It isn’t about the facility. It isn’t about the food. It is about the people. You and I know this, but sometimes we forget. I had a good reminder of this recently.
Since the late 1980’s, Mike and I have been partners in the ownership of the Oak Island Golf Course in Caswell Beach, North Carolina. Through these years we have seen many changes in the area and in our golf course and club. A few months ago, we embarked on one of the most significant changes we have had. This experience has affirmed something about customer service and people that I have known for a long time, yet sometimes forget. The sometimes-forgotten truth is that in any business, regardless of the product or service, the people are what matter the most. Not the facility. If you are in the food business, as important as the food is, the food is not what is most important. It is about the people. Every time.
The two groups of people who matter the most in any business are the customers and the staff. In customer service lingo we refer to these two groups as the external customer (the paying customer) and the internal customer (the staff). It is sometimes debated which of these customer groups is most important. My answer to that question is: It is foolish for the company or organization to expect the staff to treat the paying customer any better than they perceive that they are treated by management. While sometimes some people will rise above how they perceive they are treated and treat customers well anyway, most others will not.
The Oak Island Golf Course and clubhouse were built in 1962. The golf course has had many improvements in those 56 years. While some improvements have been made through the years to the clubhouse, it being ocean front and suffering the wind and rain ravages for 56 years finally took its toll. After careful review, the board decided that the best course of action was to tear the existing structure down and build a new clubhouse. The members were fully supportive of this decision, even though they would be without some of the amenities they had come to enjoy for probably at least eighteen months. While there would be a temporary structure to house the bar and grill and pro shop, it would be small and would lack some of the services offered previously. We have been in the temporary building for several months.
The temporary structure is a triple wide modular building. It is now home to both the pro shop in one area and Duffers, the bar and grill, close by. The food service is limited, yet what is offered is good. We are not able to host large gatherings, although the golfers have found a way to make the available space meet their needs, even during tournaments. Members and guests have not complained; in fact, they have expressed appreciation for having a temporary structure.
The regulars are still regular, and we have even seen an increase some nights due to creativity on the part of the staff. Our Food and Beverage Manager, Patti Hensley, had the idea to have a Trivia night every Tuesday night, and with our Trivia expert Bailey’s skill, it has grown to an overflow crowd. I have heard some members say they will not miss Trivia night for anything!
Mike and I spent a week at Oak Island over the 4th of July. When we are in town, we usually visit our club often and did so this time. We are convinced that things are going well, due in large part to the staff. We could not be prouder of the staff. They are the glue that holds things together. They are the ones making our temporary quarters feel like home. They make the difference.
People make the difference. We so appreciate our members and customers who have stayed with us through this endeavor. We appreciate all of our staff, including those whose daily work has not been as affected as the staff in the Pro Shop and Duffers. Those who keep the golf course in good shape, including Gary Humphrey and his staff, and the cart staff, are very important to our overall business.
Our regular Duffers staff includes Mel, who knows our members better than they may know themselves and loves them anyway! Karen is our chef, and with our limited food service, she has taken on other duties and has done so graciously. Kelsey and Delta round out the food service and bar team, also with Patti Hensley, who is definitely a working manager!
Our regular pro shop staff include Speedy, Steve L, Lem, Todd, and Bill. Our General Manager, Steve Isley, is wearing more hats than ever before, having added overseeing the temporary facility and preparing for the new clubhouse to his responsibilities. We appreciate all that he does in representing the owners.
Sincere appreciation is expressed to all of our wonderful staff, both for the work they do and for the sacrifices they are making. Some of their sacrifices include some people taking home less money due to our reduced services. Also, some are working less than desirable hours due to needing to spread out the hours of all of the staff. There are likely other sacrifices and inconveniences. For all of this and more, we thank each and every one!
People make the difference. Every time.