Motocaddy goes for the remote

    Motocaddy has built up a strong position in the golf trolley market in just ten years and through the worst economic recession in 80 years. So it’s safe to assume they are doing something right when it comes to product development and service delivery. This month the company launches the S7, a remote-controlled power trolley (see panel for details) and the Dry-Series waterproof trolley bag.

    In 2010 the senior management team led a buyout of the company with staff numbers increasing from 26 then to over 40 today. Motocaddy now has five electric trolleys in its range plus the new S7 Remote controlled model and two push trolleys.

    The S7 has been introduced to meet a definite market need as Neil Parker, sales director of the company explains. “Remote control is currently available in the UK only at the luxury end of the market, so there is a definite need. We resisted plugging that gap until we had a product that we knew could perform to the highest standards. Another major factor is the development of overseas markets, particularly in North America and Australia where remote controlled models account for half the market for electric trolleys.”

    Cultural differences in the main golfing markets play a big part in golf trolley sales. David Wells is chairman of Motocaddy and also responsible for international sales. “We think of golf in the States being played exclusively in carts but many Americans do like to walk. In northern Europe they prefer to use only lithium powered electric trolleys and they like very high spec, well-engineered models and they are not as price driven as the UK market. They will pay for quality.” To meet this need Motocaddy will be introducing a new high specification model in 2015.

    The company has distributors for all the overseas territories where it is active and also supplies directly to retailers in the Netherlands. Oliver Churcher is Motocaddy’s marketing manager and states, “We directly manage websites in twelve regions and will also supply other marketing collateral materials for our distributors.”

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    In the UK and Ireland the company has seven sales representatives with on-course retailers accounting for the majority of sales as Neil Parker confirms. “About 60 percent of our sales come from on-course outlets, 30 percent from off-course retailers and the remainder from online sales. Of course many of our retailers are also multichannel vendors.” Motocaddy is also a Foremost partner. “That’s an important relationship for us and a very important part of our business.”

    Today sales of lithium powered models account for over 30 percent of Motocaddy’s UK electric trolley sales. Oliver Churcher elaborates: “In most of the overseas markets we operate in it is all lithium now. But the UK is extremely price driven so there’s still demand for lead-acid battery models, but the market is changing rapidly. We ran a big ‘Time to go lithium’ promotion campaign last year and it’s had a major impact with our UK retailers. They now appreciate that recommending lithium is a better choice for their customers and reduces the overall total cost of ownership. It gives the retailer a better margin and also reduces the battery maintenance issues for them.” Neil Parker points out that upgrading customers from lead-acid to lithium is also lucrative business. “It’s a big revenue generator from existing trolley owners and we supply the LitePower lithium replacement batteries to meet a demand across all makes of trolley.”

    Being able to produce lithium only models like the new S7 remote controlled model has design advantages too. “Lead acid batteries are bulky and that constrains the design of a trolley. Lithium allows more flexible and compact designs, which you will see with our new premium model when launched later this year”, says David Wells.

    While the company sub-contracts manufacture of its trolleys, it undertakes its own research and development work. “We are all golfers and we discuss where the gaps in the market are and where improvements can be made”, Wells states. “We also rely on feedback from our customers and our retail partners. The factory we use only makes trolleys and we take 98 percent of their output, so we have a close working relationship with our colleagues there and they are also an important source of ideas for product development and refinement. We are determined to be an innovator and market leader.”

    One growth area for on-course retailers that the company is keen to promote is electric trolley hire. “There are enormous benefits for on-course retailers to rent out electric trolleys and particularly Motocaddy trolleys”, Oliver Churcher states. “We produce a rental calculator that shows when rental trolleys will show a return on investment and then how much profit they should generate. When the trolley’s rental life is ended, usually after twelve months, it can be sold before the retailer buys more rental stock.”

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    “Until a few years ago, only resort type venues rented golf trolleys, but now private clubs recognise they can turn a good profit renting only three or four trolleys”, Neil Parker adds. “Rental trolleys are also a good driver of sales, because they get the product into people’s hands so members and visitors try them and then think they would like to buy one of their own. The trolleys we supply for rental are exactly the same as the production models, providing a demonstration stock which is paying for itself and doesn’t take up shop space.” Motocaddy now has over 1,000 retailers also taking rental trolleys and as Churcher remarks, “There’s no Internet competition with rental trolleys!”

    Another important source of revenue that often goes unrecognised is accessories, says David Wells. “It’s not just our golf bags that can stimulate additional revenue with a Motocaddy sale. We now sell 20 accessory items for our trolleys and the umbrella holder is the best seller, but seasonal items such as winter ‘hedgehog’ wheels add incremental revenue for our retailers. Golfers want to have a comfortable round and our trolleys and accessories make that possible. Golf course operators recognise that they cannot have trolley bans and remain viable. We have helped overcome their resistance by making our trolleys as ‘course friendly’ as possible, so everyone wins.”