By Marc Gelbke, Contributing Writer, US Golf Managers Association Often overlooked by golf course managers is the importance of a golf cart fleet at our facilities. Fleets directly relate to revenues and budget, and must be successfully managed. Most managers are not aware of the fact that our fleets are the second-largest source of revenue (after golf fees), and often the largest profit center. This article is designed to explain in some detail and point out the importance of a cart fleet and how it could be viewed from a manager’s point of view. I will touch on other aspects of cart fleet management in future editorials, such as:  How to make a fleet program successful; the responsibilities of a fleet manager; how to determine fleet size; and, maybe even how to decide between electric and gas-powered carts. For now, I would like to return to and point to the realization of the importance of having a fleet. Based on US averages, a typical rental concession should generate about $1,900 in income annually per cart (of course, lots of facilities generate even more).  That translates into an average fleet size of 57 cars to $113,430 of annual revenue/profits. Based on these numbers, it is obvious that it is an important part of your operation, and many facilities use this revenue to afford things like an on-site golf professional, pay for improved services, staff, or equipment. Now that you are aware of the importance of a fleet in terms of revenue, profits, and services it can provide to your facility, let’s move on to the “value” a golf cart brings to a facility and your operation. Of course, as managers we all want to provide services to our golfers, as it creates repeat business (again, our number one source of revenue is golf fees). The services a golf cart can provide to our golfers, are, for example: –          It provides a means of transportation to the golfer who can’t walk the course due to physical or health reasons and would otherwise not be able to play your course. –          It eliminates the need to carry your clubs, especially important in rough climates and rugged terrain. –          The use of golf cars can increase the speed of play if properly managed. –          The car rental income has continually offset golf fee increases to golfers, which I am sure golfers can greatly appreciate. Some pretty convincing values to a car fleet, don’t you think? However, on the other side of the spectrum is the facility or your operation, so let’s look at some values a cart fleet provides to your facility: –          It’s a direct source of income and profits. –          The rental income helps pay for salaries, services, and equipment. –          Having carts can increase your facilities image and reputation. –          Car fleets promote more rounds played at your facility, which directly can impact and result in increased merchandise sales in your shops, as well as your food and beverage operations. Once again, some pretty good arguments for the importance of a fleet from the facilities point of view.  In closing, the importance of a golf cart fleet is obvious, and we as managers should be directly and deeply involved in managing our fleets to assure maximized profits for our operations.
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