In the January issue of Club & Resort Business, head golf pros and merchandising managers offered their suggestions for boosting sales in the pro shop.
Here are some additional tips that we couldn’t fit in the pages of the magazine:
Develop Vendor Relations. Developing a relationship with the vendor is key to getting what you want and need for your pro shop, says Beth Ann Riecke, a merchandise buyer for pro shops. “Often they will go above and beyond for you.” However, she cautions, “Don’t rely on the reps to write your order. That’s a big mistake. They are going to order what everyone else likes, but they don’t know your customer.”
Get Many Happy Returns. Take advantage of a vendor’s return program so you can return merchandise that hasn’t sold at the end of the season. “If you get stuck with bottoms, you can pack them up and get them out of there,” Riecke says. Even if vendors don’t offer a return program, you should ask for one. “If you don’t ask, you will not receive,” she adds.
Break up with Your Vendor if Things Aren’t Working Out. If a line is underperforming, it’s important to do what’s best for the pro shop. “You have to be able to make the decision when something is not right,” says Fabian McIntyre, Head Professional at Falcon’s Fire Golf Club in Kissimmee, Fla. “You may feel like you’re hurting someone’s feelings, but if the line isn’t right, I don’t buy it. I look at the importance of the sell-through of a product.” Tony Chavez, Head Golf Professional at Mountain Vista Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif., not only tracks sales, he keeps tabs on the vendors themselves. “I did a scorecard for all the vendors that I had, and rated them—both the line and the vendor,” says Chavez. “That way I could evaluate who I should keep for the following year.”
Change Displays Frequently. “We try to make sure that everything gets a shot at being in the high-traffic area—the path from the front door to the counter where people are going to check in and pay their fees,” says John Stutz, Head Golf Professional at Purgatory Golf Club in Noblesville, Ind. That means rotating merchandise seasonally, but preferably more often. “We rotate the floorplan every seven to 10 days,” says Chavez.
Rack up the Sales. “People like to get a deal,” says Cathy McVean, Area Retail Manager for Troon Golf, who is based at the Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz. “We keep a sales rack all year long and we keep feeding it.”
Keep Someone On the Floor at All Times. If a shopper can’t find something, he or she will “give up if they don’t know if you have extra sizes or other products,” says McVean. “Having people on the floor full time really helps.”
Go Beyond Golf. If a male golfer wants to buy something for his wife, McVean’s first question is, “Is she a golfer?” More often than not, she isn’t. To cater to the non-golf crowd, Whirlwind Golf Club stocks jewelry, Native American pottery, books and stuffed animals for kids. The latter is nice for “grandparents that don’t know their grandchildren’s sizes.” Furthermore, complimentary gift wrap during the holiday season is a “huge hit with the men. We wrap it and they can put it right under the tree.”
Sock it To’ Em. Despite often being overlooked, accessories bring a display to life, not to mention boost profit margins, says Riecke. “Selling the shorts pays your bills,” says Riecke. “But when you sell the socks, belts, shoes or gloves, that’s your profit. If you can talk someone into the socks, you’ve increased your sales by 12 percent.”
Get Steamed. Some pro shops recommend using a steamer to keep apparel free of wrinkles. “We spend a lot of time steaming the merchandise so that it looks nice when it’s hanging on the racks,” says Stutz.
Distinguish Yourself from the Competition. Customers won’t necessarily find clothes made with high-tech fabrics at the department store, says Stutz. “It’s something different they don’t get just anywhere and it gives us uniqueness,” he says. “There’s more urgency to buy, so they get it here.”
Brighten Up Small Spaces. Lighting is a great way to make a pro shop appear larger than it is. “Our golf shop is very small, so we decorate accordingly,” says Chavez about his 700-sq.-ft. retail space. “We changed the lighting to illuminate the areas better.”
Get to Know Your Customer. “We try to take care of our customers and see that they are happy and satisfied,” says Stutz. “A lot of the job is knowing everyone’s wants and needs when they walk in the door.” Courtney McDonough, the Merchandising Manager for Wayzata, (Minn.) Country Club adds, “We’re very attentive and supportive, but there’s no pressure. I call people when something comes in that I know they’ll like. That’ll bring them in when they might not have otherwise.”
Never Say No. “We rely a lot on good customer service, and we’ve had success with the ability to place special orders,” says Chavez. “If something is not available, we’ll make a trip down the street to see if another retail store has it. If we can’t get it, we make other suggestions.” When you do go the extra mile for customers, they will take notice. “Loyal customers will not go elsewhere, and they will sell for you,” says Riecke.
Hire a merchandising buyer. “From a golf professional’s standpoint, we do a lot of different things, so it’s hard to focus on one area,” says Stutz. He hired a merchandising consultant to help him with the buying and merchandising in his pro shop. “She knows the ins and outs with the vendors,” he says. “She has more time to devote to that specific aspect.” Take advantage of merchandising managers to develop promotions, buy the right merchandise, work with the vendors’ sales representatives and write the orders.
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