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Aug/ Sep 2009

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Reasons for their success

  • Their experience as golfers encourage other golfers to come to them for advice;

  • They make sure that they are on the floor themselves in order to share their knowledge and experience with customers;

  • They have built good relationships with suppliers — for example by paying their bills promptly — which enables them to negotiate good prices.

  • A pro on course and a pro in store

    Allan Henning, one of the big names in SA golfing history and a member of South Africa’s most famous golfing families, has also reached the pinnacle of his second career as club pro and on-course retailer. NICOL DU TOIT went to find out what makes him so successful as retailer

    This year Allan Henning will be honoured for his achievements on the pro circuit as well as in his pro shop at the Royal Johannesburg golf course. In December he will become one of the first prominent SA golf professionals to be inducted into the Southern Africa Golf Hall of Fame — thereafter the gala dinner and induction ceremony will become an annual event. In March this year he was chosen as the PGA Club Pro of the Year.

    Henning started his career as on-course pro shop owner 25 years ago, after he retired from a successful career on the professional golf circuit, which included wins in the SA Open and SA Masters. Over the years he has won many awards from the golf industry, proudly displayed at the entrance to his shop.

    Earlier this year he took on a partner, Greg Jacobs himself a former Springbok golfer (in 1998) who had played the professional circuit. Before joining the pro shop full-time about three years ago, Jacobs had worked there as a temp over an extended period. He had also been a Calloway rep for three years before joining Henning’s store full time.

    Between them, they therefore have an invaluable wealth of golfing and retailing experience to share with any prospective customer.

    Asked about what makes their shop so successful, Jacobs says that he attributes most of the success to them being on the floor all the time. “You cannot afford to leave the shop in the hands of an assistant,” he says.

    Experience as a golfer plays an important role, because that encourages members to come to you for advice.

    You have to be able to match prices offered by the discount chains and therefore your relationships with suppliers are very important. You have to settle their bills promptly. You have to be able to buy at the best prices, even if it sometimes means paying COD.

    It is actually a myth that consumers get better prices at the discount chains, he says. On-course pros are all in a position to offer the same prices, and because of their experience and relations with the members, they are in a better position to offer advice.

    According to Jacobs clothing is their single biggest line of products, but equipment makes up more than 30% of their sales.

    Brands are very important to their customers and he said that you will not be able to sell a non-branded garment of the same quality at half the price. They even sell golf branded watches and sunglasses.

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