Earlier this year I travelled the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland with our dedicated team of Retail Consultants visiting individual PGA Pros and hosting a number of intimate meetings with our Partners.
These ‘cluster’ meetings have given Partners the opportunity to come together and discuss the matters important to them, the golf industry as a whole and how TGI Golf is working hard to assist our PGA Professionals.
It was great to see so many of our Partners and the vibe at these meetings was extremely positive.
The only negative for me was the amount of Partners who called off at the last minute or failed to turn up at all having registered to attend. In fact at one meeting we had 10 Partners call off in the two hours prior to the start, which was incredibly disappointing, especially as we’d travelled so far to see them.
However, that aside, there was a great air of positivity around everyone we saw, which can be put down to a number of factors.
Over the course of the winter the weather, on the whole, has been pretty kind resulting in strong performances from many retailers.
There was a fear over the ridiculous AG promotion launched some months back, but having worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure we were doing everything we could to lessen its impact on our Partners it soon came to an end, which was good for everyone.
The entire industry is currently riding a wave with the quality of products on offer from our Partner Suppliers, and the advancement of technology within Pro Shops helping with sell through.
In fact, the number of our Partners who are embracing technology to take their businesses to the next level has blown me away. Swing studios, launch monitors and EPOS systems are all critical tools if you want to enhance your offering to customers and turn a visit to your shop from a shopping trip to a true golfing experience. There is no doubt in my mind that those who embrace this change appear to be the most successful.
By combining these fantastic facilities with the superb marketing tools available through TGI Golf, such as MyMarketing HUB and the ENewlsetter Programme as well as TV digital marketing many Partners are seeing excellent results.
It was extremely pleasing to hear great feedback from Partners about the Business Conference, staged at The Belfry in February. Many of those I spoke to were extremely positive about the mix of the seminar sessions and the quality of the speakers. Of course, it’s difficult to cater for everyone and we do respect the fact that for some Partners not every seminar will suit their needs, but the general consensus was very positive.
There were many Partners praising our Retail Consultancy team throughout my travels, and the assistance they give has been invaluable to many. The team invests a lot of time and effort to ensure they are always up to speed with everything that is happening in retail and the industry so they can pass on that knowledge to our Partners and I’m extremely proud of them.
It was refreshing to hear that many golf clubs have been changing their attitudes towards the PGA Professional and encouraging input from them into the running of the golf club. Something that a few years ago, at the height of the recession, seemed a world away.
Of course, it wasn’t all smelling of roses, there were a few issues raised on our travels.
There were some valid issues reported including poor services levels from several brands, unclear commitment levels from others, the cost of fitting carts and a lack of consistent taxation advice from Partners’ advisors.
Other issues raised included the recruitment, retention and remuneration of PGA Assistants with many Partners reporting difficulty in this field.
We will, of course, endeavour to find solutions or provide advice on all of these issues and work hard to clear them up.
Overall it was well worth the miles we put on the clock and it is something we will be looking to do again later in the year.
Before I go, one thing I want to emphasise again, which was a common theme during our meetings is this…
Buying little often is the goal – improve stock turns to improve margin