Living in Michigan I have watched with mixed degrees of smirkish humor and queasy-stomach horror the recent soap opera that has produced GM (Government Motors) and Chrysler now being owned by that epitome of car quality Fiat (Fix It Again Tony).
I hear on the news that some sections of the country are beginning to show signs of recovery, but not here where we’re working under the FILO system.
But undaunted I trekked up into Northern Michigan with 39 other guys last weekend for an annual golf outing – well, annual for most of them, it was my first time with this group. It was a great time and a great bunch of guys, most of whom are native Michiganders. And yes, that’s the real term. And no, being a native Hoosier I can’t make fun of any other state moniker.
If you’re a golfer you really must put a Northern Michigan trip on your list. Absolutely some of the greatest courses you’ll ever play and lots of them. And since the season is only about 3 weeks long they’re always in great condition.
So, we’re having this great weekend with our 10 foursomes of pretty typical golf guys, that is, bad golf (but lots of it), unhealthy food (but lots of it), bad jokes (but lots of them) and drinking (but….hey, wait a minute). The drinking was way down. We didn’t have to call the Emergency Mobile AA Unit even once. What’s the deal?
Well the deal was the courses had a skeleton crew of beverage carts out. For those who don’t play golf, courses will put these golf carts out equipped with ice, beer, sodas, booze, food, et al. They have one purpose, to sell golfers more stuff, all of it with high margins. You know, a fifty cent can of beer for $4, kinda like the airlines. The one course had ONE cart covering two 18-hole courses.
The other unique thing about Northern Michigan golf courses is they’re cut out of wilderness so you don’t come by the clubhouse after the front nine. The one course had you drive your cart about a half-mile to start and then was over a mile back in when you finished number eighteen.
When I asked one of the workers about it the answer was “we’re cutting back because business is off”. Let’s see, you’re cutting back on the highest margin part of your business. You already own the beverage carts, you staff them with high school/collage age girls who work mainly for tips. I don’t get it. It’s not like we were the only people out there, there were other groups.
I don’t know but I think I would have had twice as many beverage carts as normal. The worse you play the more you drink and the worse you play and....well, you get the picture.
So I continue to marvel at some of the business decisions being made during this “crisis”. And I still stand on this not coming close to how bad it was during the Jimmy years in the Eighties, but that’s a different debate.
So, as is my policy I’ll ask you. What are you doing? Are you chasing away your existing higher profit business? Are you cutting across the board regardless of it’s impact? Are you analyzing your business or closing your eyes and hoping the putt goes in?