Do you want to start a golf cart company? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a golf cart service business with NO money and no experience.
Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample golf cart business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample golf cart marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for golf cart businesses. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting a golf cart business. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.
Table of Content
Why Start a Golf Cart Taxi Business?
A Golf Cart Business may be an offbeat decision to make, but a very lucrative one if you do it right. It is not a business you wake up one morning and decide to venture into. It is a business where one of the first things you have to bear in mind is the competition you will be having once you get started.
That is why it is necessary you find out the competition to see what they charge for their golf cart services. After you must have studied the competition, you can do something as simple as beating the lowest price of the other golf-cart businesses. You can also set yourself apart from the competition by picking up the golf carts and delivering them directly to your clients. This will save your clients driving time.
It is also important that you research your immediate area to ensure there is a market for a golf-cart business. If there is no golf course in your area, then clearly this business is not for you or rather not meant for that exact area. You have to find where the business is. Do not forget that you have to apply for a business license to run your golf cart business within your state.
You also have to secure enough capital to meet your monthly overhead expenses such as rent, insurance, storage, parts and supplies etc. Also make sure you acquire or employ individuals with experience in the golf-cart niche you plan to start.
Since there are gas-powered golf carts and electrical golf carts on the market, be sure that your workers are experienced enough to work on both in order to meet customer demands. Consider visiting some of the local golf courses, and pass out business cards or fliers to promote your new golf-cart business.
Starting a Golf Cart Taxi Business – A Complete Guide
- Industry Overview
According to industry reports, industry experts expect the global golf cart market to expand at a CAGR of 6.14% during the forecast period of 2016-2023. They expect the market to witness a robust growth due to the growing demand for electric golf cart for various end users such as hotels, resorts, residential apartments, commercial complexes and others.
Also note that due to the huge demand for eco-friendly products and surging prices of fuel, electric golf cart witnessed the highest market share of the global golf market. North America is expected to hold the highest market share of 56% in terms of revenue by the end of 2023.
The region’s dominance is attributed to the advancement in technology and rejuvenation of the golf industry in the U.S. Also, in North America, U.S. is expected to remain the most profitable market for existing and new players looking for business expansion or investment in electric LSV market.
Asia-Pacific is expected to be the second largest market due to the growing use of electric golf cart in other end use industry such as residential apartments, airports, malls and others. In Asia-Pacific, the highest demand is projected to come from Japan followed by China, Australia & India.
The growth in population and rise in globalization tend to boost the economy, which in turns impacts the purchasing power of individuals and improves the standard of living, nature of expenses, and mode of transportation. All these factors lead to innovation of hybrid and electric utility vehicles, thus fueling the demand for golf carts in the market.
Also note that the rise in the number of petrol/diesel-based vehicles has led to increase in global warming and other environment-related issues. Thus, increase in concern towards the environment fuels the adoption of gas, electric or solar golf carts. Have it in mind that the initial cost for a new golf cart is high, and regular investment on maintenance reduces revenue.
Starting a Golf Cart Taxi Business – Market Feasibility Research
- Demographics and Psychographics
Golf cart businesses undoubtedly play a key role in supplying the United States 17,000+ golf courses with electric and gas-powered golf cars. Reports have it that approximately 150,000 individual golf carts are sold each year, for combined annual sales of roughly $150 million.
The Demographics and Psychographics of this business are expanding beyond the golf course scene. It has moved into hotels, residential buildings, malls, resorts and commercial complexes. They are used to make movement easier and there are a lot of market options to explore here.
When planning to venture into this business, you need to be prepared to compete in an industry that is dominated by a handful of manufacturers. Note that to capture market share, new entrants to the marketplace will need to create business strategies and a specific market to exploit gaps in the cart industry. This business is ideal for anyone who enjoys golf and likes interacting with people.
List of Niche Ideas in the Golf Cart Business
Just like we stated above, this business is a lucrative enterprise if you plan and do everything right. You need to understand the industry and know how best your venture can capture a substantial market share. The major way to do that is by choosing a specific niche and focusing your resources.
You can choose to manufacture golf carts or even rent them. You can also decide to repair them or you can choose to supply them. It all depends on your expertise and the gap you find in the industry. Below are lucrative niches you can consider:
- Custom Golf Carts
Although golf clubs and courses are attractive customer acquisition targets, you can choose to start a business that sells customized carts to individuals. Custom carts can be adapted to include a range of features for on-road or off-road use as well as design characteristics like paint and decals.
- Non-Traditional Golf Cart Customers
Note that golf course transportation is just one of the many ways consumers use golf carts these days. But have it in mind that in so many retirement and gated communities, golf cars are the primary source of transportation. Likewise, hunters and nature enthusiasts use modified carts for transportation in the field. You can start a cart business that meets the needs of non-traditional customers — not just golfers.
- Leveraging Golf Cart Trends
According to industry reports, environmental pressures and other factors routinely influence trends in golf cart businesses. As a startup, it’s important you leverage current trends to differentiate your business from the rest of the field.
The Level of Competition in the Golf Cart Business
Golf cart are carts that are basically used to travel short distances, they can also be used in different location for different purposes such as resorts, hotels and retirement villages and others. Also note that these carts are used in airports and shopping malls to move luggage over short distance or inside a building.
Report has it that participation rate in golf game is rising due to growing personal disposable income of consumers and as well as changing life style. This game is considered as a luxurious game, therefore higher personal disposable income ensures that a greater number of people can afford to play golf.
Golf carts are available with various fuel inputs such as electric powered golf cart, gasoline powered golf cart and natural powered golf cart. Due to obvious reason of environmental pollution, electric golf cart is expected to be in high demand over the forecast period.
It is very important to state that the introduction of solar powered golf carts and growing inclination of end-user towards sustainable energy solutions, have increased industry competition and have also propelled the golf carts towards advanced and low maintenance electric golf carts.
Experts expect growing international tourism to foster the demand for golf electric LSV & carts in airports for luggage and passenger carrying purposes.
Golf equipment manufacturers are launching modern and customized golf carts and using advanced technologies, such as computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing for developing and modifying their product designs. Manufacturers are increasingly offering solar powered golf carts with high-end accessories, such as golf robots, launch monitors, and remote control capabilities.
List of Well known Golf Cart Businesses
- Garia Inc.
- Hitachi Chemical Co. Ltd
- Ingersoll Rand plc
- JH Global Services, Inc.
- Maini Materials Movement Pvt. Ltd.
- Suzhou Eagle Electric Vehicle Manufacturing Co. Ltd.
- Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc.
- X iamen Dalle Electric Car Co. Ltd.
- Yamaha Golf Car Company
Note that the demand for electric powered golf cart will increase in terms of value riding on the back of low maintenance requirement of solar powered golf carts. It is believed that these advancements will impact positively on the growth of the global golf cart market.
Also, the growing trend of golf sports and large scale application of golf carts in hospitality industry will heighten the demand for golf carts. It’s very crucial to state that Countries such as India, China, South Africa, Brazil, and South Korea have undergone rapid urbanization over the past decade.
With this swift rise of urbanization and industrialization, mall culture, hi-tech and smart housing projects, and amusement and theme parks are also expected to grow. All these developments are expected to drive demand for internal transportation to carry people and goods, thus creating significant demand for golf carts.
Experts believe that the rapid expansion of urbanization will help increase the number of state of the art residential societies with golf courses across the globe. Note that the growing number of golf courses in developing nations such as India, China is impacting positively on the growth of the golf cart market. Also urbanization is altering the lifestyle of the population and also creating awareness towards increasing fuel emissions.
The rising disposable income of the population is allowing them to spend more on commuting vehicles such as golf carts. But have it in mind that the presence of local manufacturers and lack of standards and regulations is leading the manufacturers to produce low-quality golf carts.
Starting a Golf Cart Business from Scratch or Buying a Franchise
It is understandable that entrepreneurs have a strong impulse to establish companies from the scratch. But a healthier and safer strategy may be to buy an existing golf cart business. Note that when you buy an existing company, you get a functional (and presumably profitable) company from day one.
And that’s not to buttress the fact that a franchise let’s you avoid the trial-and-error mistakes that are common in starting from the scratch. Indeed there are so many advantages of buying an existing golf carts business, the financial advantages rank near the top of the list. At a minimum, it’s worth exploring the financial benefits of buying a business to get an established customer base.
Also a franchise has documented assets and earnings – a big advantage with lenders and investors. Have it in mind that your chances of succeeding in your new business are greatly increased if you go the franchising route rather than going it alone. When planning to start a golf cart business, consider going down the franchise route because it will do you better than harm.
Possible Threats and Challenges of Starting a Golf Cart Business
It takes more than just funds and industry expertise to run and manage a business to success; it takes courage, discipline and adequate data. Have it in mind that every business comes with its own challenges but you can do well if you research the industry carefully and employ the best hands. Possible threats of starting this business may include;
- Dealing with negative people, loneliness and self-doubt
- Building a reputation
- Finding costumers
- Dealing with the stress of not having a steady pay check
- Managing your money, legal protection and taxes
- Hiring employees
- Fighting competition
- Deciding to be a repairer or a manufacturer
- Capital and financing your business
Starting a Golf Cart Taxi Business – Legal Aspect
- Best legal entity for a golf cart business
There are basically four legal structures you can choose from in the United States; sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or a corporation. But have it in mind that every one of those legal entities has its own advantages and disadvantages.
When starting a golf cart business, the LLC is the best legal entity. An LLC is a “pass through” tax entity. It simply means that the LLC itself does not pay tax; you pay tax on the profits you receive. Note that the trick to reducing your tax liability is two-fold: start an LLC but tax it as an S-Corporation.
Then you pay yourself a small but reasonable monthly salary and once per quarter you can take out a chunk of the profits as a distribution. Also note that you will pay standard tax on your monthly salary but the quarterly S-Corporation distribution is not looked at as employee wages so you will not have to pay social security or Medicare tax on this distribution amount.
Catchy Business Name ideas for a Golf cart Business
- Golf Automotive
- Westwood Service
- Clean Imports
- Professional engine services
- Golf course Automotive
- Cool Pro Service
- Skyline carts
- The Craig shop
- Advance Carts
- Affordable cart repairs
- Engine shot
- Soft rides
- Red Ridge
- Cascades machines
- Forefront engines
- Everyday cart
- Machine experts
- One time
- Integrity First carts
In this business, with just a single mistake in your work, you might completely ruin your clients carts or your cart might be the cause of an injury– and that could quickly escalate into a lawsuit against your business. Also, if the carts are further damaged while in your care, you could be liable for those costs as well.
That is one of the few reasons why insurance is needed in this business. You need insurance to protect your business from the high cost of liability lawsuits, property damage, and cyber risks; you need a business protection plan that accounts for the nuances in your daily operations.
- General liability insurance
- Errors and omissions insurance
- Business owners policies
- Bailee’s coverage
- Workers compensation insurance
- Workman’s Comp Case Study
- Employer’s liability insurance
- Fidelity bonds
- Employment Practices Liability Insurance
- EPLI policy
Intellectual Property Protection
You need to understand that employees, especially those in the manufacturing and repair business, routinely transfer company data to the cloud through personal emails and on to their flash drives, as part of the day to day execution of their jobs, and then might forget to totally delete the data off their systems.
Also employees even with their non-disclosure agreements feel the creative works performed on behalf of their employers are their brainchild and property. For these and so many more are the reasons why intellectual property protection is required in the golf cart manufacturing or repair business.
Also for your business not to lose your valuable works and time, it’s advisable you implement and reinforce non-disclosure and non-compete agreements, use forensic techniques to monitor your network, maintain privacy and security through key word phrases, and develop a concrete relationship with a digital forensics investigator.
Do not give clients permission to reallocate equipment or information without making a forensic copy and don’t allow your workers use personal flash drives.
Is Professional Certification Needed to Run a Golf Cart Taxi Business?
Professional certifications shouldn’t be neglected or taken for granted. These certifications show your level of credibility in the industry. It’s advisable that you take your time to research the industry and find out relevant certifications and associations that will boost your brand.
Golf carts are classified as small engines, these small engines now are highly advanced and it takes good technical knowledge to work on them. These certification programs may include;
- Associate in Applied Science in Powersports and small engines repair
- Technical Certificate in Marine and small Engine repairs
- Small engine repair Certification
- Small Engine Technician Certification
- Certified 4-Stroke Engine Technician
Legal Documents Needed for a Golf Cart Business
To some extent the niche you choose in this industry will indicate the key documents you need to run your venture. But there are still general documents all golf cart related businesses should hold. Every of those documents need your time, energy and paperwork.
Give it maximum attention and acquire all of them duly. Do not risk your business shutting down due to incomplete papers and documents. Starting your business without the proper licensing is a criminal offense in some states, while others hand out hefty fines. Here are some legal documents needed for a Golf cart business.
- Business license
- VAT registration
- Employment agreement
- Federal tax identification number
Financing your Golf Cart Business
Funding is essential to the life and success of every business. Any business that lacks funding is literally dead until it can access reasonable funds. One of the key problems faced by entrepreneurs is not choosing a business niche but the capital and funding for the business.
In the golf cart business, you need funds to buy tools, rent offices and utilities, pay employees, and also market your business. Possible ways to raise fund for your golf cart business include…
- Personal savings
- Loans from friends and family
- Small business loan
- Attract investors
- Bank overdrafts
- Community schemes
Choosing a Suitable Location for your Golf Cart Taxi Business
The location you choose for your golf cart business will have a direct effect on your operation’s costs as well as your ability to reach and serve customers (and therefore your revenues). You should understand that once a location decision has been made, they are difficult and costly to undo.
A suitable location for your golf cart business should be close to a golf course. You should also consider locating your business around similar businesses that are already drawing the type of customers that you want; like starting your golf cart business beside a shop that sells golf cart accessories.
Do not forget to consider a location where you can easily afford its rent. Also have it in mind that the location that you choose needs to be legally acceptable for whatever you plan to do there. Note that there are locations that are for specific enterprises. If it’s not zoned for what you plan to do, you’re asking for trouble. Never sign a lease without being sure you’ll be permitted to operate your business in that space.
It is the job of your city planning or zoning board to decide what activities are permissible in a given location. If your zoning board has a problem with any of your business activities, and it’s not willing to work out a way to accommodate your business, you may have to find another space.
Starting a Golf Cart Taxi Business – Technical and Manpower Requirements
If you’re going to be manufacturing or repairing golf carts, then you need to understand that you need special tools for disassembly and reassembly. These tools may be needed for governor adjustments, valve adjustments or other tasks. Special tools that may be needed for small engine work may include any of the following:
- Special tools for valve work include a small valve spring compressor, valve seat puller, valve guide remover/driver, valve seat cutters (various sizes), small valve guide reamers (various sizes), and valve guide adjuster tools.
- Special tools for engine bearing work such as main bearing drivers and reamers (various sizes), roll pin drivers, main bearing plug gauges (various sizes), and oil seal driver (various sizes).
- Special tools for small engine pistons and rings like a ring compressor and expander that can handle small pistons and rings, a piston pin fixture for removing and installing wrist pins, and a bore dial gauge set that will fit inside small cylinders.
- Special tools for camshaft work including cam bearing plug gauges (various sizes) for checking wear and clearances, a camshaft bearing puller, camshaft bearing driver, small flywheel puller and flywheel holder, and magneto bearing puller/installer.
- Other specialty tools you may find necessary or handy might include a governor spring adjustment gauge (such as the one that is recommended for adjusting the secondary governor spring on Briggs & Stratton V-Twin Vanguard engines, and M29, M30, M35, M38 engines for generator applications), and some type of mechanical or electronic tachometer for checking/ adjusting engine speed settings.
You will also need OEM service information for engines, including piston, ring and bearing clearances, valve specifications, torque values and similar data. The service manuals are available from the engine manufacturers and other sources and typically sell for around $30 to $40 per manual.
Note that engine manufacturers produce a wide variety of engines. Also the VIN or ID plate, tag or decal on an engine provides key information about the engine model, specifications and date of manufacturer.
These details are very necessary if you want to correctly identifying the engine application and for obtaining the correct replacement parts and service information. Note that this ID plate, tag or decal is often located on or under the engine shroud on small air-cooled engines, or somewhere on the engine block or cylinder head.
If the tag or shroud is missing, it can make the identification process very challenging. Note that accurately identifying an engine is important not only for replacement parts, but also for ignition parts such as spark plugs (which must be the correct heat range and gapped to the correct clearances for the engine to run properly).
The Service Process Delivery for a Running a Golf Cart Taxi Business
Golf carts have come a long way from their humble beginnings as nondescript battery-powered vehicles designed to move golfers around a golf course as an alternative to walking. Now growing fuel prices, a focus on the environment and the lure of fun, open-air cruising at comfortable speeds all have moved for adjustments in golf carts (also referred to as golf cars) and they have grown more popular over the past decade, with no sign of a slowdown.
It is believed that with the increase in golf cart popularity and demand–and the growing trend toward private consumer use–golf cart businesses are popping up all over the country. That is why to stay ahead you need to acquire some golf carts education and training. Golf carts can be either battery or gas powered and is manufactured by a number of different companies. Some companies specialize in building custom golf carts.
Also note that golf cart repair and part replacement is relatively easy, so no certification or formal training is required. But customizing, lifting and adding options to personalize golf carts can be a big–and profitable–part of your business. A golf cart novice might tend to think that a golf cart is simply a golf cart.
Much like automobiles, golf carts today vary greatly in size, shape, style, color, power, function, features and price. Just like cars, golf carts experience their share of repair and service issues. Although no formal training is required to offer golf cart repair service, experience and practice are important in finding out and fixing both gas golf carts and electric golf carts. Have it in mind that some golf carts are customized based on their function, others for the sheer fun of it.
Golf carts used for hauling or towing can have utility beds and hitches installed; golf carts that will be driven at night can get headlight kits. Also note that for appearance, customization options include myriad body styles–from a ’56 pickup truck to a ’09 SUV–lift kits, tires and rims, decals and paint jobs, sound systems, roll bars and much more. According to statistics, preowned golf carts are relatively easy to come by and are often the first choice for most consumers.
A lot of dealers in the industry simply buy lots of used golf carts from golf courses and pretty them up for sale on the showroom floor. It’s very important to state that golf carts generally aren’t street legal and, because there’s little federal legislation governing their use, laws from state to state and town to town are not adequate to some extent.
Golf carts constructed with “street legal” kits that include turn signals, headlights, brake lights, a windshield and seatbelts meet the requirements of some–but not all–localities.
Starting a Golf Cart Taxi Business – The Marketing Plan
- Marketing ideas and Strategies
To succeed in this business and make profits you need to be light on your feet and stay ahead of industry trends. You need to understand that marketing is a great equalizer, a business discipline capable of dramatically increasing a small company’s footprint in the marketplace. Note that most times the ability to create clear brand messages often outweighs product quality and other considerations. Below are marketing strategies to consider.
- Customer Awareness
Successful businesses in this industry tend to go out of their way to maintain clear channels of communication with their customers. To succeed in this age, managers and promoters need to be explicitly familiar with their customers’ needs and purchasing preferences.
When neglected, failure to maintain a robust connection with the marketplace evolves into poor brand recognition and lackluster sales. By improving market awareness, small companies can often establish more meaningful customer connections than their competitors.
- Multichannel Marketing Strategies
You need to understand that consumers of this modern age engage with brands in diverse ways. It simply means that brands need to demonstrate similar diversity in the channels they employ to connect with customers. In this modern age, it simply isn’t possible for golf cart businesses that funnel the bulk of their resources toward a single marketing channel to remain competitive.
Note that to some businesses, multichannel tends to mean totally revamping the business marketing strategy to include a broader mix of media and information venues. It is believed that the acquisition of reliable mailing lists from proven providers can expedite the transition, but ultimately your efforts to go multichannel may need the assistance of a marketing professional.
- Using Coupons
Coupons are viable resources for golf carts business advertising. Agreeably there are many ways to make use of coupons, but the universal objective is to increase traffic, revenue and market exposure. Note that in a typical coupon scenario, golf carts business marketers use coupons to encourage new customers to give their product offerings a try, effectively stealing market share from competitors that have invested in customer loyalty schemes.
Fused together with other marketing techniques, a steady stream of legitimate coupon promotions can incentivize periodic customers to increase the frequency of purchases from your company.
Strategies for Winning competitors in the Golf Cart Business
Word of mouth advertisement to some folks is gone but to savvy entrepreneurs, it is just gaining momentum. You can spend money on TV ads, SEO and PPC campaigns, and even direct mail, but these strategies won’t reach your prospective customer directly the way a good talk from a tested and satisfied customer will.
You should consider investing in low-cost marketing ideas that target past and present customers. Keep your business in their minds, and you’ll increase your new customer referrals. Other ways may include;
- Know your carts nd parts
- Diversify your income
- Make it look easy
- Show them the money
- Offer Referral Credits
- Be a thought leader in your industry
Increasing Customer Retention in your Golf Cart Business
Note that offering discounts to first-time customers in local newspapers, magazines and industry publications is one of the most notable marketing tools available. For instance, offering vouchers worth a one time golf cart repair to introduce your business to the local community.
Also satisfied customers discussing the quality of your work on social networks are also an inexpensive and highly effective form of advertising. Creating social media pages that encourage communication is a great investment. Other things to bear in mind may include;
- Winning on price
- Delight on image
- Keep on service
- Be Social
Boosting your Golf Cart Business Brand Awareness and Creating a Corporate identity
Showcasing the strengths of your golf cart business can be very daunting, especially for business owners who lack a marketing background. But a good publicity and awareness plan cements your company’s relationships with customers. That is why it’s important to use marketing as a path toward better customer engagement in your business model. Below are brand boosting strategies to consider:
- Staffing Expertise
Having a dedicated, in-house marketing division is a possibility, but in small businesses, it’s more likely that owners or managers will pick up marketing as a secondary job responsibility. Note that this can be problematic because marketing can’t afford to be pushed to the backburner.
Reports have shown so many reasons why golf carts businesses enlist the assistance of external marketing professionals. In addition to delivering a better overall outcome, marketing firms bring an objective perspective to your strategy and key messaging.
- Create a promotional Calendar
Have it in mind that well prepared marketing agendas can quickly turn sour, especially in fast-paced golf carts industry. A strategy chocked full of time-sensitive ad placements and other tactics can devolve into a tangled mess of overlapping deliverables unless it is coordinated in a promotional calendar.
Have it in mind that good calendars include not only tactical deadlines, but also schedules for the inputs (e.g. staff assets, vendors, etc.) that are required to execute strategic objectives. When used in tandem with a quality mailing list provider, promotional calendars can ensure the continuous execution of direct mail campaigns.
- Try Bundling
Indeed Messaging matters – but only to the point that it communicates value to cost-conscious consumers. Note that enterprises that bundle products tap into the market’s psyche by establishing the perception (real or imagined) of cost-savings.
A lot of golf cart businesses have the ability to bundle multiple products and services into a single offering that customers find appealing. Meanwhile, since the bundling concept is based on discounts, consumers expect to pay less for the bundle than they would if they were to buy the products separately, so you’ll need to make sure your bundle offers real value to buyers.