In November this year, Nevada Bob’s Colchester will celebrate a staggering 25 years since they first open their doors to golf enthusiasts in Essex. In an unpredictable economic climate where 20% of small businesses fail within their first year and 70% closing up shop in their tenth year in business, it’s quite a feat for a specialist golf bricks and mortar store to not only stand the test of time, but continue to thrive in 2019.
The franchise of ‘Nevada Bob’s’ was already well established over in the United States before a group of investors saw an opportunity to bring the concept to Europe. Joining the European franchise team in 1992 was Nevada Bob’s Colchester’s owner, Phil Smith.
After being made Director of Franchising, Phil established a remarkable network of over 60 Nevada Bob’s stores throughout the UK and Europe. The franchise itself had very clear objectives when it came to expanding its store estate which included the size of the given territory, the number of people within the territory, and of course, the number of golf courses and golfers in close proximity of the potential new store.
“During the early stages of development, we were advised by the USA that ‘stores breed stores’, so myself and the current serving Managing Director were asked to open a store in Colchester,” explains Phil Smith.
Colchester itself had all the right ingredients to be successful and also happened to be the closest area to where he lived. In 1994, Phil, along with his partner Sue and his team of passionate staff, opened Nevada Bob’s Colchester.
With the rapid demise of the golf industry and the Nevada Bob’s franchise itself, Phil left the head office set-up in 1992 to concentrate full-time on the Colchester branch. However, Phil’s efforts proved fruitful as of today his is the only Nevada Bob’s store left in England, with only a couple in Scotland and a handful in Portugal and Spain!
“In retail there are certain things you absolutely must do,” says Phil.
“Those include high-quality customer service, marketing to your target audience even in the toughest of times, the correct product at the right price and continuing to put money into the business to keep it going for when you believe the industry will come good again!”
During the inevitable ups and down of retail, Phil says that his knowledgeable and loyal staff were key to the consistency of the business. As well as himself and Sue, Nevada Bob’s Colchester also has a solid team of 3 others, Andrew, Jon and Andy, whom have all been in the business for more than 19 years each and now have a share in the business themselves.
“Our top priority is simple. Be honest when you’re selling and give the customer what is right for their individual needs,” confidently says Sue.
So, in 25 years of business, what has been the biggest change over the years? Phil states that the customisation of golf equipment to ensure it is correctly made for each individual has been increasingly popular, and to keep up with demand, Nevada Bob’s Colchester successfully introduced a ball tracking machine, called SkyTrak, into their driving bay in 2015 to be able to offer the service in Essex.
Along with this big change within the market, Phil also notes that marketing has truly evolved since 1992! He remarks that, “In the old days if you wanted to communicate with your customers about an event or product it could take days or even weeks to prepare, and then you would release it and simply hope that your audience would hear about it from the media that day. With only 4% of the UK population playing golf, that was quite difficult!”
However, now with over 3,000 Facebook ‘Likes’ and a healthy email database, Phil and his team are now not just able to communicate offers and events, but also have an open dialogue with his community about the sport.
At the age of 62, Phil admits that he no longer works full-time at Nevada Bob’s Colchester but he has seen his dedicated and trusted team rise to the challenge and believes that there are still several innovations that will come to ensure the business keeps growing for, hopefully, another 25 years!
In celebration of 25 years of Nevada Bob’s Colchester, Phil and his team will be hosting a week-long event between 15th November – 24th November, full of prize giveaways, discounts and competitions.
Find out more about the celebrations over on the Nevada Bob’ Colchester Facebook Page.