Gareth Morgan – the GCMA’s Vice Chair – explains how working in the bingo industry helped give him the tools to become an effective leader, why clubs must gather the right data and the importance of knowing what to do with it. How did you become a golf club manager? My degree was in recreation and leisure management and I was then General Manager for Castle Leisure, who ran gaming and bingo establishments across South Wales. They've now branched out across the UK. It was an interesting time because the smoking ban was about to come in. It prompted me to look outside because, in that industry, most of your money is made on bonus rather than salary. Most of the profit in bingo clubs is made in the intervals and not actually in the playing of bingo. The smoking ban meant there were going to be some significant drops. I had a very young family at the time, so I was looking out into the wider leisure industry and was approached for an interview at Radyr Golf Club. Having been a junior golfer and always admired Radyr, as a golf course and a club, I went along – more than anything out of curiosity. I was sat on an offer to take over a new football centre and people who know me would probably describe that as right up my street. I think it was more the hours of work that appealed to me at the time. With a baby in the house, working office hours was probably what won the battle – as opposed to taking over the football centre, which would likely have been very long hours and certainly evenings and weekends until it was established. So I came into golf club management almost by accident and here I am 16 years later. You surely couldn’t have had a better grounding for the job you are in than through the bingo industry… There are lots of parallels. The last bingo club I managed would have about 5,000 admissions a week. But, in a lot of cases, these would be elderly people – during weekdays certainly – and multiple visits. There would be some people who were there every day and the usual complaints. I laugh sometimes when we compare notes at GCMA regional meetings about complaints we have had. I think, ‘you want to face a complaint from a 75-year-old woman who comes every day to bingo and thinks she's been hard done by and has lost out on £1,000’. It’s also about the multi departments you must manage that can get very busy, very quickly, and then have no business for a few hours. At Long Ashton, we’re busy in the morning and it goes quiet. The lunchtime trade is very busy and then it goes quiet again until the working guys arrive in the evening. Certainly, on the marketing side, there are lots of things I've done within golf that I've stolen from bingo in...
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