October saw the launch of Smartpro Consulting, a new concept in consultancy for the PGA professional. Herself a PGA pro, creator and founding director, Sarah Claridge gives an insight into how Smartpro came about and how its services can truly benefit her peers.
Sarah Claridge has always had a quest for gaining greater knowledge about the coaching world and through training weeks and attendance at conferences she has built on her repertoire as a coach. But if you ask her what lies at the heart of her coaching success she will tell you the secret is not just in golfing ability and professional status, but also in marketing.
Sarah admits success stems from making the time to market yourself and your teaching services, as well as being open to re-invention and creative thinking.
“At this stage in my career I have reached the point at which I would like to help other PGA professionals boost their teaching income,” said Sarah. “It’s a critical time for the PGA professional. With the hardware business becoming highly competitive through the popularity of the internet and high street retail outlets, it’s becoming harder to make money. Also there are more people coming into the game and more opportunities to coax youngsters into golf through schools and colleges because of government initiatives.
“Teaching pros need to be seen to be different in order to attract these crowds. Through the coaching initiatives I’ve developed via Smartpro Consulting, I can help create this point of difference and assist teaching professionals to work productively to increase their income.”
As a freelance teaching pro at The Kendleshire golf club, Bristol, Sarah has spent the best part of 10 years developing coaching strategies for individual pupils as well as squads, many of which come in the form of fact sheets and paper-based tools so pupils can retain information.
“After each lesson I give the pupil a memory jogger (lesson card) where I write down specific bullet points to remember from the lesson. Clients really benefit from this as they can quickly begin to monitor their progress and development. More importantly, pupils appreciate they can take something away with them from their lesson,” Sarah added.
“I believe if you’re seen to be professional in your record keeping, then this level of professionalism is what is remembered. Pupils feel looked after, they then talk about you to others, which is the best form of advertising, and suddenly you have a marketing strategy in operation as recommendations are the key to a healthy income.”
Smartpro Consulting offers pros a number of avenues to develop their teaching business:
• The Assessment Day is a three-stage package designed by Sarah to evaluate a pro’s teaching business. From there the pro will work closely with Sarah, or other Smartpro consultants, to move their business forward.
• The package consists of a preliminary fact find questionnaire which provides vital background knowledge prior to a teaching facility visit.
• There’s great flexibility in the services provided, catering for all levels of coaching professional.
• Mindful that professionals may only wish to tackle specific problem areas Sarah provides a half/full day training package. While those teaching pros wanting long-term additional support can rely upon the benefits of the Mentoring Package, providing both e-mail and phone support throughout business development.
According to Sarah the real gem of Smartpro Consulting is the Coaching Toolkit and Starter Pack. (From March this can be purchased by all pros as a monthly subscription). Available online it has been developed by Sarah and her team of designers over the past two years.
“It is a bespoke system of business fact sheets to help teaching pros efficiently run their business. The fact sheets consist of three categories, administration, marketing and pupil training. The starter pack is a portable box system of lesson cards, vouchers, and stats cards to pass onto pupils,” she added.
Sarah is aware that not everyone will use the whole toolkit so there is an option to purchase 15 fact sheets on the website. Clients who buy the Coaching Toolkit are entitled to regular updates to the fact sheets they have purchased, free telephone and e-mail support from Sarah and discounted rates on workshops and specialist events run by Smartpro Consulting.
This new venture is the latest achievement for Sarah who has amassed plenty of respect throughout the ranks of professional golfers. She has been awarded Advanced Professional status by the PGA and is a Mentor and Swing Lecturer for the PGA National Training Academy. She is also a Development Coach to the English Women’s Golf Association and a committee member of the WPGA.
Smartpro Consulting www.smartpro-consulting.co.uk
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