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The Latest from The Index

Keeping stats on your teaching business is the key to success

Feb 10, 2020

Any veteran teacher will have a general feel for when things are going well, but the one way to be sure is by the numbers. Here are your key indicators.

We don’t truly know if we’re succeeding unless we can mark our progress using metrics—and stay on track by checking our numbers over time. That’s a fact of business life that only recently has gained major importance in golf instruction.

So, when a golf coach is asked how things are going, and they say, “My business is great,” they’re not providing much of an answer. The natural follow-up question would concern year-to-date gross revenue. What’s that number? Next question after that: How am I trending compared to my 2020 goals? And it’s always good to ask the simple question: How many lessons did I teach last month?

It’s natural to conclude that business is good because you can make the mortgage payment or because you felt like you were on the go all day. But imagine if you could use goal-setting, long-term strategy and ongoing measurement to boost your business 15 percent—or 25 or even 50 percent. Wouldn’t you want to give that a try?

If you agree with the premise, next step is selecting the stats and metrics to load onto your spreadsheet. Here’s a partial list:

  • Total lessons taught
  • Type of lesson taught
  • Total revenue
  • Revenue by category
  • Total fittings
  • Average order value
  • Close percentage
  • Renewal percentage
  • Number of referrals
  • Range revenue per student
  • Rounds played by students
  • Food and beverage sales to students

In choosing what numbers to track, you’ll want to consider what your club or facility cares most about. Which metrics will help you illustrate the monetary value you bring to the table? What coaching-related activity most drives the overall success of the club? What’s most important to the facility’s bottom line? And, obviously, what’s most important to your own bottom line?

Managing by measuring is always a three-phase exercise—historical, current and future business. Start simple: How many lessons do I have scheduled in the next month? Next three months? Next 6 months? Next 12 months? Going out a full year may seem like overkill, but once you set up that data point you’ll want to continue monitoring it.

Your lessons-scheduled may be your most important indicator of success. The more lessons you have scheduled, the more you’re going to teach. The more you teach, the more people get better. The more people get better, the more they buy, and the more they tell their friends about your services.

When you’re the busiest game in town you can also charge more for your services. Funny how charging more should reduce the number of students you have but often has the opposite effect—there’s a real perception out there that more expensive coaching means better coaching.

A high volume of lessons on the books is important for your business but it’s even more important for your students’ improvement. So often there is a long span of time between lessons with a student only to have them come back looking the same as they did before their previous lesson. Movement patterns take time in ingrain. The more time you have with your students the more likely they are to get better.

Meanwhile, all that time spent with students will strengthen the relationship and deepen the trust. That additional trust will open up more opportunities for clubfitting and therefore merchandise sales as well as golf trips and other potential revenue streams. Again, none if this is as important as your students playing better golf. The additional time spent with them will take you beyond just being a pro they come to for tips. It will allow you to become their golf advisor, their friend and—most important—their trusted coach.

Want more tips of the trade? Checkout more instructor articles on our knowledge base

Your time between lessons needs time-management discipline

Feb 10, 2020

The between-lesson period is valuable to instructors and tends to be under-utilized, even wasted. Here’s how to make it a business asset.

For coaches who are back-to-back with lessons all day, deploying between-lesson time effectively isn’t an issue. But most teachers have a fair amount of down time. This time should be managed wisely, if you wish to become as effective and financially successful as possible. Poor use of in-between time tends to be particularly common with instructors who are building a book of business and starting to become quite busy.

As for those full-book coaches mentioned above, they actually need to create schedule breaks. Blocking a half hour of time on your schedule in the morning and a half hour during the afternoon (as well as a lunch break) allows you to recharge. Even coaches who appear to have endless energy run into challenges if they try and grind through the day without breaks.

If nothing else, they’ll tend to fall into a pattern of always running late—a prime source of customer complaints. And while they seem to have unlimited energy it’s an open question whether the last student of the day got their best effort. Making time in your book to regroup leads to consistent performance. Your customers will appreciate it.

Extra time has to be used effectively. It’s the key to being able to finish the day and truly leave things at work—instead of going home to a pile of business-maintenance chores. Vow to yourself that you’ll accomplish as many business tasks as possible during scheduled breaks. In-between time should first be used for outbound calls and emails to students who currently aren’t scheduled. Call them and see how things are going, with your goal being to book their next session. Using this valuable time to call people who have left you a message to book another lesson is a misuse of time. Nothing addresses this issue like a good online booking service—set one up, if you haven’t already.

Again, some of it is recharge time. After you’ve reviewed key takeaways with your students, delivered their homework and booked their next lessons, you need to get away by finding a quiet place on property where you won’t get sucked into conversations that aren’t productive.

Also, don’t waste your unbooked time by simply going long in your lessons and eating up your break time. The longer lessons go, the more likely teachers are to give students too much information. And a confused student does not make for a successful student. Don’t try to wrap up your lessons by “ending on a good one,” as you may be there all day. Yes, there are times when you need to give someone an extra few minutes, it just can’t be standard procedure. Students appreciate starting on time and ending on time. A coach who is constantly behind schedule creates frustrated students.

So, study your habits. Seek the opportunities for productivity and organization that you may have been missing. Do this well enough and you may find time to actually practice your game a bit between lessons! Want to learn more tips of the trade? Check out more instructor articles on our knowledge base

Plan early this year for “Butler Cabin Fever”

Feb 10, 2020

With The Masters a couple months off, you’ve got time to plan promotions that take advantage of pent-up demand and peak golf interest.

For your customer base (and prospect base), Masters Week is special. It kicks off the season in the North and it puts golfers in the mood to say “yes” to offers and promotions. Here are some proven ways that you can get them to say the magic word:

Run a sweepstakes:
Let golfers know that if they buy a lesson program in April they’ll be entered to win a chance to go on a golf vacation with their pro. Or, they buy a lesson program this month and they get entered to win a new Callaway Mavrik driver.

Have a sale:
Offer your lesson programs at a discount during Masters week or for the month of April. Offer your introductory session at a discount to entice new students.

Provide add-on services, free of charge:
People love free stuff. Examples would be a free playing lesson with the purchase of a lesson program. Or, buy a lesson program and get a free clubfitting, or free range balls for the month. Give people something extra to spark their desire to play better.

Get them competing, for prizes:
Throughout April, run a weekly closest-to-the-pin contest. Put together a putting contest—lowest score wins. Set up 9 holes of up-and-down challenges around your practice green—again, low total wins. Run a Masters pool, with the person who comes closest to picking the top five finishers receiving lessons or prizes.

Sway them with swag:
See what your local sales rep has available to put in the hands of your customers. It could be trial packs of their newest ball, or hats, gloves, towels, tees, anything they might like. Give something to every student who takes a lesson. Give one of your logo golf shirts to anyone who buys a comprehensive lesson plan.

Give Groupon a try:
You may not have the highest close rate into long-term lesson plans using Groupon, but it may still be an effective way to drive a fair amount of new business quickly. For example, it could be what one of your assistants needs to build his or her book of business.

Promote a different product mix:
Increasing business doesn’t always call for price promos and giveaways. The lift you’re looking for may simply call for a rethink of your product mix. Are you stuck in the typical grind of one-hour lesson after one-hour lesson? Start promoting your group classes. Offer supervised practice as part of your plan. Bundle in a playing lesson or a putting lesson.

Whatever promotional activities you go with, you’ll want to spread the word every way possible—mentioning Amen Corner, green jackets, Magnolia Lane or whatever else might push the Masters button in peoples’ brains. Update your website. Use signage. Get the news on your social media platforms. Blast email your database. Text your students. Call them on the phone and leave a scripted voicemail message. Share the news during their lesson.

You’ll have to expose them to the messaging several times and in several ways to get the activity you’re seeking. Just remember, it’s the time of the season when they’re most in the mood for a chance at better golf. 

Learn more about how we can assist with your marketing efforts by visiting our Instructors page.