I bet you’re wondering why I would write about lessons learned from a golf course? Many things remind of my business (which is helping small businesses succeed via the web). I had an experience this week at a golf course which got me thinking, and I came up with four lessons I learned from a bad experience.
Here is the story:
My wife asked me if I wanted to play golf last Friday. I was busy but decided to take a break and play nine holes at a local par 3 course.
As it was a Friday and a workday, we did not call for a tee time, we figured we’d stop by and see how crowded it was. When we got there, there was nobody on the tee box, and the back nine was empty as well. My wife went in to pay and there was a young man at the desk. He said, the best I can do is get you a tee time in an hour or so. My wife said: “There’s nobody here!” He again said sorry, I can’t let you start for an hour. She again said, there is nobody on the tee or even waiting in the parking lot. Well, he said sorry, you’ll have to wait an hour.
What did we do? We left.
The four lessons I learned from this poorly run golf course:
The course was empty, and they had an opportunity to make a little bit of extra money. Instead, they alienated us, and I won’t be back for a while, if ever. While, this seems obvious, much of my business comes from people who are fed up with web designers and developers who can’t even be bothered to call them back or answer an email about perspective business. It always amazes me when people can’t be bothered and leave money on the table. But this happens more than you think. In this economy, it’s never a good idea to alienate prospective business. This golf course did, and so do many of my competitors. The easiest thing you can do in business is be responsive to your client/customer needs. It cost you nothing to call someone back, or answer a simple email.
Imagine if I stood on the street with a fist full of hundreds trying to give them out, would you take them or would you say no? If you don’t respond to calls and emails, that is exactly what you are doing.
I know, that’s an exaggeration, but it truly amazes me that companies actually turn away money in the form of customers/clients.
The one thing you need in today’s world is to be flexible. If you want to stay in business, you must change with the times and be willing and open-minded about your business. Now, if this course was full and there were groups waiting to go out and play, then I totally would’ve understood. Unfortunately, the dolt they left in charge, was unable to think about the situation logically, otherwise he takes our money and sent us on our way to play. The world has changed, and you have to change with the times and be willing to do things a bit different from perhaps you did in the past. Otherwise, you end up a dinosaur and as you know, they are extinct and now only found at the bottom of your gas tank! Learn more about flexibility in business [?]
One sure way to lose customers/clients is to have poor service. In this case, they left such a bad taste in our mouth’s that we are unlikely to return and will also tell our friends and colleagues about what happen today. In fact, I’ve already told a few people about the situation. What he should’ve done is look for a way to satisfy us. Had he looked out at the 10th tee as an example, he would’ve seen there were no groups even two or three holes away and could’ve easily sent us out. We would’ve been happy at the service he provided and left with a good feeling about the course. Think about it, had he told us we needed a tee time, but then went out of his way to help us, we would’ve been thrilled. This of course would’ve required him to have flexibility, as we covered in number two. Again, I find this in my industry as well. People are rigid and don’t help their clients/customers, and their poor service typically leads to losing business. At Roosites, I have always tried to provide the best customer service I can, and always respond to a request the very same day. This is why we are still in business after over 20 years.
Now, perhaps the kid at the desk was told never to let anyone on who didn’t have a tee time. If this is the case, shame on the golf course. What they should’ve said is, if no one is out on the course and someone comes by, by all means send them out to play. This is something I have learned over the years, you have to enable your people and give them the opportunity to make some decisions. When I work with designers and developers, I try to give them freedom to be creative, and the results are often positive. When you try to be too rigid, people get nervous, and they never do their best work, or as in the case today they leave money on the table.
There are lessons learned everywhere if you pay attention. Unfortunately, most of the time we learn those lessons from watching what not to do. Always put yourself in the place of your customer/client. Think about how you would react to a situation. In Friday’s debacle at the golf course, they did everything wrong and lost potential customers. With Covid, so many things are still up in the air, and you cannot afford to lose any business.
Note: I purposely left out the name of this course, as I am not trying to be vengeful. Hopefully this was a one-time error, but I probably won’t find out in the near future.