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Great Service Comes from Great People

By James Cronk

It doesn’t matter what country you are in, what type of club you operate, or if the green fee is twenty pounds, two hundred dollars or twenty thousand yen… if you are in the golf business, you are in the ‘people’ business.

I am often amazed in my travels how many owners and operators invest thousands if not millions of dollars into their golf course, with the latest and greatest irrigation systems or the thirty thousand square foot clubhouse with his and her billiard rooms, yet they fail to invest in their most important asset… their people.

Our staff is the direct link to the golf experience, and if you haven’t noticed yet, our ability to deliver an exceptional customer/member/golfer experience is what will separate us from the competition and protect us from the evils of two for one discounts. Today’s consumer will not accept a poor welcome where no one knows their name, or a mediocre hot dog, or a maintenance vehicle speeding past them as they are lining up a putt.  Just like you and I, we are all becoming much more choosy and with higher expectations when we spend our leisure dollar, and make no mistake, deciding to play golf is an option, not a necessity.

So, how do you invest in your people? How do you get them so powered on that your members and customers can’t wait to come back with twenty of their friends to see them in action?

If you are not doing many of these things already, here is a simple four-step process you may want to consider


First, we must determine where we are before we can decide where we want to go.

If you look at around at all of your team, you will see people at various stages of being powered on. By using the completely scientific measure of “on a scale of one to ten”, we can all quite easily identify those employees who love working with us, or who simply love life no matter what their circumstances. Luckily there are always glass half full people, but unfortunately, more often we meet people who think the glass is half empty, not fully cleaned and has a chip in it! It’s critical that we assess all aspects of our business and in every way possible. It’s amazing that we can have systems and software and key performance indicators on everything such as how many toothpicks we used last month to how much we spent on mouthwash, when we often don’t have effective processes for measuring the engagement of our most expensive asset – our people! No matter what tools you use – staff surveys, silent shoppers, outside consultants, an in-house HR person – you must use something that gives you an effective assessment of your people. Most important, these assessments must be impartial. You know how you act when you are spending time with your in-laws? Respectful, attentive, engaged. That is how your staff acts when you see them at work. For the other 90% of the time they are being ‘real’. Every once in a while we need to take off our rose colored glasses to see what’s happening in our own reality show.


Once we know where we are at, we can begin to implement some strategies for improvement.  Most importantly is to get your people plugged in to your business. For example, do your people have a clear vision of what your business is about, who are your customers or members, what do they want and how they as employees can help the business succeed – both in the quality of the customer experience and in achieving fiscal objectives? Have they memorized your mission statement and do they know what objectives you have set for 2011 for the business or more importantly, what objectives you have set for them?


Have you provided your team members with the necessary tools to deliver powerful performances? Do they have job descriptions, regular and effective evaluations, clear incentives and rewards? Most importantly, is there an effective system for them to share their ideas and concerns in a trusting and empowering environment?


Do your people have fun? Truly laugh out loud, love to come to work, promote your business to their thousands of Facebook friends’ kind of fun? If so, what are you doing right and how do you do more of it? If not, what are ways that you can get your people so powered up that calling in sick to play hooky is never an option?


It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to show us the benefits of being powered on, both personally and as a business leader. There are millions of parents out there at this moment wishing that they were more fully engaged in the moment while raising their kids. There are customers walking out your door right now that may not have been engaged by your staff. A welcome smile and a simple “hello”? A “thank you for coming”? A “what can do better for you next time Mrs. Smith”?

It’s not easy to be powered on, and even Tony Robbins must have a bad day or two. We don’t need to be perfect, or energized every day, or constantly thinking about what our people ‘need’ to be happy. But if we can do these things more often than we are currently doing, and if we can put systems in place that increase the likelihood of our people being powered on, then slowly, over time, we will see our business improve. Our staff will be more engaged and this will be noticed by our customers and members. Our customer service will improve, the quality of our products will strengthen and our costs will decrease because we will be more efficient. Ultimately our facility will be better and all of these factors will increase our revenues and in the long run, our profitability.

There is nothing new or unique about why we should, or how we can, get powered on. But maybe we should remember what has been proven in almost every other industry. When you are facing rising costs, increased competition, declining sales and challenges to the very culture of your product…it will be the quality of your people and the passion they have for your business, and the loyalty and relationships that you have earned with your clientele, that will separate you from the competition. It’s not just the ‘strong’ who will survive, but the strong, the smart and the empowered!


James Cronk is a golf industry leader with over 25 years experience in leading teams and accomplishing objectives through creativity, passion and fun.  His success as a manager and leader is evident in the recognitions bestowed upon himself and his teams; three times (and in two different industries) his organization and team has been recognized as one of the ‘Top Ten Employers’ in British Columbia, Canada; the readers of Golf Digest, the golf industry’s foremost authority, recognized his facility as having the ‘5th Best Customer Service in North America’.  His company, CRONK GROUP, helps organizations achieve their goals and increase their profits by improving their systems, their service and their people! For more information visit www.cronkgroup.com


3750 St. Paul’s Avenue, North Vancouver, BC V7N 1T3

O) 604.986.1824 C) 604.889.4707 E) james@cronkgroup.com




Download and apply these 10 ‘POWER ON’ principles and see immediate improvements in the satisfaction of your staff, your guests and your bottom line!

James Cronk

For the past twenty-five years James Cronk has been helping business owners get themselves, their people and their customers powered on. He uses a unique blend of creativity, experience and proven systems to help golf clubs achieve their goals and increase their profits by improving their systems, their service and their people!
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