With the golf season in full swing, it can be easy to get lost in the demands of the moment, including maintaining a pristine green despite unpredictable weather, planning summer lessons and leagues, and training a new rotation of seasonal staffers.
In the face of those pressing issues, many course operators lose sight of the larger course operation, and can even miss opportunities for long-term growth and development.
With that in mind, we present out top 25 tips for managing a golf course, all in bite-sized chunks for the time-pressed manager who needs something that will give them an edge in the coming season.
Marketing is absolutely essential for any golf course’s success, but it’s often the last thing on a busy manager’s mind, so these suggestions can all be implemented with minimal effort for maximum payoff.
1. Loyalty Rewards
Loyalty rewards are a great way to make sure that your most frequent customers feel valued and taken care of, and in most golf management software systems, they are extremely easy to set up.
2. Range Code Slip/Starter Slip Ads
Every day, courses print off hundreds of slips with codes either for use at the range or to show the starter before the round. The great thing about these little pieces of paper is that players are guaranteed to look at them.
If your POS allows it, you can use the blank space on the slip to sell advertising space, just like you see at grocery stores or big-box retailers. Fill it up with promotions and discounts for your course, or find other local businesses that might be interested in getting more exposure!
3. Social Media Contest
Your social media accounts are a vital part of branding and exposure for your course, but it’s often difficult to gain a consistent following. That’s why social media contests are such a great idea, because they are much more likely to generate likes, comments, and shares.
These contests usually involve a randomized giveaway, and all your followers have to do is tag a friend or share the post. Those two are the most popular, because they give posts more visibility on social media channels. Liking and commenting are good actions, but tagging and sharing are much more powerful.
4. Text Marketing
While other marketing channels, like email, are still extremely important, text marketing is one of the most effective ways of reaching customers. 29% of opted-in customers click on links sent through text messages. That’s over 4 times the US national average click-through rate of the “highest-performing” marketing emails!
5. Expand Your Instagram Presence
We talked a little about getting more followers through a social media contest, but Instagram is important enough to get its own section. It’s rapidly overtaking Facebook as one of the most-used social media outlets, and over 50% of its users get on every day.
If you’re wondering about the details of making a successful Instagram account, you might want to take a look at our recent ebook, “Instagram’s Role In Golf Course Marketing,” which covers how to build your following, when and how to post, and tips for taking fantastic photos.
6. Optimize your emails
Taking time to optimize emails can have a huge impact on your marketing KPIs and bring in a lot of money for your business. Even though we praised the virtues of text marketing, email marketing is still the #1 way to reach and engage with customers.
7. Segment your customer database
Of all the ways you can optimize an email, this is probably the most important one. Mailchimp reports that segmented campaigns get 101% more clicks and 14% higher open rates than non-segmented ones! Take the time to segment your email list.
8. Create a birthday club
This one is simple, but effective. Having a way to recognize the birthdays of your players is another easy way to make your players feel welcome, included, and remembered.
The time when a course could survive using only pen and paper systems is long past, and courses that are slow to adopt golf course management technology are quickly being edged out by the high-tech competition.
We’ll leave it up to you to decide which tee sheet and POS to use, but there is so much more that your course could be doing to automate routine tasks and bring in more money for your club or course.
1. Online Booking
Online booking isn’t the technology of the future: it’s the technology of the present. Online booking allows your players to make a tee time reservation 24 hours a day, which gives your players a convenient way to book a tee time and you a convenient way to avoid endless hours on the phone taking reservations.
2. Dynamic Pricing
If the weather changes every day, why doesn’t your green fee? Dynamic pricing technology allows you to automatically set the best tee time price based on weather patterns, historical occupancy, and several other factors.
3. Mobile Apps
A branded mobile app is something that players love, and can also be an extremely powerful marketing tool. By segmenting your customer list, you can send highly specific push notifications and other messages within the app to get your players to book a tee time, use coupons, or any number of other actions.
4. Online Reputation
90% of customers read online reviews before visiting a business, and 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from a friend or family member. And when you consider that a single review can be seen by up to 5,000 people, managing your online reputation becomes an extremely important task.
Fortunately, there are many different software you can use to do this, which do things like allow you to respond to reviews across all channels (i.e. Google, Yelp, etc.), track your NPS, and practice damage control.
5. Customer Experience
Deeply related to your online reputation is the actual experience you give at the course. You can manage this through various softwares, like Players 1st, which are specifically designed to track how your customers feel about the experience they’re having at your course or club.
6. Integrate With Accounting Software
Most tee sheet softwares offer an integration with accounting software like Quickbooks, Xero, and Great Plains. If this is available in your chosen software, turn it on. It’ll save your accountant countless hours and result in fewer errors when you close the books.
7. Use ACH Payments
If you’re sick of huge credit card processing fees, it might be time to turn on ACH payments, which allow customers to pay directly from their bank account, incurring no fees. Currently, only foreUP and Club Prophet offer ACH payments.
8. Play by the Hole
This is one of the most recent and innovative technologies in the golf world. Play by the hole lets golfers to pay for each hole they play, letting them squeeze in smaller amounts of golfing when they’re pressed for time.
9. Online Specials
Do you notice that occupancy is consistently lower at a certain time of day, but don’t want to put in the effort to set up a dynamic pricing software? If you have foreUP, you can set Online Specials, which give a discounted tee time for certain chunks of time (e.g. 10 a.m.-12 noon is 15% off).
10. Punch cards
Similarly, if a full-blown loyalty rewards program is too much to think about, try doing a simple punch card system, where golfers receive a free or discounted round after so many rounds bought at full price.
11. Range Passes
This one is a fairly well-known business tactic, but many courses miss out on larger revenues by insisting on issuing single-use range passes, rather than season or multiple-use ones.
Want to get more people on the course? Consider implementing these suggestions.
1. Women’s Golf Day
You don’t need much of a reason to celebrate the fairer sex, and Women’s Golf Day is a wonderful way to make women feel like they belong in what is often a male-dominated sport.
2. Make an effort to talk to new people
Statistics show that people are more likely to make a purchase at your business if they are greeted when they enter a new place. That likelihood increases if you can remember their name, or say their name within the first 10 seconds of talking to them.
3. Keep Track of Customer’s Top Purchases
By using your POS to track what your customers like best, you can be sure to put those products in places that will most likely result in them buying that product.
4. Add Lights to Your Driving Range
Though this can get expensive, this can add an hour or two of profitability to your business day, allowing workaholic golfers to get their fix after a long workday. This is especially useful later in the season, when the sun sets earlier and earlier, but the night is still warm.
5. Give Out Free Water Bottles At the First Tee
There’s not much to add here, other than this is an extremely inexpensive touch that will make golfers feel like they’re getting a 4-star experience, rather than a regular 2- or 3-star one.
6. Make a Hole-in-One Jar
And lastly, we recommend having a hole in one jar. The probability of someone actually scoring a hole in one is roughly 1 in 12,000, which means that your players are more likely to win an Oscarthan get all the cash in the jar. It’s just a fun way to engage with customers and encourage a little friendly competition.
What Will You Do?
With all these suggestions, hopefully you’ve had a few cogs turn in your head about something you can do to make this season the best ever for your course and your players. If you have any more questions about what you can do for your course, feel free to contact one of our representatives.