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using G1 technology

Successful operators use business metrics to play detective and find the clues to profitability

Mar 07, 2019

Minor adjustments and fine tuning make the difference

To succeed in golf course operations, it helps to recognize that, in most cases, it’s a thin-margin enterprise. What you charge for a round of golf isn’t much more than what you’ve spent to make it available. If that sounds discouraging, it really just puts you on equal footing with the likes of Kroger, Costco or United Airlines—all low-markup vendors and all highly successful.

“What tends to work in a thin-margin business is attention to detail and motivating your team to rack up a lot of small successes,” says Charles Kingsbaker, a GOLF Business Solutions Senior Sales Specialist. “The good news is that revenue-management technology can provide the empirical data that will guide your detective work efficiently. Numbers that are easy to access and review will show an operator how to consistently squeeze additional revenue out of their course’s tee-time inventory.”

Representing the G1 technology platform in the field every day, Kingsbaker can demonstrate exactly how this game of small-ball works. The most natural starting point is creating baseline data for performance indicators like revenue per available tee time (RevPATT), a metric combining course capacity with actual dollars spent by golfers to play rounds. A course can apply the stat to a full season of play, to a single day of the week, or even to one four-hour block on the sheet that needs extra attention.

Capacity utilization is another metric that’s vital for smart decision-making and will alert you to the need to adjust. Putting the two together is part of basic analytics among effective managers. “If your tee time utilization is below 35 percent and your RevPAAT yield is only 55 or 60 percent of your highest-yielding round, that’s a scenario where the numbers are telling you some modifications of your pricing is in order,” says Kingsbaker.

Every course has tee times that go unused—the trick is to avoid “set and forget” pricing and be continually conducting tests and evaluating results. Kingsbaker worked with a GOLFNOW client course that identified a low-utilization period and “turned the dial down” on pricing for that part of the tee sheet. The result was higher utilization and a revenue boost of more than $5,000 for that particular block of times, versus the same period a year prior.

Every course counts rounds played, but there’s growing importance placed on the number of unique golfers making up that total. For example, the course that did 30,000 rounds in 2018 will help its cause greatly if it knows, for example, that 5,000 different golfers played an average of six rounds each. Loyalty is great, but a wide user base is a big advantage when you’ve got a marketing platform like the Plus service product offered by GOLF Business Solutions, which can connect with golfers readily via outbound communication and calls to action.

In a "destination" market, the number of unique golfers should be higher than in a very localized market. When that doesn’t happen, it’s a sign the course is missing out on visits from customers who would bring fresh energy to the operation and very likely spend as though they were treating themselves to a special day. “Growing your total of uniques isn’t something we know all about yet, but we do know it’s a negative when that data point trends downward,” says Kingsbaker.

Meanwhile, low markup is not the whole story for golf courses. You also sell high-profit items like beer, wine, hot dogs and golf shirts. Selling more of your tee time inventory (and building your population of unique users) positions your operation to move more high-margin products. “That’s a positive scenario that will show up in your spend-per-visit numbers,” says Kingsbaker. Again, the incremental gain for each unit—in this case a “visit”—doesn’t have to be much in order to add up to a significant boost in revenue. Small successes, all added together, will often spell the difference between disappointing results and impressive ones.

Deliver more at your course with G1. 


golf course operator checking reports

How to leverage your GOLFNOW Central reports and optimize for growth

Mar 07, 2019

Required reading with your morning coffee


Every hospital show on TV has its vital-signs moment. Someone pushes a gurney yelling BP is 180 over 40, pulse is 100 and white-blood-cell count is whatever. It’s a cliche scene but, nonetheless, important because it demonstrates the necessity to look at critical numbers to reveal a patient’s condition.

When golf course operators sign on with GOLF Business Solutions, they don’t start wearing scrubs. But they do gain access to critical performance reports designed to inform them how well or not-so-well their business is doing. Ryan Peers, a GOLF Business Solutions Metro Market Sales Manager, helps course operators become adept at pulling and examining these reports, so they can reset their strategy for optimizing revenue and profit performance.

“Eventually it becomes routine for a course manager—something they do with their morning coffee,” says Peers. “Any course that uses GOLFNOW for tee time distribution has access to a number of fundamental reports they can look at whenever they want, just by logging into GOLFNOW Central. The main report everyone wants to see is Rounds & Revenue – Course YOY, which also gives an average dollar cost per round for the selected period.”

Also in that group, “Core Platform” reports show year-over-year revenue performance for a selected period – most operators prefer a monthly look. “At a glance, you see that February 2018 gave you 2,000 rounds and $90,000 in golf revenue, while February 2019 gave you 10 percent less or 10 percent more,” explains Peers. “You’ll want to know this information as a historical trend that can inform decisions about tee-sheet management.”

Training and support are provided for the operator who is just starting out as a GOLFNOW report reader. “We make sure the operator can go through the reports knowledgeably – just a couple of clicks and very intuitive,” Peers says.

The portfolio of GOLFNOW performance-indicator reports goes far beyond the basic five that any affiliated operator can self-service. To obtain more granular reports, an operator would need to make a request with his representative.

The whole point of all this, in Peers’ view, is simple – “to help a course sell more golf.” Getting the staff bought in and responsive to the reports is also a clear goal. Once opened, they can be saved as either an Excel file or a PDF and forwarded to colleagues, ownership or anyone with a need-to-know status.

Obviously, a decision-maker in any business will be interested in data only as it guides their next move. “In the push to maximize tee-sheet revenue, you test out pricing adjustments then evaluate your results,” says Peers.

Recently, Peers was contacted by one of the operators with whom he works about revenue performance year-to-date and expressed some displeasure. Rounds played at his course for a particular period were down significantly. Revenue for that period was also down, though only slightly.

What happened? In this case, it was the rare case of a robust price increase. “He was irritated by the slight drop in revenue, but this operator had really pushed the envelope with his pricing,” Peers says. “But the real story was he discovered a lot of pricing power—going up something like $15 on average with very little revenue loss.” There is a risk even with small price increases, but this one delivered a lot of information about consumer demand and the price ceiling. The next logical step would be to ease off slightly and see whether a sweet spot had been discovered.

As a golf course operator in this current business climate, your customers can be somewhat less predictable than you might imagine. Don't underestimate the value of a set of tech tools that allow you to price-adjust with precision and ease. Soon, you will be optimizing revenue and profits reliably.

Learn how GOLFNOW Central can deliver for your facility. 


The First Tee Chesterfield Golf Course pro shop

With strong support, a major upgrade to business software can happen in-season

Feb 20, 2019

Training and transition works, when your course is active

Problem: Your course has an outdated business management system that’s kept you from streamlining the golfer experience and running your operation with utmost ease and efficiency.

Solution: You fast-forward to a cloud-based, “consumer-centric” platform like G1 from GOLF Business Solutions, which combines all software and operating systems into one package. With G1, that means the tee sheet, point-of-sale, social media, work schedules, inventory, payroll, vendor relations—all of it controllable with an Internet-connected smartphone or tablet, from anywhere. That is a robust upgrade over what’s found at most courses, to be sure.

More than 500 golf courses either have already installed G1 or have committed to integrating the technology into their operations. It’s a sequential process that requires training and teamwork, which you may think prompts many operators and their staffs to lean toward a switchover in the quiet of the off-season. But lately, quite a few have seen the advantage of changing out technology during the active golf season.

That realization is based on several factors. The first would be the experience and expertise of the GOLFNOW team that installs, trains, supports and troubleshoots G1 on-boarding—they’ve reached the point where it’s down to a science and the team can anticipate needs and issues before they arise.

Second, is the simple fact that any business training works best when staff members are using the new commands and functions in real-time, with customers in front of them and a support crew alongside. Third, is the importance of having year-round golf staff and seasonal staff on the job together, reminding one another of the operational procedures necessary for every circumstance.

“Transactions, record-keeping and planning procedures driven by software and systems will hit their stride when things become second-nature to the employee,” says Charles Kingsbaker, Senior Technology Specialist with GOLF Business Solutions. “That calls for a lot of repetitions and it requires a staff member to go through the full array of business functions. If you try to do this in a quiet, off-season period, you won’t have those opportunities. As a result, you’ll probably find that re-training becomes necessary.”

Kingsbaker ticks off a long list of business details to illustrate his point. “In one short period at the counter, a staff member may have to sell a season pass, sell a range plan, bill tournament charges to a master account, split tickets at a grill room table,” he says. “When no golfers are around and you’re told how to do that, you’ll remember some of it but you can’t make it automatic until you’re taking care of these things in real-time, repeatedly.”

Golf operators who’ve tried the in-season approach to on-boarding G1 say it works extremely well. Mark Lynch, Director of Golf at The First Tee of Greater Richmond (Va.), with a pair of local facilities, speaks to that possibility. Lynch is responsible for the Tattersall Youth Development Center at The First Tee Chesterfield Golf Course, outside the city proper, and for the Elson Redmond Memorial Driving Range, which is downtown. Having achieved the rank of Major in the Army Reserve, Lynch has a solid foundation and belief that detailed plans are required to make any mission successful.

“I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said I wasn’t anxious during those few days leading up to our conversion to G1,” says Lynch. “All of my training told me we needed to be prepared and get it right. As it turned out, the launch of G1 as our new management platform could not have gone better.”

As Lynch recounts the story, he stresses the value and contribution of the G1 support staff. “The install on day one and day two got us up to a functional level right away,” he recalls. “The GOLFNOW installers were there on-site the entire week, and in that time my assistants were able to understand how everything worked and they were using the program with confidence—whether that was check-in for golf, inventory sales, updating memberships, or whatever our golfers needed.”

Installing and training G1 during off-season closure is an option, but Lynch is convinced that on-the-fly accustomation is an excellent way to go. “We were able to make modifications to the system based on our specific needs during operations, knowing when the implementation team left we wouldn’t need to call support,” he says. “As we continue to grow the use of the system, we are able to work with GOLFNOW to add components to development to further bolster its functionality and future updates.”

Kingsbaker adds a nuance to this whole timing question. “There’s more than one strategy to the timing of installation,” he says. “An experienced operator knows where on the calendar they can fit in their training and go live, with just the right level of business activity to balance what they need for their golfers and what they want to do with their platform in order to make their move into the next generation of golf operations—which is what G1 is all about.”