It’s ironic that in a sport like golf where statistics are so widely used, and where so many excellent golfers make a career in the business of golf, they don’t track their stats when it comes to the business side of golf, especially rounds and revenue. It’s akin to playing a round of golf where all you do is keep score, never tracking fairways hit, greens in regulation, putts or scrambling statistics.
Ask any PGA Golf Professional and they will tell you, if you are serious about lowering your score or improving your handicap, breaking down your performance and keeping track of these ‘key performance indicators’ is essential. How else do you quantify where you need to improve?
For golfers, the power in the smart-phone has made the process of capturing statistics during a round of golf easier than ever before. There are any one of a dozen new companies creating very cool technology around distance measuring, scoring, betting and keeping statistics of your round of golf. If it was only that easy for golf course operators.
Unfortunately for golf course owners and operators, the complexity of the operation, the costs of technology, the cost to change technology and the lack of a common platform make capturing statistics around golf course performance in any kind of comparative way almost a non-starter. Heck, the PGA of America just terminated a program trying to do just that after a decade and millions of dollars invested.
We’re going to show you a way forward.
‘Keeping your stats’ related to performance of your golf marketing as manifested in your tee sheet performance comes down to the managing your Key Performance Indicators. It is the only way you ever have a chance of getting better at what you do. And just like they do in a 72-hole stroke play add-em up event you have to ‘post your score’ so you can compare it to others in the competition.
Step 1: You have to be willing to share.
Being willing to share (your performance data) isn’t the same as giving others your raw data to see. By sharing your data with a trusted, unbiased third-party, you are able to provide performance data knowing it is protected and cannot become known to your competition. But by sharing your data, you have the ability to see the composite performance data from the other courses in your area. By doing this you have just taken the first step in gaining back the pricing control of your tee time inventory.
Step 2: Garbage in, garbage out.
For many golf course owners and operators the software system you’ve chosen to manage your tee time inventory poses a unique set of constraints. ‘Not all system are created equal’ was never truer than with golf management software systems. Don’t fear! The system you use may have what it takes. In order for proper rounds and revenue benchmarking to occur, data from the tee time level needs to be captured. Among those data points are day, time, group size and fee amount for each round booked and played on the golf course. That goes for all rounds, comps, barter, employee, tournaments and groups. This is where the ‘garbage in, garbage-out’ comes in. Make it a practice and require your staff to comply by properly checking-in golfers, tournaments, comps, etc., on your tee sheet. Do not take the easy way out here.
Step 2: Be ‘flexible’.
Hey, it’s the 21st century, you pay more for a haircut on Friday afternoon than you do on Tuesday at 1:00pm. Don’t be afraid to adopt some flexible pricing (revenue management) strategies. A word of advice here, we know that the booking window has shorted to less than 48 hours for the majority of courses even on the peak days and times, so think twice about reducing your rate. You might just be shooting yourself in the foot. But as you start to see your performance data compared to your competitive set of golf courses, be prepared to change your pricing strategies.
Step 3: What gets measured, gets done.
The lodging industry realized long ago that someone needed to be responsible and responding to the factors that influence demand on a daily basis and they created the position of revenue manager. This position is now a staple in every hotel operating company and many independents too. Who’s doing this in your operation? What tools are you giving them? What training are you providing? What guidelines are you instructing? How much of their compensation is driven by this performance (any)? In many cases, you, the person reading this is the same person that is trying to provide the revenue management function in your operation. You will be much better off if you identify someone in your organization, train them on how to do this job and provide them the resources and tools to effectively carry out this task.
Step 4: Post your score, watch the scoreboard, get back to work.
By providing data to Sagacity and subscribing to the competitive set reporting, you will be able to ‘post your score’. Benchmark can bring in diverse sets of data from golf course software systems and produce a standardized report measuring the Key Performance Indicators allowing operators to see how they measure up. This is the essence of your golf business. You don’t operate in a vacuum and you need to see how your performance stacks up against your comp set to make sure you’re not ‘leaving any shots out on the course’. By comparing, you will be able to confirm if your card program competes favorably. You will be able to see how your annual passholder play measures up against your competitors. We’ll also help you calculate an opportunity cost for your barter relationships AND clearly show you if your marketing partner is helping or hurting you.
Step 5: There is an ‘Official Money-List”
Professional golfers are playing for hundreds of millions of dollars world-wide. The stakes are high. Your stakes are higher. While you may ‘only’ be playing for $1-$5 million dollars, it’s all relative. To be the best, you have to know your game and be willing to invest and improve. You provide a livelihood for you and your family and to the families of those who work with you. Your golf course provides a recreational and creative outlet for your community, a ‘home-away-from-home’ for many. It’s an awesome responsibility, and one that many of you cherish. To you, we’re here to provide you the ‘stats’ to help you improve your game.
So, nobody said it was going to be easy. The same dedication that the top performing golfer brings to the practice facility analyzing their stats, working to improve their game is the same dedication that you need to bring to your business everyday. Your tee sheet is in a constant state of change, it never stops reacting to changes in weather, occupancy, seasons, playing conditions, etc.. For you to be on top of your game you need to follow the steps outlined here. No time like the present…
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