Golf Course Management

AUG 2019

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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26 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 08.19 KPIs for golf maintenance operations (business) Michael D. Vogt, CGCS, CGIA Twitter: @MIKETURF Love 'em, hate 'em or never heard of 'em, KPIs — or Key Performance Indicators — are everywhere. Sometimes we hear about KPIs in big businesses such as manufacturing or ser - vice industries. Indeed, many of us have KPI targets in our jobs, while others must report on KPIs. But what really is a KPI? In simple terms, a KPI is a way of measur - ing how well we as individuals or entire com- panies or business units are performing. In golf course management, a KPI should help us un - derstand how well our business is performing compared to our strategic goals and objectives. I often use an airline analogy to illustrate KPIs: Just think of an airplane trip from Chi - cago to Paris. Here, the aim of the journey is to take passengers to the City of Light. e trip should take about nine hours. Once the plane takes off, the captain and co-pilot need navigation data to understand where they are relative to their planned route. Useful KPIs include radar and GPS location data, average speed, fuel levels, weather information, etc. ese metrics (or KPIs) allow the crew to un - derstand whether they are on course or veering off route. is enables them to make decisions about how to guide the plane. For golf facilities, it is exactly the same. If the goal is to make more money through increased golf rounds or added memberships, that facility might want to measure KPIs such as rounds/membership growth, customer sat - isfaction, profit margins and operating costs. If a golf course wants to attract new custom - ers by creating a great brand, it might mea- sure brand equity and brand awareness. And if a facility wants to ensure its employees are engaged and keep turnover to a minimum, it might want to measure staff performance/ad - vocacy and staff satisfaction as a KPI. e trouble is, there are thousands of KPIs, and companies often struggle to select the right ones for their business. e wrong KPIs bring the danger of pointing people in the wrong direction and encouraging them to de - liver the wrong things. KPIs are powerful be- cause you get what you measure. If a company measures and rewards achievement of KPIs that are not in line with its goals, it basically asked the crew to fly into the wrong direction. Effective KPIs are closely tied to strategic objectives, whether for the entire operation, the golf course maintenance department, the golf shop or even an individual on your team. When I help companies select their KPIs, we first develop a performance management framework that articulates the strategic priori - ties. We usually create a single-page diagram of the key objectives and how they support each other to deliver the ultimate goal (for ex - ample, value and satisfaction to players, and engaged, satisfied employees). Once the performance framework repre - sents company objectives, it is time to develop KPIs. But before anyone jumps straight to the measures, I make sure companies first identify questions they need to answer. Take Google. Its executive team has identified about 35 ques - tions. e Google executives now make sure that the KPIs they use are helping them answer their most critical business questions. By doing this, companies tie their KPIs to their strategy and ensure they are meaningful and informa - tive and help answer critical business questions. ere's no way around asking your golf - ers to help determine your KPIs, so I suggest giving them a simple survey with 10 or fewer questions. Give survey participants something of value for their opinion (golf shop, restaurant or green fee/guest fee credit). If you have email addresses, survey software is great and some - times free to use. A postcard-size survey circu- lated at the golf shop may also work for you. Once you've laid the groundwork, I believe these KPIs are a good starting point: • Percentage of golfers who are "very satisfied" or "extremely satisfied." Golfers who are "very satisfied" and "extremely satisfied" will tell others about their golf experience. • Do you feel you are receiving value for your round of golf? Value, for any product or ser - vice, is a metric golf businesses should strive to accomplish. • Employee turnover rate. Is your team happy with the culture of your business? • e " importance" of specific golf course features or amenities to golfers vs. golfers' "satisfaction" with those features or amenities. Importance and satisfaction are key measurements to ensure you're delivering on the things that are most important to your golfers. Start small and begin the process of using Key Performance Indicators to measure your success and to fine-tune your golf business. Michael D. Vogt, CGCS, CGIA (Certified Golf Irrigation Auditor), is a golf course business and agronomic consul - tant and a 43-year member of GCSAA. For more informa- tion on his business, go to In golf course management, a KPI should help us understand how well our business is performing compared to our strategic goals and objectives.

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