July 5, 2018

Jim Smith Jr.: Utilize a Service Excellence Ideas Program

Jim Smith Jr., the PGA Philadelphia Section 2003 Merchandiser of the Year for Private Facilities, 2005 Golf Professional of the Year, and two-time section Bill Strausbaugh Award recipient, is the PGA Director of Golf at Philadelphia Cricket Club, in Flourtown, Pennsylvania.

Jim Smith Jr. on the importance utilizing a service excellence ideas program:
In the golf industry, we serve our customers in a variety of ways. Whether you own or manage a driving range, public course, private club, indoor facility, or retail store, ensuring that your staff buys into your facility’s mission and goals is vital to the success of the business, as well as the careers of the staff involved. At Philadelphia Cricket Club, we have a program that I implemented at a previous facility twenty years ago. The “Service Excellence Ideas” program calls on staff to submit five ideas for service improvement. Each October, I receive over 100 ideas that range from new merchandise to carry in the golf shop to ways of greeting members when they arrive at the club. Ideas run the gamut, including some on teaching, member events and tournaments, and ways to streamline daily processes and procedures. We review the suggestions over the winter and implement roughly half of these staff ideas on average each spring. One of our most recent ideas, submitted by a young staffer, was to hold a Club Putting Championship. We planned the date and format and promoted via the club’s website, flyers, social media, and word of mouth. We had an impressive response by over sixty members and ultimately welcomed 48 on the evening of the event. We cut eight cups into our two adjacent practice greens, with putts varying in length and break. We planned tee times one minute apart and ultimately welcomed the top eight players plus ties to the playoffs, eventually crowning a champion. We purposely kept it simple this year, unsure of the turnout we’d have. Pleased with the response and feedback from members, we anticipate incorporating food & beverage in the future, with aspirations of growing the event to 200+ members in the next few years.

Jim Smith Jr. on the business impact of utilizing a service excellence ideas program:
The cost to participate was just $5, which went towards prizes for the playoff contestants. Having just recently conducted the event, the specifics of how it will impact various aspects of our business are not yet measurable. However, this inaugural competition, and member events like it bring staff and members together. Staff gets an opportunity to exhibit its own skills of organization and service, while members show their appreciation by coming out and supporting the events. Keeping members engaged in club activities generally renders beneficial residual effects on club revenues and business. Play usually increases, which means golf shop sales and food & beverage revenues do as well. And even member-retention peaks when members like the product you’re putting out there. Any impact on our business is not just due to a putting competition, but this new event is most certainly a result of our desire to please our members. It shows that we love what we do. It is important to keep members engaged and excited, but that only happens if your staff feels the same way. For two decades, promoting “Service Excellence Ideas” with my staff has ensured positive results across the facilities at which I have served, and it shows no signs of slowing down.


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