Advancing Associations

Creating a Client Base (Part 2)8 min read

Pro Shop EuropeAuthor: Pro Shop Europe


Posted on: 24th Mar 2016

Previously, I spoke about some different ways that you can start to build your own database; what I would like to discuss in this issue is to show you what to do with your database list, and how you can make it grow for you, and as a result become a profit maker for you.

One of the first things I did when I was looking at ways to make my teaching business more profitable, was to put some hours aside each week to help me ‘nurture’ my database.  I spoke to many prominent instructors as to how much time should be put aside for such an endeavour, and the most consistent answer that came back to me was that you must put aside 10% of the time you actually spend teaching to running your teaching business.

This was easy for me, across the year – on average I teach for forty hours per week, so I now put aside in two blocks of two hours, four hours a week for me to run my business.

When you first do this you will be tempted to book an additional lesson in, or find something else to do – try to fight this. Of all the things I have implemented over the past number of years, these four hours a week have been so good for my business, because, as I am going to show you, this has allowed me to follow up and reach out to my students like I have never been able to before.

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Keep It Regular

In my last piece, I spoke about the importance of being in regular contact with your database. For myself I do this in a number of ways, and the best way for me has been me sending out a monthly newsletter to all emails I have collated on my database.

If you are not doing this at the moment, then please start doing so straight away, you will be pleasantly surprised by the results.  We all get email newsletters from companies we follow, some call us to action, and some call us to hit the unsubscribe button. So with that in mind I have put below some points I follow when sending out newsletters to your database list.

  • Be consistent, send your newsletter out on a regular basis. If you are going to send your newsletter out monthly, be sure to send it out monthly, do not miss a month, also try to send it out at the same time, for example the first Monday of every month.
  • Write about things that are happening in the world of golf in general, find one or two topics or articles that your readers will find interesting and will be of benefit to themselves.
  • Do include an instruction piece in the newsletter, either in written word or in video format.
  • Personally I do not put any special offers or the such like in my newsletters, as I do not want people to think I am simply trying to sell them something. I want to give the impression to my students that I am giving something back to them, a no strings attached if you like!
  • I cannot stress enough the importance of sending out a regular newsletter to your database, if nothing else it will keep your name and brand at the forefront of your students minds, so that when they think of golf instruction, and improving their golf game, you are the first person they think of.

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Catch Up With Past Clients

After having a conversation with Andrew Wood – he of legendary marketing fame – I decided to implement one of his many suggestions into my daily routine, and that is to make contact on a daily basis with a minimum of two students that I have not seen for over six months.

This simple act alone has contributed so much to me being able to keep students coming back to me, and returning for golf instruction. As long as your students’ records are up to date, you should be able to see which of them have not been back to see you for a while. I only use six months as a number, you can use whatever timeframe fits your needs.

I will send an email to the student saying something along the lines of finding out how they are and how their golf game has been, and how it has been a while since we last met (this one line is the killer, as it shows that you know they have not been in to see you for a lesson for a while, it shows you are taking an interest in them). I finish by asking them to let me know how they have been progressing and that I look forward to hearing from them.

I am still amazed by the number of replies I get, with the student saying that they were just about to contact me to arrange a lesson, and would I mind doing that for them. This is very personable, and as far as I know not every instructor is doing this, so this will make you stand out from the rest.  I will religiously do this five times a week, so by my poor maths that is ten of my old students per week I am reconnecting with, and the reward is well worth the effort that I am putting in.

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Always Follow Up

Another way of making yourself separate from the crowd, is to make sure that when a new student comes to see you for a lesson, you follow up with them within 24 hours of them having their lesson.

Now by this I do not mean sending them a video clip of their lesson as this should be done as a matter of course, I am talking about sending the student a personal email, with you telling your student how nice it was to meet them, a brief overview covering the points from the lesson if you wish, and to thank them for coming out to see you for a lesson.

If you are fortunate as indeed I am, and you have other people taking care of your lesson bookings for you, ask the student that they managed to get their next lesson booked in with no problem, and that if they ever need to ask you a question please feel free to email you at any time. This again shows you are approachable and personable.

Follow Some Simple Social Media Rules

I am very much a rookie in the world of social media, and am still testing the water as to how I can make this work for my business. I have spoken to a number of people who are perceived experts in this field, and as such I put the following list together that will help when it comes to using social media.

  • Rather like a newsletter you need to be posting stuff regularly. People love to learn and be entertained. Posting content on almost a daily basis gets people to see your website regularly.
  • Content doesn’t need to always stem from you – you can repost stuff from other people’s websites, a magazine, or recommend a book or a video, and many other things that keep people coming to your site.
  • Never post personal stuff, post often, but do so with the thought that you are trying to improve your personal brand, not kill it.
  • Never re-post something without giving credit, try to post something fresh at least five days a week, and remember that every post either enhances your brand or hurts your brand.
  • Use social media to alert people that you have a space in your diary for a lesson on that day, remember white space in your diary is the devil!

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Utilise All Your Diary Space

I still find that text messages are a very good call to arms for me, and this is an avenue that coaches should be using. As soon as I get a cancellation, I will go through my list and send out a blanket text to all students who I know would be interested in a lesson at that particular time, no point sending a text to a student who can only make Monday mornings if your cancellation is for a Saturday afternoon!

Most times the slot gets filled, and it also makes contact with a student. Many times a student will reply to say that they cannot make that particular slot, but they are looking for a lesson that week and can I book them in? I will also text a student that is playing in a tournament to see how they got on – this is an easy way to keep in contact with your students.

However you decide to keep in contact with your list, keep it simple and be consistent. Put yourself in your students’ shoes at times, and think about what they would like to read about in your newsletter, your blog post or on your twitter feed.

There are so many ways for coaches to keep in touch with their client base, explore different avenues, and find out what works best for you, and get to it.

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Ian Clark is an Advanced Fellow PGA Professional, a Trackman certified instructor, the Golfing Machine Authorised Instructor GSEM and one of GolfWorld’s Top 100 coaches in the UK. You can email Ian at ian@ianclarkgolf.co.uk.

For more details visit www.ianclarkgolf.co.uk.

Pro Shop EuropeAuthor: Pro Shop Europe
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Pro Shop Europe is the leading monthly European golf trade magazine, now available as an accessible digital edition. Established in 1984, the publication continues to bring the latest news, views and information first to the European golfing industry.

This monthly industry-only journal is sent to Professional Golfers Association (PGA) qualified professionals and is also widely read by golf retailers and the golf trade.