- Motocaddy is taking the U.S. market seriously, setting up operations and warehousing in Carlsbad, Calif.
- The company is hiring a nationwide network of sales reps, focusing on green-grass accounts.
- Motocaddy has opened a full-time service center in Chicago.
- The focus this year is on establishing rental fleets and sales through pro shops.
As Motocaddy comes to America, the UK’s top seller of electric carts — “trolleys” as they call them over there — has a question for you.
On a typical five-mile hike, would you rather:
A: Carry a 25-pound pack for all five miles
B: Push that 25-pound pack for all five miles
C: Just, you know, walk for all five miles
Take golf out of the equation and nearly all reasonably non-maniacal types would pick C. The thing is, though, that nine out of 10 golfers in the U.S. would actually pick D: Sit your ass in a cart and drive the five miles. While many of you may think that represents a huge obstacle to Motocaddy’s efforts to penetrate the U.S. market, Motocaddy sees it as an opportunity.
Lots of overseas companies have seen opportunities in the U.S. but there’s a big difference between seeing the opportunity and actually seizing it. You need a strategy.
And as the old saying goes, hope is not a strategy. You need a plan.
Motocaddy Comes To America: A Man With a Plan
“We’re planning on growing the U.S. market pretty big,” says new Motocaddy USA President Roger Teat. “And we’re not going to be able to do that just by distributing from another country.”
Motocaddy, of course, is British but Teat is a native-born son of the U.S. of A. He’s no golf industry neophyte, either, having spent 12 years with COBRA-PUMA Golf. Teat’s job is clear: set up a full nationwide operation. And its base will be in North America’s golf mecca: Carlsbad, Calif.
“That’s where many others may have struggled when coming to America,” he says. “They treat the market like it was their home market and figure they can just distribute to the U.S. from abroad.”
That doesn’t work for one simple reason. As the Brits might say, the U.S. is so bloody big.
To that end, Teat is setting up a headquarters and warehouse in Carlsbad and hiring independent sales reps across the country.
“Our goal is to have 15 sales reps for Year One — we have 11 right now,” Teat says. “I’ve just hired a 29-year golf industry veteran to head up our inside sales and service team in Carlsbad.”
In addition, Motocaddy has launched a U.S.-specific website for information and e-commerce.
Service With a Smile
While all warehousing and shipping will be out of Carlsbad, Teat is setting up a service center in Chicago.
“It’s in the middle of the country so it won’t take more than two days or so to get product there and then get it back anywhere in the U.S.,” he says. “As we grow, we will have multiple service centers across the country. We’ll have a West Coast hub and East Coast hub.”
While it would have been easier to host the service center in Carlsbad, Teat says a central location just makes sense.
“Most of the things that could go wrong are a pretty quick fix,” he says. “But on those rare occasions where we do have to ship our carts, we don’t want our customers to be without their cart for more than a week.”
“Our trolleys do have an internal diagnosis system,” adds Motocaddy Marketing Manager Oliver Churcher. “On the underside, there’s a series of LED lights that allow you to diagnose the majority of the issues you might have.”
Churcher says all parts are designed to be easily replaceable and, in most cases, golfers can swap out components easily.
Going to Market
Establishing a home base, operations team, warehousing and service centers and a sales team are kind of like “jacks or better to open” in poker. If you don’t have them, you can’t play. The real test is getting Motocaddy trolleys in front of customers and developing a sales channel.
That is easier said than done. And while Teat is committed to developing a retail presence, his first target will be old school: green-grass accounts.
“I keep telling people we’re not just launching a new brand in the U.S., we’re launching a whole new category,” he says. “There’s only so much we can do selling online so rental fleets and green-grass demo will be a big part of what we do.”
Most of the sales reps Teat has hired also have club lines so he sees benefits in having the Motocaddy line at demo day events.
“That’s a perfect place to get a trial going. I think we get really creative and have some fun events, like races with remote models.”
Heck, sign us up for a Motocaddy Combine with a 40-yard dash, three-cone drills and an obstacle course.
Motocaddy at Your Course?
Teat and his team are looking for rental fleet opportunities at private, semi-private, public and resort courses. Anywhere golfers walk, Motocaddy sees opportunity.
“There’s a course in New York that’s told us they currently house 130 pushcarts for members,” says Teat. “It’s obviously a walking course and would be a perfect spot for 10 of our M5 units with built-in GPS for golfers to try.”
Rental fleets aren’t unusual in the U.K., where courses such as Kingsbarns will rent you an electric trolley for $25 (a caddy will run you nearly $80, plus tip). As mentioned, the entire category is still relatively new to the U.S. There are a few companies doing business here but none can be considered the market leader. And one thing you can say about an open market: nature hates a leadership void.
“There aren’t many — if any — rental electric caddies that I’ve seen in the U.S.,” says Teat. “We’re introducing this category to the golfer for the first time so consumers can try before they buy. It’s a big purchase and I’m hoping to sell a lot of product in the U.S. through rental fleets.
“It’ll be like, ‘hey, I just tried this last week, where can I get one?’ We’ll tell them to go buy it through their pro shop.”
Motocaddy Comes To America: Cracking the Price Code
Golfers walk in the UK. Over here? Not so much and it’s not just because we’re lazy. Resort and other high-end courses often require carts for pace of play. Additionally, many courses are too hilly to walk and, for other courses, that $20 per cart revenue is the difference in what color the bottom-line ink is at year-end.
Put those together and add in a few more and you’re looking at hurdles to market penetration. The elephant in the room, however, is the price. A high-quality electric trolley the caliber of Motocaddy isn’t exactly cheap.
“What you’re buying is a better way to play golf,” says Teat. “The enjoyment level is so much higher walking with a remote-control trolley than riding.”
Don’t bother with the mental math to see if buying a Motocaddy will eventually pay for itself in saved cart rental fees. It’s an electric trolley. The only way it’ll pay for itself is if it gets a part-time job.
“The cost-benefit analysis isn’t riding at $20 a round versus buying a Motocaddy for $1,000 to $1,500,” says Teat. “It’s about wanting to walk without carrying or pushing a cart. It’s really night and day when you’re upright walking and not hunched over pushing.”
Simply put, an electric trolley versus a pushcart is very similar to a base-model Chevy versus a fully loaded one. You don’t go upscale because it’s cost-effective. You do it because you want the features in the upgraded model and you’re willing — and able — to pay for them.
“If you’re not ready to spend $1,000 to $1,500 on an electric cart, we do make a great line of pushcarts. It’s still better for you than carrying your clubs and it makes golf more enjoyable than riding in a cart.”
Walking in Rhythm, Moving in Sound
Using the remote-control Motocaddy M7 is like having R2D2 as your caddie. And it can make your weekly five-mile hike quite literally a walk in the park.
“Compare one of these to pushing a pushcart — just look at your posture,” says Teat. “Pushing a cart uphill, you’re so hunched over. And you’re pushing 25 pounds-plus around the course. People don’t really realize it until they try one of our trolleys.”
If you think about it, the question really is what’s the best — and the most beneficial — way to get both you and your clubs through this five-mile, 18-hole hike? You can walk and carry but even orthopedists, physical therapists and chiropractors will tell you carrying is bad for your spine, discs, joints, ligaments, fascia and muscles. A pushcart is better and an electric trolley is even better.
Best of all, just this side of a caddie is a remote-control electric trolley.
As mentioned, walking the course is nearly universal in the U.K., and a recent R&A study says 62 percent of those golfers use an electric trolley. Teat knows those numbers aren’t realistic here, but what would happen if walking hit the 25 or 30 percent range?
“Our biggest goal in the U.S. is to get people to walk more,” says Teat. “From there, it’s what product suits you best.”
Does walking with an electric trolley help you play better golf than carrying, riding or walking with a pushcart? There have been some cursory studies done on that very question, but you can bet that’s some data MyGolfSpy would like to dig into. Anecdotally, if there was an advantage to carrying your own bag, don’t you think Bryson would have already done that math?
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