True Spec Golf
President & COO
Interview with Matt Ward
Ryan Richardson lives in Scottsdale, AZ, home of True Spec Headquarters with his wife, Brittney, and two stepchildren, Tristan (10) and Ashton (8). He has 21 years of experience in the golf industry with the last 11 specializing in custom club fitting and building. His hobbies include golfing, boating, and all things sports.
THE RICHARDSON STORY —
I moved around a lot growing up, but whether it was in TX, TN, OK, or FL, my dad was always the Head Pro/GM and my mom was the Membership Director. My school bus would actually drop me off at the golf course every afternoon. From an early age, I knew golf would always be part of my life.
In the mid-2000s, I did everything from playing in mini-tour events to working as an assistant golf professional. I ended up herniating a disc in my back, forcing me to stop playing competitively. I turned my focus on to teaching and spent a year working at the IJGA on Hilton Head. During my time there, I realized how much I love using technology to help people play better golf.
In 2007, I moved back to my hometown, Naples, FL, to be closer to my family. The next year, my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and passed away 6 months later. During those tough times, I realized how short life really is. Instead of going the “safe” route and continuing my PGA education, I joined a start-up custom club fitting business and grew it from a single location in FL to 11 locations in just 5 years. I joined True Spec in 2015 and worked my way from an affiliate owner, to a VP in 2017, and ultimately, was named President in May of 2020.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
Helping people. I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can do this through another lifetime passion of mine, golf, and help clients and employees alike.
Given the impact of the global pandemic — how has True Spec fared this year and what key lessons have been learned?
True Spec is in a really good place going into 2021. With the support of 8AM Golf behind us, we’ve been able to prioritize expanding our digital footprint to meet the demand for content from a surge of new golfers, younger golfers and tech-savvy golfers. Our podcast, “Fully Equipped”, is a perfect example of how we have worked with media partners like GOLF to become a prominent information source of golf equipment knowledge over the past year.
What separates True Spec from your key competitors?
Our entire business model is dedicated to offering a premium customer experience. Whether the fitting takes place indoors at one of our luxury retail spaces or outdoors at one of our high-end green grass facilities, we created True Spec to be a truly premium fitting experience that’s unlike anything else in the space.
Our Master Builders are able to build clubs to the tightest tolerances specified in our central 25,000 sq ft build shop. Our customers know that every club shipped to their home is built to the exact specifications they tried in a True Spec studio and arrive in less time than any others.
Who is your customer?
Anyone who enjoys playing golf and wants to optimize their equipment to play better, regardless of skill level. Whether they are getting fit for the first time and expecting an instant impact on their game, or a low handicap looking to shave off a single stroke over a round, golfers come to True Spec because they know our Master Fitters have the pedigree, training and technology to find the optimal equipment for their game.
In what specific ways does True Spec market itself so prospective customers are aware of your efforts?
While we do traditional advertising online and in major publications like GOLF Magazine, our top referral source continues to be word of mouth, which speaks volumes for how much our customers love their experience.
Customer service is routinely mentioned by all types of companies. Define the term and the approach followed at True Spec?
We can fit and build golf clubs better than everyone in the industry but without the best customer service, none of it would matter. We become a concierge to our clients, providing 18 touch points to customers from the time they first make a reservation to a year later following the fitting. Every customer deserves the same level of service and expertise that our professional ambassadors on tour receive and we’ve invested a lot of resources into delivering on that promise.
What role does customer feedback play in your operations and can you highlight one such contribution that changed your approach when dealing with those coming to True Spec?
Our customer feedback program at True Spec has played a critical role in explaining our success. While most companies strictly capture feedback about their product or experience right on the heels of the transaction, from the very beginning, we’ve made a point to reach out to customers again — once they’ve had time to play with their new clubs — to fairly assess the entire True Spec experience. We think it is important to evaluate the entire customer journey to make sure that nothing is lost in translation.
Going the extra mile to understand what drives customer satisfaction at every stage of the fitting and fulfillment process is a big reason why so many of our clients become repeat customers. One recent example is how we’ve increased safety precautions at all of our True Spec locations during the Covid-19 pandemic. We’ve constantly evaluated feedback on the variety of social distancing measures to ensure that all of our customers feel safe coming to any of our venues while still maintaining the look and feel of a premium amenity.
If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally – what would it be and why?
The length of time it takes to play. It’s the number one thing I hear from friends why they don’t play more often.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
My pops was a lifetime PGA Member. Growing up, he instilled the five P’s. Prior planning prevents poor performance. I’ve taken that mentality from school to sports to business.
The biggest challenges facing True Spec — short and long term — is what?
Short term — Covid-19. The one aspect of golf that has been negatively affected is the OEM supply chain. The lead times on products that would normally take us 2-4 days to get, are sometimes taking months.
Long term, the challenge is to enhance the average golfer’s understanding of the data-driven fitting process. Once a customer has been fit by one of our Master Fitters they understand why their ability to interpret, and just as critically, explain swing data is so important.
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