Bob Paley is head professional of the Kananaskis Country Golf Course near Calgary and was recently named Club Professional of the Year and Merchandiser of the Year by the Canadian PGA. Below, he chats about some of the merchandising practices in place at the Kananaskis shop.
I haven’t been to pro shops all across the country, so I can’t say that what we do is different from all other shops, but there are some things that I think we do very well.
I did a Masters degree in sports psychology at the University of Alberta and my dad’s a psychologist, so I didn’t have a choice but to be in touch with how people think and what’s important to them.
One of the things of utmost importance to our operation is that we really try to focus on human interaction and contact in our public setting.
We really focus on our staff introducing themselves to guests as they come in and, by that, I don’t mean just saying, `Hi, how are you?’ I mean offering a heartfelt `Hi, my name is Joe from Calgary. Welcome to Kananaskis. How have you been?’
That way, it becomes more of a conversation as opposed to a formal `Gee, I have to do this’ attitude on the part of the employee and it sets the foundation for a totally different feel in our shop where people feel comfortable and relaxed.
Another thing that we do is opportunity buys with some of our suppliers. They’ll call us and tell us they’ve got a few hundred of a certain piece left over from the previous year and, rather than buying it at say $100, if it’s January, we’ll pay 50 cents on the dollar and we’ll pass those savings on to our guests.
We buy that stuff for the entire season, so that we’ve always got some sort of a feature or deal that’s going on that will grab people’s attention as they walk into our shop.
We call it the Costco effect. If I go into Costco to get a bag of chicken fingers for my kids, I’m quite liable to walk out with a few hundred bucks worth of stuff because of great deals. It might be a wooden Caesar salad bowl that’s got giraffe spoons made out of bamboo from Africa that’s $30 and I can’t believe it’s such a great deal.
My wife and I also go to the gift show every year in Edmonton and pick up some unique things that people don’t expect to find in a pro shop, but are fun and get people talking. It also makes them curious about what else is in the shop.
We found a supplier that had these one-piece baby outfits with these crazy sayings on the front. One of them had jail bars on it and a captain that said, `I spent nine months on the inside.”
We looked at each other and said we’re not a kids’ store, but let’s try it and we sold 200 of them last year. What we do is screen our logo on the rear end of the outfit and sell them for $20. People who aren’t buying them for their own children might know somebody who’s having a baby
Whether it’s wine accessories, sushi sets or sports equipment, as long as it’s different it sets your shop apart.
Our goal is to provide the right combination of products, deals and people to entice people to drop by our shop.