Why KPIs matter for golf course instructors

The instruction business can help drive the operation

Your core business, selling tee times and filling up the sheet, generates numerous metrics that are useful to know. Revenue per available tee time, or RevPATT, tells an important story. Days-in-advance per booking also sheds light on how your business runs. Same with many different numbers relating to revenue, profit and details like golfer acquisition cost. We call these KPIs, or key performance indicators.

Each individual subcategory of your operation has its own KPIs. For shop merchandising, it’s cost of goods sold and inventory turns per year, among others. In the grill room, you want data like revenue per ticket and percentage of golfers who convert to F&B customers. Even the beverage cart could have statistics, such as revenue per hour or revenue per transaction, which influence strategy and tactics.

We know that facilities with a quality instruction program see increased play and spending from more-engaged golfers. KPIs for the golf instruction activity at your course are particularly important because lessons, clinics, club-fitting sessions and skills-challenge events connect back to the original business—selling tee times—in a way that the other subcategories don’t. Golfers who commit to the game that extra amount—by investing in their game improvement—have been shown to spend more money and time at the facility than those with no connection to instruction activities. When GOLF Business Solutions branched out earlier this year beyond the core function of a golf operation, it first turned its sights on instruction. Just as there is Plus to help with marketing and the selling of tee times, the new Instructor Plus platform also provides marketing, communications and general business support to golf academies and instruction departments at public and private golf facilities nationwide.

“If you want your teaching and training program to function efficiently and profitably––and become the feeder for your tee sheet that it’s got the potential to be––you’ll want to look at Instructor Plus,” says Lorin Anderson, Vice President of Instruction, GOLF Business Solutions. “Aligned with the support you get from your Plus brand specialist at GOLFNOW, there will be an Instructor Plus brand specialist assigned to your facility, managing all lesson-related marketing efforts—including customized emails, website updates and social media posts.”

And just as you find with Plus guidance and support, a KPI-based analysis will underlie the work that’s done on behalf of your teaching and training niche by Instructor Plus. Business KPIs are somewhat new to instruction, but the pioneers in this effort have discovered their value. For example, Anderson cites a New Jersey teaching professional, Corey Krusa, who tracked an eight-week training program that he started three winters ago. In year one, the program attracted 48 students at $329 each—those numbers provided Krusa a benchmark.

Last winter there were 55 students at that same price, and this winter there were 62—again at $329 each. So, the KPI of revenue growth (within this one service) is trending strongly. Another KPI the experts might utilize is the Sales Pipeline, often studied in tandem with Sales Funnel Drop-Off. To apply these, Krusa would take his winter-program customers and compare that final roster of 62 against the number of golfers who took any measurable steps toward enrolling.

The next step is to study how far toward final commitment the various non-enrollees went. Over time, this exercise would reveal the number of people who had to enter the funnel in order for the tally of actual signups to hit 50, 60 or some other total. Digging a little deeper would mean looking for stages along the way where a potential customer bails out. He would then categorize those checkpoints and see which one or two showed the biggest “defection”. The final piece of the puzzle is sketching out marketing messages to be inserted into the purchase-consideration process at appropriate points.

Anderson also points to an instruction operation he works with in Sarasota, Fla., run by the highly respected teacher Tim Conaway. Lately, Conaway has focused on what KPI gurus call Billable Utilization, generally calculated as Billable Hours divided by 2,000—which is the round number used to state how many hours a year the typical accountant, lawyer or other professional works. This KPI is an indicator of how well you are utilizing assets, including staff coaches, and it can shed light on the effectiveness of your various programs.

“My hours engaged in the business of the academy are basically like seats on a plane,” says Conaway. “I’m measuring revenue versus capacity, and I want to be at capacity.” The overview version of this KPI exercise is to check the lesson book for hours when Conaway is ready and willing to teach but has no student slotted in. For the peak season that’s currently winding down, unsold hours in his book have been infrequent, generating an impressively high utilization rate. The more detailed version of this KPI is one that Conaway expects to look at as the season winds down and time allows.

Nick Bova, who teaches out of Whippany, NJ., shared with Anderson the impressive KPI emerging from his recent Instagram marketing efforts—specifically, it was revenue per dollar spent on the program. “What I post is an Instagram video that shows my teaching process with a golfer,” Bova explains. “Viewers see the student’s swing before, they see some work I do with that student, including drills, and then they see the much-improved swing afterward.” Viewership has been dramatically high.

“The analytics show me that 45,000 people have seen it,” Bova reports. “From those views, in one single week, I took in four new clients for lessons here at my facility—Anchor Golf Center in Whippany, NJ—plus eight new online clients.” KPI data that measures return on marketing investments would go off the charts in this case. “I spent $150 in marketing dollars and earned $2,000 in new income,” says Bova. “That’s just counting the revenue from initial visits,” which obviously he’ll be able to build on as satisfied customers come back for more. Like Conaway, Bova has recently kicked up his per-hour rate, with only positive results.

As the teaching operation digs into its own “internal” performance data, decision-makers at their host facility should, according to Anderson, measure all the ways that taking lessons and showing up to practice is funneling instruction customers into other revenue streams on the property. “Dedicated golf instructors all want the golf facility where they work to track lesson-takers and see the extent to which they become new names on the tee sheet, new customers in the golf shop, buyers of range balls and significant spenders on food-and-beverage,” says Anderson. “Any course that has GOLF Business Solutions’ Plus and Instructor Plus programs as business solutions will be encouraged and guided to monitor those behaviors—very likely with a lot of good news coming out of the analytics.”

To learn more about our Instructor Plus program, CLICK HERE.