We all know that the golf trade is having a tough time of it and so we are always keen to meet with PGA pros and retailers who are doing things differently in order to sell more product.
Golf Retailing’s Miles Bossom met with PGA Pro and golf entrepreneur Adam Bishop to find out how he is thinking differently.
MB – Adam, tell us a bit about your business.
AB – I started in 2001 with one retail outlet but now have four, all within twenty minutes’ drive of each other. I run the retail outlets at Studley Wood, Chiltern Forest and Whiteleaf Golf Clubs and I also have a large store at our driving range just outside Thame in Oxfordshire [United Kingdom].
MB – How many PGA Pro’s do you employ?
AB – From two at the start I now employ eight.
MB – So, have you plans for further expansion?
AB – Running four venues is quite a commitment but if the right opportunity comes up I would never say no before investigating.
MB – How are you adding value to your business?
AB – We have a full tour spec work shop and fitting centre so we can offer custom fit and a great repair service. We also run the Cleveland Centre of excellence at Studley Wood. Our latest venture is to do fitting days at clubs that don’t do any hardware sales.
MB – Tell me more?
AB – There are many golf clubs that don’t sell any hardware whatsoever so the customers at those clubs are starved of product. With it being expensive to buy and with such tight margins it makes it unviable for some to hold a decent level of hardware.
At these places there are many customers who love to buy hardware and would prefer to buy from their own club because that is where they feel comfortable. So what we do is we set up with a minimum of four but up to nine fitting carts and branded pagodas on the clubs range or practise facility or we can use a large inflatable net if the club has no practice ground and so on. Members that haven’t seen this before feel that Christmas has come early!
MB – What does the club get from this?
AB – We pay the club a small commission on the goods that we sell but it isn’t so much about the club making money, it is more about providing a service to the members. They feel that a few times a year their club holds a large demo day when they can try all of the latest equipment from a wide range of manufacturers and can buy then and there.
MB – How many club fittings would you expect to complete in a day?
AB – We would bring two fitters and the club prearrange as many appointments as possible. I would expect them to be fully booked with between ten and twenty appointments and I would bring a third for the people who may just turn up on the day on the off chance.
MB – Typically how much revenue would you expect to generate on one of these days?
AB – It’s rare that we would do less than £3000 [approx. €4,190] in turnover but it is usual that we would do between £6000 and £8000 approx. €8,379 – €11,172]. Our best day was £12,000 [approx. €16,758]! It depends on how starved the membership has been.
MB – Is there a particular demographic that is more interested in this service than others?
AB – Definitely left handed golfers and ladies. Because we will not only have a left-handed driver in all of the major brands but we will also offer a multitude of different shaft options. We can cater for everyone and give them a great fitting experience.
MB – What commission do you offer the club?
AB – It’s between 10 percent to 20 percent of the profit depending on the manufacturer. mThe club simply promotes the service and we do the rest. It is not really about the commission, it is all about providing a service that the club doesn’t provide.
MB – At Studley Wood you have run a pre-Christmas sale. When do you think is the right time to reduce the price of stock to ensure it doesn’t gather dust?
AB – It depends on a number of factors. Firstly how good your purchasing was in the first place, secondly how good the season was and thirdly how well you have sold it.
With multi sites it’s easier because if I purchase forty pairs of shoes across the group and I sell the majority of those at full retail price I have covered the cost of the order and paid the supplier and I am already in profit. If there are a few pairs left I do not want them hanging around. They may have cost me £35 per pair but they don’t owe me that as I have already made a profit on the total order. I will price them aggressively to shift them quickly at maybe £29 per pair.
MB – So how has the sale here at Studley Wood worked for you?
AB – I have started running sales in November because it is a bit of a dead month. The clocks change so it is dark and dingy and many pro’s will be thinking that it was hardly worth opening.
It is a great time to sell because you are taking customer money when they are not expecting to spend – ahead of Christmas and out of season. November is no longer a month where I am depressed. I have cash coming in, good clean stock and I am ready to go for the new season.
MB – What advice would you offer other golf retailers?
AB – What we golf pros have to remember is that golfers love golf. If you can’t sell equipment as a golf professional you are in a trouble. The key is creating desire. Golfers walk into our outlets and have the desire to take shots off their round. They are prepared to buy equipment that will enable them to do this.
MB – How often do you sell an “off the shelf” set of irons?
AB – The last time I sold a set was about four months ago but that was only because the length of the club, the lie, the type of shaft and the grip were exactly what the guy needed. I pride myself on the fact that I don’t have rows and rows of clubs in my shop. You may think that is a negative but in fact it is a huge positive.
When you think about it the big stores have fifty or sixty sets of standard clubs on display it must be difficult for them to want to sell a custom set as they have invested a lot of money in stock sets so it must be temping to want to sell them instead. There will be a few customers that fit a standard set but they are few and far between. All of my customers get exactly the right set of clubs for them built in the manufacturer’s factory.
MB – Do you feel threatened by the internet?
AB – No. The only reason people buy on line is price. The consumer always thinks it is cheaper but that is not always the case. There is no service with the internet. I actually use it very effectively to sell surplus stock at the end of the season. If the retailer does his job properly there is no reason for a golfer to buy hardware on line.
The more technical golf equipment becomes the better, as it helps us professionals, as I believe to be a great fitter you must also be a great coach and vice versa. At the end of the day we must create a desire by showing the customer how much they can improve by having their clubs fitted correctly.