Have you noticed that nearly every service call you make these days must first go through a “computerized” phone tree, or an online “troubleshooting” web page?  A famous innovation and motivational speaker, Simon Sinek, recalls his amazement one day when he achieved elite status with an airline company. In the mail, he received a “private phone number” whereby he could get a real person to address his needs, issues, etc. instead of dealing with the phone tree or support website.  He also mentions, “I saw an ad for a bank the other day, where they advertised the fact that you could talk to a real person.”  Somehow, it seems that personal contact, with a real person has become a luxury these days.

In our personal and professional lives, we have all experienced this phenomena as customers.  In a different way, but equally personal, we’ve all seen how people, sometimes our staff, sometimes us, have been taken out of the customer experience (and out of the budget,) for the sake of the organization’s bottom line.  This is not new of course, because as Sinek puts it, “In the 1980s, businesses started using people as a way to balance the books,” to make the bottom line result healthier.

As a result, Sinek states that we have, as a nation, become distrustful of the organization we work for, the politicians we vote for, etc. Naturally, we all yearn for the days of the handshake, of personal contact in the most basic way, as this is the nature of the way we develop trust person to person.

Once again, technology seems to be battling the value of personal contact. Andy Grove, the founder of Intel, says “The only thing the microprocessor ever did, was make things go faster.” These days, I believe there are more “lonely people” than ever…and this “people are a luxury” business model is part of it.

Even with the pervasive compression within many facility organizational charts, we can still say our customers have a people-based experience when they play with others, and interact with us.

This is yet another reason why I think the game of golf is a great solution AND  a I believe a great selling point.  Certainly, our game is not the fastest game to be played, but it is unhurried enough to allow two potential business partners to develop a framework of trust. It is paced out enough for a father and a son, or a potential father-in-law to get to know his future son-in-law. It is slow enough for a wife and husband to “get on the same page.”

As I’ve written before, the game of golf is all about reality, connection, personal contact, natural contact and much more. If you’re in business to win, may I suggest evaluating the quality and the sincerity of your facility’s “people plan” for the 2013 season?

One of my career mentors, Gus Jones, now PGA Head Professional at the Martis Camp Club, instituted (and purposefully modeled,) a “Stick Out Your Hand” Program.  In this simple but powerful effort, each of us stuck out our hand and made eye contact with every member or guest, and the results were significant and positive.

In today’s “people are a luxury” business culture, let’s leverage our people with this connection plan en masse for the benefit of the bottom line and our own professional credibility.  Let’s not forget, this people plan starts with us modeling it for (and directly on,) our colleagues and teammates.  Don’t forget, we need to communicate the plan and its purpose clearly to staff and our stakeholders so credit can be given as it is earned.

As a representative for the PGA of America, I would be honored to visit with you, in person or on the phone this fall.  If I can be a support, mentor or simply provide assistance with your 2013 business planning, programming goals for your core and for new players, I am here to listen and support.  Please contact me to go to the next step.

Monte Koch
PNW PGA Regional Player Development Manager
Phone: 206-335-5260
E-mail: mkoch@pgahq.com