February 21, 2014

Craig Allan: Use a “Best in Class” Approach When Stocking for Fittings

craig-allanCraig Allan, a 2013 Golf Digest Top 100 Fitter, is the Golf Learning Center manager and clubfitter at the Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga.

Craig Allan on the importance of using a “Best in Class” approach when stocking for fittings:
We look at inventory in fitting clubs like any other part of the business. We carry more fitting options in product we know will sell and less in clubs which are unlikely to sell. The decisions on what we think will do well come from industry buzz and awareness of our client base, coupled with using technology and detailed record keeping. We call it the “Best in Class” approach, and we began it in 2003. It all started when we realized that our clientele was consistently requesting the “hot” club and wanting to compare that to clubs we were high on, and then against their own clubs. We felt that from a business perspective we wouldn’t be providing the best possible service unless we adapted our fitting matrix to best service this trend. Take drivers, for example. If a manufacturer or two have particularly good performing drivers for a season, we order extra options and make sure we are well-stocked so we can give our customers every combination they might request. Regardless of our buying choices, it is vital that we don’t exclude anyone and ensure that a customer who is passionate about a certain brand still has the opportunity to test their preferred option. In addition – and this is a crucial part – we ultimately make these orders based on customer data. In other words, if a driver is meant for the more advanced player, why order the tools needed to fit that club to a lower-level golfer when that’s not the proper club for them? Making the smart purchase saves you money and negates the need for unnecessary orders.

Craig Allan on the business impact of using a “Best in Class” approach when stocking for fittings:
Since implementing the “Best in Class” approach 11 years ago, our sales of hard goods at the Golf Learning Center have increased by 30 percent. In addition to utilizing that method, we believe there are two other reasons – all interrelated – as to why we’ve seen that jump. First, we made sure we were 100 percent educated in what we carried or decided to carry, so we could be in the most knowledgeable position possible when someone came to be fit. Secondly, we began using TrackMan in our fittings so we were working from the best possible data points. While we do charge a fitting fee, we feel as if we price our clubs competitively enough where people see the value in what they’re getting when they fit with us. That’s our pitch to the customer: knowledge and great service to go along with well-fit product. It’s helped lead us to an 80 percent conversion rate in customers who get fitted and then buy the clubs from us. The bottom line for us is efficiency: utilizing the “Best in Class” approach allows us to narrow our options within each category so we use our resources in the most effective way while still giving the customer the best product possible.

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