Lahinch Golfclub & Ballyneety Driving Range
Donal McSweeney is the owner of the Ballyneety driving range in the city of Limerick, Ireland. On top of that, he’s also the PGA professional at the famous Lahinch Golf Club. In 2017, he decided to start using ProAgenda for both locations. The online booking system has turned out to be the ultimate time-saving mechanism.
Donal grew up next to the golf club and since his parents played golf, it left him no other option than to play the game himself. When he finished school, he moved to London to attend a golf college and after that, he decided to go pro in Ireland at the Ballyneety Driving Range. He took over the venue from the former head professional 20 years ago and purchased the range approx. 10 years ago.
Because of the very poor weather conditions in the winter and the strong winds in Ireland, Lahinch decided to build a new state-of-the-art indoor teaching facility. Being a Top 50 golf course in the world, Lahinch is a very busy golf resort and they wanted it to be the best it could be. Being involved in the development of this facility has been a great (and challenging) experience for Donal.
With all facilities in place, the question of who will book in clients arose: “I’m too busy and we don’t have a receptionist. Hence we started using ProAgenda. If a client wants a lesson or custom fit or to use the members’ simulator, they have to book online. 99% of the members book online. Of course, some of them, especially the elderly, had some difficulty in the beginning but were set up with a little bit of help.”
Starting with an online booking system can be a big transition for some of the pros as it requires a change in the style of communication. Donal experienced a successful transition in one place and a more slow transition in the other: “We did it right at Lahinch and wrong at Ballyneety. At Ballyneety we held the clients’ hands and sometimes still are. They are used to booking their next lesson after a session by going back into the shop. The clients were accustomed to this service. I still sometimes hear some pros on the phone with their clients saying, “I can’t do Thursday, what about Wednesday, what about this, what about that…” This can be a real time-wasting exercise”.
“At Lahinch, we don’t have the capacity to be answering phones and providing the coaching service at the same time. The members have to book online if they want to enter the Academy. If set up like this, an online booking system is the ultimate time-saving mechanism and works for both the golfer and the pros. It’s especially useful during the holiday season when I’m exceptionally busy. I’m more efficient with my time and most importantly with my time off, so I can manage my life.”
We asked Donal what advice he would give to people who are hesitant to start with an online booking system because they feel they lose the flexibility in their own agenda: “Getting stressed trying to manage all of the demands of the general pro shop is difficult. It is a time management thing. You’re offering members the option to book online and nowadays people really want this. It increases the quality of your time teaching your clients. Your customers demand something, they want to have a lesson on their time, but with the booking system, they need to adjust to your lifestyle. I’m setting the times that they can book in. I set my time and I do what suits me. Customers will adjust to your schedule. In the long run, they are the customers that you need.”