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.
The average person checks their mobile phone nearly 150 times a day and spends almost 3 hours per day on a mobile device. They have their phones with them all the time and are much more likely to read a text than an email.
In fact, text messages are read 5 times more frequently than email messages
Text is an extremely powerful (and inexpensive) medium to get your message out, opened and READ! In fact, text Messages Get Opened 9 of 10 Times, and according to Frost & Sullivan, the real statistic is a "97% open rate."
If you have an iPhone like I do, you can't ignore the text message. It pops up, rings, and boom - I just opened and read it at the same time. But most businesses and organizations getting into text message marketing are doing it all wrong.
Some use the infamous Club Promoter Method: Blasting anyone and everyone in sight about your party of offer. Don't do this. It's the fastest way to end your relationship with your subscribers. It's repairable no doubt, but not the route to go down.
Instead, do this...
Send messages to your customers and subscribers just like you're talking to a friend. Don't be afraid to use LOL, ROFL, or other short words to get the message across. Friends talk that way. So talk like your talking to a friend in your text messages.
Then there's folks like Samantha J. who use text message marketing the "right" way to grow her business. A simple coupon text message to her customers on Black Friday turned into a simple 160 character text into $1,578 of new found profits straight into her business.
Not too shabby. :)
If you'd like to learn how to do this for your business, how to get started fast, and discover simple effective strategies to "move the needle", then check out Call Loop.
I was able to secure my readers a free account & 25 free messages.
Get your account by clicking here before it's too late.
Enjoy - and come back and tell me how the service helped you!!
I am always out looking for new places to find great information to share. Recently I ran across the "IAMA" threads on Reddit. Reddit calls itself the front page of the internet and the "IAMA" threads are where folks post "I am a (insert what they are) - ask me anything" threads.
The one that caught my eye was one where the poster said he was going for broke with a few buddies opening their very own indoor mini golf facility. The post got over 180 comments and probably a high multiple of that in terms of views. Many of the posters even said they would come visit when he was open.
Considering the IAMA post is free, I put it on my list as a unique approach to getting some free exposure. More interestingly, many of the responses asked questions that seemed to help the original poster. I saw a couple things on trademarking questions, licensing and more that the poster indicated he hadn't considered and appreciated being raised.
If you are not familiar with Reddit, I would take some time to become familiar before jumping out with your first post. I've included a link to several golf related IAMA threads to help you get a feel for how these work. I would suggest learning how the subrettids (sections of Reddit of related topics) are organized so you can find the best one to post. You want to find the section most relevant to your post (I.e. golf or your town).
Folks reading these posts seem to want proof of legitimacy, so I see lots of photo's included to prove the authenticity of the poster. These are typically a picture of hand written note saying "reddit - IAMA" in front of something that demonstrates legitimacy of the poster.
I know most of you are probably thinking email is dead and that social media is the way to go, but that thinking is wrong. Ignoring email as a way to connect with your customers is a perilous choice. Here are a few facts to consider:
Do I have your attention yet? Cultivating a robust email list is essential to driving traffic to your facility. What better time to collect email than when you have folks in your golf center. Make collecting email part of every conversation, ask for it at the time of payment, offer giveaways for business cards, collect it on your website in return for a coupon . . .you get the point.
One awesome tool I've used to help me collect nearly 1,000 emails and quadruple my Facebook likes is JustUno. The have an awesome set of case studies on how business are using their tools to increase subscribers, likes and followers:
67% Sales Increase with Justuno - Case Study
Do you have any great ideas on how you get email? Have a reaction to the article? Please comment!!
I've been reading a lot about the business model canvas and it looks like a very interesting way to test a number of business models and ensure you've really thought about 9 aspects that can drive business success. If you are not familiar with the business model canvas found a great video series (6 short videos) that show you how to use the business model canvas. The video series “From Idea to Business” teaches entrepreneurs how to design and test business models that help their ideas have a better chance of succeeding.
If you've never seen a business model canvas, there are many version online, but here is a quick view of one:
The notion is that unlike a business plan, this is a living document that you test and change until you settle on the best model. A short description of each of the elements of the business model canvass:
Anyone do this and want to share theirs for feedback?
YNOT GOLF is a brand new golf center that just opened in Pittsburgh. They've got a great facility, fantastic simulator technology and a list of 85 courses you can play on huge 15x15 screens.
With Pittsburgh only averaging 60 days of sunshine a year the weather WILL NEVER be an excuse to put your clubs away because YNOT GOLF is open YEAR ROUND!
YNOT GOLF hosts leagues, charity and corporate events as well as different golf clinics. If you are in Pittsburgh, check out YNOT Golf.
Is golf getting so bad that it is driving people to drink? Are more establishments adding liquor sales to bolster their bottom line? What is your opinion? Share a comment.
About the Data
Everyone who reads this blog knows I am really into golf and data. I recently found a great data source called Enigma. It has tons of public data sets and cool tools for easy perusal. The graph above is from a liquor license database on their site filtered by company name including "Golf".
I continue to be dumbfounded as to why new businesses going in around my town so seldom put up a sign very early to say what the establishment is going to be. The ones that do put signs up create all sorts of buzz about coming to town, and many end up getting a big following and seem to do quite well.
When businesses do put up a sign, it's usually a tiny little sign that you have to get really close to read, or it only has a business name. It should be a big banner that is plain and easy to see with information on what your business will be. Why not? The cost is a drop in the bucket compared to the construction and your ongoing marketing costs. Everyone's eyes are drawn toward construction sites. Everyone's immediate question when they see construction is "Oh, I wonder what is going there". It becomes a conversation piece that people tell their friends about.
Granted, you might be so busy with so many things going on to open your store that you don't think about getting a sign up, but that would be a mistake. Get a big sign up early and get up a website - even if it is only a coming soon website. You can start collecting names for marketing use later. You can do something simple like give us your email and we'll send you a special grand opening invitation or offer. I've seen construction take many months to get some places open - this is very inexpensive advertising that creates anticipation for you to open.
Let me know you're a real person, leave a comment