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January 2019

Final Thoughts with Michelle Wittig

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Michelle Wittig
General Manager
Juday Creek Golf Course
Granger, Indiana

What is your biggest goal for Juday Creek in 2019?
The quick answer is to improve on our bottom line from previous years as well as a few other traditional benchmarks, but at the end of the day, I really want our customers to have an outstanding experience and create that desire for them to want to come back. And of course learn how to control the weather is always on the list.

How do you instill the importance of customer service in your staff?
I think the most important thing is to lead by example, but you also have to hire people who are of that mindset. There is a great quote by Maya Angelou that the staff really need to embrace: “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
 
Tell us about your new customer acquisition strategies.
We don’t spend much at all on advertising, but instead focus on more on advocates and grassroots efforts. For example, we provide our members, preferred players and staff with “Friends & Family” coupons that they can give out that allow people to play for about ½ price. We also provide all our outing participants with a similar “Comeback Coupon.” We try to embrace technology as well; we have a new app from Gallus that we love and try to connect with the new type of golfer and provide a product that fits their interests.
 
What do you see as the golf industry’s biggest hurdle going into 2019?
Time. People are busy and so as an industry we are competing against everything else not just recreational activities. I think it is key to get it on people’s To Do Lists. We have found a lot of success in doing this through leagues and clubs, creating the opportunities for people to be part of committed groups. For example, our Thursday Night Ladies Club continues to grow, some of them only play six holes, but they are here every week and they spend money on food and beverage. We found it a challenge to couples to commit to every Friday night, but have had an amazing turnout to our every other week Couples Club. Millennials are also responding to some of our leagues and making golf a part of their leisure routine.
 
What do group golf outings mean for business? 
Outings are great for business because they are guaranteed filled tee times with the addition of food and beverage. However, there is not the number of big budget corporate events anymore. Many of our outings are for charitable causes who want discounts. We have also been successful with creating our own tournaments like Night Golf, Craft Beer, Wine & Whiskey and Par 3 events that bring a lot of golfers that we wouldn’t consider our regulars. We don’t like to wait for the tee sheet to hopefully fill; we actively work to make it happen.

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