The pros and cons of bringing your retail operation in house 

Thinking about integrating your retail operation into the wider business? Learn from GCMA members who have been through this challenging process. It’s a decision that can be controversial, clouded in emotion, and a challenge to bring to fruition. In a GCMA Hot Topics webinar, five golf club managers shared their experiences of bringing their retail and professional operations in house.  Redditch’s Kerry Alligan-Smith, Cirencester’s Leighton Walker, Bognor Regis’ James Maclean, Walton Heath’s Alex Woodward, and Yeovil’s Chris Huggins have all gone through the process at their clubs.  They discussed business plan agreements for and against the move, whether roles changed as a result, the impacts of change management, and the results they brought.  In a series of pieces, we’ll be going through those but, first, the quintet reveal why they decided to bring the retail operation in house…  Kerry Alligan-Smith: “The pro is the integral part of any club – even more so for our members. They [the club] wanted change and they wanted people to work more as a team.  “We did go through a legal process and obtained legal advice before we did anything.   “What we wanted to do was to have everything in house so we were fully integrated, and it meant that we could all shadow and do each other's jobs if we needed to.”  Leighton Walker: “We see it as an opportunity to gain a lot of control over the level of service that we offer throughout the whole club.   “There are some clear benefits in having your retail and teaching operation in house, as well as your food and beverage and your golf, in terms of where members can spend money.  “We've set ourselves a plan and are trying to execute now. My assistant manager is also a PGA pro and a part of his role at the moment is taking charge of that operation.”  Chris Huggins: “As I PGA pro, I sit on both sides of the fence. For the two clubs I’ve been involved with that both took the retail side back in, [that decision] came around the retirement of pros who had been at the clubs for 40 odd years. “It was quite a new way of thinking for both clubs. But the real instigator of the conversation was [those] retirements.”  James Maclean: “Our pro, who’d been here 15 or 16 years, was moving on and it just represented an opportunity for us to do things slightly differently.   “As Kerry said, for me, it was about getting everybody under one umbrella and getting everybody as part of the same team – pulling in the same direction.   “The ability to cover everyone is a real benefit. A massive benefit.”  Alex Woodward: “The board had looked at the operations within the pro shop and ultimately, the effect that it would have on the P&L.   “If you have a professional, and you’re paying a retainer, there’s a negative impact on the P&L which you are paying out and you ultimately have little control over the performance...
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