Updated: Oct 23
Welcome to a new aboutGOLF series featuring our valued business partners! This week, we’d like to introduce you to Dwayne and Sara Robinson from Precision Sports in Albany, NY. The Robinsons created a unique sports simulator showroom. Instead of featuring a single vendor, the Robinsons currently have sims from seven vendors and plan to expand soon.
aG: What inspired you to offer multiple simulator brands in a single showroom?
Sara: We wanted to take the time to decide what brands and manufacturers we wanted to work with. We used the PGA show to compare different brands and different software. We have seven in the showroom right now.
We have a 5,000 square foot showroom. It's explicitly designed to allow someone to try all of the brands in one location so they can see them side by side.
A lot of people have to travel to different places to try a specific simulator. When they go to those locations, they're either using an existing customer’s simulator or visiting a manufacturer. They rarely get a full demo with instructions on how to use the sim. We decided to reduce the time people spend researching and give them a good education within a couple of hours about the different brands.
When people come into the showroom, they usually fly in. We provide them a credit if they fly in, so they can spend a day with us and learn about different simulators. We also have different kinds of hitting mats, screens, and enclosures. People can really get a feel for what’s going to work best for their space.
Someone can steep themselves into a process at our location that would typically take several weeks. It’s easier for them to make an educated decision on the simulator they purchase.
Dwayne: We want customers to take advantage of the ability to try out all the different brands that are at the top of mind for people buying golf simulators. That way, they can find out what they do and don’t like about each simulator. They can buy the right simulator and avoid buyer’s remorse. If you’re spending in a high price range, you really want to be able to feel good that you made a solid decision, and you knew what you were doing.
aG: How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
Dwayne: It’s been really interesting. We were watching things progress in March, and we knew they were going to have close businesses down at some point. I remember going to bed on a Friday night, thinking, “Wow, we are in trouble. Who’s going to buy products like we sell?” It was an uncertain time.
I woke up on Monday, and everything that was $10K or less was flying off the shelves. For the next few weeks, we were selling out all the products that were lower cost. I guess when you have the means, you will do for yourself whenever you see fit. We were making our regular price point sales. Customers were buying the bigger ticket items.
It wasn’t the same volume we would generally have in the early spring, but it was enough that we realized if we were smart and tailored our marketing, we’d be okay.
And we made other changes. Instead of flying people into the showroom, we worked with our PGA professional to host remote virtual demos. We figured he’s a PGA pro, so he knows how to hit a golf ball—and with a high definition camera, they can see the ball hit the screen. They can see it pop through to the other side. They can see if he was coming from the outside in or inside out—and if they wanted him to demo those shots, he could. We figured that would overcome the hurdle of, ‘Well, I’m looking at this thing on TV, and I don’t know what’s going on.’
Working with a PGA professional definitely puts people at ease. They can trust what they see because this guy golfs for a living. We figured, if they didn’t feel comfortable making the decision based on that interaction, then at least we had one hurdle covered. When the restrictions loosened up, then they could come into the showroom and try it themselves. Ultimately, it did work out well. People are still purchasing simulators from the virtual demos.
Sara: It’s interesting. Between adding our PGA Professional into the sales process and the fact that we have several different brands, they don’t feel like they’re getting a hard sell. We let them come in and try what they want, and we don’t say anything. We let them decide what their questions are and what they like and dislike. Even though we may know each one's pros and cons, just the fact that we have an unbiased approach helps with the trust level.
This is especially true because they hear different stories from all the manufacturers. By the time they get to us, they’re so confused they want to give up. They talk to one manufacturer who tells them one thing, and then they hear something completely different from another. They thought they knew what they were doing and then feel like they’re all the way back to square one. That’s usually when we come into the mix. They find us after they start doing research.
aG: What’s a common hurdle that you find interesting during the sales process?
Dwayne: People conflate launch monitors with golf simulators. That’s probably one of the biggest hurdles we have to overcome out of the gate. They think launch monitors can replace a sim and be used inside.
I hate to burst their bubbles sometimes.
As the short game starts to show up, that’s where you’ll see a big difference. If that part of the game is important to you, you have to consider accuracy. That’s why we’re planning on adding launch monitors so we can literally show them, so they’re not just taking our word for it. We want them to experience that difference.
It sounds great that I can pick this up and set it outside and then pick it up and use it at home, but it’s a night and day difference. They should be aware of that. Especially if you’re spending money in a high price range, you should get what you expect.
We’d like to thank Dwayne and Sara for sharing their wealth of knowledge with us! To hear more about how they cope with seasonality, their advice for new indoor golf center owners, and discover a new business model they've uncovered for indoor golf, check out the webinar.
If you’re looking for a simulator and are in the Northeast, be sure to check out Precision Sports. See more information about their location and the products they offer on their website.