Strategies to Improve Your Business: Providing Good Customer Service at Mini-Golf and Driving Range Facilities

April 20, 2011

Mini-golf and driving range facilities have a lot of innate appeal, but with so many available places to play, smart owners and managers must go the extra mile to ensure that their operations remain at the top of customers’ list. Offering top-notch customer service helps to get the job done. Patrons’ attitude today is, “‘Why should I spend my money at a place that doesn’t have great customer service, if there’s another place with the same attractions close by that does provide it?’ ” said Connie Kautza, of National Rock & Sculpture. “It is a real business differentiator.”

One key component of high-caliber customer service centers on adopting a philosophy wherein mini-golf and driving range patrons are treated as one would a guest in one’s own home. “It’s is how the major theme parks, such as Disney, run, and while you obviously aren’t going to be able to wow people with the same attractions these parks have, you can impress them in this manner,” stated Christopher Foster, of Cost of Wisconsin.

George Ethridge, owner of Golf Shores Fun Center in Corydon, Ind., and his staff carefully observe visitors as they experience the facility’s mini-golf course and arcade. Guests who do not appear to be having fun—for example, because they may have selected the wrong size club—are approached by Ethridge or his employees to see what might be done to rectify the problem. Employees are also required to ask customers what they can do to solve difficulties or compensate them for their trouble should issues be brought to their attention. Dissatisfied guests are never told what cannot be done for them, but rather, what can, the operator stated.

Similarly, at Rocky Gorge Mini-Golf & Batting Cage in Laurel, Md., employees do not address complaints or remarks about long waits at individual holes on the mini-golf course when one or more large parties are engaged in a game by telling customers they must wait their turn. Instead, guests are informed, either when they let an employee know about their dissatisfaction or before entering the course, that they may skip to the next hole if it is not busy and then circle back to complete their turn at the previous hole.

Little “perks” constitute another element of good customer service at mini-golf and driving range facilities, Foster observed. Lori Andrews, who with her family owns Seekonk Driving Range, in Seekonk, Mich., agreed. She said the facility touts a wide range of “perks,” including free mini-golf “replays” (second rounds) for $3. Drivers and irons for the driving range are provided to guests free of charge, as is the use of a natural grass driving practice area. Seekonk Driving Range also features batting cages; bat and helmet rental are complimentary.

Musqueam Golf  in Vancouver, British Columbia takes a related tack by holding an annual “Customer Appreciation Day.” This year’s event will feature free golf and mini-golf throughout the day. There will be no charge for the use of balls on the driving range from 9 a.m. until noon. Snacks and treats will be served as well.

But while the treatment patrons receive at mini-golf and driving range facilities ranks as a key element of proper customer service, maintenance of the grounds is critical, too, said Arne Lundmark of Adventure Golf Services. “Lack of maintenance will be a turnoff,” he observed.

Jane Farrell of Jane Farrell Turf & Carpets, always advises operators to follow set daily, weekly, and bi-monthly categories, as well as to document procedures for specific problems. She advocated removing loose debris from the course carpet daily, using a standard vacuum cleaner on the fairway, but only a vacuum without a beater bar for the rough and bunker carpet. Large chunks of dirt and other large debris, she said, should be swept away or hosed off once per week, and a rinse of the carpet with a garden hose should occur monthly.

Meanwhile, Kautza suggested that dirt also be removed from sculptures at least every few days and more frequently if possible. Removing bird debris is even more important, she said, because if left to dry “for days on end,” it not only damages the sculptures, but “looks truly awful.”

“As elementary as it sounds, it is also super-important to pick up trash as many times a day as necessary to keep the course and the grounds entirely free of litter, as well as to make it as easy as possible for guests to throw away their garbage,” Foster said.

Holes & Knolls in Glen Ellyn, Ill., takes the latter to the extreme, in a good way. Customers can find a trash receptacle at every hole of the mini-golf course. Receptacles are emptied several times a day.

“We have to keep our (operation) clean daily, and sometimes many times a day,” concurred John Snyder, manager of  Putt Putt Golf Games-Go Carts in Fort Wayne, Ind. “Every day we walk the (miniature golf) courses, pick weeds, check the sound system, and remove the trash,  Snyder said. “It is all” in the name of quality customer service.

Industry News

Slide the Amazon on Six Flags America’s new Zoomazon Falls: Maryland’s Best Theme Park Announces 2011 Attractions

Maryland’s best theme and water park just got better, faster, more spectacular, and wetter as Six Flags America and Hurricane Harbor pulls back the rainforest canopy to introduce Zoomazon Falls and opens the curtains on four sensational new shows.

This summer at Hurricane Harbor waterpark, guests leave the inner tubes behind as they climb to the top of an Amazonian-themed forest at Zoomazon Falls. There, they’ll take in a spectacular view before choosing their descent path on one of four, twisting, turning, body slides, each enhanced by waterfalls, tropical décor, jungle soundtracks and more.  Zoomazon Falls features more than a half-mile of wild, watery excitement.  

Zoomazon Falls joins 15 “splash-tastic” water attractions at Hurricane Harbor, including Hurricane Bay, one of the world’s largest wave pools, the six-story funnel of fun Tornado, and two areas for little splashers: Crocodile Cal’s Caribbean Beach House and Buccaneer Beach. In 2010, Six Flags America upgraded the 70,000-square-foot pool deck and added shading around Hurricane Bay, plus introduced a new daily song and dance show to create a resort-style oasis for its guests.

This newly-announced slide project marks the latest addition to Maryland’s best theme park for the 2011 season. Six Flags America also announces four new stage spectaculars coming this season: Survivor Live!; Bob the Builder ™ Live at Six Flags America;        Turn Up the Heat; and the Blundering Buccaneers Stunt Show.

“We are pleased to give our guests even more thrills this summer at Six Flags America and Hurricane Harbor as we introduce Zoomazon Falls and four brand new shows,” said John Winkler, Six Flags America’s park president. “We’ve made a commitment to the Baltimore and Washington, DC region to continue to expand our entertainment offerings and make Six Flags America and Hurricane Harbor the best place to spend the summer. This year’s new additions further that momentum.”

Feeling Lucky? Get in the Lucky Zone from Coast to Coast Shipping Now

Don’t delay, send your orders today. Coast to Coast is excited to announce that the new Lucky Zone ticket redemption game is shipping now.

Lucky Zone is a simple to play redemption game. So simple, it doesn’t need instructions. Simply drop a coin in and it spins around the vortex and then lands onto another spinning wheel below. The game is designed with attractions like bright lights and bright colors, as well as music.  Features coin in, tickets out play, adjustable pay tables, and pays out big bonus with jackpot settings.  It’s easy to install and easy to play.

This interactive game play appeals to players of all ages. A card-swipe version is also available, making this game perfect for any location from family entertainment centers to street locations.

Betson Enterprises Enjoys Successful Amusement Expo 2011

The Amusement Expo has now become one of the industry’s most recognized and anticipated shows of the year. The show attracted visitors from all over the United States, Mexico and Canada hoping to see the newest and hottest coin-op amusement, music and redemption products for 2011.

Betson Enterprises was ready and waiting to unveil some of the leading video and redemption games available at this year’s show. The Betson booth offered a varied mix of titles from leading designers such as Raw Thrills™, Play Mechanix™, Chicago Gaming Company and Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc.

Located inside the booth were games such as the Wheel of Fortune®. A standout in any location, Wheel of Fortune® offers the glamour and appeal of the mega-hit TV game show of the same name. This title features a 32-inch Hi-Def touch screen LCD panel with real life graphics and a 36-inch fully replicated eye-catching wheel making this game perfect for any age group.

In the middle of the booth was Big Buck World®, the newest video arcade shooter from Play Mechanix™. This new game takes the top shooting series to a new level by combining Big Buck Safari® and Big Buck Hunter Pro Open Season® into one product. Big Buck World® is available in a dedicated 42-inch LCD deluxe model, a 27-inch standard model and a 120-inch super deluxe model. Additionally, software upgrade kits are available for every configuration of Big Buck Hunter Pro®, Open Season® and Big Buck Safari®.

On the main aisle side of the booth were two of the newly released drivers from Raw Thrills™, Super Bikes 2™ flanked by Fast & Furious™ Super Cars™. Super Bikes 2™, the highly anticipated motorcycle driving game featuring a totally redesigned bright yellow cabinet with a stunning 42-inch LCD panel for in-your-face Hi-Def graphics, plus strategically placed LED lights for the most exciting ride of your life. Choose from 11 new challenging race courses, eight original Fast & Furious Super Bikes™ courses, 12 new super charged bikes and nine new awesome riders. Fast & Furious™ Super Cars™ the latest driver delivers more racing action than any other racing game in the history of Coin-Op. A new 32-inch or 42-inch cabinet design gives this game a foot print that can fit almost anywhere video games are operated. This new game is also the first Raw Thrills™ car driver to utilize a 32-inch LCD panel to show off its Hi-Def graphics package. The game boasts 27 different race courses, 10 new super cars, new tricks and new stunts. Both drivers are perfect for head-to-head competition.

The line-up of amazing video games continued with the popular series Terminator Salvation™ from Play Mechanix™ offering a 32-inch standard and 42-inch deluxe model, which received the operator’s choice of the year award. This high-earning arcade shooter captures all of the thrills and excitement of the mega-hit movie and then some. Whether it is on a 42-inch LCD, 32-inch LCD or a huge 6-foot-by-8-foot projection screen; players are thrust in the firing line as droves of T-600 robots attempt to thwart their resistance.

Also at the show was DDRX2 by Konami Digital Entertainment. Over 400 songs and 70 new licensed hits are packed into this newest addition to the Dance Dance Revolution family. DDRX2 features a new easier song select menu, “Happy Mode” for novice players and “PRO Mode” for hardcore players that will allow them to customize their game experience to their skill set.

DDRX2 was positioned alongside of Chicago Gaming Company’s current earner GalacTix™. A compact six station spaceship themed arcade redemption game that features a truly unique blend of video game play with the skill of a quick coin arcade redemption game that challenges players to launch a missile with the hope of hitting the alien mothership. A revolving universe full of obstacles such as spacecrafts and asteroids, adds to the fun and excitement of the highly addictive gameplay. Rounding out the line-up was the newest release from Chicago Gaming, World Tour Tickets. The Rock-N-Roll star spinner features a bright long lasting LED display, a compact footprint, dynamic sound system, 4000-ticket capacity and is card swipe capable. This new game will attract customers as the players try to stop the out-of-control guitar player on the highest point value or the jackpot.   

Betson would like to extend its appreciation to everyone that stopped by the booth and helped make this year’s show a total success. Mark your calendars for next year’s show.

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