Craig Kirchner: Something for Everyone

Craig is an accomplished professional with more than 30 years of diversified sales and sales management experience in the apparel industry. He managed, opened and closed men’s apparel stores for Jos. A. Bank Clothiers. He came into the golf industry as a sales representative with Izod Club and was promoted into management as a vice president of sales. In these varied capacities he has seen the good, the bad and the ugly, always maintaining his passion for golf shop retailing and aiding the PGA Professional in these efforts. In 2008 he instituted the Successful Pro Shop Blog in an effort to give a thought-provoking point of view on the issues involved in running a shop. For the past 10 years Craig has been providing retail consulting and merchandising help to green-grass golf shops to include evaluation of current shop status, development and initiation of buy plans, merchandising, employee product knowledge seminars and promotions at clubs such as Kinloch Golf Club, Ocean City Golf Club, Park Country Club in Buffalo NY, Bulle Rock, Belle Haven Country Club, Old Chatham Golf Club, The Patterson Club, River Run Golf Club and Bayville Golf Club in Virginia Beach. ck-7-14-1

I want to talk about an upgrade on the concept most commonly labeled ‘The Trunk Show’. Invite one of the major apparel vendors to set up their entire line of samples for the coming season including any item that they currently have in inventory so as to be able to pre-book as well as take at-once orders. Set up in a conference room or grill room; any space that is appropriate to create a store-like atmosphere with rigged bust forms and attention-to-detail merchandising. With the leaders in the industry, Fairway and Greene, Peter Millar and Greg Norman, you can do ladies as well as a men’s evening. Some of the other vendors that have great fall lines and would be outstanding partners in this venture are Carnoustie and Bobby Jones. If your club handles logoed blazers, this is a good time to partner with a vendor who can send in a size run and fit your gentlemen professionally. This gives your membership or regular customers an opportunity to get to know the rep, hear the company story, ask questions about the product and generally be wowed by the length and breadth of these lines.

ck-7-14-2Add to this event by bringing in a few noncompeting categories – perhaps a Martin Dingman or Ecco shoe table or a Zero Restriction rack of outerwear. Payne Mason will send in a Cuban cigar roller for the appropriate commitment and a beer, wine or brandy tasting which local distributors can help you arrange will provide a bazaar-like atmosphere that should create an evening’s worth of special orders as well as improve the sell through in the shop of the participating vendors.

Make sure that your staff is actively involved and knows how to suggest in a soft sell way that any corporate or tournament needs can be handled very effectively. Make the effort a win for the representatives involved by increasing their presence in the shop for the coming season. Being a good partner is a two-way street and of course this means picking your participants carefully and making sure that the evening is part of the grand scheme of things for the season.

This concept will only work when it is planned months out and marketed as often and effectively as possible to create hype and a big enough audience to make the endeavor worthwhile to all parties concerned. That being said, it is a good idea to couple it with an opening day, a Member/Guest or a Demo day and invite members to bring guests, friends and family. Obviously some type of discount is a good idea, a drawing for something significant (new driver or rainsuit) will bring a crowd and local entertainment is usually not hard to entice with some bartering. Invite local celebrities, sports coaches, local TV notaries and politicians.

ck-7-14-4In short give them an evening or afternoon that they’ll talk about and perhaps start to look forward to because, assuming it is a hit and the feedback is good, you may want to do two events a year (one for fall and one for holiday/spring). It strengthens your relationship with the vendors involved and creates business with no inventory. More importantly it drives home the message, whether it is to members at a club or regular customers at a public facility, that your shop and staff are going the extra mile and that at a time when a lot of merchants are cowering in the corner hoping things get better by themselves your shop not only wants the business but wants to make it a pleasure to do business.