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Chapter Two

The Room Defined

          A shoe room is a small room or enclave set aside for the cleaning, care, and storage of club members' shoes. And in most cases, the care of outside players' and guests' shoes as well.
          The room at a resort course may house a fleet of up to 60 pairs of rental golf shoes, as well as a number of products and tools that allow shoes to be shined, respiked, stretched, repaired and dyed.
          Since most all shoe rooms care for at least as many golf shoes as street shoes, a room is often equipped with a drill or preferably a SPIKEMASTER and several types of spikes-mostly softspikes these days-so that worn spikes can be quickly replaced.
          In addition, the good steward does not only street and golf shoes, but all manner of boots and athletic shoes as well. The room, then, can be a hub of activity at the height of the season. That's winter in the southwestern United States when "snowbirds" come west to play golf, and summer in mid western and eastern climates. And finally, year round in other areas such as the southeast. No matter where a country club is situated, having a capable shoe steward on hand is a must.

The Shoe Room in Arizona

          Shoe rooms in Arizona vary in size and function as much as the individuals running them. Rooms at older more established private clubs, such as the Phoenix Country Club, have rooms that are located in the men's locker room and serve hundreds of members year round. Rooms at smaller facilities that do not have a membership base, such as the public Sunridge Canyon, serve only the golfing community during the winter season, and will see far less business in the heat of summer.

          Rooms at larger clubs are bigger, can provide enough work space for several stewards, and often includes a fleet of rental golf shoes. And if a club is private, the steward may have a small fleet of shoes that can be used by members and guests. These are usually pairs that are given to the steward by members or were put in lost and found and never claimed. Smaller clubs have shoe rooms that are often no bigger than a closet, barely allow enough space for all the necessary supplies and equipment, and may keep a couple pairs of used golf shoes on hand for forgetful golfers.

          Still other clubs-public, semi-private and private-may decide to add a shoe room as an afterthought. As a result, they may offer makeshift shoe care utilizing an empty corner of the locker room, pro shop, or bag storage area. In a situation like this, there may not be a shoe steward. Instead, outside service staff, often self-taught, shine shoes for the few players that request it.

Earning Potential

          Whether you are a Director of Golf, a Head Pro, or a Developer building a club house facility and trying to determine if a shoe room should be included in the floor plans, money is the prime consideration. No matter your role within the club or course, there are a few questions that need to be answered before deciding to provide shoe services. Such as: Is adequate space available at the club for a shoe room? Is having a shoe room going to enhance the atmosphere of the club? Is having a shoe steward on staff going to bring in extra customers? Can the steward pay for himself? These are just a few of the questions that must be addressed. The last two are usually the most important because they contribute directly to the bottom line.

          While there is no basic formula to compute annual or even seasonal earnings, there are factors that, if present, determine just how well a shoe room can do at a given club or resort. Some have to do with the location of the club itself. For instance, if a semi-private club is in the middle of a major metropolitan area, a large number of people are apt to frequent the facility. On the contrary, if the course is off the beaten path geographically, the club may see far less traffic.

          Another important factor that affects earning potential is the location of the shoe room and aesthetics. If the shoe room is spacious, well stocked and in a location that is easy to access by both male and female members, it will probably do better than if it is stuck off in an isolated corner of the club house or bag room.

          Still other factors that affect earning potential have to do with the level of shoe care services. Get a steward in that is good with people, a consummate professional when it comes to shoe care, and you'll not only have members beating a path to the shoe room, but guests will want to take advantage of the services every time they visit the club. And it goes without saying that if the steward has no idea what he's doing and has poor interpersonal skills, he'll drive away customers-members and guests.

          Although I pointed out that some consideration is necessary when deciding whether or not shoe services should be provided, the fact is that if you want to give your members the best a country club can offer-especially a private one-shoe services are a necessary part of the formula. And if it's done right, the steward and his skills can add a great deal of prestige and validity to the country club experience.

Factors that Determine Income

          Besides those factors mentioned above, there are other elements-in this case customer groups-that will determine how well the steward can do. The more of these groups that the steward can pull in, the better he and the club will do.

           CLUB MEMBERS The size of a club's membership is the most important factor when it comes to the steward's or club's income from the shoe room. The obvious reason is that members frequent the course more than any one and they can be charged monthly for shoe care. This is most often done at semi-private clubs, although private ones have been known to charge a monthly or even annual fee. If a club boasts 300 members, and of that number 80 use the shoe services, the steward or his club can earn a solid monthly income from shoe care. However, it should be noted that the amount earned via the shoe club often fluctuates, especially in Arizona. Obviously the steward in Arizona would take home more money in the wintertime when more members are in town and outside play is heavy, and far less after the sweltering heat of summer arrives. However, at clubs with only a summer season, there are just 2-4 months in which money can be made by the club/steward. And there are variations on this theme depending on where a country club is located.

           OUTSIDE PLAYERS -If the steward is able to service outside players at the club where he works he can add another dimension to his income. Should the golf course(s) allow outside play and/or corporate groups to use the facilities, it is likely that the steward will be busy shining bunches of street and golf shoes. The steward can also pull in business from golfers that do not have shoe services at their clubs. This is most often the case at semi-private clubs.

           HOTEL GUESTS -A hotel on the premises or near the golf course where shoe services are offered can add even more income to the club and steward. Corporate groups often stay in a resort hotel and book the golf courses for their guests. Again, the steward can benefit because executives are used to maintaining a polished image, and that includes their golf and street shoes. The existence of a hotel, then, adds a great deal of business to the shoe room-especially if it has a golf package linking a hotel stay with the use of the golf course(s). However, if the hotel has a complimentary shoe service, a shoe room can actually lose business as a result.

           BUSINESSMEN -Having office complexes in the area near the golf course can account for a good percentage of a steward's/club's income. If the room's services are advertised and there is a restaurant on the premises as well, executives will drop in to have their shoes shined as they wait. Or they will eat lunch in their socks and pick their shoes up after they're done. Semi-private clubs benefit most from having office complexes in the area and for obvious reasons.

Private, Semi-private, or Public

          Intertwined like cords of a rope with the groups a room will serve-and its resultant financial success-is the particular designation of the club.....


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