Why benchmarking is important for golf clubs

Hillier Hopkins LLP

Chartered Accountants & Tax Advisers

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Any organisation operating in a competitive industry will benefit from benchmarking, but the practice has never been as critical to golf clubs as it is now. This year has seen a significant number of closure so understanding how you match up against your competition is increasingly important.

Following this summers long spell of dry weather many clubs are considering big decisions regarding investment in the course and infrastructure and benchmarking provides the critical insight needed to make sure they make the right decisions to remain competitive in the years ahead.

What is benchmarking?

Benchmarking is the practice of comparing information with competitors within an industry. By comparing figures against a mean average for a sector, organisations can effectively measure business performance, define best practices, and identify business opportunities. Fortunately most clubs are happy to share this data for the benefit of all which is why Hillier Hopkins carries out its annual survey into the golf club industry.

Why you should be benchmarking

Previous years’ surveys pointed towards a changing climate in the golf club industry. With costs creeping up and customers increasingly favouring social golf over traditional membership, many clubs are having to reconsider their structure. This goes beyond simply evaluating income and expenditure, staff headcount and budgets. Clubs are now tasked with scoping out potential new sources of revenue. This continues to mean diversifying offerings, introducing marketing promotions, or focusing more resources on existing areas of business which have potential to drive increased income. Either way, any business decision along these lines needs to be fully informed.

How your club can benefit from benchmarking

Monitoring performance
An independent perspective on how your club is performing in relation to the competition can be invaluable. In addition to helping you set performance expectations over the coming months, a comprehensive view of the industry can help you drive efficiency and seize profit-making opportunities.

For example, you may find that your green fee charges are significantly lower than the UK average, or that other clubs are enjoying greater success as a result of investing more in their clubhouse. Staying up-to-date with industry trends is vital to the survival and success of your club, and it’s areas such as these that can make all the difference.

Informing decision makers
Great ideas are worthless if they aren’t acted upon, and the traditional golf club hierarchy unfortunately means that certain opportunities to improve performance may never be explored. For many golf club secretaries, the failure to gain the approval of committee members can prove a common hurdle to changes being made.

Being able to present external evidence, identifying where your club is underperforming and the areas that need attention, could prove key to getting board members on side, ensuring that reward-yielding strategic and investment decisions are made.

Planning for the future
Benchmarking doesn’t just concern the here and now. Our golf club survey asks each club about future plans, including their spending intentions on special projects. Securing this feedback means each of our survey participants gain a perspective into the direction that the golf club industry as a whole is heading. This can be treated as a source of strategic information which can help to guarantee that your club’s practices stay ahead of the curve.

Take part in our 2019 golf club survey now

The survey has been running for more than 10 years and is one of the largest golf industry surveys, run in association with The Golf Club Secretary magazine. The survey is completed by golf club secretaries and managers from right across the country. The resulting benchmarking reports are a valuable resource in the management of golf clubs.

View our benchmarking reports from previous years and an infographic showing a summary of the key trends over the past 10 years.

This year, the survey includes some new areas of interest to pick up on some emerging trends in the industry and to keep the benchmarking report as current as possible.

​If you are a golf club secretary or involved in the management of golf clubs, we would love to hear from you. Please participate in the 2019 Survey by following the link below.

Robert Twydle heads up our specialist golf clubs team and you can contact him on 01923 634410 or email robert.twydle@hhllp.co.uk.
This ​article is written for general interest only and is not a substitute for consulting the relevant legislation or taking professional advice. The authors and the firm cannot accept any responsibility for loss arising from any person acting or refraining from acting on the basis of the material included herein. 

Do you need extra information?
Robert Twydle

Robert has been our VAT and golf clubs specialist for the last 28 years and has a wealth of experience and knowledge.

Contact Robert at robert.twydle@hhllp.co.uk or on 01923 634410