Mike Roeder: Use Member Surveys for the Golf Shop

Mike Roeder, a four-time Western New York PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year for Public/Resort Facilities, is the General Manager and Director of Golf at Ravenwood Golf Club in Victor, New York.

For the last 10 years, we’ve sent out surveys to our members twice a year, gauging what products they’d like to see in the shop (such as what brands of shirts, balls, pants, sweaters), what their shirt/pant/shoe sizes are, and what they’re interested in buying (i.e., is there even an interest in long-sleeved shirts in the first place?). The goal is to buy more efficiently. We don’t want to buy and stock six medium shirts if there’s only one member who’s a medium, and this allows us to buy smarter and thus sell more product as we’ll stock exactly what the members need.

Our annual average gross sales are $200,000 and we’ve basically eliminated extraneous inventory and the need to majorly discount products at the end of the year, all while increasing our margins by 10–15 percent. While we’re not a big equipment club or have a big teaching staff, the survey has helped us have the right equipment brands in stock. After all, the worst thing we could do is carry one brand putters when all the members want is another brand. We used to carry a year-end inventory of about $40,000; now we carry an average of $25,000 to the following year. This also allows us to not have to discount as dramatically during the holidays, as our maximum discount is 35 percent now compared to 50 percent and more in the past. Our members are happy and getting what they want, in the right size, and it’s always in stock. So survey your members for their needs and wants. You’ll sell more product and cut down on inventory in the process.