Guest column from Eddie Reid in Golf Retailing Magazine, May 2023

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Over the years we’ve been putting together guest columns we’ve included many quotes from the great and the good from Einstein to CS Lewis.

Here’s another…

“When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.”

Hands up who recognises that? I bet you never thought I’d be quoting one of the most infamous and random quotes from footballer Eric Cantona in relation to the golf industry did you?

Well here’s why…

Over the last five years, especially since the Covid years, the golf industry has been riding the crest of a wave.

Particularly the on course channel. Barring the peaks and troughs of closures during the lockdowns the on-course has had the lion’s share of the golf market. It is following a trend that started in 2018 and has continued through to the present day.

With the enhancement of the customer experience offered by quality PGA Professionals it has helped to change the mindset of the golfing consumer. This shift along with outstanding customer service has not only maintained that market share but has also helped to improve average margins.

Looking at the latest figures from Golf Datatech we can see that the on-course market is currently enjoying a 57% share of the market, with the average selling prices also maintaining a high level…and that’s before we even get into the season where it can peak at around 63%.

The start of this year has been phenomenal, largely due to the excellent product released at a similar time by the big manufacturers. With so many PGA Professionals now running state of the art swing studios it meant they were able to take full advantage of these big releases at a time when historically they’d have been shut or unable to show off the products due to the weather or daylight hours.

So, where do seagulls and trawlers fit into all of this I hear you say?

Well, all of this success we have been enjoying comes at a price. Time management is always the enemy of the small to medium business owner and it is so easy to get caught up in quick fire solutions that might be the best idea for your business or your diary in the short term, but they are not going to be great in the long term financially.

Wherever there is success there will be professional parasites that come out to feast, and when you’re busy it is very easy to sign your life away.

Marketing agencies, financial advisors, sales mentors, retail experts, there are consultants for every part of every business nowadays and we are seeing more and more PGA Professionals being targeted.

If you took them all on board to assist then you could find yourself going out of business very quickly.

Now, I’m not saying that these guys will do a bad job and I don’t use the term ‘parasites’ as a derogatory one, it’s just a way of describing something living off something else.

But it is critically important to always remember that unless something is adding value to your business financially and helping your margin then is it really worth doing?

When your turnover is going up, your margin is healthy and you’re finding yourself getting busier and busier it is very easy to make rash decisions.

Unless you can see that taking on a third party to run important parts of your business is going to keep those two critical elements up then what is the point? There’s no point spending an extra £2,000 to make £1,000, it has to be a sustainable gain.

If you are working with agencies or third parties then you must review them constantly. Are you getting the best value? Handing your business integrity to someone else can be risky, we all have experience of companies giving new customers a great deal to join, but then forgetting about them and focusing on the next new one.

Finally, don’t tie yourself into any potentially restrictive contracts, so if you do decide it’s no longer working for you, you can stop without any charges or golden handcuffs. A partnership should allow change if it is requested, you shouldn’t be held hostage to stay with any service provider if you want to leave. It could be classed as restrictive practice to not allow you to leave for any reason. It will certainly curb your commercial agility.

So, in conclusion, that is how Eric Cantona and his philosophical mind can help PGA Professionals and those small to medium golf retail businesses…beware of the seagulls.