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.

emv chip

EMV and Credit Card Processing Changes

There is a lot of buzz going around concerning the changes in EMV compliance and 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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