The Positive of Negatives – Golf Course Ratings & Feedback

Golf Business Notes / Opinion 

good-and-bad-286x300In many parts of Canada the flurry of golf season is winding down.  That means golf course managers finally have some time to have a look at feedback their customers have been leaving all over the internet.

While feedback should be monitored on a more frequent basis in order to deal with more timely corrections, the fact that golf course managers at least take the time to monitor the words of their customers is a positive.

Unfortunately some may not be seeing the whole picture.

If you peruse venues like Twitter and Facebook you’ll often see golf course management exalting the great reviews they that have been posted and sharing them with Followers/Friends.  It’s solid marketing to embrace and share these honest assessments by actual customers.  That can’t be denied.

What might actually be more valuable, at least from an operations sense of things, are the not-so-positive reviews.

The happy customer is coming back.  They have been satisfied.

The “one-star” raters?  They are still potential customers and should not be ignored.

But that is precisely what some management teams refuse to do.

I spoke to one industry member about online ratings that get posted on places like GolfNow, the GolfChannel-operated site, and asked them how they approach the comments left there about their course.

His response?  “We use the good comments as testimonials, that’s about it.”

And the disgruntled people in between?  “If we see that most of the reviews are good then we really don’t pay much attention to the negative ones.”

Really?  Big mistake.

In a business where competition is intense and everybody is fighting to grow their revenue, failing to deal with negative reviews in some way (or worse, ignoring them) is just bad management.

Yes, reviews are usually very subjective and one person’s opinion of a situation can be skewed, but every single word you get back from customers should be mined.  It is the platform on which your golf course business can grow.

After all, you’re in business to make money but without customers, and happy ones, you can kiss a lot of sales goodbye.

Like most businesses you need to be developing new clientele on a regular basis.   Some of your customers will always be transient and even with a solid base of “regulars” you need to constantly attract new golfers.  You also need to retain the ones you have already brought in the door.

What’s that mean?  Well, those negative commenters, if you can’t find a way to win them over and have them return you at least need to ensure that their concerns will not be keeping other future customers away.

The pace at which people will turn to the Internet to complain about a bad experience will only continue to grow. Those words are there for all to see so ignoring them is not a practical solution.  Usually if somebody takes the time to leave a comment than they feel deeply about the situation. Face them head on and address them directly at the websites when you can. This should be executed in a positive, non-confrontattional manner where you are asking customers to help educate you on your perceived faults.

Revel in the positives; you’ve done the work to deserve the accolades.  Just be sure to spend more time digging into the negatives and finding out how you can grow your golf business from the words of the people that matter just as much. Or maybe even more.

Scott MacLeod is the Editorial Director for Flagstick Golf Magazine and Ontario Golf News.   He has worked in the golf industry for more than 25 years including as a pro shop manager,on several golf course maintenance teams, and almost a decade as a retail golf shop owner.  He is a Candidate for Membership with the PGA of Canada and a graduate of the Graduate Studies program in Golf Operations at the Golf Management Institute of Canada/Laurier University.

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