August 29, 2013

Susan Roll: Have Students Practice With a Professional

Susan RollSusan Roll, the 2011 PGA Merchandiser of the Year for Public Facilities, the 2011 Southern California PGA Section Golf Professional of the Year and three-time Section Merchandiser of the Year for Public Facilities, is the PGA owner of Carlsbad (Calif.) Golf Center.

Susan Roll on the importance of having students practice with a professional:
Last summer we had several new golf professionals and apprentices on staff. In an effort for our customers to get to know our instructors, we introduced a “Practice with a Pro” program so they could “sample” our various instructors without any cost or commitment. The free sessions were offered for a half-hour several times a month on a first-come, first-serve basis. It served as an incentive for players to come and practice at our facility, as they got more for their money than just a bucket of balls. For our students, it allowed them to meet the professionals and get tips about how to get the most out of their practice sessions while saving upwards of $50. For us as a facility, it encouraged customers to come out and spend time working on their game while buying range balls. It also gave them a chance to see improvement in their game, which encouraged them to practice more. And finally, for our teaching professionals, it gave them a chance to not only meet and potentially gain new students, but also check out the customers’ clubs as well, pointing out if they needed new grips or some other adjustment.

Susan Roll on the business impact of having students practice with a professional:
Because it is free, no specific revenue is generated from the program itself. However, our professionals signed up several new students and we generated revenue in the golf shop from equipment adjustments and enhancements. In addition, the rapport created on the range encourages golfers to trust our professionals in the golf shop for any of their equipment purchases or needs, now or in the future. All that has led to an increase in the total number of lessons taught and in participation in various other programs that create facility visits. While increases in sales, buckets sold and foot traffic are hard to quantify and directly correlate to this program, it sets the stage for more revenue-increasing purchases down the line. It also helps increase our ancillary sales like food & beverage. Taken together, the program allows the professionals to get to know the students in a relaxed environment, hopefully creating a fruitful and long-lasting relationship. The program worked well enough that we continued it this summer.