Our shop is so small, we really don’t carry a lot of inventory in hard goods.
We do a lot of special ordering and it’s usually five days door to door if it’s in stock. Because of where we are in the United States, most of the stuff we order is coming from major manufacturers in Carlsbad, Calif.
Fitting is so important now, not only for the consumer, but also for the shops. Back in the day, to get a good deal, you had to buy 15 sets of irons and have them delivered on March 1. What are you going to do with 15 sets of stock irons?
Now, you buy a couple of sets, then you buy into the demo program and you buy a fitting cart. Right away, you’ve lopped off about $10,000 of overhead with one company and if you deal with five companies, you’ve just lopped off about $50,000 of overhead.
With fitting, it’s more efficient and you have to be more service-oriented because you have to understand the person’s game and get to know the person in order to fit him/her properly. Very few places sell off the rack anymore.
The sale of hard goods has definitely changed over the years and I think that fitting is part of that. Golf course operators love the fact that they don’t have to commit so much money to hard goods the previous November.
I think from the big companies’ perspective, their sales would be pretty similar. If you have 10 sets of irons, you’re just going to flip them back to the companies for something else, so I think over the course of the year, it doesn’t really make much difference to them.
Chances are you’re going to sell more because, as I said above, you’re spending an hour or so with the person, you get to know that person and form a relationship. There’s also a chance that person is going to tell somebody else about the experience.
It’s like being a car salesperson. You’re looking for a customer for life, not a one-time customer. Fitting has its advantages for everybody involved, whether it’s the company, the golf operator or the consumer.