About a year ago, I submitted an article to NGCOA Magazine: “Golf is a Game; The Golf Business is a Business.” NGCOA said it was “old news”. True for the magazine perhaps; maybe not for the front lines. I’m respectful of this beautiful game and intrigued by its possibilities. I’d like to see it prosper.
That said the business model I often see reminds me of the takeaway in a Harvard Business Review article, “The Wheel of Retailing”: Every retail strategy eventually fails.” To succeed at the retail level a successful golf operation has to deliver a better customer experience than its competitors. I know that’s good business school boiler plate; here’s how it works in one competitive market with multiple retail outlets competing on price, selling an identical product, often next door to each other, a market not dissimilar to golf.
Quik Trip (QT) Convenience Stores, a gasoline retailer: New store units average around 2500-3000 square feet. Stores are attractive, well lit, with helpful employees, and spotless rest rooms. The customer experience embraces food, most of it served in portions designed for consumption while on the road. A few highlights:
- An array of good quality pre-packaged foods.
- Fresh choices that taste good and are healthy.
- A crew that makes breakfast sandwiches, sandwiches, and pizzas to order.
- A variety of very good self serve coffees, milk shake machines, and latte dispensers.
Outside, the cars queue up at QT’s gas pumps when other outlets on the same street have plenty of open space. Historically gasoline retailing, like golf, has been a product oriented business. QT is customer oriented and sells more gasoline. It’s usually not the cheapest gas. Margins on the food boost profits too. Fortune Magazine rates QT as one of the 100 Best Managed companies in America.
Product orientation may also be one reason why more women don’t play golf. It’s one of the areas where the sport needs to reach out. Yes, I get that this has received some attention by the PGA. Recently I was talking with a PGA pro I respect and who runs good programs at a successful club. My question: Where are the women?
- They’re 51% of the population,
- Daughters of Title IX, age 25-50
- Well educated, disposable income; interested in sports and fitness.
His reply: “Women are cheap. They won’t spend any money.” Actually, women will pay for what they value. If Tory Burch made golf clothes (the fashion industry pretty much ignores golf–a tell tale sign) his in store sales would be up 30%-40%. If Tory Burch made a golf bag it would retail for about $2,000. What a difference a few points in this demographic could make. Can golf get there and other places it needs to be? I don’t believe it’s out of reach.
Hilda Allen Real Estate, Inc.
478 747 4122