GNN blogger Kevin Thistle says things are looking up in the overall economy, but we can take some lessons from a tough year so far in 2009:
When the recession first hit Canada last year, a lot of people complained that the media was being too negative about the situation and I tend to agree.
Look at the trends over the last 20 years. You buy a blue chip stock that goes up 15 per cent, then goes down seven per cent, up 15 per cent, then down seven per cent. We can’t allow the highs and lows of economic activity take us on an emotional roller-coaster.
We get a lot of our information from American news sources and the U.S. economy got hit a lot harder than us. We’re blessed in Canada because, with our economy, we don’t get too crazy on the upside or too crazy on the downside.
Look at our housing prices – let’s take Ontario. Housing prices in that province went down a little over the last year, but last month, they went up.
You look at Florida or Phoenix and they’ve lost, in many cases, 50 per cent of their value and they’re not getting it back, at least not in the foreseeable future. In Toronto, let’s say we lost six per cent in the past year or so, but we’re getting it back.
I think we were a little negative at the start of the Canadian recession, but they’re still in tough in the U.S.. While we can’t say all is well here just yet, there are positive signs that things are improving and it might be a good time to stop and ask what we’ve learned from the past year.
I always talk about the heyday when golf courses never gave service. They just said “$50…next. $50…next.” Those were the days when you could operate a golf course in spite of yourself.I remember people who would complain about customers over things like “that guy made me go get him a coffee.”
Angus Glen, where I used to work, was built to be recession-proof in the sense that maybe we didn’t make $8, but we just made $7 and we made that $7 because we killed them with kindness in good times and in bad times.
That’s what I’m trying to do at Coppinwood. I’m trying to show the members that they deserve to be at the No. 1 golf course in Canada from a membership/service point of view.
I think a good approach to the current Canadian economy is cautious optimism. Let’s be optimistic because I think things are turning around. I want to believe it and I do believe it, but let’s learn from the past.
We can’t just abandon our lessons of the last year and go `Phew, I’m glad we got through that. Now, I’ll go back to my my old ways.’ If things were working in that economy, then why not stick with them?
One of the great things that’s happened in the golf business lately has been bundling. People are always looking for deals and the last couple of years, they’ve been looking for the twilight rate, including dinner.
If that worked for you in a tough economy, it will also be an incentive to keep people out on the course in traditionally slow times and maybe even encourage them to come back at prime time and pay full pop.
Let’s take what positives we can out of the last year, learn from the past and keep it going into the good times.