Tony Pancake: Use Relationships With Your Vendors to Create Golf Shop Sales

Tony Pancake, a two-time Indiana PGA Section Merchandiser of the Year and the Section President, is the PGA Director of Golf at the Crooked Stick Golf Club, in Carmel, Indiana.

Early sales can set the tone for a successful season in your golf shop. A few years ago I had an idea to work with Titleist and its loyalty program to boost early-season golf ball sales. Through this program, members who purchase three dozen personalized Titleist golf balls get a fourth dozen free. We advertise this promotion via email to members and with signage around the club. But there is always the possibility that this information is not received by some members. What we decided to do about four years ago is to consider why members did not take advantage of this program. In these cases, I simply order the balls for them, making sure to include their two-letter initials. This creates a sales and service opportunity in one. Most members are appreciative of this service and are incredibly thankful. There are, however, very few members who don’t want the balls for various reasons. Most of the time, they may have recently purchased balls and just don’t need them. In those rare cases, I look for members who have the same initials and offer the balls to them at a discount. This in itself creates a service that is lauded by members. Combining early sales, with such a popular service is a perfect way to start the season.

Some ideas take minimal effort and go a long way to build relationships through exemplary customer service. The number of members utilizing the spring golf ball program to stock up on their Titleist golf balls increases every year. Over the four years that we’ve been doing this, participation in the Titleist Loyalty Program has grown from 90 members at Crooked Stick to 172 in 2016. That’s an increase of almost 100 percent. Of this total, 140 members requested the balls. We took the liberty of ordering for the other 30 or so. Through the promotion, the balls sell for $167, with our cost being $110. With $57 profit per member, it is to our benefit to get as many members on board as possible. Some members even reorder later in the year at the regular retail price. Finding ways to grow your business while servicing your members is vital to a happy golf club. This program definitely provides that harmony at Crooked Stick.