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".
Other helpful links
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.
One of the most important things you can do for your golf center is to develop strong and profitable local marketing strategies. There are countless ways to do this and I've reviewed a couple in previous posts about fun budgets and college partnerships.
Another way to develop traffic locally is to work with groups in your area. Quite often, many groups will need a place to meet or things to do with their members.
Research your area to determine which groups are the most active and have membership that is likely to be interested in golf. Once you find these groups, craft an offer that suits their needs. For instance, a business networking group might need space and a screen for projection and want to meet early. You can use these offers to tap into new customer groups and drive traffic at your store during a time when you are slow.
Here are a few ideas with thought starters on unique offers you could make to some of these groups:
Networking Groups – I mentioned these above. These are typically business people looking to meet others in their industry. They often need venues where they can meet before work to socialize and connect.
Senior Groups – This is often a group who has flexibility in the time of their outings, so you can focus here to drive traffic when you are slow, You may target very active senior groups with offers that either give free tips and pointers, or with ones that provide a meal. If you think about senior centers, you may want to offer transportation.
Kids Groups – I'm talking about groups such as the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and YMCA “Guides” groups. As a dad of several of these, I was often looking for new activities to entertain and educate the kids.
Civic Groups - By civic groups, I am referring to membership organizations that are active in the community. Offering your facility for a fundraiser will help get you free PR as these organizations publicize their event at your location.
Church Groups - This is often a very large group and can be a diverse bunch. Creating awareness with these groups is key.
Sales people offering a free seminar. . .you get the point. There are lots of potential groups to go after. Find those that work best for you.
Now it is just a matter of finding groups, seeing how many members, thinking about their needs and creating targeted offers for them. But where do you to find groups? You can use the list below as a starter – go to the various sites and add your geography to searches and see what your find:
· Yahoo groups
· Alumni associations
· Sports leagues
If you found this of interest, please share it with a friend.
The Indoor Golf Player Preference Study
Yardstick Golf recently completed a survey of 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/winter
Those of you who read my blog know I really like data and companies that do a good job pulling it together in informative ways. I ran across a new favorite today called SizeUp. In about 5 minutes of surfing their site, I found a quick way to identify potential opportunities for golf centers. They have data on businesses and population. Putting the two together, they identified the top 25 markets with over 100k in population with the lowest golf revenue per capita.
Obviously, I would do more research on the market before just jumping in, but this is a cool way to look at how one city compares to another for an industry and could help inform you in starting your next business. The widget doesn't show the whole picture on my site, so check out their page and try it out yourself. You can edit the orange text to change chart.
I've decided to share a few sections of our free indoor golf business plan to help you decide whether or not to go for the download. I've shared our executive summary and SWOT Analysis to give you a good sense of what our free business plan covers (click to get the plan).
Running an indoor golf business involves creating a facility where golfers play rounds on a golf simulator that projects an image of a course and uses sophisticated sensors to depict the real shot in a virtual environment. There are many of these businesses existence, and success turns on 4 basic items:
This business plan will address each of these four items and a bit more.
The GolfPlex (working name) is a high end facility incorporated in City, State designed to provide entertainment via high definition full swing simulation golf. The golfing entertainment will be complimented with good food, beverage, golf merchandise and attractive surroundings.
Our goal is to provide the (City) golfer, and eventually golfers across the US, with an enticing alternative to outdoor golf when time, weather or proximity prohibit traditional play. We provide a realistic golf experience in a comfortable environment, turning the local golf season from 180(?) days to 365 days per year.
Each of our (6) state-of-the-art golf simulator units will be linked to allow competition and record keeping. Customers will be given the option to register a user name with the center and keep track of their scores, see how they stack up with other users of the system, and track their performance throughout the year. Game software will also allow for tournaments to be played with real time scoring and statistical breakdowns of the entire field. It will give customers a quantifiable depiction of their golf game and will allow them to improve their skills.
A group of four can play 18 holes in about 2 hours on a wide variety of courses for only about $25 per player. Compare this to a 4-5 hour round on a local golf course that can cost anywhere from $45-$90 per player depending on where you play.
Strengths – A key strength is in the product delivered by HD GolfPlex. Our simulators are top of the line and provide a realistic golfing experience with very accurate shot simulation. Our facility is also a key strength in that it is high end and provides key amenities local patrons seek in both golf and entertainment. Our staff is friendly and helpful. A final strength is in developing a strategic plan focused on customer centric operations and an information-based marketing strategy. There are a number of golfer oriented marketing databases we can leverage while we build our own data.
Weaknesses - A main challenge will be scheduling to keep the center full. Weekday business hours and weekend days with great weather are likely to be off-times for the business and show a lower utilization. Leagues, corporate events, and other creative ideas and activities will be critical to keep the place full all day, every day. Our other weakness is the technological complexity of the simulators. We’ll be reliant on the manufacturer for service or will have to develop in house technical talent for maintenance and repair of the simulator units.
Opportunities – One opportunity is to partner with local golf courses and clubs to offer offseason memberships. Merchandise sales and club fitting is another opportunity – we could leverage local distributor reps to do demo days, have demo and fitting sets on site and offer extended fitting and playability sessions. The simulator units also have the capability to display advertising, but feedback from the vendor indicates this is best used for in store promotional activity versus seeking ad revenue. A final opportunity would be in the hiring of or partnering with PGA trained teachers to provide lessons and coaching for clients. Research so far indicates that teachers keep lesson fees, so this would just be a strategy to keep the simulators running. One other idea is to focus more on video game or private sporting party clientele in the golf offseason as the projectors can be attached to a receiver to show TV or video games. Could target alumni groups to show / host their football games.
Threats – The main threats are competition or issues with the simulator manufacturers. Competition could be from other similar businesses or Sports Bars as they could add a simulator. There are (number) of Indoor Golf facilities in the area so far. The closest is (#) minutes away. Competition from Sports Bars is a possibility as is competition from golf retailers like Dicks or Golf Galaxy, both of which have a single simulator for club testing.
Get our plan here
Its been a pretty good winter and hopefully that has meant strong traffic for indoor golf centers. With some really warm days this weekend and folks starting to get outside, I thought I'd take a quick peek at one section of our Golf Center Owner survey around increasing play during good weather.
The chart to the left shows responses to what things golf center owners feel provide the most lift in terms of increasing play at their stores.
Leagues and discounts / promotions were reported to be the most effective in increasing play.
Memberships and Corporate events were also reported to be good ways to increase your customer volume.
Before play starts to slow down, get some information up in your golf center about spring and summer leagues, membership specials and corporate fun events. The best time to get the word out is while people are still in your facility. It might even be good to talk to them and get feedback on times and days that would be most effective for league participation.
Corporate events might be a good avenue for getting mid-week traffic as explained in our last article on "fun / team building budgets". Another interesting option is to work with local colleges to offer a continuing study program on golf as explained in more depth in this blog article.
What other creative ideas are you finding help increase play during the summer months?
Could corporate fun budgets be an untapped source of potential customers for your indoor golf center? Wouldn't it be great to get a new stream of customers at a time when your play is likely at its lowest!
Fun budgets are quite often the core of the "mood and morale" efforts at your local businesses. They are used to show appreciation to employees, build team spirit and grow engagement. It seems ever corporate manager has read "1001 ways to reward employees" and has implemented some sort of budget process and team to improve morale in their team.
If approached correctly, this could be a great way to fill out your tee sheet during business hours and could lead to new customer introductions. You just need to find a way into the minds of the "fun event planners". Having worked at a number of companies that budget for team building and fun events, I thought I'd share a few ideas to help you out.
Start by creating a package that you think would work for a corporate outing and build materials to spread the word (webpage, fliers, in store signs, etc) . Captains Choice with a meal / beverage plan is probably the way to go since not all visitors will be experienced golfers. I've found that a $50 budget per person is an average fun budget. Build a list of the biggest local employers. Try to work your way in through a couple of avenues:
Data can be an amazing tool for making decisions and it doesn't have to be complicated to use. Take Google Trends as an example. It provides a simple graphical view of how frequently certain terms are used in searches. This can be incredibly helpful to you in finding out what customers are looking for that you can offer.
I've imbedded a simple chart below of the trends of four search terms. I was looking for terms related to indoor golf that peak in the summer. The potential use case here is to find terms that are more frequently searched than indoor golf in warm weather. In this view, "golf league" and "tee time" are the winners and "golf lesson" doesn't seem to be a frequently searched term.
What is really cool is that you can take this even further and drill into geographies, related search terms and more. The map below is an example, you can hover your cursor over the map to see the number of times Indoor Golf was searched. on the Google trends page, you can even see this over time on the map. I highly recommend using Google Trends to look for macro trends that can help you improve your marketing efforts.