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February 2019

Great Service Eclipses Amenities

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By Ed Ormsby
Principal, Ormsbyte & Associates

Have you ever been to a restaurant, hotel or golf course that had great food, accommodations or golf facilities, but poor service? Did you go back? How about one with “ok” food or facilities, but great service? Makes a difference, doesn’t it?  In your business, you are responsible for making excellent service happen — not your employees.

Most owners and managers of hospitality-related businesses expect their front-line staff to provide excellent service to their customers — and may even think they do. But most of the time they come up short — sometimes woefully short — because they don’t know how.
But let’s talk golf.

If you are familiar with the “service profit chain,” you know that profit and growth are stimulated primarily by customer loyalty. Loyalty is a direct result of customer satisfaction. The level of service and perceived value influences satisfaction, and a trained, enthusiastic staff creates service and value. This means that every staff member who comes in contact with a customer should be prepared to make each of them feel appreciated, leaving with a smile, wanting to share their experiences with others, and looking forward to returning. Having been in many clubs throughout the country, however, I have seldom left with that feeling. 

So, as the person responsible for your front-line staff’s performance, how do you make this happen? First, you must understand what it takes to make your members and guests want to tell others about their experiences and come back. Then you must make sure all of your front-line staff understand it, too — and actually do it — before, during and after the round.

But what if you don’t really understand what it takes yourself? Or maybe you know, but don’t have the time or feel comfortable “training” your employees yourself on how to do it and then making sure they do?  Easy, you hire someone who can. And you empower them to do it, and monitor it, and make sure that all staff members know they have that responsibility.

Finding that special person really isn’t all that difficult. While most new employees are hired based on their technical skills, few are hired for their soft skills, or those skills that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. So, when you are interviewing for new front-line staff members, focus on attitude and personality, rather than skills. Skills can be taught, but attitude and personality are developed. 

The level of future success, and maybe even survival, of both private and public golf clubs is directly contingent on member retention and growth through guest loyalty and referrals. With a well-trained and performing staff, the future of your facility can be bright. 

Remember: Good, effective leadership begins at the top.

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