Dominion Country Club puts special touches on its annual Demo Day event, where golfers test-drive new equipment.
Demo Days can be more than just a good marketing tool for a pro shop. Sure, they let vendors show off their latest and greatest woods, irons and wedges to a captive—and clearly relevant—audience. But they can also help, when planned and executed well, to add a new layer of excitement to the club, drive more use of the course and club amenities, and maybe even bring some new members on board.
|SUMMING IT UP
That’s proved to be the case at Dominion Country Club in San Antonio, Texas, which has fully capitalized on this annual opportunity in ways that go far beyond just getting golf equipment vendors to vie for their spots on the sales racks.
Director of Golf Anthony Re begins the buildup for Dominion’s Demo Day about 45 days in advance. Members and guests are notified with posters in the clubhouse, e-mails, a dedicated Demo Day page on the club’s web site, and information sheets that are given to all golfers as they head out for their rounds during the weeks leading up to the event.
To identiy the vendors that will be of most interest to his members, Re relies on the companies that have proved to be big winners at past demo days, and also takes a close look at members’ year-round pro shop buying patterns and requests.
“For example, we might get members who ask, ‘Hey, do you carry Adams Golf?’ ” Re explains. “If we get quite a few inquiries about a certain brand, we listen to them and try to get them in for Demo Day.”
Re also studies industry publications, to keep tabs on the hard goods that tend to sell well in private facilities similar to Dominion.
Feeding the Hunger
Dominion’s Demo Day takes place at the club’s three-tier driving range. The event generally draws a crowd of between 40 and 60 members and guests, reports Re. Besides those who come specifically for product demos, the event also helps to lure golfers in the morning before their tee times and keep other golfers around later in the day, when they’re coming off the last hole.
“It’s a good, steady stream,” he says. “Members are able to adequately try out all the equipment throughout the day.”
The club’s kitchen gets in on the action by providing a casual spread that includes hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and salads. And, according to Re, the payoff from the day’s purchases far exceeds the F&B costs.
“It’s more of an added value—especially for the members—knowing they can come to the club, try the new equipment and get a hot meal out of it,” he explains. “It makes them feel welcome and encourages them to use their club more often.”
In addition, Re’s staff takes an individualized approach designed to make each person feel special.
“One of the most important aspects of any demo day is to have the club’s golf pro available throughout the day, to fit the clubs and talk with members and guests about the equipment,” he says. “Clubs are rooted in being able to give that personalized touch; Demo Day is no different. Your members are making a big purchase and they rely on your expertise, so you want to make sure they have all the information they need to make the best buying decision.”
The big purchases pack a punch for the pro shop’s bottom line, too. Each Demo Day nets Dominion about $30,000 to $50,000 in retail sales.
In an effort to bring even more benefit to the club, Re has also incorporated a membership drive into some of the Demo Days that Dominion has held in the past, with the golf pros offering a pretty significant incentive for those who join during the event.
“Prospective members who may be interested in belonging are invited,” Re says. “If they join that day, they’re fitted with a free set of irons, as a ‘thank you’ from the club.”
Another enticement for members to attend is vendor-donated loot that’s raffled off to participants.
Clubs, Golf Cars and Cars
Because golf equipment can represent a big financial commitment for members, Re puts a lot of effort into bringing the most sought-after manufacturers to Dominion’s Demo Days, so they can show off their new lines. These events can often be the only opportunity members will have to try out certain product lines, and Re wants to make sure the products that sell well will find a spot in the pro shop, too.
“We can only carry a limited number of brands, and the vendors know that,” Re says, citing a lack of space in the pro shop. “This is the vendors’ opportunity to get a piece of the pie. They have to bring the best of the best, or someone else will outsell them. Prior to the event, all of our pros are vetted on each product. And sometimes a vendor will throw a twist at us, with a hot-off-the-press Nike or Callaway, for instance, to help generate more excitement.”
While the club’s demo days are mainly about golf clubs, Re has found a way to incorporate a few bigger-ticket items. Along with a major golf cart dealer, Re sometimes brings in a local car dealership, to allow guests to kick the tires on a handful of different models.
“It’s not your typical Demo Day,” Re says. “Every year, someone ends up buying a car. It’s a win for the dealership, which then turns around and refers members to us, making it a win for us, too.”