February 7, 2019

Tom Wilcox: Use Demo Days to Engage

Tom Wilcox, the 1980 PGA Philadelphia Section Horton Smith Award Recipient and 1983 and 1988 PGA Illinois Section Horton Smith Award Recipient, is a PGA Golf Ambassador at Desert Mountain Golf Club, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Tom Wilcox on the importance of using demo days to engage:
Despite what you may have heard, green grass facilities are better equipped than ever to not only promote new club sales, but to most effectively improve their members’ golf games through advanced custom club fitting and a vast selection of club manufacturers. Through the relationships we have with our club vendors, PGA professionals can maximize member engagement regarding custom club fitting and new golf clubs. When I was at Blackstone Country Club, in Peoria, Arizona, we catered to the golfer’s never-ending curiosity about the latest golf equipment and offered them the opportunity to try it all. On the first Saturday of February, we hosted a multi-company demo day that welcomed a dozen or so of the most innovative and popular golf club companies. In a tradition that was there even before I was, this demo day grew each year and served as a major catalyst to many new club sales. Through a wonderfully collaborative effort between the Blackstone Country Club golf professional staff and our club vendors, we offered a wealth of knowledge and information on the latest club technology and provided members the opportunity to sample equipment that was introduced to the public only a month earlier. We offered MAP pricing as well as special deals to our members and their invited guests. There was always an amazing selection of clubs to try and the day promoted a great number of custom club fittings that often turned into new club sales. Finally, from this mega-demo day we promoted and facilitated individual demo days with companies such as Ping, PXG, Taylor Made, and Titleist. We would see many of our vendors several times throughout the year, a result of the great working relationships we had developed. In addition, we held such sales-promoting events as Titleist ball-fitting days and Footjoy shoe-fitting days.

Tom Wilcox on the business impact of using demo days to engage:
To provide some validity to my opening statement above, almost half of our golf shop sales were hard goods, a statistic increasingly rare in today’s environment. But it doesn’t have to be. Through relationships, much success can be achieved in our business. With a very high percentage of club sales being custom orders, we stocked a small fraction of the clubs that we used to, reducing inventory costs greatly. Through demo days and custom club fitting, we sold almost 40 sets of PXG irons between 2017 and 2018 and a dozen sets of Pings. That was almost a quarter of our golfing members playing with new equipment. We also sold a high number of drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids, as well as wedges and putters. Placing a big focus on equipment has benefits beyond club sales. From the fittings and discussions with members came increased lessons and clinic participation. Generally speaking, as golfers improve, they play more, helping to boost a facility’s food & beverage revenues from the increased traffic around the club. Finally, looking past the sales, the revenues, and the measurable success, it is important to engage members through demo days, golf shop promotions, clinics, or however you reach your members, for it plants the seeds for future success. Providing such great service is a part of business that doesn’t have its own line on the financial statements, but it affects every other segment that does.

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