On Friday in Managing Golf Facility Operations, we had a really interesting guest speaker. Rayl (pronounced RAIL) Evans has been an independent sales representative in the golf industry since the late 80s and also runs his own company, Rayl Group LTD.
Evans played college golf at Southern Oregon University, and after graduating, started selling insurance. But Evans heart always belonged to golf, not insurance. So in 1988, at age 43, Evans started selling golf instead. Nearly 28 years later, you could argue no one is more well connected to golf management in the southwest region, and specifically Arizona, than Evans.
Evans is an independent sales rep (as opposed to a captive sales rep), meaning he can sell just about whatever he wants. “I don’t work well in structured, corporate environments,” he told us. “I don’t have to work for jerks if I don’t want to.” Evans started out selling mostly hard goods but says the last 10-15 years have been more apparel driven. He currently represents a batch of what he calls “B” companies, brands you may never have heard of but on which the courses he sells to can make margin.
So is margin more important than brand name? That all depends on the demographics of the course. Customers at a public or daily fee facility are going to be much different than a private or high-end facility. But courses want there to be enough margin built in so that they can still make a profit after the 2nd or 3rd markdown if the product is still on the shelf or the rack. Courses have to know how to manage their markdowns in the pro shop because that management determines, in large part, the profit margins a course is able to generate.
Evans sells to non-resort, daily fee, and public courses. The courses make money on almost all of the merchandise they sell, but he says the real magic happens when the average price of the shirts for sale in the shop are about the same as the cost of a greens fee. That’s when they really start flying off the shelves.
Evans describes himself as “loyal to a fault” and “benevolently persistent” and says what sets him apart from other reps is that when his customers call him with a problem, that problem goes away. He backs what he sells and will never “load and leave” his customers with merchandise. That’s because Evans says the golf business is a relationship business. The relationship with the customer always supersedes the product and integrity has to be earned.
Evans will be coming back to the Golf Academy to speak to us again next semester, but he didn’t leave us without a few things to think about:
* Why do you want to get into the golf business?
* You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
* If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.
* Know who and what you are.
* If you have a sales rep with 3+ yrs. experience call on you, give him 5 min. He knows the territory.
If you think your golf course can benefit from the basket of companies Evans represents, you can reach him by phone at 480/892-4252 or via email: rayl_group_ltd@msn.