How to work with vendors and suppliers

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As many of you prepare for opening day and a new season, with so much going on in your community and world, there are people and organizations who are your cheerleaders and fans for success. As we know it takes a community to operate a golf course. When we think about the products, supplies, and services necessary to successfully organize and manage a golf property, it is truly a mind-numbing exercise. The vendors and suppliers should not only be your cheerleaders, several should be able to partner with product sampling, marketing support, and extra services that can help you and your team create a property rich in perks, testing trials, and promotions for your members and guests. As someone who has been on both sides of the “take & give” of this idea, I understand you have the leverage to build added experiences and fun into your calendar. Here are my 5 highfives concerning working with your vendors & suppliers:

1)  Before you finalize all significant purchasing, ask about total advertising campaigns, new product introductions, sampling, on-site event opportunities, and personal use discounts

2)  Because your property purchases course supplies, food & beverage items and supplies, golf shop merchandise, printing and other services, there is much to consider. The lowest price may not always be the best route if it costs you visibility and marketing. Think it through, and plan out the season with your managers

3)  Once you know the score, plan to create purchasing that will build sales, create excitement, add to facility traffic, and digital marketing opportunities. It is OK to use more vendors if it gets you the marketing assets you could not create on your own

4)  Know that vendors have marketing dollars, no charge product, and other assets budgeted to them. I learned many decades ago, if you do not ask, they will not volunteer 

5)  Review your marketing calendar to augment existing club events or work to create a few significant events on property, where some of these vendors bring in people, set-ups, and free goods for your golfers. Golfers love new things, whether new golf equipment, foods, wines, or new information. Use your buying leverage to create programs that will help your property stand out above the rest.

It is very important to spend time with your sales and service reps. These people are the “bees” that move from club to club gathering useful information. Being in the know is valuable. Making friends amongst these key people is also important and can be truly significant over time. Knowing these people well, gaining a share of their budgets, and learning about important points both on your local scene, as well as best practices cannot but help you and your team build on your service strategy for all golfers and guests. Remember to ask the keep asking questions.


Jack Dillon writes the highfives series. Jack has been serving the golf industry since 1973. He is an experienced speaker, and an expert in: operations, service, and merchandise. Jack lives in Orlando. Reach Jack at 407-973-6136. 

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