The goose that lays golden eggs

The goose that lays golden eggs

The beverage cart pays for itself in the first month, and each month after that is pure profit, says GCI equipment columnist Paul Grayson. He discusses the supporting role this important piece of equipment plays in a succesful golf course.

Subscribe
October 20, 2015

The steamship business is a capital intensive business and the rule there is that the first cargo pays for the ship.  Every cargo after that is “pure profit”.  As it turns out there is a similar rule in the golf business.  The beverage cart pays for itself in the first month.  Every month after that is “pure profit”.  BevCarts typically create $1,000 a day each in sales for golf courses.  Drivers report they have occasionally had $5,000 days during special events.

The cash harvesting machine
Nicole Kallis, top BevCart earner and author of Secrets of a Tee Time Girl : Golfers, Scandals and The Beverage Cart, says “Golfers have money to spend on things they want or need while they are out on the course. Someone has to deliver it to them and collect the money that they are

offering”.  On average golfers spend $10.80 per round at the BevCart. Raising the average sale and number of sales is done by providing better service.  An inventory tailored to customer needs or wishes which changes with time of day, weather, and events going on is critical.  Having the right thing, at the right time, at the right place, when the customer wants it maximizes sales.

These cash harvesting machines were known as Beer Carts but the old name does not explain how they currently fit into the golf course’s comprehensive marketing mix.  Successful golf courses think of them now as Mobile Merchandising Units.  Some have gone as far to say that beer is the last thing you want to sell because it has the narrowest profit margin of all the things you could sell from a Mobile Merchandising Cart out on the course. 

The driver
In many states, as in Michigan there is relief available for the employer.  Michigan law allows employers to claim a tip credit, as long as they inform employees beforehand. In 2015, employers must pay tipped employees at least $3.10 an hour. This means that employers may take a tip credit of up to $5.05 an hour, as long as the employee makes at least $8.15 an hour with tips. 

With the driver working for tips, there is very little cost to the golf course.  This also means there is no upper limit to how much the driver can earn.  The better the driver is at the job of being the course’s greeter and good will ambassador the more they earn.  The more seasons the driver has been there, the more they earn each season.  The job of BevCart driver can be the highest paying job on the golf course (good for the employee), at practically no cost to the course (good for the course). 

Whenever a driver brings a cart to my shop for service or repair I think of my conversations with Nicole about what it is like being a BevCart driver and depending on tips for a living. While I don’t turn the speed up as high as they want, I do move it to high end of the safe range.  Besides the usual vehicle maintenance there is work that needs to be done on systems unique to the Mobile Merchandising Unit such as the canopy, extra strong suspension system, displays, ice chest, food warmer, sales & reservation terminal, Golf Navigation System, etc..

Attacting youth to golf
When golf courses are serious about attracting youth to golf, it shows in their BevCart fleet.  The drivers are kid friendly, the signage is fun and inviting, the inventory has items specifically for the youngest golfers and the kids are excited to see the BevCart approaching every two or three holes while they are playing. The kids might already know the BevCart driver; she may have babysat for them when she was a teenager.  The kids look forward to buying something each time they see the BevCart.  There is a huge opportunity here; young golfers have not yet purchased all the accessories and extra stuff that more seasoned golfers already have. 

Just think of how crazy kids get when an ice cream truck arrives in their neighborhood.  Young golfers can be that enthusiastic about meeting the BevCart out on the course every time it comes around if it is stocked with things for them to buy.  What does your BevCart fleet stock for them?  

Golf courses are not in competition with each other as much as they are in competition with every other thing that customers could be doing instead of golf, and there are a lot of those.  In business there are a lot of things that don’t work and a few that do work.  If you would like to share with me what worked and what didn’t at your course contact me at pgrayson@aimagic.org .