Welcome to 2022: A Guide to the Start of the Season
If you’re currently living in 90-degree temperatures, it’s unlikely that March is the beginning of the golf season for your course. However, for the majority of courses in the U.S. and Canada, the season is still a few weeks around the corner.
Getting your course ready to open its doors to a new season of golfers involves so many tasks for operators that it can be easy to overlook some of the things that, while basic, are important to your staff and your customers.
This year, we consulted with internal foreUP employees who have owned or operated golf courses in the past, and who continue to work closely with our courses to ensure their success. Get ready for a list of our
Top Things to Remember When Opening Your Course in 2022.
Inventory Reviews & Pricing Changes
In a minute we’ll talk about the steps you’ll need to take to be sure you have updated your website with any changes and new information, but the first step is determining those changes and new information! Ensure that your inventory reviews are done in advance. Having this predetermined makes it much easier to make pricing and promotional decisions that are often directly driven by these reviews. What are you charging for tees and golf balls; are your margins still correct?
Your Business Website
It’s unusual for a business–any business–to operate year to year with no changes in pricing, hours, offerings, and rules. It’s pretty usual, though, that not all of these changes are sufficiently communicated to customers who may want to know!
We like to call this “spring cleaning” for your online presence. Review your website and social media accounts or business listings (think Yelp and Google My Business) with at least one other member of your team to see if there are things that could or need to be added.
Then, review your website again with someone who does not work on your team. As you watch them navigate your site, ask yourself: does it give visitors all of the information they need?
Check things like:
- Changes made to the course in the offseason: Get your online visitors excited about things you’ve put time and effort into
- Updated hours of operation: Check this for all online listings, as many people rely on Google to check hours
- Updated pricing information for green fees, events, etc. (if you don’t have new pricing, should you? Now is the time!)
- Outdated material: You wouldn’t believe how many people are still advertising a tournament from May of last year
- Annual calendar of events for your facility
- Changes to regulations: Things like ending a COVID precaution, or a different release form for cart rentals
- Adding documents like your updated banquet contract or new food & beverage menus
Make Time for Marketing
Before the season starts, sit down with your marketing team. If you don’t have one, get the rest of your staff around a table. What resonated with your guests in 2021? Did you have opportunities for making more money, but maybe didn’t take the necessary steps?
Create your annual calendar of events, and add any marketing efforts you come up with to the schedule in advance.
Templates & Tactics
If you’re using a marketing platform (like foreUP or Mailchimp), it’s a good time to update your images and templates. Emails can be made on the fly much easier when you’ve taken a few hours to update your golf marketing software with logo files, images of the course, and pre-designed branded material.
Planning on sending more automated text messages? Get those ready too by deciding when and to whom you want this communication going out.
Software Updates & Training
Are there new elements to your software? If new features are added or improved upon, now is the time to train yourself and your team. If you’re using foreUP, reach out to your rep for your beginning of the year review; they’ll let you know what you need to learn. Do you need to add new groups? Do you understand the new tee sheet functionality? Are you familiar with the new payments platform?
Another step to take in your software is to add any new suppliers to your point of sale; doing this in advance prevents frustration at a less opportune time when the options you need are not available.
Material & Facility Checks
Start with a stroll, as if you were a new guest. What’s your curb appeal? Spot little things that stick out as awkward or undone. First impressions matter and the beginning of the season is a great time to ensure that yours is top-notch.
Wander through your pro shop and your office and picture it through the eyes of a customer. Is it presentable enough to be where you sell wedding contracts, or even presentable enough to be your own home?
What about the bathrooms? Is an actual spring cleaning in order?
Fresh paint, polished floors, and reorganized racks can completely change the feeling you get when you walk in. Find those easy-fix options for freshening up, and get them out of the way before your shop is too busy to get to it. Unless, of course, you’re operating in Florida or another golf-all-year-round region. You’re the lucky ones who get to worry about “spring cleaning” while you’re still operating!
It’s also time to evaluate basic supplies for the start of the season. Common sense as they may be, grab a sheet and make a list. Things like:
- Receipt paper
- Golf pencils
- Printer ink and paper
- Promotional flyers or signage
- Cart cards
Staffing & Training
Employee turnover is time-consuming, expensive, and often frustrating. The best thing you can do to set new staff up for success is to empower them with knowledge.
Schedule software training for your new staff members. If you’ve made changes to the setup of your software, small as they may be, you’ll want to be sure you’ve reviewed the entire setup of your system as a staff.
What about existing staff, returning for the season? Do you have a training process for software needs? When you’re using foreUP, training sessions can be scheduled with our team. You can also rely on the Knowledge Base articles, in-software guides, and videos to fill in any gaps or guide you through new features.
You’ll also want to clarify the processes and standards you expect when they are interacting with your customers.
- Getting emails and customer information every time they check someone in (or out)
- How to answer the phones with your company standard message
- Any specifics for how they should be interacting with guests in person
- What tasks or people to worry about most. When the line is out the door but people have questions, which do you want them to prioritize?
Be sure to cover general company policies. Do you have cell phone policies, attire regulations, or piercing and tattoo restrictions? The sooner the better when it comes to clarifying these things.
A huge concern for many of the operations we work with is supply chain management. Although this will (and has) impacted everything from receipt printers to cart parts, fertilizer is among the top stressors. Industry-wide increases for fertilizer have been reported upwards of a 40% increase in cost. Budget for these costs, and order as soon as possible.
Fuel increases are also here and are expected to rise more than the usual summer increase. Talk to your fuel vendors about pre-paying for the season to lock in the price at a cheaper rate. This may require a contract with your fuel vendor but would give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing what to expect.
Do you have all your irrigation supplies prepped for the season? Having extra parts, including things like sprinkler heads or repair supplies can prevent downtime during the season so plan ahead and order more than you need on day one.
Planning for Spring Maintenance
Every region will see different weather throughout the season; that’s why it’s crucial to sit down ahead of time and schedule your spring maintenance. You or your team should know when ground temperatures will begin to rise, and it’s around that time to slot spring maintenance on your schedule. Prior to this, a light top dressing will hold you over.
Basic landscaping, maintenance, cleaning up winter debris, and doing things like edging the bunkers will improve customer satisfaction and show them that you care enough to take any step you can to improve their experience.
Common sense as they may be, it’s still crucial to go through your checklist of things to address on the course:
- Put the rakes near the bunkers
- Replace flag sticks
- Check the conditions of your tee blocks
- Put a fresh coat of paint on the tee blocks to make them look nice
- Check for snow mold when any snow melts
Start the Season Prepared
Depending on your region, the time you have available will certainly vary. Regardless of your situation, we have found that these three things can be done to keep you on track:
- Keep a running list that people can add to as they spot or think of things
- Put everything on your schedule, rather than waiting for the time to be right
- Start early, whenever possible
If you’re a foreUP client, you’re not alone as you start the season. We’d love to walk you through changes to the software and set up training or refresher sessions for your team.
Not a client and want to learn more? Get a demo of foreUP today.