Lessons from a working life

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Five of my greater lessons learned after five decades of joyous work in this business that is the greatest game.

This blog has always been about you and about five ideas. It was designed to provide five thoughts for the reader to bring to the golf operation to test and try. Some of the ideas may have made some sense to you and your team. A few may have even worked. Over these 10-plus years, I have tried not to inject my career too deeply into the conversation. Today however, it is a bit different. This post is not about vie ideas to test and to try. It is about five of my greater lessons learned after five decades of joyous work in this business that is the greatest game. Although the total lessons learned are many, these are five that have made a lasting impact on how I performed my job(s) or how I treated customers, teammates or issues of the day. If they can be a benefit to you, your operations and your people, it will give me great joy. Here are my highfives for you to consider, maybe to test and to try:

1)    Never mastermind your customer: I learned that from a great sales rep. The lesson is take time to listen to your member or guest before you decide on what they should purchase in the way of equipment. At the same time, if you remain calm, provide additional suggestions, most people will buy far more than they expected to from the beginning

2)    Bring solutions to the table…not just the problems: This is a great lesson for every staff person and their boss. The boss is not the answer person, hired only to field and solve problems. I was taught to think the issue through, providing my two best solutions to the boss or team. This lesson came from a masterful boss

3)    Take precious time before you open your mouth: A very valuable lesson I desperately needed as a young man. I spoke too much, too soon, and too loudly. Two lessons: when you are asked a question: wait at least 3-5 seconds to develop a best answer before you speak: And spend much more time listening than speaking. It is amazing what you will learn when you train your entire being to stop and to listen. It is important to prepare to listen. It will change your life

4)    You cannot sell from an empty wagon: If you plan to operate a successful golf shop, then have enough product to excite and interest your golfers. At the same time, make certain you have your goods on the floor, not in the stock room. Too many shops I have worked with over the years kept far too little stock on the floor, while oversupplying the stock room shelves, which is out of bounds to the shopper. Let your customer see the merchandise

5)    Take time for people: I was busy, always busy. As a young man, I kept on the move, talked when serving or selling but rarely stopped to have a relaxing, human conversation. Being in the hospitality business, the service business, a sport: I eventually learned to stop, look people in the eye and have a 3-5 minute conversation with them, about them. Showing people you care about them and their game absolutely works. Be nice to people by simply giving of your time and taking time.

Over five decades, I learned thousands of lessons that made an impact on me as a golf guy as a human being. At the beginning of my career, I was told that employees are just that: people who should clock in, do their job, and clock out. I was told not to get involved, to dig too deep, that their issues were not my business. Today, I know that was the wrong lesson, the wrong advice given by people who knew no better. Today, I know we must put people first….period. When we treat people as we want to be treated, we develop people who care, who will give their all and who will take care of team and member. The most important lesson learned then is to care. Care who you hire, care about them when you do, and know that life does not come in sections. You cannot separate a staff member from their personal issues. People came as one package. Treat people right, cut them slack when they need it, and they will look out for the members’ best interests. Care only about their 7-4 lives, and turnover will be a constant nightmare. I hope you enjoyed this post. I hope it provides at least some fuel for thought, heck: it took almost 50 years to write. Thank you.


Jack Dillon writes the highfives post. Jack has been a part of the business since 1973. Jack is a storyteller, speaker, writer, constant learner. He is an expert on the golf shop, on service, and operations. Soon he will begin his 3rd career act. To introduce Act 3 Jack is offering a FREE 30 Zoom instructional call on your golf shop. This is very limited so e-mail Jack at dillonjack53@gmail.com. You can call Jack at 407-973-6136. Jack is looking to make your shop, your team better. He lives in Orlando.

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