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Johnny Hakim from Greenskeeper.org shares his insights on how to make a customer feel like they are a part of your business and how he uses that to keep customers for longer and become active promoters of his business. Learn how to create raving fans by making your customers become a part of your business and learn how to manage your online reputation in Episode 35 of the Defining Success Podcast.
Johnny Hakim (JohnnyGK) is the owner of Greenskeeper.org. Greenskeeper.org is a free online community and golf social network providing golf course review, aeration alerts, overseeding schedules, photos, specials, tee times, score tracking, outings, product reviews and more.
Greenskeeper.org started back in 2000 and Johnny was doing record promotion and he was always golfing on Wednesdays. There was too many times where he encountered golf courses that were doing aeration that he decided to see if there was any place online that was giving golfers aeration alerts. He couldn’t find anything. While he was doing this record production he decided to make his own website and wanted to do more with it. He interviewed some programmers and found what he was looking for. He’s been inspired ever since.
His website started working in Ventura County, Los Angeles County, Orange County, and once he put those up other places were asking for it including San Diego County, Riverside County and San Bernardino County. A lot of people highlighted their appreciation of the program and loved what Johnny has been able to do at Greenskeeper.org.
Johnny has set up his website and it has pretty much spread organically since its inception. People come up to him all the time and tell him how wonderful the site is and how much they love what he is doing with Greenskeeper.org.
When Johnny started his website, he just wanted to let people know about the aeration schedules at golf courses. But, he knew that the website was a work in progress. The users have helped determine the direction of the website and all the things you see on the Greenskeeper.org website comes from the users themselves and suggestions from golf course owners.
Right now, the website revolves around the “GKer” the people who are giving back and helping others understand the condition of local golf courses. Johnny’s website gives people an opportunity to share their experiences at golf courses, for the benefit of those who are involved in the game. Most people come to Greenskeeper.org to read the golf reviews. People use Greenskeeper.org for aeration alerts, they use a score tracker, they are now using the community forums where people can discuss and share their thoughts about golf and local golf courses.
One of the biggest challenges Johnny had faced in building his business was actually making money. When he started the site, he was hoping that golf courses would be eager to advertise on his platform where he was reaching enormous amounts of golfers. The problem was that the golfing industry was way behind the times when it came to their online presence.
The biggest problem Johnny sees in the golf industry is that they are not adapting to the changing world. They are still marketing traditionally and are not investing in the online world and are losing to competitors who are taking advantage of the opportunities available online. In order to succeed golf courses need to control their online presence and promote themselves online.
The people who are going to succeed are the ones who are looking into the future and not the ones who are holding on to the past. This is probably the biggest reason why golf courses are failing today.
On the Greenskeeper.org website golfers can leave reviews on golf courses all over the United States and one of the things Johnny has had a hard time doing is convincing golf courses to reach out to the people that are playing their course and say thank you. By being proactive on the Internet and thanking those people who have played the course, you are creating an opportunity for massive word of mouth promotion.
By responding to criticism or thanking people for using your business. You are now able to show that you are being authentic and that you genuinely care about your customers. Before the Internet, each customer was valuable, but now, other customers can see how you treat your customers in a public forum and they can connect with that.
The large majority of people who visit Greenskeeper.org are not the people who are leaving the reviews. They are what Johnny calls, lurkers. They visit the site to get information about golf courses and then make decisions about the golf courses they plan on playing from there. So, even though there are only a few recommendations on the golf course pages themselves, those reviews are being seen by hunderds and, in some cases, thousands of golfers.
Monetizing Greenskeeper.org has been no easy task. Johnny has spoken with golf course owners and decision makers for years trying to understand their needs and figure out how he can service those needs with his website and it has been a struggle, but he has come up with a solution that works. Golf courses are now using Greenskeeper.org to highlight their golf courses on the website for a small monthly fee and the golf courses who utilize these features have experienced a lot of success.
One of Johnny’s greatest moments working at Greenskeeper.org was recently when he set up his first golf outing for golfers in Central and Northern California. Many people in the GK community took part in the tournament. They came together and had a great time.
Engaging Discussion Questions:
- How do you make your customers feel like they are a part of your business?
- Do you think the Internet and online marketing can help in word of mouth marketing?
- How do you handle reviews about your business?
Links to Great Stuff:
- Greenskeeper.org – “Greenskeeper.org is a free online community, golf social network, providing golf course reviews, aeration alerts, overseeding schedules, photos, specials, tee times, score tracking, outings, product reviews, more.”
- Gary Vaynerchuk – “I love to hustle!”
- “Success is inspiration.”
- “When you’re following your heart or passion, you’re successful.”
- “When you’re inspired, you’re successful.”
- “To be a GKer is to be someone that appreciates the site in general and is a part of the community concept.”
- “To be a GKer is to be active in writing reviews and a part of the community.”
- “Every time we do one of these GK events there is just a good vibe.”
- “The most active pages on Greenskeeper.org get 1,000’s of views a month.”
- “When a golf course is being authentic and thankful, golfers will see that as that’s how they treat their customers.”
- “Just saying thank you can make all the difference in the world for a golf course.”
- “It boils down to word of mouth. That’s what drive most business.”
- “Golf courses need to take their online presence seriously.”
- “They are getting the pants beat off of them by the wholesalers and they weren’t identifying that there customers were going online.”
- “The golfing industry is way behind the times when it comes to their online presence.”
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