Phil Barnard, Chairman of Crossover Technologies, looks at how PGA Professionals can bring golf indoors to add more profit to their business during the winter months.
Winter has arrived and so far, it’s a miserable one. Heavy rain, chilly temperatures and the odd flurry of snow have all been sent to dampen any sense of optimism when it comes to enticing golfers onto courses and customers into your shop.
Sustained rainfall was the major factor from September to November this year, which saw nearly 50 per cent more rain than the average for this period, and my thoughts go out to those affected by flooding.
Historically, the Winter months were viewed negatively – ‘damage limitation’ – but times have changed and the quieter months are a real opportunity to add more profit to the business.
IF IT’S COLD OUTSIDE, BRING THE GOLF INSIDE
There’s been a tremendous investment in indoor swing studios over recent years. Many of these have been used to offer excellent custom fit services for golfers to get more from their clubs. When it comes to retail, this has turned the whole Club category on its head: making it profitable again, which is great news. However, during the winter, there can be a lot of downtime with this kit.
I often hear of retailers who, having made the investment for fitting or lessons, are not actually using their indoor studio for rental or game play. Why not get more from your investment and offer indoor golf for members and visitors? The chance to play a virtual round of golf at one of the world’s best courses would appeal to many golfers. Start a winter league or competition to entertain customers on cold evenings, and weekends. It’s also a great chance for golfers to test new clubs stocked by the shop, and give your income a welcome boost. You may need to add new chairs or a sofa, but the rental of the systems, along with sales from drinks and snacks, should make it worth your while and keep the till ticking over.
Another benefit of encouraging golfers to play is that it lengthens the opportunity to sell kit and a number of brands have actually changed their launch patterns to coincide with the colder months. New technology coming into the store, combined with increased opportunity of play, opens up the door for more sales.
PRACTICAL OPTIONS AND A HEALTHY ROI
If you don’t have a swing room currently set-up, I would urge you to look into it. Some Pro’s will be deterred by stories of large expenditure but it’s worth reconsidering or you could be missing out on extra lessons, club fitting, club sales and potential rental. This is big business and the return on investment (ROI) is relatively quick.
An indoor facility doesn’t need to cost a fortune – most of the costs undertaken are often for good-looking room fit outs. However, I know of some Pro’s who are using the old committee room, or club dining room, during the winter, with a temporary set up. If you can find a place in the club house where you can swing a club, and fit a hitting mat and net, it’s a great start.
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