In a recession such as the one we’re mired in right now, a merchandiser can least afford to get caught up in the gloomy atmosphere that goes with a tight economy.
“We’ve sat down as a group and just talked to each other,” said Tim Moore, head professional of the Thornhill Golf and Country Club in Thornhill, Ont.
“The one thing we don’t want to do is fall under the doom and gloom and constantly talk about, if something’s not working, that it must be because of the economy,” he added.
Moore was named the 2008 Canadian PGA Merchandiser of the Year last week. For more information on those awards, see the story “CPGA Announces National Award Winners” in the GolfNewsNow People section.
He says the recession may change some strategies used by the staff in the Thornhill shop, but the attitude remains the same as always.
“We’re trying to be positive that this is a year that we can change some of our buying habits, essentially buying a little bit less, trying to take advantage of perhaps some clearouts that companies will be having,” he said.
“All in all, our attitude and our mind frame of servicing the member and that personal touch and that phone call and that handshake and knowing what a certain member likes or a guest likes when they arrive at the golf course, I think if we hit that 100 per cent and hit that even better than what we’ve been doing, then we shouldn’t be affected too much.”
The Thornhill shop, according to Moore, will be cutting back on the number of suppliers it uses and deepening its orders from those it’s dealt with in the past instead of taking chances on new ones. It also plans to try several new events to capture the imagination of a membership he says is committed to the shop.
The common theme is those events will be fun despite the economic gloom.
“The No. 1 thing about merchandising is our relationships,” he said. “If you’re not a fun person, a positive person, if youre not kibitzing with the member or guest, having a little bit of fun with them, then that relationship isn’t built.
“I don’t want to be in this industry it it’s not fun. The No. 1 goal of any facility is how do we create camaraderie? Well, camaraderie comes from members getting along well with the staff, getting along well with other members. Creating fun ideas? That’s my job and that’s my assistants’ job,” said Moore.
One such event will take place on Masters weekend in April, when some of the pro shop will be moved over to the curling facility at the club. Hitting nets will be set up, staff will be wearing green jackets and members will have Masters badges.
“We sent out the e-mails literally (on Wednesday) and the response has been outstanding,” said Moore. “It’s an opportunity for (members) to meet the new staff. I’m going to have my new (Ping) fitting softwear over there, so I’ll have some new equipment over there.”
Moore says he will have to find a balance between work and fun at the event. “I want it to be a sit-down, have a couple of beers and watch the Masters (event). We’re going to have a Masters menu and, with the long drive contest and our putting over there, it’s going to be a fun weekend.
“I’m not going to turn it into all the golf shop over there, but I’m going to have pieces from different (apparel) collections. I don’t want to over-merchandise it,” said Moore, who adds that the Masters weekend came together in three weeks after staff discussed potential ideas.
While it may be a cliché to thank your staff for their contributions to any recognition someone gets, Moore says it applies in the case of Thornill.
“It’s so easy to say and it’s the proper thing to say, but it’s true,” he said. “I’m not an “I” person and I wouldn’t ever want to work for an “I” person.
“You have to let your assistants come up with their own ideas. You might point them in a direction or give them your input, but for them to take hold of something and really create something, it just gets them so involved and get their passion for the industry up,” he said.
Moore says he will use any means possible to communicate with members and staff and while there is a lot to be said for e-mail blasts and the like, he prefers the tried and true personal touch.
“E-mail and all these new technologies are obviously helping all of us communicate better and I do a weekly to bi-weekly ` From Your Golf Professional’ e-mail to the members who have signed up,” he said.
“I have, obviously, my ladies’ e-mail listing that is separate because we do other ideas with them as far as clothing and other things.
“Ultimately, the only communication that sets you apart is your one-on-one interaction with them. If you’re a good communicator one-on-one on the first tee or in the clubhouse or in the locker room, that’s when that member walks out saying, `Not only does he remember me, but he remembers that my son just shot 77 or my wife just broke 100 for the first time.’
“Things like that can really set you apart from other professionals or other golf retailers.”