is Going Away

The past few years has brought with it a general concern about how internet navigation data is being used. Huge companies have been inundated with fines – albeit only a small percentage of their operating budget – and governments across the world have started to crack down on misuse of private information. That especially hurts clubs and venues who rely on tourism dollars from multiple different states and countries because each state and country has their own rules. California, for example, has much more strict internet privacy rules than its neighbor Arizona. And as a whole, Canada is far tougher on data collection than the United States but falls short compared to the European Union. Eventually, rules and regulations will find their way back to the mean – or at least begin to use common language – and by then, the data-aggregation systems your firm may have used will be gone. Putting a premium on collecting first-party data will help your club transition back into earlier models and set your club above competition who might find themselves at a loss later down the line.

The Industry Is Failing to Collect Necessary Information

59club USA data shows the average score of data-collection methods at the club level are substandard – scoring 6.7 out of 10. Most clubs fail to gather email addresses from new and existing customers, while some clubs fail to gather so much as a name or phone number.

The simple solution is to use your point-of-sale staff to collect this information at check in, put it in a system and then analyze the data later. But there are also digital integration systems which mirror common booking engines to automate this process. Then, it’s up to you as a manger what you do with the data. And just like having an umbrella in the trunk, better have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

THE FOUNDATION OF PROFESSIONAL RAPPORT: ADDRESSING THE CUSTOMER BY NAME

Friday October 8, 2021

Manners and proper etiquette have been a staple of human introductions and discourse since the dawn of civilization. Titles remain incredibly significant in day-to-day conversation. And the topic is so well-engrained in our society, there have been hundreds of etiquette books published throughout the years, with some recent examples including Amy Vanderbilt’s 1952 best seller “The Complete Book of Etiquette” and Tiffany’s “Table Manners for Teenagers.” It’s important! And while the definition of what is “proper” or “polite” or “appropriate” differs widely between cultures, age ranges, geographical areas, and – of course – what era of human history in which you find yourself, most western civilizations agree a proper address – greeting a customer by their name – is the easiest way to build a foundation of professional rapport. The problem? With respect to this topic, the golf industry is left wanting. Badly.

Proper address as a catalyst for a good customer experience

Aside from being an overall best practice, the proper address serves two important functions in point-of-sale club operations: it disarms the bully, and it reinforces a happy customer’s positive attitude.

As a club or hospitality professional, there’s no doubt you can recall at least a dozen stories of bully customers who approach the counter with a scowl. You can see it coming a mile away – this person is going to be a problem. It can be easy to fall into the trap set by this curmudgeon customer and stoop to a level beneath customer service standards set by your club. Pausing the conversation to complete a proper address and using or asking for the customer’s name is an excellent way to disarm discourtesy and begin the conversation on new, more polite terms.

On the flip side, a proper address tends to strengthen a positive and happy customer’s perception of your brand, especially from the onset of his or her experience at the club. The proper address also turns the point-of-sale operator into an authority or a person of influence throughout the customer journey and creates a positive, personal connection between an employee and the customer. This not only validates the customer’s experience, but through proper training and a commitment to this procedure, can also help your staff gain confidence and optimism for when that bully customer comes back again.

The stats

Everyone who walks through the door of a golf club, hotel, hospitality venue or other customer-first business will have to give a name to book their experience. Names are taken or given via the phone or digital booking systems and will always be on file for the day and time of customer arrival. And in that respect, the excuses for failing to address a customer by name are few and far between.

The current average proper address score of clubs and hospitality properties is 4.4 out of a possible 10 points over all 59club USA data sets and has only increased to a 6.7 out of 10 over the past 11 months. This remains one of the poorest scoring areas of 59club mystery tests to date. Yet, this is one of the easiest and cheapest corrections to make at the club. No risk, but extremely high reward.

Friendly Conversation Starters – The F&B Upsell Engine

Friday July 9, 2021

Making members and guests feel valued and welcome is an absolute no brainer for any hospitality venue, but for golf course F&B establishments which often operate with smaller margins and lower foot traffic than traditional restaurants, the line between success and failure is razor thin. And with labor shortages and employee turnover at levels not seen in decades, the importance of increasing margins through upselling and keeping good employees has never been higher.

According to 59club USA’s industry leading proprietary data sets, the F&B customer service tactic most in need of improvement is also the least costly and happens to be a catalyst for increased margins. It also helps raise tips for servers and happens to be one of the key components of exceptional customer service – friendly conversation starters, A.K.A the upsell engine.

Customers are far more likely to purchase premium items when they have a personal connection to their server. Something as simple as a friendly introduction from the server or a well-placed engaging question can be the difference between your customers ordering the cheapest thing on the menu or opting for the larger size – and higher margin – appetizer, special of the day, beer, cocktail or dessert. Developing rapport through the friendly conversation starter tactic is something every server in your organization should strive for at the beginning of each individual interaction. And it works.  

This same tactic is also one of the driving forces of higher tips. Since most diners in the US tip a percentage of the bill, raising the final total through upselling – made easier through friendly communication – will increase gratuities and employee satisfaction and assist in lowering employee turnover.

The stats:

Clubs are simply not taking advantage of this tactic. Even at the podium levels – the best of the best – of 59club clients, only 66 percent (66%) of tests showed a server’s willingness to engage in friendly conversation starters. The industry average drops to an abysmal 40%, showing an industry wide opportunity for growth and higher F&B margins. Let’s do some math!

Club X has an average of 140 players per day of which 40 (29%) order a small beer at the end of their round. The small beer is priced at $7 with a 78% margin. The large beer is priced at $9 with the same 78% margin. If servers at Club X used friendly conversation starters to prime the pump for the upsell to the larger beer and managed to convert half of the 40 drinkers to the premium beverage, the result is a $11,534 increase in profit over the course of one year – on only one menu item – just by implementing a no-additional-cost tactic in your customer service toolkit. Win win.

Does your service staff need a tutorial on friendly conversation? Take advantage of 59club USA’s online training platform that is designed specifically for the club business.

59club USA Adds 20 Clubs to Rapidly Expanding Client Base Through Agreement With Landscapes Golf Management

Tuesday July 6, 2021

North American customer service satisfaction and benchmarking firm59club USA announced today they added Landscapes Golf Management (LGM) – a sister company to Landscapes Unlimited – to their client roster. 59club USA will use their industry-leading proprietary software and objective data analysis tools to provide mystery shopping services to help audit and improve the golf experience, membership sales, event sales and group-outing sales for 20 LGM golf properties in 13 states.

“We’re obviously thrilled to begin working with Landscapes Golf Management and their extensive list of extraordinary golf properties,” said Mike Kelly, managing partner of 59club USA. “We look forward to showcasing our world-class customer service platform and providing knowledgeable insights which will help shape future plans and achieve customer service excellence throughout their portfolio.”

With the addition of 20 LGM properties, 59club USA expands its client roster to more than 80 golf properties in 28 states across the country.

“Landscapes Golf Management invests extraordinary time, effort and resources into all levels of our organization, especially customer service and training, but we understand there is always room for improvement,” said Tom Everett, president of LGM.  “By utilizing 59club USA’s services, we will receive access to real-time, unbiased data which will help us achieve our goal of consistent customer service improvement, and continued success and growth in all customer-facing areas. We’re extremely excited to begin.”

59club is a service-based management tool and customer service provider which uses objective data points and images to measure, improve and then maintain standards of customer service, in turn increasing visitor and member retention. Results of on-site testing from 59club are a boost to customer satisfaction, revenues and profits for clubs who use their services such as customer satisfaction surveys, mystery shopping services and employee training – both virtual and on-site.

Already, 59club USA has established and developed relationships with more than 80 well-known golf clubs and resorts in North America including 14 TPC Network properties, Reynolds Lake Oconee, The Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda, Haig Point in South Carolina, Bobby Jones Links, and now Landscapes Golf Management – two of the world’s largest golf management companies.

59Club USA Adds Bret Garrison as Regional Director of Sales to the Team

Monday June 21, 2021

59club USA announced today Bret Garrison is joining the team as Director of Sales. Garrison will work remotely for 59clubUSA and manage new client sales operations, client retention strategies and strategic marketing initiatives.

“Bret joins us with more than 15 years’ experience in operational and sales management roles and his experience will be instrumental in 59club USA’s sales strategies moving forward, ” said Mike Kelly, Managing Partner for 59club USA. “As our business grows, we will continue to put a premium on hiring dedicated and talented individuals to lead our company into the future.”

Garrison gained experience at several high-end properties including Boar’s Head Resort & Club, The Club at New Seabury, Lexington Golf & Country Club and Up to Par Management.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to join the 59clubUSA team,” said Garrison. “The opportunity to join a growing company that is committed to raising the bar in the golf and hospitality industry really appealed to me.”

59club USA has established and developed relationships with more than 50 well-known private golf clubs and resorts in North America including 14 TPC properties, We-Ko-Pa Golf Club in Scottsdale, Cuscowilla on Lake Oconee, Fenway Golf Club in New York , The Mid Ocean Club in Bermuda, Haig Point in South Carolina, Ruark Golf Properties in Ocean City, Maryland, and Bobby Jones Links – one of the world’s largest golf management companies.