Optimal Golf Operations – Improving Complaint Management

Keeping your club members happy starts with asking them for feedback.

By Mike Ahrnsbrak, Regional Manager

“Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business.” ~ Zig Ziglar

Quiet customers are a problem.  If they don’t provide feedback to you or your staff, how in the world are they going to help sell your business?  Customer referrals are the single most effective marketing tool you have in your arsenal, and you need to engage your membership to be selling for you.  Whether it’s increasing memberships at a private club, lessons for an instructor, or golf merchandise in the golf shop, get your members to become your biggest sales team.  

“Profit in business comes from repeat customers; customers that boast about your product and service, and that bring friends with them.” ~ W. Edwards Deming

Negative or positive comments should excite you because they give you an opportunity to engage the customer and either create a fan for life or correct an issue that is important to your customer. Either way, you have opportunities. Being upfront and asking for comments from your members (both good and bad) shows them you care. Good managers embrace and welcome negative feedback, so ASK FOR IT.  I always tell my members, if something is wrong and we can do better, tell me or a staff member. When we do something right and exceptional, tell a friend! This approach tends to keep problems and complaints in-house instead of being broadcast all over their world, which is probably your customer base, and it gives you a chance to correct something that is probably broken.     

We all have the chronic complainer; you know, that person who is never happy and is constantly looking for things to pick on. Instead of running away from these types, bring them closer. Many times you can learn so much more about your business after a couple of ‘therapy sessions’. Show them you care, and try exceptionally hard to win their hearts. You’d be amazed at how many times these types are just looking for someone to listen to their concerns. At the very least, you’ll know who they are and what you can do to resolve their issues.  

If not, then take this old Irish curse to heart:
May those who love us love us.  And those that don’t love us, May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts, May he turn their ankles, So we’ll know them by their limping.  

Learn more about Up to Par’s Golf Club Operations here.


About Mike Ahrnsbrak:

Mike is a proud and passionate PGA member who worked his way from the traditional golf professional role into managing multiple properties.  With private, resort and daily fee experience, Mike focuses on driving revenue by adding value and providing over-the-top service. In his 40 plus years experience in the golf and hospitality industry including serving as a Director on the PGA of America’s National Board, Mike’s industry connections and insight bring a wealth of knowledge that our team taps into on a daily basis. Currently, Mike serves as our Regional Manager and oversees a semi-private club, a hotel, and a restaurant in the Lexington, Virginia market.