It sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it? You’re handy with tools, and you’ve always been able to fix things out in the garage. I’ve personally heard reports about people that have started a mobile golf cart business and turned into the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of sales and repair.
How to start your own Golf cart repair business? Needless to say, if done right, this could make a great career for someone that’s a handyman. Your best bet for a customer base comes from a retirement community with or without a golf course. Here is a handy checklist for you to consider.
In my own area, there are only a couple of businesses that are still around and only one mobile golf cart repair technician that I know of. While there are golf courses here that handle their own in-house repair, many of the residents here own their own personal golf carts but are either unskilled in repair or don’t want to mess with it.
There have been many businesses started here to repair golf carts but have collapsed for one reason or another usually because they were selling new golf carts. In this retirement community, most of the residents are too thrifty to be buying brand new golf carts even though they have the money to do so. They’re looking for a good bargain on a cart to get around the neighborhood or to play on the golf course without renting one of the golf clubs fleet cars.
Another reason some of these businesses failed was that they lacked the ability to do a mobile service and visit the car owner’s site personally. Perhaps only 25% of the golf cart owners around here own a trailer and are unable to bring the ailing golf cart to the repair facility.
This particular environment is ripe for a new business taking care of the stay-at-home retirees that own golf carts but don’t have many options for maintenance and repair. So, what do you need to start your own business?
Check out the competition in your selected area, and wherever you can speak to the people that are running the businesses. Analyze the prices they charge, how much work do they have, how well did they do last year, etc. In some cases the businesses might be for sale and put you a long way down the road toward your goal.
One of the first things you need to do after developing a business plan is to apply for a business license to operate your golf cart repair business in your selected state
Raise enough capital to meet your overhead expenses parts like insurance storage and rent. If your savings aren’t large enough to handle this a small business loan or commercial loan can be obtained.
Home-based, Retail based, or Mobile?
A home-based business is going to limit how many cards you can have in the queue at one time due to the space limitations. Unless you’re living on an acreage somewhere and can build a portable storage facility, it’s going to be rather difficult to work on this out of your home. A pro on this is your office is always right there and you can work on it at any given hour and you don’t have to leave home. Your overhead is reduced by not having to rent a space, leaving you lonely with the tools materials the lift manuals, etc.
Retail space will cost you a monthly rental but has the advantage of not being in your face fulltime at home. You can separate your home life from your business life easier in a retail space.
A retail space also allows you to have the square footage available for working on multiple projects simultaneously. The main office attached to your garage will allow you to expand into a golf cart dealership, rental, and refurbished resales. The extra size afforded by an off-site facility allows for extra employees and possible sublet letting as well as projects a professional appearance to your business. There are also tax considerations separating your home from your business.
A mobile repair business can be accomplished with a van that’s well equipped with all the parts pieces and wire components and basic tools required to complete the job. Once you figure it out what your most used parts are like solenoids and replacement wire, you’ll have to consider also the possibility that you can’t repair the cart where it is. This will require a trailer to halt the cart back to your home business location. You might notice that having a mobile business still requires either a home or a retail space to do the major repair that can’t be done on-site.
Simple repairs can be done with a mobile unit, such as:
- Fixing flats
- Replacing carburetors
- Jumping batteries
- Cleaning terminals
- Oil Changes
- Battery Replacement (Sales!)
- Solenoid replacements
- Monthly maintenance
- Chassis lubrication
- Checking lights
- Cleaning and adjusting brakes
- Winterizing services
- Search and Rescue for the golf carts that didn’t quite make it back to the clubhouse
- Even putting gas in the cart.
Things you probably won’t do with a mobile;
- Installation of radios, lift kits, cigarette lighters, mirrors.
- Painting and body repair
- Carbon fiber dash covers
- Engine Overhauls
- Major or complicated troubleshooting
Your new business can offer a variety of packages ranging from maintenance to repair, and in some cases, you can offer modifications. These can range from painting and wrap jobs to lifting and speed modification. Please refer to the painting article here.
Location is important when deciding where to set up a new business that services golf carts.
Naturally, any area around the golf course is a good place to look for potential customers. The more golf courses near you the better, but there are other considerations.
- Campgrounds and hiking areas
- Event centers
- Sports centers
- Retirement communities
- Children’s centers
Depending on local zoning regarding golf carts (places that allow LSVs} housing around popular venues will attract alternative transportation.
Ideas On Building Inventory
In the winter months, there is a slow down in customer calls and it is a perfect opportunity to rebuild old golf carts for resale.
- Watch local estate sales
- Let your customers know that you are on the lookout for used golf carts for sale
- We buy ugly carts
- Watch Craigslist for the local area within a hundred miles
- Check the salvage yards to see if they have them or let them know to keep a lookout
- Some pawnshops except golf carts
- Small engine repair shops
- Local auctions especially livestock and farm auctions
The Seasonal Aspects
The colder months of the year do not have to be a downtime for you. This is the time of year that you start building your refurbished inventory by overhauling older golf carts you’ve picked up throughout the year and then selling them when the season picks up again.
So you have a few golf carts you picked up along the way, maybe ones that you saw sitting by the side of somebody’s house that was not necessarily for sale, but you made it offer for it. These purchases sit patiently waiting for you to have the time to focus on rebuilding them when business slacks off, and it will, this is the perfect opportunity to do a body-off rebuild or restoration.
Just how much by modification or upgrading you do to your junker carts is a judgment call. The particular area where you are might have countless people that like customized golf carts, or souped-up carts, or even modified with a holding cage for their dog. In my location, the golf carts are personalized to the point where you can tell by looking at the cart who is driving it. Klaus down the street has a hog wire set of doors so his schnauzer can ride up front with him. Donovan has a cage enclosure mounted behind and above the front seat that his Yorkie rides in. That is Eric coming up the southwest trail in his Green Bay Packers-themed cart.
Each of the $200 to $300 used carts that you pick up can be refurbished and turned around for $1,500 to $2,500 or more and the number of carts you have on hand will go quickly in the Spring.
The Top High Priced Equipment Concerns
First and foremost would be your building or retail space. If you already have a storage area like a barn or prefabricated building on your property, the worst part is over. Your next concern would be your truck or van, including a trailer for hauling back disabled golf carts or new purchases to rebuild.
In most cases, you already have most of the tools you need but there are some specialty items like lifts and welders you should consider.
You probably don’t need any advice on how to advertise your business, but this is a list of ideas to consider if you’re just starting out.
- Flyers and clubhouses
- Business cards
- Bumper stickers and flags on your golf cart
- Gimme caps for friends and customers
- 10% discount to veterans and repeat customers
- Constant contact annual/monthly
- Magnetic signs
- Local radio ads
- Signage for retail
- Yard signs
- Ad’s and local magazines
- Sponsorship in golf tournaments
- Window signs at sports venues
- High school sports/pickleball courts
This is only a tickler list of some of the things you’re probably going to want for your business and the more specific items will be at your discretion. All these items can be carried in the truck on a mobile business as well as being available in your garage.
- A TIG welder will handle both the steel and the aluminum frames, and you will need a cutting torch. Cracked or broken frames are a fact of life and custom projects will require this equipment.
- You will need a trailer, and in some cases, you will need a winch to pull a golf cart that has seized bearings or brakes on to the trailer. Included in this equipment are the tie-down straps and ramps. Your trailer should be capable of carrying a 48-inch to 52-inch wide golf cart with the length of 60-inch to 72-inches. If you are not using a mobile service, a truck capable of pulling anywhere from 500 to 1200 lb will be needed.
- A full set of standard and metric wrenches will be needed as golf carts come in both standard and metric.
- Impact wrench
- Torque wrench (specifically for engine components)
- Allen wrenches
- 16 gauge wire in multiple colors
- 8 gauge wire
- Wire connectors and crimper
- Electrical tape
- Gear and hub pullers
- Battery-operated drill
- Battery operated soldering iron
- Jack & jack stands
- Floor ramps
- Wheel chocks new line
- Jumper cables
- Wiring diagrams and manuals for all popular carts
- Inspection mirror
- Various different lengths screwdrivers both flat and Phillips
- Rivet and rivet tool
- Battery terminal brush
- Distilled water
- Grease gun
- Packing grease
- Two-cycle oil
- Air compressor portable
- Contact cleaner
- Feeler gauge
Parts inventory to carry can include:
- Tune-up kits for every model gasoline golf cart popular in your region.
- Various solenoids
- Gasket sets
- Replacement tires and rims
- Spare lug nuts
- Extra keys
- 6-volt battery
- 8-volt battery
- Various replacement bulbs and headlights
- Tow run switches
- Key switches
- Brake pads
- Brake drums for the major brand golf carts
- Wheel bearings
- Drive belts
- Spark plugs
You could keep a variety of speed controllers on hand, but I wouldn’t recommend it as you may have these in stock long enough for them to be outdated by the time you need them.
Office equipment to include would be bookkeeping software, a computer, printer, phone system with answering service, a system for taking card payments like Square, PayPal card reader, etc., an inventory system possibly with bar-code scanning and, if you are successful in this field, a payroll software.
After carefully considering all the pros and cons of entering the golf cart repair business, you may find that this is a perfect fit for you as a side business or a full-time career. With careful planning, research, and a small amount of capital, the next golf cart pro in town could be you!