Through Golf Hunter, golf clubs looking for new revenue streams connect with corporations looking for great value and a return on their marketing investment.
“Seventy per cent of all your customers and all your prospects enjoy the game of golf,” says Sean Manias, owner and creator of Golf Hunter. “It mirrors life in many ways – sometimes it rains and sometimes it’s sunny, but the tournament must go on.”
Three years ago, Manias was interested in re-entering the golf industry and was looking for a business idea to develop. He came up with the concept of the variable foursome.
“The saturated market dictates you must go out and hunt revenue,” he says. With so many golf courses competing for players and corporate golf on the decline, he got creative and set up this win-win-win solution.
While traditional golf memberships are tied to specific individuals and courses, Manias introduced “variable memberships” to allow any four golfers to golf anytime at any of the participating courses – all season long.
“I’ve grown from one course, to four courses last year and now we have 10 locations,” he says. “In 2010, we’ll be expanding into London, Kitchener/Waterloo, and Burlington.”
The current line-up of club locations extends from Uxbridge and Newmarket to Muskoka, and from Thornbury to Peterborough.
“I chose courses based on location, amenities and primarily service,” he says.
He reports “fantastic” feedback on the products and services his new company provides.
While working as a territorial sales rep for a large company, he found himself dissatisfied, despite being quite successful in his chosen career.
“I realized the last time I was really, really happy was when I was in the golf industry,” he says of recalling an earlier job as the food and beverage manager at a large private golf club.
He enrolled in Georgian College’s Professional Golf Management program and was able to fast-track because of the university degree he’d already obtained from Queen’s University.
“That’s what brought me to Barrie,” says the Burlington native, who made the move directly from working in Toronto’s downtown core. “I don’t miss the city at all.”
When it was time to launch his new business, he met with former college instructor Doug Wilson, who is also the general manager and director of golf at Diamond ‘in the Ruff’ in Muskoka.
“He was very supportive and acts as a good mentor,” says Manias of the continuing relationship. “He sits on my board of advisors.”
As of the result of the association, “I grew his corporate golf business 75 per cent,” Manias reports.
The expanded program has corporate members choosing a home course, where most golfing will be done. Then a service level is determined. Packages can include golf only, golf plus cart, or absolutely everything, including food and beverage.
Membership fees range in price from $6,000 to $12,000 depending on home course and level of service chosen.
The reported reasons for the decline in corporate golfing is expense, time and logistical nightmares, he says.
With Golf Hunter, all nightmares are coverted to hassle-free dream outings since Manias takes care of all the arrangements.
Businesspeople who want to woo clients but don’t have time to spend hours hours golfing, can have the best of both worlds.
A client likely doesn’t want to golf with a sales rep anyway, he adds. Instead, the invitation will be better received if the client is left free to use the passes to play with family or friends.
“If you had a chiropractor who sent you golfing three or four times a year, you’d never switch chiropractors,” he suggests. “If you had a house painter who sent you to the golf course while the work was being done, why would you not use that house painter?”
A similar positive reception could be expected from suppliers, visiting executives and charity supporters who “purchase” a foursome through a fundraising auction.
Manias calls it a “great differentiation” between competing businesses.
“We do all the administration, book the tee times, and even meet your guests on site if need be,” he says. “I requested, we’ll stay and make sure they’re having a great day.”
Manias reports “great feedback” from clients who are opting in to his program.
It’s not surprising then, as he begins his third season in operation, that his own business growth is well ahead of the normal curve for business start-ups.
For more information, email Manias at [email protected]