How to be a better merchant

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I have always had an interest, a fascination for the golf professional. First, it is one of the few positions in life with the word professional in the title. Second, these men and women have a lot to do as they wear many hats in their role. They need to be an expert in several disciplines. In many golf properties today, the shop rosters have been trimmed, as maintenance costs go up and operating incomes decrease. In my experience, one of the areas that has suffered is the golf shop as many course owners and managers believe the big box store and the net own the merchandise business, so there is every reason to cut back to the basics.

As a lifetime retailer and experienced golf shop leader, I disagree. With the golf course being the center of the game, there is still the opportunity to create a great service extension through your shop. Being a strong merchant is about creating fun, interest, education, and excitement for your members/guests. You can create, operate and manage a successful and profitable golf shop. When you think about a great golf operation, that includes a wonderful experience in the golf shop. Here are 5 thoughts about becoming a better merchant:

1) Stock great brands, but do not stop there. Try and test several challenger brands with strong product. Be unique, go beyond the top three to four vendors and educate your members on what is new, cool and different. Show them why you are the expert.

2) Create an amazing beginning to your golf season. Provide loss leaders, gifts with purchase, and other added value ideas that set up great loyalty for the entire season from your members right from the start.

3) Set up special events. Have special evenings with some brand reps, showcasing new 2019 products. Have prizes and fun galore!  Include your brand partners in providing donations and special buys for these events.

4) Personalize the experience. You and your team should know your members very, very well. For apparel, invite your members, men and women to experience trunk shows throughout the season. Remember that women may spend as much on their significant other as on themselves.

5) Talk to your members about their business. Look to earn additional business targeting the members who own a business. Become not only a better merchant, but a proactive merchant

6) (Bonus) Create a MTP, a member trial program. There is nothing more important to a member that loves golf gear than the newclubs, balls, shoes, etc.  Set up a program where the member buys a trial card, and you provide new products at significant discounts. Treating your best members well can bring you great results.

Building a strong golf shop is not impossible. But it takes time, attention, study, and trial.  Do not have the same inventory as the other  clubs nearby. Be different in your approach and with part of your spend.  e a proactive merchant. Product does not jump off of the shelf without your support. Make certain your team is schooled on what you sell and why. Create a team of merchants. Create a team of experts.  One of the ways to create great margin is with off-price buys.  Work with your vendors to always be on the lookout for special buys that make sense for your shop, for your membership. Above all: make it personal and fun! You can be sure that no one at the big box store ever will…………..

 Jack Dillon write the highfives blog.  Jack is a presenter, merchant, former buyer.  He has been in the golf industry for 45 years.  Have Jack help your team improve your shop story, your service story, and your product mix.  Contact Jack at 407-973-6136.  Jack lives in Orlando.


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