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Last Update: Tuesday June 25, 2019

Key Idea: Be Willing To Change Everything

Bart Mahan nearly lost everything before he got his business model right.

Key Question:

A: 

Be willing to change everything.  That's what you can learn from Bart.  He had an idea that he could sell golf carts and opened a retail lot but it just didn't work.  

Most often we see owners make gradual changes to an existing business and they do it by listening to customers and vendors.  Maybe the product mix needs to change or perhaps the customer target has to be tweaked but it is rare that a person stops everything to completely changes gears.

Because he had the courage to take this drastic action, Bart moved from near bankruptcy to millions in revenue a year.

Think about it

What would you like to see happening that is not now happening?  What part of your business earns the most profit?  What part feels like dead weight?  What steps do you have to take to eliminate the non-productive efforts?  Who would lose their job?  Could that person be re-trained?  Would your bank provide the funding you need to make the changes necessary so that you can grow?

Clip from: Buggies Unlimited

Richmond, Kentucky:  Bart Mahan was recognized by the US Chamber of Commerce as the best small business in his region.  His company, Buggies Unlimited, sells all of the accessories golf cart owners need to make their cart truly unique.  Bart had already seen success with catalog marketing providing supplies to dentists.  After he sold that business he went on to start a new company merging his love of golf and sports cars.

Buggies Unlimited

Bart Mahan, Founder & CEO

710 S. Keeneland Drive
Richmond, KY 40475
888 444 9994

Visit our web site: http://www.buggiesunlimited.com

Office: 888 444 9994

Business Classification:
Retail

Year Founded:

Be Willing To Change Everything

Hattie:(Voiceover) Meet Bart Mahan is founder and owner of Buggies Unlimited the world’s largest supplier of golf cart gear with 48 employees in Richmond, Kentucky.

BART MAHON: Golf cart gear is anything that you use to accessorize your golf cart or to repair your golf cart. Actually I wanted to combine my life’s passions of sports cars and golf.

Back in 1999 we were rolling pretty well with the traditional golf cart dealership. Along came the dot com crash of Spring 2000 and a lot of discretionary income of the retirees evaporated.  401 Ks went to 101 Ks.  And I made about every mistake you could make as a traditional golf card dealership.

We scaled back from 16 employees and two stores to one store in Kentucky and only 5 employees.  We were at the bottom of the abyss looking up.

I started liquidating assets to keep the company afloat I’m not ashamed to tell you I sold a coveted sports car to make payroll one month.   

Another month I sold an exclusive country club membership to make payroll. I took the old credit cards and had nine credit cards that I had cash advances maxed out to $143,000.  So there was no quitting.  There was no option.  We knew we had hit on something so that’s where our focus was.

Hattie: (Voiceover) Bart went back to what he knew best and launched a catalog and Internet company targeting do-it-your-selfers.  Today he’ll do $1.5 million in sales per month.

BART:  We call them the cart guys – people who have been in the golf cart industry for 15 to 30 years.  These people don’t grow on trees.  We have recruiting efforts all around the country.  You combine these people with an engineer that we hired on staff and they collaborate and come up with ways to improve existing products in the golf cart industry.

With the rapid growth we were trying to get personnel to fill the void so I decided to beef up our employee compensation package.  I was trying to make it fun to come into work.

Then when we chose to a couple of years ago hire a hospitality manager, Jazzman, James Baker.  That was the X factor.  He’s our hospitality manager Jazzman is the company chef. We provide lunch for all of our associates Monday through Friday.  He is the company chauffeur. The employee of the month gets a night on the town in the limo with $500 cash to spend any way they want.  The employee of the year gets $5,000 and a night on the town plus he entertains our vendors when they come into town.

He’s the glue I guess you could say that holds the thing together.  He’s Mr. Hospitality.  

It’s obviously easy for me to come in everyday.  For all of the associates I want them to enjoy and look forward to coming into work as much as I do.

If someone doesn’t take you under their wing, find somebody’s wing and crawl under it.

I feel like Rocky Balboa.  Get knocked down on the mat so many times but I was too stupid to lay there so I kept getting back up.  I feel like one of the biggest things that an entrepreneur does is we’re the push factor.  We are relentless. We do not stop.  We just have to press on.  Press on.

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