Archive for February, 2010

Happy belated New Year to all. Sorry for the delay in postings in 2010, but I am back on track now. The first topic I would like to hit in 2010 is one that has been coming up more and more in my consulting engagements with public golf courses – the food and beverage concession. This is one area of golf course operations that has traditionally been ignored and/or left aside. Many golf operators still go by the old adage of “F & B as money losers,” or “my goal is to just breaking even.”  In reality, I am finding more and more that golf course concessions can, and should, be a profit center for the facility. Below are a handful of ideas that I have seen that work in this segment. I should note that the successful food and beverage operations are the ones that provide additional revenue to the facility, AND provide an added service to the golfers so they feel at home and stay on your property longer and want to come back soon.

The most financially successful food and beverage concessions that I have seen at public golf courses are the ones that do two things – serve golfers and attract non-golfers to the property. In this posting we will look at the first – serving the needs of golfers. First and foremost, a golf course food and beverage operation must provide the appropriate service to the core golfing customer. This may sound simple, but a common complaint I have seen is facilities that are so focused on banquets and weddings, that they ignore the golfers. Serving golfers means being open early and serving (some type of) breakfast and coffee to the early-bird players. Inattention to these early players is a very common complaint from golfers. Also, it is important to have space available for players as they come in from their round of golf, and they can feel comfortable sitting in their golf attire, with golf shoes and hats. The bar and/or “sports pub” setting has become very popular and successful at golf facilities. The inclusion of multiple TV’s, especially on sports weekends, is a great way to keep golfers hanging around after the round of golf. Outdoor seating with outdoor service and coverage from the hot sun is especially appealing, when the climate is appropriate.

Another key is to allow the golfer the option of being served quickly and without the need for wait staff. This is especially significant when golfers want to order something quick at the turn. Having cart traffic pass by an open food service window that will be quick and convenient, going from the 9th green to the 10th tee, is the best way to add concession sales at a golf course.

Also, it is very important to have on-course beverage service (beverage cart) with appropriately trained beverage cart personnel. Beverage carts are a revenue center, but also a value-added service to golfers. The two biggest complaints about beverage carts at public golf courses are that either you never see them when you want them, or they are racing around so fast that you don’t have time to waive them down. Beverage cart staff should be trained to know the spots on the golf course that tend to be slow, like the tee on a par-3 hole. Also, beverage cart staff should be trained to have a basic understanding of the game of golf, and how it is played so they know where to be so as not to slow up the pace of play (i.e waiting behind the green to serve golfers between holes). A friendly smile and the offer of a certain return is also a must from staff.

So as you contemplate ways to grow you golf course revenue in 2010, don’t forget the food and beverage concession. There may be more there than you might think.

Thanks for your attention. I sincerely hope the information is useful. In the next postings we will continue our discussion of golf facility marketing with a review of some successful websites and more discussion on growing (and balancing) non-golfer food and beverage revenue.

See you down the road.

Richard Singer

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