If you aren’t familiar with me, let me provide you a little background information. I’m Allison George. I’ve been working at my family’s golf course my whole life. I’ve done it all. Picked up garbage, moved tee markers, mowed tees, worked the snack bar, coordinated events and finally I played the role of General Manager. Since I became the General Manager when I was 26 years old, I changed my title to Wizard of Fun which seemed more appropriate to me at the time.
In January, I was hired by Teesnap to help with their marketing and to oversee their Managed Marketing Services (MMS) team. MMS is a service that Teesnap offers to its users where we help plan the marketing strategy and send emails, update websites and curate social media content for our MMS courses – essentially we take all of the tools that Teesnap provides and maximize them for our golf courses. This service helped MMS courses raise their revenues by an average of 8% in 2018.
Having grown up in a family business, it has been an adjustment for me to work for a large corporation. Teesnap is a relatively small company, but it is owned by Allegiant Travel Company which means it has some unique large corporation characteristics. When I was only a golf operator, I liked that Teesnap was owned by Allegiant. I called it Teesnap’s sugar daddy. Having a sugar daddy was appealing to me because it gave a start-up company like Teesnap credibility. There is comfort knowing that a start-up isn’t destined to be sold or fail like so many of them.
After working at the company for a mere two months, I’ve learned a whole lot more. For fun, I thought I’d share some of the things that I have learned about running a business at a large scale that I plan to take back to my family to implement at my own family’s golf course. Perhaps you might learn something to take to yours, too.
1. SET HIGH EXPECTATIONS WITHOUT APOLOGY
I like to describe Bryan Lord, our CEO & Founder, using one word: intense.
My first week at Teesnap happened to be at the PGA Golf Show. This was fortunate for me because I had the honor of attending the employee awards banquet which allowed me to hear the story of how Teesnap began. I truly enjoyed the story as told by the designer of Teesnap, Layne Lev.
Bryan’s father-in-law was getting hearing aids. While being fitted, he was talking about his son-in-law’s ambitions and goals of a golf software company. The hearing aid sales rep informed him that his brother was a designer and could help design an application. Cards were exchanged and Bryan was introduced to Layne.
Bryan made an appointment to see Layne to explain his vision. At the conclusion of their meeting, Layne said, “Great idea, but it’s going to take at least $2 million dollars just to get started.”
Layne told the group that he had had this conversation with countless other people who had great ideas and no money. That was typically the end of the road for most meetings. Not for Bryan.
Bryan was the first and only person to return to Layne. He called on a Friday to ask if Layne could put together some mock ups because he had landed a meeting with Maury Gallagher who owned Allegiant and it was scheduled for Monday.
When I think about a 20 something year old with a level of ambition to arrange for such a meeting AND Maury buying into the project, it only makes sense that Bryan is intense.
This intensity is carried throughout the company and he sets high expectations without apology. What I find fascinating is that people rise up to meet them! Within the first week of working at Teesnap, I immediately thought about how I had always been playing too small in my family’s golf course. I played where it was safe and didn’t set high expectations for my team. I had always thought that it seemed silly to tell my brother to go sell ten golf outings this month or my event coordinator to set up 50 birthday parties at my miniature golf course. Yet, that’s exactly what you must do if you want to play big. You have to set expectations and enable your staff to rise up to meet them.
Teesnap just completed its fourth month in a row of closing nearly 50 sales EACH MONTH! That drive for success comes from setting high expectations.
2. CELEBRATE ALL OF YOUR WINS
Every single time one of our sales team makes a sale, they send an email introducing the golf course to the Teesnap team. It doesn’t matter how big or small of a sale, it’s celebrated.
I like that.
3. WOMEN ARE VALUED IN THE GOLF WORLD
I’m the first woman in the management team at Teesnap. On my first night at Teesnap, I was invited to the awards banquet where I was the only woman in the room.
This isn’t unusual for me to be one of the few women when I participate in golf industry gatherings. The one thing that I did find unusual is that I was immediately valued. No one made me feel uncomfortable. They appreciate my thoughts, value my opinions and treat me with respect.
I can’t always say that about golf gatherings, so I am pleased that I can say that about Teesnap.
If the golf industry wants to attract more female golfers, then more women need to participate at the management level in the industry to help bring initiatives and ideas to the game. Women approach the game very differently than men and golf courses need to market to that difference.
4. STAY FOCUSED NO MATTER WHAT
Teesnap has had some bumps in the road. Through it all, Bryan has never lost focus. He keeps his head down and continues to plan and push the initiatives needed for him to make the positive impact that he desires for Teesnap.
In a recent presentation, Bryan said something that I found interesting about Teesnap. He was talking about the change that he wants for the golf industry. Many golf operators are afraid of change. Teesnap forces you to change many behavioral habits that weren’t healthy for your business. It forces you to ask for the names of golfers 2, 3 and 4. It is set up with the intention to build your database and help you segment that database, so that you can market to them based on golfer behavior.
During his presentation he said, “It’s funny to me. People choose us because they are ready to make a change, then they ask for all of the things that they were always doing.”
That’s not really change at all, is it?
There are naysayers and people with personal opinions who have created bumps in the road. There are technical problems and all of the little things that come with running a business. People with opinions on how the software should be built. They remind me of a member at the club who thinks he knows why the greens are too slow or whether or not he should replace divots and thinks he has the right plan for capital improvements.
Through it all, Bryan and his team have led Teesnap to stay focused on the change. Stay focused on the desire to make a difference in golf operators’ businesses. There are many stories that are shared where the conversion to Teesnap off of trade times saves a golf course over $100,000 a year! Demonstrating the value that comes with a product that is designed to help the golf operator generate more revenue is powerful and a huge change in the golf industry.
That is the focus at Teesnap. No matter what.
5. HIRE SMART PEOPLE
My favorite part of my job at Teesnap is that I now have access to Keith Tubbs. Keith is our development guy. He is everyone’s best friend, trust me, you will love him if you get the chance to meet him. Keith previously worked at Zappos which is owned by Amazon, so he knows what he’s doing in product development.
In a recent meeting, Keith was explaining to me how he takes everyone’s requests for upgrading the software and plans it all out in a timeline for creation. This means that there are building blocks in place while paying attention to minor tweaks that can be easily completed in simple releases. The outline for this coming year is mind blowing and truly a work of art.
Keith is super funny and crazy smart. He can speak a development language that would have your head spinning.
Teesnap users are lucky to have him because he has some great things planned for the software. The Teesnap team is lucky to have him for his jokes. They’re a whole new level of dad jokes.
6. FIX THE PARKING LOT EVEN THOUGH IT ISN’T A COOL UPGRADE TO YOUR FACILITY
In March, Teesnap experienced what had previously always been my June in the golf world. Picture daily golf outings, daily fee golfers, junior lessons and 18 hours of daylight. After nearly six months of planning, Teesnap converted over to a new credit card processor. Bryan has a vision for his company and in order for it to come together, Teesnap needed to get this foundational item correct.
Converting 600 golf courses over was no simple task and it was an all hands on deck process. Strategic Account Managers were on the phone and the Support & Operations Team were providing back up.
This was a really big thing.
The problem is that it’s kind of an un-glamorous upgrade that could actually be seen as a downgrade.
While I watched the team work hard at this conversion, it reminded me of the parking lot at my golf course. To put it mildly, my parking lot is awful. The polar vortex was cruel to the streets of Central Iowa and my parking lot didn’t handle the weather well. I need to replace it and I have for a few years. The problem is that I don’t want to do it. It’s a lot of money on a project that seems very undervalued. Just like the credit card processor.
Yet, the parking lot is the first impression and sets the tone for the experience my golfer should expect.
In case you’re wondering, I called and got bids to fix it. It’s time. Just like it was time for Teesnap.