A new survey conducted by A4G, supported by the Golf Club Managers’ Association (GCMA) and de Haan & Associates, of 105 golf clubs in the UK reveals that over the past 12 months 46% of clubs have increased membership, 57% generated bar and catering sales increases, 48% saw green fee sales increase, and 71% experienced no cash flow difficulties.
Copies of the A4G report are available free of charge to club managers who register to participate in next year’s survey.
A4G’s findings are reinforced by two other recent surveys. The 2011 KPMG Advisory survey ‘Golf course performances inEMAin 2010’ found that although overall participation dropped by 4%, 45% the UK clubs performed well or very well in 2010 compared to 2009. The A4G results also resonated with an even more recent survey from the Scottish Golf Union which revealed that while membership reduced nationally by 1.4%, 40.6% of Scottish golf clubs grew their membership last year.
What makes one club more successful than another?
The A4G report analyses the factors that make one club successful while another struggles. Weighting the responses across two major criteria, pro-activity and performance, A4G created their own version of the well known Boston Matrix, identifying four types of golf clubs – Stars, Could Do Betters, Ineffectives and the Bunkered – and nine particular success factors that help explain why some clubs seem to do so much better than others in the same area.
These success factors range from maximising the resources available eg. website refreshing and online tee booking, emailing frequently your members with news and useful information, ensuring key members of a club’s management team and its decision makers understand the club is a business, knowing their market and the sales processes they are involved in, making the club more attractive for families, engaging more with local businesses, agreeing a joint marketing strategy with your club’sPGAprofessional, to getting and delegating control of a club via monthly management accounts and key performance indicators.
A welcome perspective
Malcolm Palmer, Managing Partner of A4G, knows all about growing SMEs, as his firm has over 900 of them on its books and is growing by 10% year-on-year: “Having been a nomad golfer for ten years, I joined a club this year and became fascinated by the issues that so many other golf clubs were facing and either overcoming or being overcome by. So we conducted a survey with the help of the GCMA’s Southern,Londonand Home Counties, and South East Regions, andBRSGolf, to look into these issues.”
“With a simple online questionnaire designed, we received responses from 105 clubs and met with several of them for deeper questioning. The results show that not only are things nowhere near as bad as many people like to think, but that with some pretty simple actions club managers and decision makers can start to turn things around and get the kind of results they need to survive and prosper, despite what are probably the toughest economic conditions in living memory.”
For more information about A4G and a copy of the Survey of Forward Thinking Golf Clubs 2011/12 (cost £19.97 or free if you register for the 2012/2013 Survey), check out www.a4g-llp.co.uk, or e-mail Malcolm@a4g-llp.co.uk, or call him or one of his team at 01474 853 856.