Marketing does not mean spending thousands of dollars on costly TV or national magazine advertisements. All it requires is planning, organization, understanding your local target audience, and effort. The success of your putting green business is directly related to how much effort you put into marketing. If you let people know the putting greens are available, you will sell them. Follow these tips that will help you explode your business.

Talk to a Pro

Establishing positive relationships with your local golf course superintendents and pros is extremely important for your marketing plan. You can generate many valuable leads from golf course pros, especially if you offer them a 5% referral fee. Pros and supers are routinely asked by golfers about having a real putting green installed. Real grass greens require too much care and expense. According to Golf Course Superintendents Association, 90% of real grass greens in backyards die within two years. It would be much easier for these pros to refer golfers to you rather than attempt to build real grass greens for their customers.

How this works:
Establish a great relationship with the golf course’s head pro or superintendent. Invite him or her to putt on one of your greens over lunch or coffee. Once he or she sees what a professional product you provide, offer him/her a 5% referral fee if the lead turns into an actual sale. Give him/her pictorial magazines and brochures to hand out to interested golfers. Golfers look to their pro for guidance and will be much more willing to buy from you if the pro recommends you. Once that person receives their first referral fee, you should definitely experience an increase in referrals and sales. Some courses may let you display your pictorial magazines or brochures. Repeat this at as many golf courses in your area as possible in order to generate serious leads. Besides, you have the “pros” working for you!

Talk to members

Once you’ve established a great working relationship with the pro or superintendent, ask for the club’s membership directory. The members are an exclusive target audience and could be very beneficial for your business.

How this works:
Call each member one by one. Say something like, “Hello, my name is Bob owner of XYZ Company. We install professional synthetic putting greens for the home. Would you be interested in seeing a sample as well as a FREE estimate for a putting green designed specifically for you?” Get your foot in the door with a free estimate and make sure you provide the potential customer with as many benefits of your product as possible.

Talk to an instructor

“Two thirds of my classes’ training time gets devoted to putting and chipping skills. An expert short game player will beat those who shoot long because putting is the key to winning,” says Craig Goslin, a Michigan high school golf coach.

Experts say that 70% of putts are made from 7 feet or shorter and about 62% of an average round of golf takes place on the putting green. Instructors can certainly attest to that.

How this works:
Instructors would also be willing to help you sell if they get your 5% referral fee. Just like members turn to their pro for advice, students look to their instructors for guidance. Students will buy what their instructor endorses. For example, an instructor told us that he had over 200 students at one time. When he told them he uses Taylor Made Clubs, about 80% of the students bought Taylor Made! The principle applies to putting greens. Students can effectively practice their short game at home using what they learn from their instructor. Furthermore, try to sell the school a green. When the instructor realizes that a synthetic green at the golf school reduces travel back and forth to a golf course practice green, he may want one, and so would the students.

All Pro’s free publicity service

Once you are ready to explode your putting green business, call our public relations department for services that can help generate exposure for your company in your local market – for free!

Use the right tools

Using All Pro Putting Green’s marketing materials will help you to effectively and efficiently explode your business. We’ve done all the research and hard work developing attractive and educational materials so you don’t have to. Tried and true, these tools have helped make our dealers successful ones.

Pictorial Magazines
Hand your potential customer this 30-page, full-color magazine and let him envision his dream golf green. Cover to cover, our best sales tool is packed full of photos of putting greens in all price ranges. There are customer testimonials describing the many benefits your customers can expect from their putting green. There is also an educational article describing the advantages that polypropylene greens have over those made of nylon. A golfer is sure to find a green that he’d like in his yard, and his spouse is sure to find all the extras with which she can decorate around the green.

Days after they’ve received their estimate for a putting green, customers will still be flipping through the magazines at their leisure. Your estimate, the materials left behind, and this magazine, are sure to keep you and your company in the forefront of a potential customer’s mind. The magazines will have a long shelf life. Therefore, you can expect a ripple reaction when one customer shows his magazine to his golf buddies and co-workers; resulting in more sales leads for you.

Sales Brochures
Also full-color, these foldout brochures are designed to generate interest and excitement for the many diagrams of shapes, sizes, and designs possible for synthetic putting greens. When creating this excitement with your customers, be sure to reinforce the value of larger greens by describing how well they look in well-landscaped yards. These brochures also provide information to help inform and educate customers.

Sales or Sales & Installation Videos
Another great tool for generating interest and excitement is a putting green video. Getting the
customer emotionally involved is important for the sale. People tend to be more visually stimulated via the boob tube.

Two videos are available, the sales video and one combined with the installation process. The sales video is strictly for customers who want a turnkey installation performed by you. The sales/install video is designed for your self-install kit customers. Always make sure your self-install kit customers know that you are on hand to help if they need assistance.

Postcards
Postcards are great follow up tools for the prospective customer. There are so many variables why people invest in certain things at certain times. The postcards will reinforce the advantages of having a synthetic green and will keep the possibility of owning one on top of the customer’s mind. We recommend sending a postcard as follow up each week for about 5 weeks after you’ve given the estimate.

Once you’ve gotten comfortable and successful with these tools, implement even more ways to market yourself and create product visibility in your area. Read the article, “Marketing Mania” in this issue for more ideas that you can use to explode your business!

Pictorial Magazines
  $2.25 ea.
Sales Brochures
  $30 per 100
Sales or Sales & Installation Videos
     Sales Video - $3.50 ea.

   Sales Installation video $3.75 ea.
Postcards
     $15 per 100

We want you to be a marketing maniac when it comes to selling and installing All Pro synthetic putting greens. Doing this need not be expensive nor break your bank. Making and sustaining positive relationships is key to marketing and we help by providing you with proven ways to successfully and effectively market your business. Follow the guidelines described below and watch as your business explodes with sales opportunities.

Network with local retail garden centers, nurseries

Establish a relationship with a local garden center and/or nursery. They are always looking for new products to sell to their customers, so offer to install a putting green for them in return for referral business. You can also offer to buy your landscaping materials from them exclusively in return for business. These centers receive large amounts of foot traffic from regular faithful customers. Many have designers on staff that will assist the homeowner with design and landscape layout. This service is normally free to the consumer because the center expects to get money from the sale of plants. Many larger centers are frequently asked to appear on local TV and radio news stations to discuss plant and landscaping issues. They also advertise on TV, radio, and in newspapers. This is a great opportunity for you if they plug in your services.

Landscape Architects & Home Builders

The homebuilder market is very competitive. These companies are always looking for ways to set themselves apart from others. Many builders are adding a synthetic putting green to a show home to entice potential buyers, even if the homes are on a golf course. They can sell the green as an add-on like landscaping. The builder will typically add the cost of the green into the mortgage. This is a big profit center for the builder because instead of charging $12 to $15 a sq. ft., they often charge $25 to $30 a sq. ft. The additional cost is built into the 20-30 year mortgage so the homeowner may only see a small increase in the monthly payment, if anything at all.

Develop a newsletter

Send your current customers a regular newsletter telling them about your putting green service and other services that you offer. It can be as simple as a typed page of information and news about your company plus a customer testimonial. Or, if you have the resources, it can be produced with your brochures. This is not only a way to keep your customers informed about your company, it also shows that you are highly organized and truly care about their landscape needs.

Meet me at the Ball Game – or rather the Home & Garden, Golf, or Spring Expo!

Home & Garden, Golf shows, and Spring Expos are excellent ways to generate solid sales leads. Some of our distributors say that 50% to 60% of their putting green sales come from leads generated from such shows. See “Advice from Successful Putting Green Exhibits” for more information.

Value added service

Offer to throw in a sand trap for free. If you feel your customer is on the fence on whether or not to have the green installed then give them a free sand trap. The truth is that a sand trap that’s 15 ft. long x 10 ft. wide and 3 ft deep requires two men, 3 hours of labor, and the cost of sand.

Or . . . If you already have the putting green sale, tell the homeowner that you have a referral program. Tell him or her that you would normally charge $1200.00 for a standard sand trap. But if he or she refers someone to you and you get that person’s putting green sale, then you’ll install the sand trap for your homeowner – free! In the customers mind, he is getting a $1200.00 value for free and all he has to do is to talk one of his golf buddies into getting a green. Either way, you are establishing great relationships with everyone involved. Believe in the old adage of word of mouth advertising — A golfer will brag to at least 10 people about his putting green.

Competition is healthy for business

Get samples of your competitor’s product, if there is one in your area, and let the CUSTOMER tell you which product looks more like a proper putting green surface. Your customers are smart people and will quickly identify the All Pro product compared to others in the market.

Repeat mailings of post cards & brochures

You will close many more sales by using this technique. So many factors can affect a customer’s buying decision. By sending potential customers follow up post cards or brochures, you continually let that client know that your offer still stands and you keep your company on top of their minds — even if they’re getting quotes from other putting green companies. We recommend sending follow up reminders once a week for 30 days after you supplied the customer with a quote. And always……ALWAYS follow up with a phone call.

Self-Install Kits

It is obvious you would like every customer to let you install his or her putting green. But some people simply can’t afford the $10.00-plus per square ft price and you may not be able to afford negotiating a lower price. Don’t give up! Offer to sell them a self-install kit and let them install it for half the price. Supply them with a materials data sheet informing them where and how to get the necessary putting green materials: the plate compactor, stone dust sub-base, coal slag infill product, and your contact information in case they need assistance. Let customer service ooze from you.

It may not be as much money, but your generosity will go far beyond letting them fend for themselves. Hint: this is another major advantage you show over your competition!

Education is Key

Educate your customer about all aspects of synthetic putting greens – their customer benefits, advantages, warranty information, custom or standard design capabilities, etc. Our new Golfscapes pictorial magazine helps you do this.

A show green is a MUST

You must have a show green to be comfortable with the install process and have a show or display green as a result. The first question you will get from a customer is either, “what is your experience?” or “show me your work.”

A savvy customer will not spend thousands of dollars on an investment based on a picture in a magazine. They need to putt on the green, stand on it, and see its true ball roll and holding characteristics. The putting green will sell itself but you must have one installed to do this. If you simply can’t afford to install a putting green, approach one of your golfing customers and tell him that you are getting into the putting green business. Tell him you’ll install a green at cost for him in return for using his green as your “display” green until you can install more. You’ll immediately reap the benefits of having an actual customer who can provide you with a testimonial and it won’t have cost you anything but a little sweat equity.

Print Advertising

Advertise in a targeted local newspaper or city publication Follow these tips for very effective advertising.

Rule#1: An ad displayed just once almost never works.
Research shows that the average American sees more than 30,000 ads per year. An ad needs to be seen an average of 3 times before it impacts the customer’s awareness. The targeted consumer ever sees only about one out of 9 well-designed ads.

Quick calculation: you need to put your ad (or message) in front of your target audience (golfers) at least 3 times before it has a chance to affect their perceptions or buying decisions.

If you don’t have the budget for a long-term commitment to advertising, don’t advertise. But if you do, plan on running the same ad in the same publication often enough to reach golfers a minimum of three times.

In your area you have golf courses, driving ranges, golf stores, and city publications dedicated to local businesses and community. Golf courses usually have smaller newspapers or publications printed purely for their community information. These are the publications that you will want to advertise in because they perfectly target the audience that you want; affluent golfers in your geographic area with disposable money available for material goods such as synthetic putting greens! Best of all, we can develop a display ad for you – FREE — saving you hundreds of dollars that companies charge for setup fees.

Mo’ money in putting greens

By the time you figure in the cost of the turf, labor, and all materials for a turnkey installed 12’ x 30” putting green, it should cost you between $4.00 to $4.50 per square foot. By charging a minimum of $11.00 per sq. ft., you will profit between $6.50 and $7.00 (or more) per sq. ft. This does not include the additional money you’ll make with additional landscaping and hard-scaping. Your cost for installing a synthetic green is substantially less than installing retaining walls or water features, and the profit is substantially more. The truth is that many contractors are getting $12.00 per sq. ft. for their installs. This means even more profit lining your pockets.

You know him, you’ve seen him, and you’ve tried to avoid him. He is the pushy salesperson that senses your presence before you’ve even had a chance to look. But you’ve also dealt with the knowledgeable and pleasant salesperson from which you bought a major item. Why did you feel comfortable buying from that one? In this section we present sales tips that will have customers comfortably eating out of your hand.

Develop Good Sales Habits

Organization is key to successful sales transactions. Organization is a sign of a smart and professional businessperson. The old saying still rings very true, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Always present yourself as a knowledgeable, prepared, pleasant, and organized expert of your product.

Never keep phone customers on hold for long.

When meeting a potential customer, prepare all your materials and messages in advance. Have your business cards, pictorial magazines, brochures, and your portfolio of customer installs and testimonials neatly organized.

When going on a design consultation have your tools, cords, paint, golf balls, flags, and your organizer ready for use.

When asked questions, be sure to listen carefully and then answer informatively. Educate your potential customer as much as possible about the putting greens.
When going on a sales call or presentation, plan your time wisely. Don’t hurry your customers or make them feel like you’ve got somewhere better to be. The more important your customer feels, the more likely you’ll get the sale.

After the sales call — Always follow up . . . ALWAYS. Use the postcards and personal phone calls to remind the customer how important his job is to you and what product advantages you can provide.

Education is key. Customers are not going to spend thousands of dollars on a product if you can’t fully educate them on why they should purchase from you. It is your job to teach your customers all the advantages and benefits of your product so they feel like they can make an informed decision. All Pro Putting Greens provides you with the educational materials you need to accomplish this.

Good Strategy

Making the most out of every sales opportunity is critical to being successful. The following is an example sales call that you can use as a guide. Then, read on for “Killer Closing Techniques” that will help you close more sales than ever and explode your business.

Initial Phone Contact

There are two main objectives you need to achieve from the very first phone call to your potential customer. Qualifying the lead and scheduling an estimate or design consultation. While talking to your customer use his name whenever possible. Find out if he just wants information, or is seriously considering a synthetic putting green. Immediately stress the advantages of your product using a variety of these key messages:

  • Affordable – turnkey installations or self- install kits are more affordable than ever
  • Characteristics – same ball roll and holding characteristics as a real grass green
  • No Maintenance – no need to water, fertilize, or mow the green, just blow debris off with a leaf blower
  • Water Resistant – durable UV-treated turf repels damaging effects of rain, snow, ice, and the sun
  • Convenience – can be used anytime as a 24- hour putting and chipping practice facility
  • Builds equity into homes – proven to increase property value 10% - 20%
  • Enhances any landscape – rich green color looks great in yards (and the spouse will like to decorate around it, too!)
  • Warranty Protection – 10 years and customer satisfaction guaranteed

You can also qualify the lead by asking the customer what he would spend on such an item. If the figure is real low, the self-install kit is probably the best way to pursue the sale. However, fully inform him of the advantages of self-installations. A self-install kit includes: the turf, 3 regulation cups, a flag, and chipping mat. The price will vary, but a self-install kit will cost about $1,000 to $2,000 after all additional materials are purchased.

Be sure he knows that a turnkey install includes: all the above, removal of sod, set the weed barrier, crushed stone delivery and compaction, set the cups, position turf, infill process, cut holes and any additional landscape required . The cost for this is about $10 per square foot plus any additional landscape. You must show the value in your product and why the turnkey installation costs what you charge.

If the customer gives you a “shocked” response when you present these prices, make sure you reiterate the superiority of your product, that it truly is the most affordable green on the market, and compare it to other home improvements. For example, a putting green installation is about the cost of a brick patio, a premium set of golf clubs, or a hot tub, but only half the price of a water feature or retaining wall. Once you’ve qualified them, put your words to work and ask when you can present a design consultation at their residence.

Design Consultation

Once you have the potential customer’s interest, schedule a design consultation at a suitable time when both husband and wife can be present. Typical husbands will not make major buying decisions without consulting their wives. With both there, you can inform, educate, and present a design at the same time. Plus, having the wife involved increases your chances of add-on landscaping sales.

You will need the following materials for the presentation:

  • Two 100 foot extension cords
  • Can of fluorescent orange or white spray paint
  • A couple golf balls, cups, and a flag (not required but makes a nice touch to really get the customer excited)
  • Your organizer and calculator

This is your chance to shine! When you arrive at the house, spend some time getting to know the customers. Tell them all about yourself and different aspects of your business. Break the ice by asking them about their golfing habits, their handicap, if they belong to any golf associations, clubs, or if they play in a league. Always try to remember a key fact or two so you can mention one later which shows you are really attuned to their needs.

It’s a good idea to go over the phone conversation you had and answer any questions that may have come up. Present the pictorial magazine, your portfolio, photos of previous installs of landscape work, and anything else that gets them more interested and excited for what they are about to experience.

When they are ready, start by walking around their property and discuss possible locations for the green. Take your time when determining the location and size of the putting green. Some think that right next to the house is a good place. Others think that a low spot may be good. Truth is, these are the two worst spots. Next to the house is bad if they plan to chip to the green. They may spend more time replacing windows than practicing golf. Low spots will collect water and run-off causing sub base deterioration, which you want to avoid at all cost.

Choose a spot that is away from the house and won’t collect water. Find an area that is accessible from other areas of the yard for chipping and pitching. Lay one of the cords in a general shape that pleases the customer. While creating the shape, remember to work in multiples of 12 feet because the turf is manufactured in 12-foot widths, but we can cut the turf to any length.

Involve the customers with the layout of their green. Make sure they understand that this is a custom-designed green specifically for them. The more involved the couple is in this process, the more excited they will be with their purchase decision. Ask them what green(s) they like best from the pictorial magazine and try some similar designs. Be sure to stress that the bigger the green they go with the better, because if it’s too small, there is nothing that can be done to fix it later.

Once you’ve agreed on the final size and shape, mark the area with spray paint. This will constantly remind the couple where their new green will be long after your visit. Stick a flag in the marked area and have them pitch a couple golf balls to it, which really increases excitement. With the second cord, mark an area for a sand trap. Again, work with them to finalize its size, shape, and location. An average sand trap is about 15 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 3 feet deep.

Presenting the Estimate

Go to a convenient place in the house or yard to figure up the customer’s estimate as well as two alternative bids. This is also a good time for them to watch the sales video. When ready, go over the entire (and most expensive) estimate with them first. That way, if they hesitate because the total is too much, then you can present an alternate bid. For example, you might eliminate the sand trap and save the customer about $1,200 off the grand total.

Golfers don’t golf alone, and when they purchase their green, they will certainly brag to their friends. So, another way to save them money is to offer an incentive. Tell them if they refer a friend to you who buys a green that you install, you’ll come back and install their sand trap for FREE! This single idea could generate 50% of your leads.

If this is still too much money for the customer, then offer the self-install kit. Supply them with a data sheet outlining how and where he can purchase the additional materials, and your contact information in case he needs hands-on help. This is simply a good business practice that shows you truly care about your customer’s satisfaction. And, as always, it could lead to more work later on!
Now your goal is to close the sale while still on the premises. Studies show you have to ask for the sale at least 3 times before leaving. See the article “Killer Closing Techniques” in this issue of Golfscapes for killer ways to close sales with the most success.

Create a sense of urgency as you finish giving your bid. Encourage them to act right away by presenting the 50% off shipping coupon. Normal shipping charges are about $360, but if they buy soon, they could save $180. State that the discounted shipping is good for 15 days, so they should act quickly, or tell them that there is an opening next week when you could get started.

Follow-up

This is a critical step in the sales process. If you don’t the sell the green on premises, then follow up by sending a post card about once a week for 30 days. There are so many factors that influence a customer’s buying decision, most of which are beyond your control. Post cards remind customers how important their business is to you, and recaps the advantages of owning their own golf green. Remind them you are open to any questions and concerns they might have.

Another great idea is to invite them to practice on your display green. Schedule a time for them to practice some putts and chips before the 50% off coupon expires.

Even after you sell and install the green, you need to follow up. As stated earlier, no one plays golf alone. You will want to keep in contact with your customers to see when or if any of their friends might be interested in their very own slice of paradise.