First Sonic Golf franchisees tee off

A machine that cleans golf clubs is a simple concept and an equally simple business model with substantial opportunity for growth and return on investment. Rachel Spaul interviews the first Sonic Golf franchisees

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 8 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 ten machines in three weeks and is aiming for 30.

Founder Joel Bissitt describes Sonic Golf as 'a unique franchise serving a growing market', and within three years aims to secure between 25 per cent and 35 per cent of a market that generates an estimated £40 million per year.
Joel recalls:

'I have been a keen golfer from the age of seven but while I enjoy playing golf I have never enjoyed cleaning my clubs. When I discovered the ultrasonic golf club cleaning machine I was very excited about its potential. One of the many areas that excites me is that, although ultrasonic golf cleaning is very popular in the US and Australia, it is little known or used in the UK and Ireland. Since the launch of Sonic Golf in September, we have awarded nine franchises, launched three franchisees, and are currently finalising a Master Franchise agreement for the Republic of Ireland.'

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. An independent party has piloted the franchise over the past three years and using a single machine has achieved sales of up to £1,900 per month. The current wash charge is £4.50 per set and takes just two minutes to clean the grips and heads. Additional revenue can be made through advertising sales for the side panels of the machines.

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.'

Sonic Golf machines have already been placed in key locations, including St. Andrews 'the home of golf', and are recommended by Bill Ferguson (PGA), former coach to Ian Woosnam and other European Ryder Cup stars.

Joel sums up: 'Having worked for several years within franchising, including being a former Regional Chairman for The British Franchise Association and also running a leading franchise information website, I feel franchising is the ideal way to rapidly grow the Sonic Golf business. Sonic Golf is a unique business proposition where franchisees will benefit from the largely untapped market that currently exists in the UK.'