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February 2020

What Gets Measured Gets Done


By Steve Eubanks

It’s one of the oldest adages in business: If you want more of something, measure and reward it. But that requires a lot of work. What do you measure? How often? What are the proper rewards? And what is the right balance?

When it comes to golf retail, the Morton family – Ken, Ken Jr. and Tom – have built a sales behemoth in Sacramento by measuring every transaction from every employee, no matter how big or small. Sell a pack of tees and the Mortons record it to the salesperson’s credit. That’s why, in an age when online sales have doubled in four years while golf operators have seen hard-good sales flatten, the Haggin Oaks Super Store, situated off a busy intersection at a municipal golf course in Northern California, continues to put up breathtaking numbers.

As Ken Morton Jr. put it, “We strive to be your golf resource in every respect, whether that’s fitting you for equipment, providing instruction, helping get your grandkids into the game, planning your next golf trip. Whatever you want to do in the game, we want to be your partner and your resource. Those relationships require quality people, training, guidance and a culture that allows people to thrive.”  

In hard goods that means employing professionals who meld teaching and fitting in ways that make the two inseparable.

Morton Golf employs between 16 and 20 PGA professionals, a staggering number for a company that manages 90 holes of municipal golf. Each pro is given a budget for retail sales and lessons and is compensated with a percentage of each that fluctuates based on their experience and where they are in the PGA of America program. Numbers are tracked on a bi-weekly basis. If the pro misses his budget, there’s a meeting to determine why.

The Mortons have been able to maintain ridiculous retail numbers in the age of Amazon by understanding that golf clubs are an aspirational purchase. People want clubs they hit better immediately. But they also want clubs for the player they hope to be in nine months. Melding fitting and instruction gives the green-grass operator a competitive advantage.
“The compensation structure for your staff is the key to making that happen,” Morton Jr. said.
And measuring and attaching every transaction to an employee is a big part of that compensation structure. The Mortons figured that out long ago. That’s why, in the high-cost, narrow-margin world of hard goods, they continue to blaze a retail trail.

Steve Eubanks is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and New York Times bestselling author.



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