Did you know that the first website listed on a Google search gets 30 times the clicks as the website in second place? Additionally, 75% of customers never scroll past the first page of search results. This is where SEO comes in - SEO stands for search engine optimization and it's goal is to get you higher in search rankings for relevant terms to your business.
Have you looked at where you rank on terms customers might search? Do you know what terms your customers might search? Let's say you own a facility in Washington DC, you might see where you rank on "DC indoor golf" and find you are at the top. Are you done? Probably not. What else might they search. . . DC golf, DC driving range, DC entertainment, things to do in DC, etc. You get the point. Each of these could be sources of traffic and customers for your business.
You could search each possible keyword one by one or you can use tools designed to help you analyze your website and get guidance on what to change or fix. I've linked one such tool below. Now that you know about SEO, use it to improve your website and get more customers.
How much time have you spent thinking about how potential customers might find you on the internet? Have you thought about the services you offer and what words folks looking for those services might use to search. Indoor golf, golf practice and golf simulator are all pretty clear and you should appear near the top of local searches for those. But how do you rank for "things to do in (city xzy)", or "entertainment in (town name)". Go ahead, search those for your town and see where you rank I'll wait.
Unless you have been pretty thoughtful about your SEO, I'd bet you are not even on the first page for those items. Most golf centers aren't, but it is a big potential loss of customers as your indoor golf center is about more than golf, it is a place to have fun. Take some time, think of other ways people might look for something to do and work on linking and content strategies to rank better for those words.
Beyond SEO, local search can be a powerful tool to help your business. According to a study by Google, 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and 34% who searched on computer/tablet did the same. So what does this mean for you:
These are just a few ideas you can work on to improve your visibility to potential customers. Good luck!
Face it - America is overbuilt with shopping malls. The internet and how the way we shop has changed has really impacted malls in a bad way. According to The Wall Street Journal, with the popularity of online shopping affecting brick-and-mortar stores throughout the country. The mall vacancy rate for the year’s second quarter is 8.6% (from 8.4% in Q1), “as more consumers shifted their shopping online,” per the Journal. Retailers such as Bon Ton, Sears, J.C. Penney and Toys “R” Us have all announced closures this year. We don't need nearly the retail space that has been built already, but we continue to build more.
While this might be bad news for commercial property owners, it could be great news if you are looking to open an indoor golf facility. Mall operators want to lease space to things that will draw in customers so they can show foot traffic and get rents. Another ice cream shop or shoe store just doesn't have that unique cache that they are looking to add, but an indoor golf facility does.
As you are considering locations for your indoor golf facility, consider the mall. At one point, it was researched to be a desirable location, probably has good road access and even public transportation to it. With vacancies on the rise, you might be able to get a great deal on rent, but don't stop there.
Get creative on your ask. See if you can get some help with the build out, get them to do some advertising (remember, they want traffic too), ask for signage in other parts of the mall, see if they'll provide any utilities, provide any insurance coverages (so you don't have to), add a link to your website from theirs, get reserved customer parking spots, favorable payment terms, etc.
In the end, the mall may not be the right place for your indoor golf center, but it is worth checking out. Remember, they need businesses like yours to get folks to the mall, so they may be willing to get creative in ways that really help drive your success.
Did you know that it costs 5 times as much to get a new customer as it does to retain a new one? Selling to an existing customer is also has a much higher margin than selling to a new customer because they convert at a higher rate and because it costs less to sell to them. These existing customers are 50% more likely to buy a new product and will spend 31% more on your offering when they do buy than a new customer. I could quote statistics like this all day and you could find many articles on this on the web to back up the point. . . doing a great job retaining your current customers is vital to running a profitable indoor golf center.
Since the bottom line here is about keeping good customers, do you know how well you are doing? Can you calculate your churn rate? Churn rate is a measure that determines what portion of customers end their relationship with you over a set period, say a month or a quarter. This would require you to know who your customers are and whether they are visiting every month. Can you find a way to get them to check in (say, giving points for visits that goes toward food or beverage credits) so that you have a means to measure what portion are coming back.
Once you can measure, you need to segment. Look at males versus females, different age groups, different skill levels, etc. Get a little info on them when you set up your points program, maybe check in with Facebook or get an address so you can calculate how far they are driving to get to you. Do surveys and tie it back to churn. Find out what features are keeping them and which ones they wish were better. Every dollar you spend here returns more than the dollars you are spending on ads to get them here in the first place.
I often get asked, what do you mean when you say "indoor golf". Indoor golf is an umbrella term for all activities in golf which can be carried out indoors.
Venues include indoor driving ranges, chipping areas, putting greens, and machines. A golf simulator allows golf to be played on a graphically or photographically simulated driving range or golf course, usually in an indoor setting. In some cases, based on the location of the sensing devices, it is now possible to capture data on both ball and club for most accurate speed and directional information, and simulated ball flight behavior.
The data collected is extrapolated to provide ball flight trajectory and roll out according to certain calculated relationships to the ball's flight performance per the tracked motion of the ball or club, adding environmental aspects through which the ball is projected, including terrain, wind, rain and other such influences or obstacles.
A key attribute of any simulator is accuracy. There are several types of measurement system used in golf simulation to achieve this, such as simulator mats, sonic sound systems, optical sensor arrays, radar and camera ball tracking systems. Many golf simulator systems use a sensor mat, which is essentially a rectangular mat containing several infrared sensors and microchips that can monitor the speed of the club as it passes the back sensor, the angle of the club and club speed as the ball and club pass the second sensor following impact and the direction of the ball as the club passes the third sensor.
A ball's flight depends upon many things, including the ball itself, the strike and impact of the club upon the ball, the ball's launch angle, direction, spin rate and velocity, as well as the hitting surface from which the ball is struck and the simulated environment through which the ball virtually flies, suggesting wind, rain, and other environmental aspects that may affect ball flight.
A computer calculates the expected trajectory of the golf ball from data gathered on the swing, and the image of the golf ball flight is then simulated on the screen via a projector.
Think about it. According to public sources, the Donald has been out to play golf 45 times as of August while in office. This has involved 7 flights to Mar a Largo and 6 flights to Bedminster at a total cost of ~$17.5MM (taking his entourage, protection, etc with him) according to the Washington Post. At this rate, he will play an estimated 320 times in 4 years at a projected cost of roughly $125MM of taxpayer money.
Justified financially . . . So Trump could go totally overboard and install the “greatest golf simulator ever seen” at the Whitehouse for less than the cost of one of his golf trips. That would save the American taxpayer over $100MM. I’m sure folks in Palm Beach would also appreciate not having everything from the airport to the beach shut down when he arrives.
Justified strategically . . . This would get his golfing out of the public eye and allow him to do it more frequently. I say both are a benefit because it will create less of a public stir and because it means less time for him to tweet or pick fights with Kim Jong-un.
Justified emotionally. . . Trump could then have daily access to just about any course he wants around the world. He wouldn’t end up stuck on his overpriced and poorly performing courses which I am sure is a source of frustration to him.
Justified ethically. . . The golf simulator keeps score automatically. No more arguments with celebrities about whether or not he cheats at golf. He would have a machine keeping score for him. Of course we all know he’d turn on mulligans and take as many as he wants.
Justified humorously. . . The golf simulator would be in a controlled environment. No more rogue gusts of wind blowing his mane out of place.
That said, I am not really worried. Let me tell you why, but first let me give you a bit of context on what you can get on Google for free that I provide in my startup plan. If you search on Google for a business these days you’ll notice that they have a view that shows the busy times for the day you’ve searched. You can also look at other days for that business to get a sense of when they are or aren’t busy. Here is a view for a golf center that I looked up:
You’ll notice that the bar chart shows some high bars for when they are busy and low bars for when they are not. It is nice and probably very convenient for when you want to plan to go when they are less busy. That said, it is not as helpful for your business plan as my research. The reason why is you’d have to look up dozens of indoor golf centers, capture the busy an slow times for every day of the year and then aggregate it into a single view of all golf centers to get the same kind of information you can get in my plan.
I collected that data directly from the source. . . the indoor golf centers themselves. I do think it is helpful for you to look at a golf center and see when they are busy to help you understand the kind of data you get in my research.
The Indoor Golf Player Preference Study
Yardstick Golf surveyed indoor golfers to understand their preferences and find out more about what might make their experience more enjoyable or more frequent. This paper shares what we found and how you might use the information.
The study is 5 pages covering how factors such as a player's handicap drive differences in how they think about indoor golf, how frequently they'll play, whether they'll recommend to a friend and more. The preferences study is free with your purchase.
Here is a quick insight from the research we're giving away for free: golfers rating beverage choice and quality as excellent at the facility they most visited spent 2x the average respondent in the survey. Might be time to revisit your beverage selection.
Get the Indoor Player Preference Study for free in June when you purchase our Indoor Golf Study and Start up model here http://www.yardstickgolf.com/indoor-golf-study-promo.html
I've been wanting to feature an interview from an indoor golf facility owner for some time. I had an opportunity to interview Jason Faubert from The Golfer s Academy recently. He was kind enough to share his experiences opening a facility with me and I would like to share it with you. Enjoy.
Yardstick Golf: Tell us a little about your facility
The Golfer’s Academy facility resembles that of an old Scottish clubhouse, As you enter our facility you see right away a spacious lounge area where you can sit in comfort on leather sofas and chairs. Here you can change into your golf shoes while watching a PGA Tour event or your favorite sports game on the large screen TV. Stone accents and pine board throughout give it the charm and feel of a private clubhouse. Gone are the days where you and your friends played winter golf in a noisy bar on an unrealistic video game.
Adjacent to the lounge we have 5 private indoor golf rooms. The Golfer's Academy is known in the industry as setting the standard for having the largest simulator rooms in Canada. These rooms measure 20 feet wide, 30 feet long and 12 and a half feet high. Also we have built each room in our center to be either fully private or open.
Yardstick Golf: What made you want to start an indoor golf center
The Golfers Academy was 1st built out of passion for the game and secondly I wanted a career change. As an Amateur golfer I was constantly looking for that edge in getting better as quick as possible so one day I made the choice to purchase my own indoor golf system and install it in my home. From that moment on I began to see the benefits to how these systems can improve your game.
I decided to let people know the secret behind my improvement and from that moment on I started a small teaching center based out of my garage in my home. It became extremely popular to the point where outside professionals where using the system so much with their students in the winer that I lost the ability to work on my own game at times.
As a business man first and foremost I realized the need for high level winter teaching and practice facilities in colder months here in Canada. I then decided to invest my own money in building a 4000 sqft full indoor golf center which was located on my property. I gave it 2 years to do the market research and see if this was a viable business. When I build the business model I researched with clients what they really found was the biggest problem with indoor golf. What I found to be the biggest concern was the technology but better yet that they felt almost everywhere they went the rooms where too small causing their swing to change without even realizing what was happening.
Yardstick Golf: What was the most unexpected part of starting your business
I would have to say the most unexpected part of beginning an indoor golf business was the amount of time to get the local municipalities to allow operation of the business. Another unexpected part was the amount of hours and time it took to build a reputable name and explain to the patrons how realistic the simulator systems have become over the years. To this day we are still breaking the stigmas that indoor golf is not realistic and just a video game.
Yardstick Golf: Looking back, what do you know now that you wish you’d have known when you first started
I would have to say that networking within the industry is the key to building a successful indoor golf business. First and foremost the key would be to link with local golf courses, professionals and industry leaders. With the help of social media in the past 5 years it has been much easier to connect with people in the industry. I also believe that opening a bar within the facility sooner would have helped in increasing numbers and revenue during the slower months where the indoor golf tends to slow down.
Yardstick Golf: What advice would you offer to someone considering starting a facility
I would definitely tell someone interested in opening an indoor golf business to do their market research and provide a higher level of service that sets you apart from the competition. Although competition is good and brings awareness you need to make the business stand out. Make your clients and customers want to come back make sure that they leave happy and become the voice of your business. Opening time for your business is key so also get with your local municipalities to figure a timeline of how long it takes to get the proper approvals. You don't want to start building in September if the season starts in October in the end you may loose the entire winter season so key is to have it open at least a month or two prior to the start of the winter indoor golf season so you can be at the courses promoting your business to potential customers. Use the outdoor courses as a base to build your clientele.
Yardstick Golf: We understand you have an offering to help others open a facility – can you share some details
The Golfers Academy is passionate about the indoor golf business and we have been working on a franchise model that will help others start their business with minimal costs. The Golfers Academy has built its brand to be one of the most recognized indoor golf training centres in Canada and for those interested in opening a centre we can help with brand recognition and marketing. As you know it takes a lot of time building a reputable business and we have been doing this for over 10 years with support and purchasing power.
We would like to thank Jason Faubert for his time on this interview. If you would like to learn more about The Golfers Academy, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 905-335-5858.
Better yet, go visit his place and pay a round of indoor golf!!
I've been seeing lots of cool new products hitting the market lately and wanted to take a moment to share a few of my favorites. Think of this as a unique golf gift guide. The is perfect for dad, for co-workers or buddies from your club. Let me know if you have a cool idea that I missed.
Let me know you're a real person, leave a comment