Gary Pearce: All Fulford staff get a bonus

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 16, 2011 12:16

Gary Pearce: All Fulford staff get a bonus

Gary Pearce, the manager of Fulford Golf Club in Yorkshire, has detailed to delegates of the GCMA conference how a marketing plan at the club helped transform it and win him the GCMA’s Manager of the Year award for 2009.

Following extensive research of his staff, members, visitors and competitors, Gary was able to develop a fluid marketing plan with targets for the club – and if the club achieves its aims then every employee receives a bonus.

“Copying the successes of the club next door might not be suitable for your club or bring about long-term improvements,” said Gary, “that’s why we needed to develop a business plan for our club.

“The first step of doing this was research, including our customers and competitors, as well as our own financial constraints. We undertook a SWOT [strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats] analysis of our staff, customers, golf course and competitors based on surveys and observations, and discovered that our main competitor for members was not even another golf club – it was a David Lloyd gym down the road. Our main competitor for corporate hospitality was also not another golf course – it was York Race Course.”

The SWOT analysis found that the club’s full membership category was too large, while other categories needed to be increased. “The marketing plan we ultimately created meant we could revamp our membership,” said Gary. “We can detail where we want each membership category to get to, how we’re going to get there and how much we’ve invested on achieving that. For example, we offered free coaching to bring in juniors, at a cost of £550, and that category is now full, having increased from 35 to 82 in five years. While an increase in subs meant that elder full members were incentivised to switch to five-day memberships.

“The research meant we discovered our brand was living off past glories, the website needed work, our board of directors had to be streamlined, equality legislation had to be brought in, course machinery had to be invested in and the greenkeeping team needed to be taught new skills, the kitchen needed new equipment, the clubhouse needed to be refurbished and so on. We also learnt what golf clubs in our locality were charging in terms of green fees and how good their facilities were in comparison to ours.

“From there we were able to write a business plan, which states the club’s mission statement about being one of the premier golfing venues in the north of England, which every member of staff can recite at least part of. The business plan details our aims: for the facilities to be excellent, which is driven by a five-year rolling capital plan; customer service to be outstanding, which we review following the hiring and training of staff; our management process to be faultless, which is based on sound financial management and constant communication with staff and members; and to drive revenue and profit, ensuring that long-term investments are self-financing. And from the business plan came the marketing plan.”

As well as the membership section of the marketing plan, in which every category is reviewed, there is also a tournament strategy.

“We’ve brought in a number of professional tournaments at Fulford as this builds memories for our younger members,” said Gary. “Not all clubs would want this but our members love it because they associate big tournaments of the 1970s and 1980s with Fulford and that was partly why they joined the club. We form reciprocal deals with other clubs to ensure they can still play golf during the week that the course is down for a tournament.”

Other aspects of the marketing plan have resulted in the club working with travel agents and hotels to increase travel business.

In terms of investments, the club has spent £900,000 over the past five years on improving its facilities; and this has so far recouped £850,000. The report that details this is also given to every new member that joins, so that they know precisely what their joining fee and annual subscription is invested in and why.

Gary concluded: “The business and marketing plan needs to be a fluid document that can change as the market dictates. And it needs to be reviewed regularly – we do ours monthly. Plus, the staff need to be on board with it. If we achieve our numbers then every member of staff at Fulford receives a bonus.”

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir November 16, 2011 12:16
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  1. tips seo June 30, 03:34

    Great article.

    Reply to this comment
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