My Final Week: Evaluating My Experience at Forest Akers

Last week was my tenth and final week of my internship experience at Forest Akers Golf Course. It was a valuable learning opportunity and I gained a lot of great exposure from many departments within Forest Akers’ operations. Having an increased perspective of what it takes to run a business is something that I value greatly and will carry forward into my professional career.

Steve and I sat down and went into detail discussing my experience at the golf course. We reviewed each different department of their operations that I was able to learn from and discussed the value each component presented. The several different areas I gained exposure from include: Retail – both East and West pro shops, snack shop operations, compliance standards – particularly with chemicals and materials protocol, training and hiring manuals, master marketing schedule, bookkeeping and reconciliations, purchasing functions, course maintenance, and budgeting – profit/loss statements.

Looking back on the experience, I really found great learning value from the master marketing schedule. It was interesting to see how many different components are involved in creating the ideal marketing plan that is most effective and cost-efficient. I actually played an important role with this experience when Steve and I actually broke down the numbers and analytically decided which marketing functions were most effective last year and planned more future investments in those functions, while lessening certain marketing functions that were not yielding the same results.

I’ve been around golf courses for a good chunk of my young lifetime. I have worked at golf courses since I was 13 years old and I learned more than I had imagined by seeing all the interrelating parts come together with Forest Akers business exposure.

I enjoyed my time at the course and plan on using my experience as an advantage in my professional career which is soon to come.

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Week 9: Retail Purchasing Functions

This past Friday I was able to learn a great deal about buying at Forest Akers, as well as at other Michigan State retail operations. Steve Ruthenberg assigned me to follow a lady named Stephanie Benkert. She is the retail buyer for Forest Akers Golf Course, the Kellogg Center gift shop, indoor tennis facility, the Union, as well as caps & gowns. Once I became acquainted with Mrs. Benkert, she took me with her to meet with a salesman with Sunice golf apparel to discuss doing new business and stocking the Forest Akers’ shelves with new products. She expressed her biggest challenge with her job being licensing regulations and rules with the University. The licensing of MSU logos and accounts with large companies is mandatory and helps pay for scholarships and university athletic costs. She also faces constant pressure with color options when buying apparel that will be licensed with Michigan State University. She is very limited with the number of greens she can use. The university pressures her to go for forest green apparel options, but when meeting with Sunice, many of the green options were slightly off colors and there is only so much she can get away with in that regard. The items she was considering buying from Sunice ranged from about $50-$150 wholesale price. The quality factors she looks for are stitching, embroidery, and collar strength. Like any business function, innovation plays a key role. Stephanie wants to keep her retail buying decisions in line with market trends and innovative products. Sunice presented some great apparel with innovative technology designs targeted towards warmth, breathability, and waterproofing. Lastly, Stephanie told the salesman she will have to do research with pricing decisions, as well as looking at other companies and assessing licensing fees. She mentioned the need to be licensed with the Fair Trade Labor Association in order to get cleared with licensing requirements. Once she has met all the required fields, she will move forward to making an order.

Week 8: Bookkeeping

This past week at I had the opportunity to learn some valuable information from Forest Akers’ Golf Course bookkeeper, Dwight Jacques. Dwight took me through his essential job duties as a bookkeeper and expressed his input on the nature of bookkeeping and handling cash with a large-scale business like the golf course.

The first thing Dwight does is open and print shift closing reports by accessing the Fairways program. Each report shows each part of operations cash & credit card sales from both the East and West courses. Then he needs to correlate incoming cash and enter it into the spreadsheet to set up financial information for others to use and process when necessary. Dwight was very personable and enjoyed some of the slang he used to describe his job functions. He said to start off: look for “what happened.” This implicates that he is looking for cash overage or shortages. He then proceeds to open the course’s excel document called, “the books.” The books document is refreshed each month and each day Dwight enters total sales amounts for both courses, as well as tax collected. He told me about the two taxes they deal with. The first is the obvious 6% sales tax we are all familiar with; the second is use tax. Use tax is for cart rental, usage fees, unassociated business tax. Collecting use tax is vital because a percentage comes back depending on rounds played collegiate, recreationally, U-Club members, etc.

A part of the books is keeping track of how many rounds are played. This past week numbers were down because of colder weather. Additionally, he records cart sales (rentals), food sales (1/2 of operations), pro shop sales (East & West), range sales. Once Dwight entered all the financial information and everything checked up and cleared, he would say “and everything is right in the world.” Needless to say, I enjoyed the way he was able to describe things to me.

Lastly was cash verification with cashiers. Each cashier starts with $200 at the beginning of a shift. The shift closing report showed total cash and total credit card sales. Once that was cleared he has to submit all sales tax with the university. He sends a deposit to the university by going to EBS support (MSU’s electronic accounting system). Once the report is finalized and submitted, he has a bag which he places cash into which then travels with an armored truck to the university.

Learning about bookkeeping was a great learning experience and I am grateful to have had Dwight show me through how he does his job.

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