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June 2019

Relationship Status: It’s Complicated

By Jared Williams
Managing Director
GOLF USA TEE TIME COALITION

While you might see some language like this headline when you login to various social media networks, this column is about the business relationships that exist between third parties and golf courses. Although the current status may not be visible to all in the industry, one needs only take a cursory glance of the present landscape in tee time distribution to quickly determine that these business relationships are very complicated.

So the theme for this column is “Business Relationships.” Here we will be putting under the microscope those business practices of third parties that directly impact the golf course.

Think about relationships in general. What are some of the most important aspects of any successful relationship? Trust. Honesty. Respect. Communication. Loyalty. Happiness. Compromise. In a romantic relationship, some might argue these words are more important to the success of a relationship than love.

To take it a step further, even if you love a vendor and its software or services, the relationship will break down without trust, honesty, respect, communication, loyalty, happiness and compromise. And despite, the tendency for third parties to refer to golf courses as their partners, many third parties are unwilling to offer all of these.

Let’s look at two definitions for relationships.

1. The way in which two or more people or groups regard and behave toward each other.

2. The way in which two or more concepts, objects or people are connected, or the state of being connected.

If third parties want to change the narrative, then they must immediately start being honest with golf course operators and respecting their wishes. There has to be some compromise in order to truly make the customer happy. That starts with consistent and thorough communication of all data for barter rounds sold.
 
That creates the disconnect in the relationship between golf courses and third parties – when third parties elect not to provide the course with detailed reports on total barter sales. To put it bluntly, there is currently no way for customers to find out how much the software costs (how much they actually paid for it) if they engage in barter. They can’t determine it before, they can’t look at any comparative data, and they can’t find out their actual payment in barter rounds sold.

Thus, the two parties in a business relationship are not at all connected, based on the way they regard and behave toward each other. The vendors don’t trust customers with the barter sales data. Perhaps it will reveal some eye-opening insights about the cost of software and distribution. Perhaps it will equip the operator with the requisite information to negotiate better deals.

Fair warning: All companies accepting barter must create a detailed report on total barter sales and provide that to the golf courses engaging in barter. Those that do not elect to share this information with their clients should expect the Coalition to inform the industry of your decision to withhold.

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