online tee times

Online Tee Sheets: When Free Isn’t Really Free

As golf courses close all around, the ones that remain must work harder and smarter to make sure they are maximizing all potential income and revenue sources. Many golf courses make the mistake of cutting or slashing payroll, forcing fewer people to do more work, to maintain a level of service previously expected from the golfers who play at your golf facility.

proshop-SMIt’s amazing how many golf courses that are still using cash boxes or cash registers to take in money. Using stand-alone credit card terminals that are so old, they are most likely no longer PCI compliant and now your customer’s data is more susceptible to a breach from hackers.

With the advent of PC-based point of sale systems, the ability to track customer/member information improved, inventory received and sold is more accurate, ringing food and drinks, plus keeping bar tabs became easier, and golf courses had a better way to track revenue.

But along the way, it was pointed out that the main way a golf course receives revenue is tee times. Tee times in the form of green fees and cart (pull or power) fees. A golf course has a fixed number of tee times each day, each week, each month, and each golf season. Barring bad weather and of course, the geographic location of a golf course, each golf facility needs to make as much money as possible by filling those open tee times.

How Do Third-party Online Tee Sheets Work?

With electronic media integrating into the golf world, the 3rd-party online tee sheet company was born. Simply go to a golf course website, pick an open time, enter in your e-mail address, contact information, and your credit card number, and the time is reserved. Easy, right? But did that information go only to the golf course or did the 3rd-party tee sheet company also receive access to that golfer’s information? And what are they doing with that information? Why, sending that golfer e-mails about other golf courses, not yours, that are offering discounted pricing. Or where to purchase merchandise at a lower price than what is offered at your pro shop.

How is this on-line tee sheet software being paid for by the golf course? Well, you only need to provide them with one or two tee times a day that are sold by the 3rd-party company, posted on your tee sheet and their own website, at a discounted price, and the golfer(s) show up with a coupon or printout saying their golf (and cart) are paid. The only chance the golf course has of generating any revenue is to sell food and beverages at the snack bar or the grill. The 3rd-party tee sheet company is likely “giving” golf courses the software in exchange for those one or two times per day.

How Much Does “Free” Cost?

sunrise_golf-SMWell, let’s do some simple math. The average round of golf with cart fee runs $40 per person. The third-party company offers these times at a discounted rate of $25 per person. They fill two time slots with four players each. That means 8 golfers x $25 equals $200 per day.

Suppose your golf season runs about 200 days each year. For reality sake, say 50 of those days are washed out due to weather or maybe the tee-times were not filled. That leaves 150 days where two tee times a day were filled and sold. 150 days x $200 equals $30,000.

Your “FREE” software allowed $30,000 of revenue not going to the club. Oh, and for this “FREE” service, you are being asked to sign a multi-year contract. No wonder a golf course does not have to pay much up front. The really sneaky part is how virtually invisible the whole process is for a golf facility. The golf course does not see money not coming in; they only have a bottom line report of sales. Who sees that revenue in their reports? The 3rd-party tee sheet companies.

And just how good is the point of sale system?  How many buttons and menu screens are needed to ring up a single item? Or a series of items? Ringing through golfers should be as fast as checking out at a Target or Walmart. See how fast they scan products, or touch a button to ring in a non-scannable product? Your pro shop or snack bar should be doing the same speed. Faster rings means more golfers moving through the line.

What is the Alternative?

The other option is to use a golf course managment software with built in tee sheets. The software we use is called AIMsi, but there are others. Using a point of sale software like this allows for a great deal of flexibility.This is because we build customized point of sale programs for your specific facility. All golf courses are similar in many ways, but also very different. Do you sell green fees/cart fees as a combo price? Do you offer multiple prices based on a golfer’s specific membership or patron type? All customer/member data is yours to keep. All your inventory tracking is yours.

How are online tee sheets in golf course software different? 

The difference is you set the price for all the tee times and sell those times as you see fit. What the golf facility pays for is the hosting fee for the online tee sheet and the web security from data breaches. Hosting fees start at $6 a day or the price of one pull cart. Adding the ability to book times on a smartphone or tablet means your cost is $10 a day or about half a power cart rental. That means your cost for hosting an online tee sheet, which the golf course controls ALL the times, is roughly 200 days x $10/day or $2000 per golf season.

What causes golf courses to pause is that the cost is NOT invisible. You are being asked to pay a monthly fee. But again, the bottom line is by controlling the price on all your tee times, the golf course earns all the revenue. The next trick is having a person control marketing those tee times. This is where an updated website, using Facebook, Twitter, and all forms of social media come into play. It costs a golf facility ZERO to market your golf course with social media, and yet it barely gets used.

Call American Metro to learn more about the AIMsi software. American Metro is ready to handle your software, Hardware, and integrated credit card solutions. Cost-effective and with a strong sense of customer service.

finger on ipad

Remote Reporting at Events: What’s It Worth?

One of the great things about technology is the time saving capacity associated with automating mundane tasks. Everyone is looking for ways to squeeze as much time out of the day as possible. As most event coordinators know, time really is money. When you rely on making your money over the course of a single week or maybe just a weekend, you have to breathe productivity. It has to be second nature.

When you’re up against the clock, every minute of the day, what are your options for saving time? At the end of a 14…15…16-hour sales day, the last thing you need is to spend hours going from register to register, stand to stand running reports, hand entering data into a spreadsheet, and calculating inventory numbers to do it all again tomorrow. That seems like the perfect place to implement a time saving, technological advancement.

Granted, the technology to perform remote reporting has been around a long time. A system that allowed inter-terminal communication was first implemented by a chain of department stores in 1973. The earliest microprocessor used in a point of sale system was developed for McDonalds in 1974. This allowed for price changes and reports to be performed from any terminal if changed to manager mode.  After several iterations, POS systems became much more accessible when they were integrated into a Windows platform in 1992. Until very recently, all these options required a great deal of infrastructure to operate. This left short-term, pop-up retailers with no alternatives in locations that didn’t have the necessary hard lines already in place.

In the last few years, cellular data transmission and cloud based storage have leveled the playing field for the event industry. Now, connecting a compatible wireless router to a cash register can facilitate sales data transmission. Tablet-based POS software offers an even more mobile option for making sales and consolidating sales figures in the cloud.

retail_event_SM

Now, let’s do a little real world analysis of what using a technology like this does to the bottom line for a few sample events.  These examples represent a events of differing scopes.

Scenario #1 – Merchandise sales at a 3 day conference.  Eight cash registers are used to keep track of the sales of 450 items that include clothing of various sizes and styles, reference materials, books and CDs or digital download cards. All the terminals are set up in the same store area.

Scenario #2 – Concession sales at a week-long festival. In this instance, there are a total of 120 registers in 30 locations spread out across the fair grounds. Each stand has between 10 and 50 items they are selling, with an average of 24 items. There are also 18 different vendors, some overseeing multiple stands, which need to receive their own reports as well.

To collect and record the information from paper reports, here are some reasonable estimates on the time it takes for each step.

The average travel time between locations is 2.5 min.

Printing, gathering and organizing the reports at each stand can be done in 5 min per stand.

Entering the data from each report into a spreadsheet takes about 2 minute per report.

The item report takes time to find each item on the spread sheet, match it to the printed report and record the number of items and dollar amount. Short lists mean items are easier to find and take less time, around 18 items per minute. Long lists take more time to match items and cuts productivity down to 10 items per minute.

Scenario 1 

To gather the reports, here is the time required. 2.5 min to get to the register area + 5 min to run/collect the reports + 2.5 min to get back to the office = 10 min
To enter the data from the financial reports; 2 min x 8 registers = 16 min
To enter the data from the item reports; 450 items/10 items per min x 8 registers = 360 min or 6 hours
In total, that’s 6hr 26min per day x 3 days = 19.3 hours of time spent.

You may have someone to do the running around and entering data for you, for maybe $15-20/hour. More than likely, you would want a trusted individual on the financial team or even yourself doing this type of work.

aerial_veiw_of_festival_SMScenario 2 

To collect reports for the festival, here is the time involved. 2.5 min x 30 locations + 5 min x 30 locations = 225 min
To enter data from financial reports: 2 min x 120 reg = 240 min
To enter data from item reports: 24 items/20 items per min x 120 registers = 160 min
When we total this time, we get 225 min + 240 min + 160 min = 625 min or 10.4 hours per day
Over the full 7 days of the event that comes to 72.8 hours spent on reports.

Again, who is designated to perform these tasks? To make sure they are done in a timely manner, it may take several people.  There are cases where the festival organizer needs to know overall totals and each vendor wants to know their own sales numbers. In this instance, data entry efforts would be doubled, or one party is stuck waiting for the other to pass the info along. There is also a good chance you will want to know what the sales are after the lunch rush or after a certain session lets out. That means another round of running and collecting reports.

How much more could you get done if you had an extra 6 to 10 hours a day? How much could you save if you could reduce payroll by one or more people per day? How beneficial is it to you not to add a few more hours to your already long day waiting for reports? Consider the value in tracking your inventory, and verifying you are getting paid for each item.

laptop_wBridge_SMThe alternative is using electronic data transfer and cloud based reporting. This all but eliminates the time spent collecting reports and manually entering data. At any point during the day you can get an up-to-the-minute snapshot of your sales, segmented however you like; by vendor, stand, register or the entire event. The only time involved is in pulling up the website and selecting the type of report you want to see.

The reality is, during your event, there simply aren’t any “extra” hours. Therefore, it either becomes someone’s full time job to enter all the inventory data overnight or the next day, or it doesn’t get done. The ability to continuously check your sales, see what your top sellers are and preemptively coordinate restocking means you greatly reduce the risk of customers not getting what they want. It also speeds things up when they don’t have to wait for product to be delivered. Selling more items, and selling them faster means an increase in revenue. The bottom line, you’ll save on staffing and increase sales.

For a complete analysis of your specific event, contact American Metro for a  Free Point of Sale Project Profile . With just a few simple questions, we will provide you with a cost/benefit comparison and help determine the ideal point of sale solution for you.

emv chip

EMV and Credit Card Processing Changes

There is a lot of buzz going around concerning the changes in credit card processing procedures. Beginning in October, the U.S. will adopt the  standard used by the rest of the world. This process is designed to clarify who the liable party is when fraudulent credit cards are presented. As a result, the technology required will shift the way credit card readers interact will cards. This transition may seem uncomfortable, so let us try to ease your mind. Here are a few key points on what this new regulation entails with further explanation below.

  1. The U.S. implementation only requires compliance by the credit card processor.
  2. The regulation DOES NOT require individual merchants to upgrade equipment.
  3. It is estimated to take credit card issuers up to 3 years to complete the replacement of all 2.1 billion credit cards in circulation in the U.S.
  4. You have time to figure out when is the best time to upgrade.

In an effort to reduce the amount of credit card fraud, the U.S. is adopting the same credit card technology used throughout most of the rest of the world. First introduced in 1995, EMV was named for the three companies that developed the technology; Europay/Mastercard/Visa. Since that time, there have been a total of six credit card networks to share in the ownership. The new system uses a microchip to create a dynamic verification code for each transaction processed on the card.

The magnetic stripe found on the back of most cards contains the credit card number, customer name, address, zip code and a static 4 digit verification (CVV1) code that the point of sale system uses to authenticate the card. There is also a 3 digit code (CVV2) printed on the back of the card that can be used to verify hand entered transactions. The problems involved with this type of system occur when the data on the cards is intercepted or hacked from a store’s database (like what happened to Target) and all that information can be recoded or cloned onto another card. After all, it is the same technology as an old cassette tape and it was easy enough to record over those.

With the addition of a microchip, a new verification code is generated for each transaction. This virtually eliminates the possibility of cloning a working card. In addition to the built in safety measures of the chip, there are also customer verification methods (CVM) available. These options include entering a PIN when using the card, requiring a signature or enabling Near Field Communication (NFC) for paying with a fob or smartphone. These options are programmed into the chip based on preferences set by either the card issuer or card holder and can vary based on total transaction amount, location, etc.

creditcardfraudchart_1The Electronic Transaction Association (ETA) has compiled the following concerning credit card processing. In the U.S., credit card transactions comprise $1.2 trillion and there are a total of $8 billion of fraudulent charges. While that number comprises only 0.67% of total credit card revenue, $8 billion is still a lot of money. In fact, 47% of all credit card fraud occurs in the United States. EMV implementation could eliminate 78% of US fraud cases by eliminating cloned cards.

creditcardfraudcharts_1and2

Since most of the rest of the world is already on the EMV system, the primary reason for delay in the U.S. conversion is due to the infrastructure. The US was a very early adopter of credit card technology and right now there are approximately 8 million merchants using the swipe style card readers. To force that many merchants to switch over involves a significant investment in technology upgrades on the processor side as well as hardware upgrades for businesses.

emv_card_readerThe new hardware will require the card be inserted into the reader for the duration of the transaction. This is because the microchip doesn’t have a battery and therefore has no method of transmitting data on its own. The gold casing over the microchip is powered through induction by the card reader. This will have the most impact on the restaurant and service industry. When a card requires a PIN or signature for confirmation, a mobile reader will be necessary or the customer will have to accompany the card to the host station.

Starting in October, the credit card processors are required to have the infrastructure in place to accept EMV payments. So, how does this affect liability? After that time, liability will be split between the card issuer and the merchant and will fall to the party responsible for not allowing the EMV transaction to take place. For Example:

  • If a merchant has the EMV reader in place, but the customer has not receive a card with the chip from their bank, the liability for a fraudulent transaction is on the issuer.
  • If a customer attempts to use an EMV card at a merchant who has not upgraded to the EMV reader, the liability will be on the merchant.

There will likely be an overlap of technologies for quite a while. Many card issuers will wait until the expiration of their current cycle of cards until they upgrade. There are a total of 2.1 billion cards in the market at the moment, and to replace them all is expensive. Cards with just a mag stripe can be produced for about $.10 per card while cards that have the EMV chip in them cost between $1-2 to produce. New cards issued will continue to include magnetic stripes for several years, knowing not every merchant will upgrade equipment right way.

There are also some exceptions to the liability rule. Gas stations have been allowed more time to implement the conversion. Most card readers are built into the pumps and require a complete replacement. ATMs will also have extra time to upgrade for the same reason.

As you consider the options indicative with upgrading, you may come up with more questions. In such cases, American Metro is happy to help you find answers. Use the button below to contact our resident credit card expert or email your question to nadya@americanmetro.com.

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