Alistair Dunsmuir: Golf clubs need customer service to prosper

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir October 15, 2012 13:16

Alistair Dunsmuir: Golf clubs need customer service to prosper

The last time there was an economic downturn, golf got through it pretty much without a scratch. But then, as it occurred when the demand for golf club membership still outstripped the supply of vacancies at most venues, it was always likely that the industry would be ‘recession-proof’.

Fast forward through 20 years of new golf course developments and things couldn’t be more different. Many clubs today are fighting to differentiate in order to simply survive.

Recently I was talking to a man who is a member of one, plays at several as a visitor and supplies products to even more. This is what he said about a recent trip to his own club; surely a common case study.

“I brought a business associate with me and when we went into the bar; the waitress was sitting on the customer’s side, reading a magazine. When she saw us, she walked over, said hello and took our orders. We waited until the drinks were poured, before taking them and sitting down. We had one drink each,” he said. “There was so much wrong with this!”

“The waitress should have been behind the bar when we came in – there is always work to do there. She should have greeted me by name; I’ve spoken to her enough times and my name comes up on the till when I make a purchase. Failing that, she knows enough about me to make a greeting comment that would have been warmer than simply ‘hello’. When she took our orders she should have offered us the opportunity to sit down and then she could have come over with the drinks, and it would have been a nice touch to add something like a bowl of nuts. When the drinks were getting low she should have come back to ask if we would like more.

“A golf club should be a place of aspiration. My associate is a member of a top golf club and I was embarrassed about this basic level of customer service. The improvements I’ve suggested, which could have brought in more revenue for the bar and marketed the club to a newcomer, and would help retain me as a member, would have cost the price of a bowl of nuts.”

As several clubs are like this, is there an opportunity to be one step ahead of the game by providing training in customer service to your food and beverage staff?


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir October 15, 2012 13:16
  • Brian Inglis

    So blindingly obvious you wonder why it’s allowed to happen anywhere – until I think of a close colleague who took over as Secretary of a prominent club which was living on “past glories”. The family running Bar and Catering had been in post for 10 years and the Pro for 20, and had many and varied “arrangements” with prominent members, past captains, board members, ladies and some other staff. These key staff members were seriously under-performing but had neither the willingness, ability or need to improve – they were bullet-proof and they knew it.
    Until there are more important aspects to running the bar at a golf club than making sure “Past Captain Tom” gets his beer in his own crystal tankard, the customer service levels in our industry have a long long way to go!

  • Mark Kemp

    I couldn’t agree more Alistair and I know the feeling. Having at worked behind the bar at a golf club whist going to Uni, plus having the experience working at a golf resort in America and being a member of a private members club for more then 28 years I’ve seen a lot of good and bad customer service within golf. But it doesn’t surprise me, it just frustrates me. Good customer service is just one element that can help golf clubs prosper and to be honest it isn’t difficult. Training, Training Training, KPIs and good recruitment from Committee upwards!!

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