Ever considered starting a part-time business
in the golf industry? Here we profile a homeowner that turned
his love for the game of golf into a lucrative business. All
Pro Orange County, a dealer located in Cerritos, California,
is making many golfer’s dreams come true with their
“Golfscape” designs. Owner Mark Knight shares
his experience and offers advice as we ask him questions about
Since you began,
how many putting greens have you installed?
We have installed 85 greens in two years.
Do you sell and
install greens on a full or part-time basis?
We started out part-time, but quickly saw the demand for our
product and service. Now we have a full-time manager/salesman,
as well as full-time installers. Currently, we are booked
with orders for the next 4 months.
percentage of your sales are complete installations and self
Ninety five percent (95%) of our projects are complete installations.
We don’t want to lose a single sale. Some customers
can’t afford to pay $12.00 per sq.ft. so we try to sell
them a self-install kit. We provide them with a list of suppliers
for the needed materials and even offer assistance if they
have any problems with the installation.
Where do your
leads come from?
A lot of our leads come from the good relationship we have
with many of the golf professionals from local golf courses.
Most Pro’s are willing to listen to what we have to
say about the putting greens. We explain that they can make
a 5% commission just for referring a lead if it turns into
a sale. The truth is that most pro’s can use additional
income because the pro’s job is more of a prestige position
that generally doesn’t pay very well.
Referrals make up a large portion of leads.
One great thing about a referral is that they have already
played on a synthetic green and know the square foot price
for the product.
always offer the customer a FREE sand trap if someone refers
you a lead that turns into a sale. We have some customers
that have 2 and 3 sand traps around their putting green. If
they are not interested in a sand trap then tell them you
will give them a 5% commission on any leads that turn into
sales. Some of the leads come from All Pro Greens. They are
the manufacturer and can’t come to California to install
a putting green. They rely on us to provide a bid to a customer
and close the sale.
What do you charge,
per sq.ft., on an average installation?
$12.00 per sq.ft.
After everything is paid for, what is your
On a 12’ x 30’ putting green we charge $4404.00.
After we pay for everything - turf, freight charges, sub base
material, infill, labor, we will clear 60% or $2642.00 for
a one day job. The larger the green, the less it costs for
materials per sq.ft., the more profit we make.
How long do
most installations take to install?
Two guys can install a smaller putting like a 12’x 24’
or 12’ x 30’ in one day and leisurely install
a 24’ x 30’ in two days. Planning ahead and having
all materials on site ready to go will save a lot of time.
Watch the weather forecast to make sure it’s not going
to rain during the installation procedure.
Do you sometimes
gain additional business from clients you sell to?
Yes. We always get requests for additional landscape work.
However, we specialize in installing putting greens and because
we are back-ordered with work we would rather do that. We
have an agreement with a landscape company to provide the
extra landscaping. This allows us to move to the next project.
are referrals in this business?
Referrals are priceless! As soon as we install a green for
a customer, we have one of their friends or neighbors calling
wanting an estimate or an installation. The customer is our
best salesman. The idea of offering a customer a FREE sand
trap if we get a referral that turns into a sale is one of
our better sales tactics.
do you approach a client at the first meeting?
A portfolio of installations is always a great visual. Take
pictures of your greens from different angles and it will
look like a different installation and this in turn will make
your portfolio look larger. I spend a lot of time listening
to the customer and what he wants.
What is your
First, show up having a professional presence - clean clothes
with company name. I feel that you close more sales even if
a competitor is cheaper in price, if you have a professional
This is the best sales tactic - take samples of putting green
turf from other companies in the area if there are any. Never
bad-mouth another company’s product. Just show the customer
the samples and let them draw the conclusion that your product
is the best. Ask them what is the best product of all the
samples they have seen - obviously it is the All Pro sample.
This has closed more sales for us than anything else.
Always provide a referral list of other
clients for them to call. The portfolio is a must. Show them
photos of greens that are of similar size of what they are
looking for. Many times a customer will see a sand trap or
a landscape layout they like. These extras will get you more
work and more pay.
What is your
secret to closing a sale?
Selling the best product. All Pro Putting Greens offers the
highest quality product at the best price. We show samples
of products offered from local competitors. Customers are
savvy and can clearly see the difference in quality. But let
them tell you that your product is better.
What is the biggest
concern you hear when trying to sell a putting green?
Cost. Some people don’t realize what is involved in
installing a putting green. At the same time, we are not in
business to trade a dollar for a dollar. Our cost, turn-key
installed, on an average green is about $3.00 to $3.50 per
square foot. Our profit margin is high enough where we can
come off of $12.00 per sq.ft. installed price. If it looks
like a customer can’t afford an install, we will always
try to sell a self-install kit.
do you offer customers to purchase a green?
We always offer the incentive of the free sand trap for a
referral that turns into a sale. We also offer the incentive
of 50% off on freight charges with a deadline date. This helps
to create a sense of urgency and reason to purchase. Probably
the biggest incentive to purchase is the fact we have the
best product to offer.
you have any construction tips you could share with us?
Take your time with the compaction of the sub base. You must
have a solid foundation to lay the putting green on. Most
problems that develop later have to do with improper compaction.
Follow the step-by-step procedure for installing the green.
Make sure you are always sweeping against the grain of the
turf when filling the green. Do not short cut any of the steps.
How do you see
the future with putting greens?
Solid! Before we heard of All Pro Putting Greens, we didn’t
know the product was available. As more people become aware
the product exists, we will be there to sell it to them. The
putting green is a great complement to any backyard.
What is the most
rewarding experience you have had installing greens for customers?
Installing a 9 hole putting course. This is the largest installation
we have done. We think we will gain a lot of additional business
because we have put up several signs around the course.
What advice can
you give someone getting into selling and installing synthetic
Become comfortable with the installation process. The installation
is easy, simple and produces the desired result every time
but you don’t want to experiment with your customer
and look like you don’t know what they are doing on
the jobsite. This product makes for a perfect part-time business.
It started out as part-time and has now turn into a stand
For more information about All Pro Orange
County check out the editorial
article appearing in Orange County Golf, January 2000.
Written by Joel Beers.