by Tom Stickney
I am often asked by younger teachers how to set up their instructional program(s) in order to create more demand and this is something that is learned. However if you pay attention the market you are in will give you all the answers if you just stop for a second and think.
As the answers you receive become more focused you will be able to better adjust your programming in order to reach the “next level.” So here are my thought on how to set yourself up for success…
1) Understand the market in which you live, what your competitors are doing, as well as, figure out what voids are currently present within your market
2) Focus on filling the demands of your market based on your current skills set
3) Utilize technology/training that is not currently being used by your competitors so you can set your program apart from the masses
4) Create programming using your technology/training to better fill the demands of your current market
5) Understand the desires of your clients’ as it pertains to price points and instructional program designs (group vs. individual)
6) Use Major Media, as well as, Social Media to get the word out- Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.
7) Chart and Analyze your revenues by month, time, and hour so you know when you are most productive financially
8) Over time use this spreadsheet to adjust your programming or price points in order to bring more revenue to the bottom line
9) At the end of each peak season go back to Step 1 and start the process all over again
As you can see there are many steps in my opinion in order to become a top teacher within your market but I promise if you follow these nine steps you will make better business decisions and your bottom line will improve. So let’s take a few seconds to analyze each of these steps in more detail.
Understand the market in which you live, what your competitors are doing, as well as, figure out what voids are currently present within your market
Have you ever stopped and really looked at where you live, the demographics of such, and economics of the people within your area? Have you noticed any geographic or socioeconomic consistencies that are more common than in other places?
Every place is different and every market is unique…the demands of the people in Beverly Hills vs Memphis are totally different.
It could be age, weather patterns, course designs, disposable income, etc…have you taken the time to see what your competitors are doing to combat the above? If you have not done either you are just following the trend- this is not the way to become successful- create your OWN trends by “knowing your market!”
To learn more about creating effective programs check out our past series here on GITLO
Focus on filling the demands of your market based on your current skills set
Now that you understand your market you must look at yourself next and the skills you possess personally.
- Can you fill these demands with your current make-up?
- Do you have the skills? The patience?
- Do you enjoy teaching in this manner?
All these questions form the basis of what you do and where you should go as a teacher.
Case and point, I personally have never been good at teaching much younger kids as their natural lack of attention and focus has always been a sticking point with me personally. So if I analyze my market and see that there is a void in Junior Instruction, it would NOT be in my best interest to try and conquer this professionally because this will not be my passion.The best thing I could do in this case is find another focus or hire the most motivated junior instructor I know and let him teach for me within this area.
We ALL have weaknesses as instructors and either fix it or work around it as I explained above.
Utilize technology/training that is not currently being used by your competitors so you can set your program apart from the masses
So you’ve found your market’s void and you’re set to take the world by storm but how do you do what others have or have not done in a way that will make people want to come see you?
The answer is simple…possess instructional training and/or technology that others do not!
The world is on fire with Aimpoint and Trackman, if you believe that putting is your calling then you need to possess this type of training because few people do thus it reduces your competition.
Investing in yourself and your business is a necessary cog within your instructional wheel…this is where I see 99% of young instructors fail as they will not take the time to spend the time and money to better themselves on the tech or training side. If you won’t do anything different than the masses why would anyone be motivated to come see you as the new guy on the block?
Technology and Training are always good on the ROI scale as long term investments.
Create programming using your technology/training to better fill the demands of your current market
You’ve found the void and invested in yourself so now is the time to arrange programming around your strong points that your competitors do not possess.
As an example when I first started teaching in Memphis back in the early 1990’s there was only one guy who was using video (single view only) within his lessons. So I decided that since I didn’t have his experience the only way to gain market share was to buy a split screen video system so the better players could see themselves from both angles as this was REVOLUTIONARY at the time.
So I created a swing view program so the players who were taught by other teachers could come by and see their swing in my studio and obtain a print out of their swing from both views. It wasn’t long before they were my students.
I never “sold them” to come over to see me, I just exposed a weakness within my current market and filled it with technology and unique programming that sold them on my academy subconsciously.
Understand the desires of your clients’ as it pertains to price points and instructional program designs (group vs. individual)
This is an area where teachers at ALL levels fail to understand and it tends to cost them money on the backend, please take this point to heart so you don’t make the same mistake!
Every area has unique trends and shifts within their local economy that can end up costing you in the end if you don’t focus on what your clients’ really want.
For example if you live in a community with people that are mostly on a fixed income then you must pay attention to the stock market and the real estate trends as these investments are the ones that usually govern these types of clients spending habits. When the economy is down, price will become a factor and if you do not have programs that cover all price points then you have lost a segment of your market for no other reason than you are now too expensive based on their retirement set-up.
So make sure you set up programs that focus on the individual and group programs that will help make you revenue when simple shifts in the economy happen, if you don’t you will be left with an empty lesson book.
Use Major Media, as well as, Social Media to get the word out- Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.
Putting your ideas out there is a scary thing for most because it cannot be taken back; however, I think writing is a MUST for all young teachers. Why? Because it forces you to be able to think through things and make them simple for the layperson to understand. It also helps to solidify your thoughts and make your in lesson delivery more concise.
Start with blogs, then move to regional publications, and try to work your way up to the national golf magazines…that will increase your credibility as well as your business.
The next area of focus is one is new to me as it has only been around to an appreciable degree for the last ten to fifteen years or so, but it’s a VITAL area moving forward for the younger teachers.
Do you have you own web site, YouTube channel, professional Facebook page, twitter account and do you use these tools to interact with people whom can help your business?
Networking is so important and if you don’t do so you will lose a piece of the pie that you never knew you could obtain.
I have had referrals and given referrals to people across the world some of which I have never even met in person just because I have talked to them via social media etc. It’s these relationships that lead to people talking about you, coming to see you, and investigating what you do professionally.
Think about it, what do you do when you want to find out about anything in your world? You go to the web and search it out. Why should you be any different as a golf instructor…use these (almost) free tools to your advantage, you’ll be glad you did.
Chart and analyze your revenues by month, time, and hour so you know when you are most productive financially
Do you know which days of the week are your most productive or which hour of the day provides you with the most revenue consistently by month?
What is the return rate of your customers and what packages do you sell the most of etc.?
These are the questions that most instructors cannot answer with a specific number-they can guess but most cannot tell you. Do you know any truly successful company in the world that does not employ an accounting department? I can’t think of one that just guesses what their revenues are or what products sell the best, nor should you.
Your time is your asset and you only have so much time to sell daily, if you move a program to the wrong hour or book a school during the wrong month you are wasting necessary time and expenses that you could use for yourself and your family.
The more you know about your business the better decisions you can make as to what programs to add, subtract, or move.
Over time use this spreadsheet to adjust your programming or price points in order to bring more revenue to the bottom line
Now that you have charted this data for a season or two you now have an archive of data that you can use to your advantage before you expand or eliminate a program from your golf school. This way you are using facts to base your answers upon, not just guessing!
Having facts gives you the best chance to be instantly successful in adjusting price points or programs that can instantly improve your bottom line.
Face it – you will make mistakes with your programming over the course of your career that you will have to alter, this way you will have a roadmap to use so that you do NOT make the same mistake again. Each down period costs you and your business revenue, not to mention how it affects your own personal bottom line.
At the end of each peak season go back to Step 1 and start the process all over again
I always sit down at the end of my two seasons and introspectively reflect on the job I did. Doing this helps me to figure out what parts of my operation need work, which programs worked well, and helps me to determine areas in which I need to improve on personally.
It’s these quiet times that really make you get better as an instructor. The only thing I wish I had done years ago is use Survey Monkey to help me to REALLY understand what my clients think of my work and my operation.
Hopefully by now you have a better idea on how to set up your instructional business; if not, please do not hesitate to contact me personally!
Tom is currently the Director of Instruction at the Big Horn Golf Club in Palm Desert, California and in the summertime at the Promontory Golf Club in Park City, Utah.