Recently I met with Maria Palozola, a Top 50 Instructor with the LPGA and asked about her golf instruction business challenges. I was interested in what kind of tools and solutions does she use to acquire and retain customers/golfers.
In the following you can read her examples:
It’s scary to be working in an industry that has been on a constant decline for nearly 2 decades. It’s eye opening when you see competitors go out of business and customers just hang it up and walk away. For leading instructors however, golf’s decline has not been all that frightening. I have been teaching for 20 years now and although some years have proven to jump way ahead of others, for the most part, my business has been on a constant incline.
Secret weapons or just good business tactics?
To verify that some of that tactics I use aren’t just my secret weapons I reached out to a handful award winning instructors that are at the top of our industry and have been teaching for 20 plus years. What was most interesting to me is that we pretty much all had the exact same things to say.
I broke down the answers into 5 key performance factors based on what we feel increases our revenue and our customer retention. I have also listed them in order of increasing importance.
5 Key Performance Factors to grow your teaching business:
5) Get More Tech Savvy To Improve Instruction Quality
In 2015 if you aren’t tech savvy, you simply aren’t business savvy. Some practitioners in other fields are certainly skilled at their trade and just let others handle the business side of things which includes technology (think doctors and dentists). As good as they may be with their trade, golf instructors simply can’t afford to be weak when it comes to being business savvy.
You can pay someone else to do it, but that of course cuts deep into your revenue and you still need to understand it and stay on top of things to keep moving ahead. Developing and understanding your website, creating a strong email marketing campaign, getting busy on social media and tracking your business numbers are simple business basics that an independent teaching professional must employ.
On top of that becoming an expert in video analysis, stat tracking and launch monitor data only makes you more competitive. When asked what she does best to retain and grow customers, Rita Reasons the 2009 LPGA National Teacher of the Year replied “We are innovative in our services. We also stay fresh with our own education and ahead of our market.”
For video analysis you don’t need to spend a fortune or get overly teched out. I’m all about simplicity and less chords. I simply use my Ipad air so I can film in high definition, film on the go for playing lessons and load straight from there to YouTube. I use mostly Ubersense of V1, both free versions and get by just fine.
One thing to note if you use an Ipad be sure to get an Ipad holder for your tripod. Many instructors make the mistake of trying to hold the device which results in shaky and inaccurate video analysis. For stat analysis I simply have my students sign up for our Game Tracker at MyGolfInstructor.com. We have 40 customizable stats, cool graphs and the best part is it’s free for both you and your student.
4) Increase Communications & Media Exposure
All top instructors do something outside of working their own private business. They host radio shows, write for local newspapers, guest blog, write for golf magazines and film golf tips. If you don’t consider yourself a writer or an actor, that’s o.k., but you need to branch out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there.
You don’t have to present ground breaking content, just content that is easy for the everyday golfer to understand, is helpful and is relatively entertaining. Do it as much as time allows. Many instructors including myself are using YouTube to help brand themselves.
For my private lessons I use YouTube to post my student videos so they have them there any time they want to review them, but I also use it to drive traffic to my site. For MyGolfInstructor.com my game improvement site we actually film our student’s questions whenever we can and put them on YouTube as opposed to giving them just written answers.
3) Get More Tech Savvy To Improve Overall Business Efficiency
The most important part of being tech savvy is developing a good website. The instructors I interviewed agreed that their website is the 3rd most important factor of driving new business. A good website leads to our #1 and #2 performance factors which I will discuss next. For a lot of students your site is their first impression.
Putting together a great website that is not only nice looking, but also efficient and informative makes a gives a good image, but more importantly makes the student feel you care and are already helping them with their games. In addition, adding online booking and online payment options only make your business more efficient and customer friendly.
Also, be sure to make your webiste mobile friendly. I didn’t feel that I necessarily lost business before I went mobile optimized, but again it’s about ease and customer service. Now my students can book and pay online right from their phone or tablet without frustration.
In the next post you can read her (Maria Palozola) further recommendations and best practices.