Craig Kirchner: Too Good to Ignore

Craig is an accomplished professional with more than 30 years of diversified sales and sales management experience in the apparel industry. He managed, opened and closed men’s apparel stores for Jos. A. Bank Clothiers. He came into the golf industry as a sales representative with Izod Club and was promoted into management as a vice president of sales. In these varied capacities he has seen the good, the bad and the ugly, always maintaining his passion for golf shop retailing and aiding the PGA Professional in these efforts. In 2008 he instituted the Successful Pro Shop Blog in an effort to give a thought-provoking point of view on the issues involved in running a shop. For the past 10 years Craig has been providing retail consulting and merchandising help to green-grass golf shops to include evaluation of current shop status, development and initiation of buy plans, merchandising, employee product knowledge seminars and promotions at clubs such as Kinloch Golf Club, Ocean City Golf Club, Park Country Club in Buffalo NY, Bulle Rock, Belle Haven Country Club, Old Chatham Golf Club, The Patterson Club, River Run Golf Club and Bayville Golf Club in Virginia Beach.

The season is upon us and golf is finally being played. In many cases local courses and clubs are hoping to make up rounds lost in the spring as players and members travel less because of gas prices and increase their play at home wanting to take maximum advantage of their memberships and/or the pricing at local public facilities. Destination golf and resorts are hoping for strong summer/fall season bookings as avid players with cabin fever hopefully stretch the season as weather permits.  Costumer spending in the shop has evolved and refined itself to ‘a need to be inspired’ level that retailers haven’t seen in quite some time; this is not a bad thing, it needs to be cultivated. Promotions need to be front and center to represent value that is ‘Too good to be ignored’.

Start the process by analyzing your current inventory and scrutinizing it for any category that can be promoted or given away with a purchase in which you are already over-inventoried. If you have gloves or towels that won’t turn twice this season give one away with the purchase of whatever merchandise you feel will inspire the most interest.

Knit shirts are the largest source of revenue in most shops so these will be the example I use of merchandise needing the most inspiration. Sales managers of the major shirt vendors who travel the country; who see the good, the bad and the ugly are saying that 10% off, even 20-25% off ,doesn’t mean much to the average customer they are seeing so far this season. It means even less to me, in that unique promotions, as opposed to reduced-by-percentage sales, are more likely to catch the attention and be perceived as a value. Promotions can be fun (which everyone could use) and don’t require the consumer to do the math. A free hat or pair of cotton shorts with the purchase of a shirt or two is a great Fourth of July promotion.

“Buy a shirt, get a free hat, and make a putt for ‘fill in the blank’. Set up a small putting area in the shop where the customer can putt for a chance to win a free item or a free round of golf for themselves or a guest. Not only will this inspire competition between the members of any foursome, you might create interest in a putter.

If you are not over-inventoried in any category and are not in a position to strategically buy for a promotion of this sort, everyone has time. Consider offering a free lesson at the range for any purchase of $100 or “Play a round with the Pro” for any purchase of $150.

It will take both time and effort to inspire your regulars to get back into the habit of buying new goods this season. ‘Too good to Ignore’ promotions and killer merchandising may be the ticket to making sure that the traffic you have re-develops that habit in your shop.