For those of you who were able to join us for our special webinar last Friday, we thank you. So many people chimed in with thoughts, questions, and support; it made for an incredibly valuable, engaging hour. Attendance was made up of courses using foreUP but many who do not, and it was so heartening to watch everyone rallying together behind this industry we all care so much about.
This blog will give you a thorough recap of the webinar, with a link to watch it if you’re interested. Here you’ll find:
- On-Course Changes
- Existing Tools to Utilize
- New Tools to Start Using
- Ways to Continue Driving Revenue
- Marketing Services
- Resources like a Facebook Group, Webinars, Articles, Petitions, etc.
We encourage you to share it with your coworkers, bosses, employees, friends, etc. We’re all in this together!
Christian Arntsen: Sr. Product Manager
Mark Farrow: Director of Managed Marketing Services
Managing Your Course During COVID-19
Your business is often a haven for golf lovers. Courses aren’t just for sport, they are for mental and emotional health. Your place of business serves so many needs for so many people.
With this in mind, this article is intended to help you identify & implement the things that will help you keep your doors open if possible. We’ll introduce new tools that have been pushed through production this week to help you meet standards for social distancing, as well as some basic best practices being used by courses now to keep their guests safe.
On-Course Changes to Ensure Safety
Organizations in our industry like the NGCOA and PGA have released information and created general guidelines for helping courses meet requirements being put on them at a national or local level. Let’s do a quick review:
Walking vs Riding
Whenever possible, limit golfers to walking-only. A walking-only game removes the worry about cart sanitization. If, however, you choose to continue offering cart rentals, be sure to sanitize them after each use, require one to a cart (families are often the exception,) and offer a hands-free way to set up and pay for the rental.
Limiting Human Interaction
We’ve all been hearing it. Six feet apart! It doesn’t take much to accomplish this during a round, but it’s still a good idea to remind your groups that aren’t family members.
- Stay “two club lengths” away from other players
- No handshakes
- No high fives
- Rangers don’t get too close
On the Course Modifications
We suggest you outline some of the modifications you’ve made, and the regulations you’re asking guests to follow, in some signage and within your communication.
Not only will this help ensure golfers are following your guidelines, it also reassures them; knowing you’re protecting their health as much as possible may help you maintain occupancy levels.
- Ditch the ball washers
- Flags stay in
- Handle your own bags
- Cups are raised or foam inserts in the holes
Tools for Meeting Off-Course Restrictions
At the beginning of this week, we turned all our Product and Dev teams to pushing features through that will help you meet the unique needs of running business over the next little while.
Some of the things we will be talking about over the next few segments are new, but many are existing features that you simply need to activate or adjust. Christian walks us through the ones you need to know about. Keep in mind that you can always reach out to support or your Account
It’s simple to increase the increment time in your software, so you alleviate course congestion and adhere to social distancing guidelines. The ability to set these intervals is not new, however there are ways to use it more effectively, which is what Christian tells us here; he suggests going into the increment settings. Here you’ll be able to set a timeframe for the increased increments.
The image on the right (blue) is the increment setting that you have set up for your course. In this image, it says the increments you have set up are 7-8 minutes. This means that, from today to forever, every tee time is going to follow this increment rule. You could, in theory, just change that to--say--ten minutes to avoid congestion on the course.
However, when done this way, the interval setting rule will apply if someone wants to book tomorrow OR if they are booking a few months in advance.
Instead, we recommend hitting the Increment Settings button (seen in blue) which will take you to the image on the left (green). Here you’ll see that we created a special segment called Covid-19, and highlighted it green.
The date range is set from today until April 27th, so for the next month the interval setting will be 10 minutes. It shows up on the tee sheet to keep things organized, and if COVID-19 ends early it’s very easy to adjust without compromising future tee times or tee sheets you have set up.
Christian suggests telling people that you’ve done this. It’s our experience that it’s easier to patronize businesses that make it clear that they’re taking action to keep you safe.
Requiring Online Payments
This, again, is not a new setting. Many courses choose not to use this option, though, because they want to make it as easy as possible to book their tee time. Requiring online payment can add a bit of friction to this process.
However, at this time it’s a good practice to force online payments. (If you still want to accept payment upon check-in, we have a solution for that as well in an upcoming section.)
It’s as easy as clicking the checkbox that says “yes, I want to require payments online”. The user flow is easy because it allows you to require payment online, but it also give you the ability to add in the “Terms and Conditions” or other messages. When you view the screen to require online payments, you can add in a message about why you are requiring payments online.
Online sales is a relatively new feature. It allows gift cards to be sold online, and we have also just now turned on the ability for all foreUP customers to sell Passes online as well.
This came as a result of seeing courses send out emails to their customers saying, Hey, please call into the Pro Shop and order a Season Pass or Punch Card!
With this feature activated they don’t even have to call into the Pro Shop. Simply send an email and make a social post to let them know that, from their online portal, they can quickly and easily buy a pass. Whether you want to sell season passes or special “COVID-19” punch passes, it’s simple and easy.
As seen in the image, when the pass inventory item is pulled up there is now an e-commerce tab. All you have to do it toggle it, type in any terms and conditions, and then your customers can continue driving revenue to your course.
- You can create offers at home, and then let customers purchase online.
- This allows your loyal customers to support you without having to even leave their homes.
- We think you’ll find that you have a local following that wants to keep you afloat. Online sales enables this.
Digital Starter Sheet
The starter sheet has gotten a facelift and a lot of enhancements to give you the tools you need right now. It allows you to:
- Manage pace of play
- Enforce rules
As seen in this image, the digital starter sheet can be accessed on any screen that is smaller than your typical computer screen. If you’re on your cell phone and you navigate to the tee sheet, there is a big blue button in the corner that says Starter Sheet.
Every tee time will be displayed, and you can now add the cart #s that are assigned to the customer. You can manage pace of play with three buttons that track when they start, when they round the turn, and when they are finished.
The great thing about this is that it communicates with your tee sheet, and vice versa. If you put cart numbers on the starter sheet, the tee sheet is updated. If you put them on the tee sheet, the starter sheet is automatically updated as well.
This also allows the Marshall to know who is checked in and paid, and who has not.
- Yellow = Not Checked In
- Green = Checked In and Paid
We’re looking forward to seeing how you use this, and how we can enhance it to allow you to operate more efficiently and in a touch-less manner.
Mobile check-in has been our biggest initiative this week.
If you don’t want to require online payments, customers can receive an email with all their reservation information that allows them to check in. Think of it as airline check-in; the sooner you check in, the easiest it is to get to your flight.
They will click “Pay Now”, and it will take them to an online portal where they can pay for their tee time. It will have all the information for their booking, so they can review it. A cool feature is that, if they have already paid online, it will just prompt them to check in.
This alleviates having someone standing at the door to check them in. If you are using this in conjunction with the digital starter sheet, the Marshall knows immediately who has checked in and who has not.
Picture it: The player books their tee time, pays for their tee time, checks in, and then just walks up to the first tee when it’s time. Your Marshall glances down at their phone to verify that they are checked in, and the round starts with almost no effort on your part whatsoever. And, more importantly, without getting too close. This is the future of business!
*This is currently in the final phase of testing. It will be available to every course Wednesday, April 1 2020.
Digitizing Payment Methods
Many customers have cards on file. Now, those customers can use those payment options digitally via the Pro Shop or F&B. They can just say Use my card on file.
This eliminates the need for cards to be handed back and forth, and speeds payments. No need for a swipe track or EMV unit! Plus, it’s a lot easier to spend money when you don’t have to pull out their wallet!
- No swipe track
- No EMV unit
- No touching
The payment screen, by default, highlights the most recently used payment method. If the customer has a card on file, it will be shown in green on the payment screen.
* This will also be released to all clients Wednesday, April 1 2020.
Maintaining Revenue Streams
While there are some courses that have been fortunate enough to not see too big of a dip in their occupancy over the last few weeks, most are looking for ways to keep money rolling in other ways.
To help with this, we present a few tricks for helping accomplish this.
Subscription Golf Model
The concept of golf on a subscription is basically exactly what it sounds like; pay a monthly fee, get to golf. It’s like selling a pass, with a contract. Think Netflix, for golf. We’ve seen some courses employ this strategy using some of foreUP’s new features, and they’re seeing incredible results.
The features needed to support this model have been in beta for quite a few months. We have been preparing to announce them carefully with a lot of education, but in light of the current situation we have launched everything early. There is a lot to it, so our teams are standing by to help you through it should you choose to implement the tactic.
Some successful subscriptions we’ve seen by courses include:$41/month
- 100% off golf from 11-5pm
- Pass bills every month automatically
- Minimum length of 3 months
Buy Today, Get Billed Later
Pay for 2 Months Now, Get the 3rd Month Free
- Unlimited play between 3pm and dusk
A lot of courses do annual passes / season passes, but now they can do it monthly where they can guarantee the money will be coming in.
- Add drinks or entrees to tickets
- Better rack rates & privileges
- Cancellation notices
- Unlimited range use
- Trial periods
Courses using this model already have seen an increase in the number of people purchasing passes, despite the COVID pandemic.
It’s been built to require as few touch points as possible. Customers can go online, view the terms & conditions, and purchase right from your site.
We’re seeing a huge influx of the younger generations enjoy monthly payments vs paying premiums a couple times a year.
Social is always important, and the value increases every day. But now, though, it’s especially important. Everyone is home with time on their hands!
It’s a great time to keep promoting your voice and your brand on social media. Your posts should focus on:
- Establishing personal connections
- Promoting online sales
- Communicating about what you’re doing to keep doors open (or why they aren’t)
- Posting community updates
- Helping out your fellow local businesses
Some courses are doing live or recorded “lessons”, tutorials, or just helpful information that allows them to either practice at home (be careful swinging clubs in the house, of course!) or just continue those feelings of support.
Rely on Community Groups
There are a lot of groups in local communities that have been created to help consumers know how to support the companies they care about. That’s you!
Find local community groups by searching online, in social media, and asking around. These groups will often find you, so just have something for them to take to consumers like a discount ticket or a link to buy a gift card.
This is also a very important time to stay in touch with your customers. To help you with this, we have activated the foreUP Email Marketing tools for all our courses. You’ll find a pre-created template that you can quickly customize with your own information or images, to supplement or replace the text we’ve created.
Just like with social media, use your emails to tell them what’s going on, what they can expect, and even what else is going on in the community.
- Sanitization procedures
- Your hours
- Their expected behavior
- Local government regulations
Managed Marketing Services
We are now offering a new “Product” with Mark Farrow, who has been in the industry his whole life. He built a program like this for another golf technology provider, and they saw incredible results.
We’ve had a lot of courses ask us if we can do their marketing for them. Of course, course marketing comes with its own set of nuances and strategies, so it's no wonder it can be so overwhelming for small business owners. We were not, however, set up in a way that allowed us to offer these services.
That’s why we have brought Mark in. The results he’s seen with his programs are powerful indicators that marketing done right can make a significant impact on the success of your course.
- We drive the tools you have available
- We do your social media posts
- Build your paid social advertisements
- Make sure your website works for what you need, specifically
- Create targeted, segmented email campaigns
We work with you to determine what is if you are offering, and what goals you have, to build a plan. We then execute, and handle all the nitty gritty. We will be using some new, very advanced marketing tools that incorporate snail mail, text messaging, and email marketing with incredible segmentation and targeting abilities.
Average increases were about 11% in 2019.
We’ve created a Facebook group for anyone in the industry. It is a place to discuss problems, solutions, ideas, woes, successes, and any general chatter. Our team will be on and can give advice about using the tools to help you, as well as adding in resources as we come across them. Join the group HERE.
Watch the Webinar
You can watch the webinar HERE. When watching this recap you will not be able to ask questions or access the polls, but the content is valuable and can be shared with your colleagues.
We are with you! If you have any questions or ideas to discuss with us, please email us with the information below. Stay well!
Sr. Product Manager
Director of Managed Marketing Services
Director of Marketing
General support queue
Phone (800) 929-5737
General New-Business Sales Team
Phone (800) 675-0422
You can also reach out to your Account Manager. If you do not know who your account manager is, please contact support and they can direct you.