When doors reopened after the March lockdown, UK golf clubs saw the steepest rise in membership numbers ever recorded. Finding themselves spending longer at home and fewer hours travelling to work allowed former commuters more time to enjoy the sport. With new lockdown measures being put in place around the UK this November, making the most of these new member-customers during a difficult Winter could be key to the future success of your pro shop.
Studies in America have shown that golf clubs can lose 15-25% members during a recession so there really hasn’t been a more important time to make sure your new members stick around for seasons to come.
"Staying in touch with customers throughout the Winter is one thing, but keeping them engaged, active and involved is your aim here".
The Mendip Golf Club in Somerset has welcomed over 220 new members this year and has had to introduce a waiting list. “Before Covid, we had a casual green fee that meant it was actually cheaper to play with a guest than to become a member. After lockdown, we increased the green fee cost which helped improve membership value. All those people who were previously playing 20 times a year as guests have now become members”, says Mendip’s Head PGA Pro and Director of Golf, Stuart Disney, “We’ve seen the average age of a member drop from 63 to 55 and we’re really hoping these new golfers will stay on after this year”.
The Mendip is planning a new-member buddy scheme for the Spring which it hopes will entice more women to the club, and has restructured its competitions to allow more mixed play. “We used to have men and women-only competitions, but opening it up has meant new members can play with friends, even if they aren’t competing, and husbands can play with wives”. As a result, the numbers taking part in competitions have almost doubled. “The pro shop has seen the benefits of this in incremental sales”, continues Stuart, “it’s buzzing at the weekends with these extra players and our new golfers obviously want lessons and new kit!”
As we head into Winter, and with further Covid restrictions in place, establishing your customer communication plan is key. Remind members, new and old, who you are, what you do and what’s on offer. Get the basics right with emails and newsletters, and, if you’ve never tried it before, take a deep breath and dive into those social media waters. Staying in touch with customers throughout the Winter is one thing, but keeping them engaged, active and involved is your aim here.
The UK is home to 45 million active social media users and the potential for businesses is immense. However, social media content creation is time-consuming so don’t waste time on the wrong platforms. Work out where your customers spend their time; choose one, or two, platforms and do them well.
Twitter is a great way to network with the golf professional community, but is it where your shop customers spend their time? Your YouTube video views might be increasing, but do your followers purchase from your pro shop? The shop Instagram posts are looking evermore stylish, but is the audience demographic too young for your retail business?
Your Pro Shop Facebook Page
Over the last couple of years, the demographics on Facebook have changed, with usage rising rapidly among the older generation. It remains the most popular social media platform in the UK and, with usage prevalent among high-earning individuals, there’s a good chance your customers are frequent flyers.
DO post consistently - Aim for a post every day if you can, but not just for the sake of it. Posts should always be interesting to your audience.
DO post a variety of content – Photos, blog posts, comment, videos. Keep your page interesting and be creative.
DO look at timings – Monday to Saturday between 1pm and 3pm are said to be the best times to post on Facebook, but watch what works for you.
DO promote your Facebook page – Give shop customers a good reason to follow you.
DO make a content plan – It’ll save you time in the long run.
DO boost a post if it’s important to your business (upcoming event, or brand day announcement) and is already performing well organically. £5-10 can go a long way to help your post reach a lot more people.
DO respond quickly to comments on your Page.
DO encourage customers to leave a review.
DON'T worry about how many likes you receive. Focus on building your community.
DON'T share Twitter posts on your Facebook page. If you want to publish the same post on both, rewrite it specifically for the platform. Remember, the audiences are different and Twitter has character limitations which don’t apply to Facebook.
Facebook Content Tips this Winter
LOCAL LEGEND Content should centre around the shop but talk about a range of topics that would interest your customers, including local events or issues that might be important to them. Be seen to support other local businesses, and they will return the favour.
STORE STUFF: If customers can’t get into the shop (bad weather, lockdowns…) use your Facebook Page to show them what’s in store. Push ideas for Christmas presents and stocking fillers. What are your plans for Black Friday? New stock arrivals; remerchandising; a new brand; staff announcements; and competition news.
EVENT ENGAGEMENT: Give customers something to think about during bad weather. With the Masters coming up, what can the pro shop do to involve and engage them? Fun competitions around the bigger events often go down well. Ask customers to take photos or short videos and post them to the page.
KEEP FIT: Help members and customers stay fit during colder weeks with golf-specific exercises they can do at home.
SWING STUDIO: Make the most of your indoor facilities. Keep up momentum and enthusiasm and use Facebook to promote a series of four-ball competitions for members to participate in. It’s also a great way for them to catch up and see each other.
Jules Appleby is the marketing manager at XPOS. For more great advice, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and see our News stories on the XPOS Today page. Talk to the XPOS team via the CHAT button on our website www.crossovertec.co.uk