Sonic Golf: Drive and Ambition

Bringing to market an innovative product with the benefit of an independently owned three-year UK pilot project, Sonic Golf is offering a franchise with substantial earnings potential. Rachel Spaul reports

'What makes this golf franchise so appealing to investors is that, in terms of new opportunities, there are relatively few golf investment options,' explains Sonic Golf Founder Joel Bissett.

'We are bringing to market an innovative product with the benefit of a three-year UK pilot project. The pilot proved the durability, reliability and profitability of our offering. Sonic Golf's entry level franchise price is just under £15,000, a low investment threshold, designed to encourage rapid uptake and the acquisition of multiple licences.

'We expect an average machine to generate income from cleaning in excess of 200 sets of clubs per month,' adds Joel. 'Our trials indicate that this figure can be as high as 1,500 sets of clubs per month, and smaller clubs can still generate significant profit with a throughput of up to 300 sets a month. 'Our unique relationship with an accredited UK ultrasonic cleaning manufacturer means we are in a strong position to deliver and service equipment quickly. Our local base also enables us to offer telesales and marketing support, which is included within the franchise licence.'

Sonic Golf's appealing proposition to golf clubs to supply ultrasonic golf club cleaning machines for free, on a profit sharing basis, is attracting business from across the country for its first franchisees. Keith Middlewood, who was previously in the army and then the police force, immediately saw the appeal of the machine having spent many evenings cleaning his golf clubs.

He remarks: 'It's an innovative idea that I can see people like me paying for. When I visited Sonic Golf they appeared to be very professional and the pilot franchisee was very helpful. I was also impressed to see the machine in action.'

In his first two weeks as Kent franchisee Keith sited eight machines and has meetings with several more interested clubs. He attributes this success to Sonic Golf's marketing team, who secured the first appointments on his behalf. Phil Knight, a former Business Development Manager and Sussex franchisee, chose Sonic Golf for the flexible working hours and the scalability of the business model. He states: 'Sonic Golf is an excellent idea with excellent machines. I am fully confident that the more machines we place, the better known it will become and the franchise will grow. I can work my own hours and build the business as big as I like.' Phil has placed 10 machines in three weeks and is aiming for 30.

The franchisee's role is to develop relationships with golf clubs to site and maintain machines. The only cost to the club is the electricity needed to run it. The club signs an exclusive agreement and in turn receives a percentage of all sales collected via the club or pro shop by selling tokens to operate the machine. 'The fact that it doesn't cost anything and they're not tied into a lengthy contract is important to the clubs,' Keith elaborates.

Joel, a keen golfer, former Regional Chairman for the British Franchise Association and founder of a leading franchise information website, launched Sonic Golf in September last year. Since then Sonic Golf has awarded nine franchises, launched three franchisees, and is currently finalising a Master Franchise agreement for the Republic of Ireland.

Franchisees do not need to be trained salespeople or even golf enthusiasts but must possess excellent local knowledge and communication skills, and be prepared to hire and manage part-time staff if required. The initial franchise investment of £14,995 includes licenses for 10 machines, induction training, operations manual and maintenance manual. Sonic Golf provides marketing support and completes all billing and administration requirements for franchisees. Phil describes the support as 'excellent' while Keith recommends the franchise to someone with an interest in golf or looking for a low-cost business.

'We estimate the total United Kingdom market for golf club cleaning services to be in the region of £40 million a year,' reveals Joel. 'Our target is to secure 35 per cent of this market within the next three years. We are working to achieve this with the extension of our franchise system and a streamlined Sonic Golf franchise model.'