Look out for our new star columnist in this month’s issue of Midlands Golfer Magazine.
He’s the man who’s seen it all . . . from hosting World No 1 Justin Rose on the day 20 years ago when he made his first Tour cut at the 22nd attempt . . . to now helping Midlands clubs save thousands of pounds a year.
This is Mark Stancer, unusually a member of both the PGA and the Golf Club Managers Association.
He will soon complete his third successful year as Midlands director of the Golf Management Group.
GMG is a purchasing alliance working with 700 golf clubs across the UK in partnership with England Golf, Wales Golf and Scottish Golf.
Created in 2010, GMG has already exceeded £3m in savings for their clubs by bulk buying and managing contracts for items such as beer, wines & spirits, catering, energy, waste collection, washroom hygiene and insurance.
Every month Mark will be sharing his vast experience and answering questions from our readers across the Midlands region.
He mixed regularly with tour pros while Director of Golf at North East club Slaley Hall around the turn of the century and was a member of the planning committee for Slaley’s Ryder Cup bid.
Mark remembers Justin Rose spending so much time ringing round after making it to the weekend of the Compaq European Open he “thought his phone was going to melt”.
Golf clubs get a free first year’s membership of the Golf Management Group through GMG’s England Golf partnership.
One of Mark’s GMG clients is Andy Mee, Club Manager at Lingdale in Leicestershire.
Ten minutes from the M1, Lingdale is situated at the heart of the 6,000 acre Charnwood Forest next door to the roaming deer of Bradgate Park.
Andy writes: “I knew Mark Stancer of the Golf Management Group when he was the General Manager of another Leicestershire club, Cosby, a few years ago.
So I am aware he has an expert handle on all the finer points involved in running a club, which is a labour intensive operation with big bills coming in that need controlling if you are to have a successful business model.
Mark with Andy Mee at Lingdale GC – Image John Sumpter (JMS Photography)
In this job, you are frequently taking phone calls from costing consultants asking if your club is interested in reviewing the cost of this, that or the other.
In the two and a half years the Lingdale club have been using GMG, Mark has already saved us in excess of £6,000 and he frees up many hours of my time each week to deal with other issues.
We have 700 members at Lingdale and it is important I put aside plenty of time for their service, queries and suggestions because, in effect, your members are your sales team.
The happier they are, the more they will speak well about you when they visit other clubs. If we can make it possible for them to spread such good word of mouth, this is in their own interests because the more members we have, the easier it is to keep the subscription as low as possible.
Everything we do here is aimed at making our members proud of Lingdale and ensuring our visitors enjoy the experience too. It is crucial we waste neither time nor money and that is where the Golf Management Group come into play.
When our contracts have come up for renewal, Mark has cut the cost of our bigger areas of spending that we cannot do without.
For example, our waste collection contract ended recently so I asked Mark what we could do. It was a question of him going back to the market, and coming back to me to say either ‘you have got a good deal there so we won’t do anything’ or suggesting a change.
It ended with GMG telling us how much we would save and Mark dealt with the cancellation of the existing contract and put a new one in place all without compromise of service or supply. All I had to do was to sign on the bottom line and wait for the delivery of our new waste bins.
We have also changed our gas suppliers and although we made another big saving there, again there were no big demands on my time because Mark dealt with it all.
Crucially, there were no big issues or problems which so often crop up somewhere along the line. For instance, some clubs can change gas suppliers and find a company can mess up the arrangements and you find yourself with days in the middle of winter when you can’t heat your clubhouse.
Complications such as companies not turning up on a day they say they will don’t happen with GMG handling a contract.
This is partly because they have bargaining power. They have that because they know what they are doing. So our gas change was all done and dusted smoothly without any hitches.
If there is a service or supply you get invoiced for at a golf club then GMG gets the best deal for any golf club in the same way the big supermarket chains employ whole departments to bulk buy from their suppliers and pass the savings on to their customers.
It’s a specialist area of golf club expertise, just like running the clubhouse or the pro’s shop or organising the greenkeeping.
GMG release more time for a golf manager to concentrate on health and safety issues and all the other factors which go into what can sometimes be a complex job.
Mark recently helped us install Contracts Manager complimentary software that now allows us to see where we are with our contacts at a glance, contract end dates, notice period etc.
We have more contracts coming up for renewal this year and I am looking into tapping into more of Mark’s expertise.”