Three of the golf industry’s most influential executives were the star performers on a day of informative and inspiring customer service seminars hosted by 59Club, Europe’s leading golf-specific mystery shopper service, and the Club Managers Association of Europe (CMAE).
Held at The Belfry, in advance of 59Club’s prestigious service excellence awards’ evening hosted by BBC sports presenter Dan Walker, the day saw more than 100 golf club officials from around the country in attendance.
The key-note speakers included Gregg Patterson, currently general manager of The Beach Club, Santa Monica, the creator of a number of widely used management-development programmes and a regular contributor to leading trade journals.
He said: “It is always a treat connecting with others who have a ‘buzz for the business’. My focus is ‘experience mapping’ the guest encounter, from inquiry to visit, and on to the follow-up in the months after they’ve left. The 59Club has identified those customer ‘encounters’ better than anyone I’ve met.
“It is then my role as a general manager to translate these ‘encounter opportunities’ into a service culture and, through these seminars, I was able to give the leaders in the room the buzz about ‘personalised hospitality service’ and to see each encounter as an opportunity to deliver the buzz, the love and the glow to their customers.”
His encouraging and motivational ideas did not fall on stony ground and were appreciated by those present.
Andy Ryan, head professional, golf operations and retail manager at the Manor House Hotel and Golf Club in Castle Combe, near Bath, said: “Gregg was truly a great inspiration throughout the whole day. His enthusiasm and energy for people and customer service was infectious and it was quite obvious that he talked directly from the heart. If I could soak up and pass on to the team at the Manor House even just 10 per cent of his passion, I think we could really start making headway on the road from good to great.”
Two other high-profile presenters were equally well received by the sizeable audience: Mike Leemhuis, the CEO of the Congressional Country Club, Bethesda, USA, and Julian Small, the CEO of the Wentworth Club, in Surrey. They both gave their insight into the effects of good customer service on profit margins and also the mechanics of staging major golf events.
Leemhuis added: “It is always a privilege to educate on behalf of the CMAE and I am grateful to the new midlands and north region for inviting me to speak. Having the opportunity to pass on my knowledge to a new set of motivated managers is one I always look forward to. I wish the new region well and, it is clear, with the strong relationships they have already built with 59Club and others, that the future looks bright for them. My advice to current and up-and-coming managers is ‘get involved now’.”
Simon Wordsworth, chief executive at 59Club and a fellow of the PGA, said: “The seminar programme was a new addition for us this year, and seems to have gone down extremely well. Our service provides good quality information in a very simple way, but the key is for managers and their teams to use this information, learn from it and apply it.
“Gregg, Mike and Julian gave us an inspiring insight into club management – and I am sure we will see these strategies applied successfully at venues across the UK and beyond.”
Ian Barthorpe, the chairman of CMAE Midlands and North region, said: “With this being our first seminar, we knew we had to get some top educators. To make a real statement to those considering membership we felt that they don’t come any better than Mike Leemhuis and Julian Small. I am so grateful that they gave up their time and made the day such a fantastic learning experience. We had new members sign up immediately afterwards, which is a great sign for the future. I am also grateful to Simon and the team at 59Club for working with us to make the event so special.”
59Club, Europe’s leading golf-specific mystery shopper service and a PGA Official Supplier, is fast becoming the industry standard for measuring and comparing customer-service levels and analysing all key revenue streams for golf venues, and is committed to the on-going development of club managers and PGA professionals.
The unique benchmarking and training service has already benefited hundreds of PGA members and golf course operators, who utilise the company’s performance analysis tools to enable managers to compare their standards of customer service and facility offerings to those perceived as their main competitors.
The core service includes a series of mystery shopper recorded-enquiry calls and live visits, followed up with regular analysis and training to ensure venues can identify trends and improve, or maintain, service standards.