Golf carts are small, motorized vehicles for golfers and their equipment to move from one place to another on golf courses. But do you know that golf carts are not just used specifically in golf courses in the place where our guest JP Carter of Big Time Carts is? Almost everyone has got one, and it is mainstream in their area. So listen and find out how JP and his team provide service to people who want to buy, customize and help in servicing their golf carts. Some even have customized speakers! So what do you need to know about the golf cart industry? Stay tuned and enjoy this episode!
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Golf Cart Demands In Palm Harbor | JP Carter
In this episode, I’m sitting down with JP Carter, who is the do-it-all, behind the scenes, the person in the store delivering their carts for Big Time Carts. The Owners, Chad and Delaine, have put a ton of trust in JP. We’re sitting down with him to chat more about Big Time Carts. We’re also going to learn more about JP, what he’s about, and how he got into this role.
Something that stood out to me was the way Big Time Carts sells. They do something a little bit different than some of the other golf cart dealerships in the area that I had no idea it was a thing until I sat down with JP. Make sure you read that. Also, Big Time Carts has a discount for you if you are going to be purchasing a golf cart from them in the near future. Make sure you read until the end of the episode, and JP will tell you what you need to do to get that discount from them on your next golf cart purchase. Let’s jump right into it and meet JP.
I started this show because I’m extremely passionate about connecting you with the people and the local businesses to make Palm Harbor special. Palm Harbor, Florida, is a great place to live, work, and play. It has everything you could dream of, from the food, the outdoors, the lifestyle, and the people in the community. I wanted to create a show that connected the community and inspired everyone to live better. To join this community and stay up to date on all things Palm Harbor, visit my website, PalmHarborLocal.com, and sign up there to join the locals. Remember, together, we keep Palm Harbor local.
Welcome, JP. I appreciate you jumping on the show. I am excited to chat with you. You are the President of Big Time Carts. I’ve watched that location developing into Big Time Carts and that stuff. It’s been cool to watch the business grow and be built out there at that spot in Palm Harbor. Thanks for jumping on the show.
Thanks for having me.
You are involved with Big Time Carts. How long has the company been around? How long have you been working there as well?
Chad and Delaine started the company a couple of years ago. It started out as a golf cart rental business. They were building these carts and renting them out full-time. They would never have any carts available to rent. They started thinking, “These are nice carts we’ve designed for this. We could probably sell them.” They had a lot of people coming back after rentals, like, “Do you sell these two? How much to buy these for you?” That turned into something else then they moved into building a shop. Now, we have our location in Palm Harbor.
It started as a rental spot. Did they do rentals out of the Palm Harbor?
They did it in Dunedin. Dunedin has got these rules about having dealerships. They wanted to open up shop in Dunedin, but it’s like the law states on the car dealership. You can’t have a car lot. They count golf carts as that as well. They had to go right over the line in Palm Harbor.
You sell carts there. Do you service the carts as well? You spoke something about that.
We do. We service any cart that you may have. Whether it’s our carts or any other cart, you might have a club quarter, an easy go. We service them on site, which is nice, especially when we service a cart you bought from us because we also build them onsite. You don’t have to wait for 2 to 3 months for a part to ship. Usually, we can get your cart service within the day you’d bring it to us, which is nice.
This whole business is interesting because the whole golf cart community has exploded in our area for the last couple of years, like Dunedin and Palm Harbor. Palm Harbor, as we were talking about, they’ve expanded its golf cart zones. Maybe they need to expand it even more.
They’re thinking about it, especially on Alternate 19. People are upset because there’s no direct route to the Dunedin Causeway from Palm Harbor. There are all the trails. You can take a bike. You can walk, but people can’t access their golf carts because of Alternate 19 and the speed limit. Their idea is to either bring the speed limit down by 5 miles an hour, which would make it legal to drive your golf cart, or build another trail road next to the Pinellas Trail that’s only for golf carts.
Sell something that you actually enjoy.
Looking at a map, you’re limited if you’re going to own a golf cart like you want it to be able to go and do things. Not drive neighborhoods. Most of the golf cart-friendly zone is all residential. It gets you to Downtown Palm Harbor and what’s going on there to be able to go to different areas like the Causeway and maybe even be able to get down to Crystal Beach.
It’s frustrating for some people. I’ve had a few people have to back out of a sale. Not because they didn’t like our cart but because they didn’t realize that they could not leave their neighborhood with their golf cart. They’re like, “I’m not going to buy a golf cart only for my neighborhood.” I’ve had people upset about it. Hopefully, these new regulations that might come up will ease some people’s pain on that.
Let’s take a step back and jump into your background a little bit and how you got into this business.
I’m from Nashville, Tennessee. If you’ve seen me at the place, I’m always wearing a Tennessee hat. I’m from Tennessee, born and raised, but I had an opportunity to move down here to work with family. I moved down here and made the connection with Chad. He is an airline pilot, and so is my brother-in-law. They worked together, and that’s how I met Chad. He asked me if I wanted to work for his golf cart shop. I was originally going to be his delivery guy, only delivering carts three times a week. It turned into a lot more than that. That’s what brought me down here initially.
As you get started at Big Time Carts, now you’re doing a lot of the business, backend stuff, sales, all that stuff.
We’re not a very big business. There are not a lot of people that work there. We all wear many hats and do everything that needs to be done to get the business going.
What do you enjoy about this business? More specifically, what do you enjoy about Big Time Carts working there?
I’ve always liked sales. I used to be a car salesman back when I was very young. I’ve sold insurance. I didn’t do good at those, or I would still be doing it. I’ve always liked sales, but I love to be selling something that I enjoy. It’s boring to talk about a $10 million insurance policy and be excited about it. I like golf carts. When I first moved down here, I got here on my own. I drove myself down there. I started looking around, and I was like, “What’s with all the golf carts? This is not normal when I’m from.” You don’t own golf carts. I slowly realized, “You’re not cool unless you have a golf cart, boat, or both.”
When I worked at Big Time Carts, I enjoyed designing the carts that we’ve made custom, trying to make our products fill the needs that everybody needs, especially locals who are going to be using these golf carts not to play golf and be driving them around to make them fit their family, their size and what they need. It’s been a big experience.
Talk to me about the process of purchasing a golf cart from you guys. What does that look like when someone’s coming in? Have they done research? Do they know what they’re getting themselves into?
I either get the people who have already been to 3 or 4 different golf cart dealerships or have never been to any, never owned a golf cart in their entire life, and know nothing about it. It’s either someone who does a lot of their homework or who doesn’t. The first thing I ask them when they come on was I’m like, “What are you looking for? We have different brands that we’ve created with different needs involved.” I try to figure out what people are looking for when they come.
Usually, once I can figure out what their needs are, I point them in the right direction of one of our carts. I let them go drive and see what they think. It’s low pressure. They’d tell me if they wanted it or not. It’s a fun experience getting to see people who’ve never ridden golf carts before or never owned them and get them excited about this new environment here, where it’s pivotal to have a golf cart.
It got me thinking about the different features and stuff. For those golfers out there, the golf cart on a golf course is completely different from what you are selling. These ones are decked out. I have features and tires and all this stuff. What are some popular features of golf carts that the locals are looking for?
A lot of people get excited about all the accessories that can go on a cart. All of our carts, most of them come standard factory lifted with big tires. You can get street or off-road tires, depending on what you want. I have everything from speakers to undercarriages, lights to different bumpers. We even have what we call a gun safe, but it’s more of a secure box that goes under your seat that has a key fob.
It’s high-tech to hold your valuables, like if you’re at the beach or away from your cart, which is fun. We sell all of our carts as a base, and we let you build it the way you want it. Instead of piling every accessory I own onto one golf cart and selling it for $25,000 or something, we make them a base and say, “Here’s the cost of the cart now.” You add everything you specifically would want to, and we go from there.
Do you have all the accessories and those additional parts and stuff in the shop?
Yes. Normally, if you show up during any week, I’ll have a cart that’s already decked out that’s probably already sold but hasn’t been delivered yet. If you want to see what this looks like, come look at this car. I can let people look up and down and see what it would look like on the cart. They can choose the cart they want and then get a better idea. I can talk to them about all these accessories, but if they can’t see it on the cart, or at least turn on the speaker to see how loud it is or see what the lights undercarriage lights look like, it’s harder to get them to realize how good of a benefit it is.
That makes sense. Seeing, touching, and feeling makes a huge difference. Is everything you sell the base model?
If you were to look at a standard six-seater like one of our Lion carts, it would be street-ready. It will have all the LED headlights, blinkers, seat belts, car horns, and everything you legally need to drive it in Palm Harbor or Dunedin. It’s ready to go as is. I say, “If you like this,” then a lot of people would say, “What about speakers?” That’s probably the most popular extra that we sell, but we don’t want to put the speaker on there as a base because there are some people who don’t want to pay for a speaker and would never use it. We let you have all the options available.
What about the different models and stuff that you carry?
We all wear many hats and do everything that needs to be done to get the business going.
We launched two new golf carts. Our original brand Lion, which if anyone’s ever been to our dealership or even been around Palm Harbor, you’ve probably seen a lifted six-seater that’s got a lion icon on the side and says, “Lion on the hood.” That’s our original design, but we’ve come out with two new designs. One was in mind for the traditionalist who might see our golfer and are like, “I don’t want a giant lifted golf cart. I want something I can go golfing in.”
We came up with a new brand called Puma. Puma is a more traditional lowered golf cart. It has radial DOT tires on it. It will have slots in it for your golf balls and golf tees and is powered by Trojan batteries, which are more of a traditional lead-acid battery for normal golf carts. If I do sell those carts, I usually will sell those to actual golfers who want to use it on the golf course every day. We wanted to fill that because we didn’t have that option for our Lion carts.
We had to change the tires because you can’t have those rugged tires on golf courses and stuff. We came out with Puma to be the best of both worlds. It will still have the street capabilities with the headlights and blinkers and all that stuff, but it’s more of a lowered traditional golfing golf cart, which comes in 4 and 6-seaters.
When you say build-out or create this new brand, like Lion, how does that work? Are you creating the golf courts? Is Lion a company that you buy this model from?
Lion is our brand. It’s our name. We designed this cart or all of our carts.
Are you only buying the parts and building the cart?
Pretty much. We’re building it from the ground up once. We order those parts from manufacturers and stuff, and then we create our own name and then build it from the ground up. Our carts could be compared to Yamaha or Icon and all that stuff, but we decide what motor we want in it. We decide what brakes, what it’s powered by, and we put custom wheels, tires, lifts, seats, everything, so by the time you look at it, it’s a very unique cart.
Is that typical for golf cart dealerships to do something like that?
Most of them will have contracts. Most people probably know about Capital Golf Cart. They’re located near our dealership. If you drive by, you’ll see giant signs that say authorized dealer of Club Cart, Yamaha, or E-Z-GO. We wanted to stray away from having big company contracts because it’s a lot more of a hassle to have those types of deals with those major corporations. We thought, “We know what we want our carts to look like and how we want them to function. Why don’t we go to the manufacturer overseas and have them put our design together, get them delivered, then build them from the ground up?”
You get all the parts in and build them onsite.
I always let people walk in the back and see the whole build process from start to finish. It’s pretty fun.
That’s pretty cool. I had no idea. I thought Lion was another unique golf cart brand, but it is a unique golf cart brand because you created it. You mentioned something like the speakers and stuff. That’s a popular thing, but what are they typically looking for? I know you have options from 2-seaters all the way to 6-seaters. What’s the most common size and some of the features and stuff?
One of the most important things that a lot of people don’t think about is when I ask them, “How tall is your garage?” That does determine what size golf cart you’re going to get. Our newest brand Lynx is as tall and lifted as our Lion carts. It has only happened a few times, but we have to make sure that this cart is going to fit in your garage. I asked people what their basic needs were. There are people who are only a couple. It’s only 2 people, and they want a 6-seater because they’ve got 4 dogs. They want to drive their dogs on the golf carts and take them to the dog park.
I’m like, “I got all these seatbelts, and I have these dog harness accessories if you want where you can harness your dog into the golf cart.” It depends on what people’s needs. We start as four-seat golf carts. All three of our brands are Lion, Lynx, and Puma. All have a four-seater available. They all have the six-seat upgrade available as well. It doesn’t change much of drivability for the two. They are all built on the same type of frame motor and all that stuff. You’ll notice the turning radius is a little different for the longer ones, but that’s about it.
Do the six-seaters have the two seats like the rear-facing seats?
You have the 1st row and then the 2nd row, which is 2 front seats and 2 middle seats. Those are all facing forward. You have four facing forward. You have a lot of people who’s like, “I want a 4-seater with 4 seats facing forward.” What most people don’t realize is when I say a four-seater, a manufacturer looks at it and calls it a two-seater because you have a seat in the back that faces the other way. In a traditional golf cart, that’s where your golf bags go. They take that out and install the backseat that faces backward and also flips out into a little truck bed-ish thing where you can store stuff. Traditionally, it’s technically a 2-seater and a 4-seater that you have 2 additional seats on the back.
The four-seaters are that smaller frame. In the 6-seaters, you get the 4 forward-facing seats into rear-facing. They don’t make a 4-seater with 4 forward-facing seats.
Every now and then, you’ll find one.
They’d have to cut off the back end.
They make a six-seater and don’t install that last backseat, so you have empty space. To me, it’s like, “Why not have the extra space?” You still have the four facing forward. Most people, when they get confused, it’s like, “I only want a four-seater seater.” They want to pay the price of a four-seater and have four seats facing the board. I’m like, “That’s not how it works.”
“How tall is your garage?” That determines what size of golf cart you’re going to get.
There’s one thing you mentioned before that we didn’t touch on. Let’s go back to when you first got started. When the business opened, it was 2020 to 2021, like dealing with impacts of COVID and all that stuff.
I believe it was March of 2020.
That’s when you started selling golf carts?
Yes, that’s when they made their first sale. It was in March or April of 2020.
Especially building the golf carts, you’re getting all the parts in. What are some challenges there you’ve had to work through?
When it comes to the traditional build, we’re very blessed with the guys that we have working there. They’re incredibly efficient and fast, which is hard to find. I have a couple of guys that can build 2 carts in 2 days. We sometimes run into snags when a part might be packed in our shipping, and we can’t find it. They are good about getting those carts built and put upfront for customers to be able to see and test drive.
We have the option, especially if someone wants a custom cart where they want a specific color that I might not have built yet. They can put a $1,000 deposit, and I can pull that cart upfront. They jump in line in the build process. Normally, we have 2 guys building and 2 guys doing maintenance and stuff, depending on how much of each we need to be done. I always have at least two guys in the back building carts every single day.
Things are moving pretty quickly.
With the COVID issues with shipping, we still deal with that a little bit, especially if it’s something custom that someone wants that I may not have at the dealership, like something crazy such as a full six-seat with a golf cart cover. I’ve had people want winches installed on the front of our golf carts and our winch bumpers. That’s the stuff that we may not have on hand. That’s usually some stuff you might be waiting on and any other delays because there’s a line of customers ahead of people. We normally don’t ever have that issue. If you buy a cart, odds are, I’m dropping it off the next day for you.
That was going to be the next question, like if I walked in there now.
Unless the cart wasn’t built like you found a color that we happened to not have completely put together yet. They’re like, “I want that one.” I would have them pull that one the next day and start it. It could take a couple of days to finish. Within the week, I can usually have that cart delivered to you.
I’d like to wrap up the show by asking everybody what’s one of their favorite things to do in the area. You, being new to the area, I’m interested to see what you have to say. It could be a favorite restaurant if you have a favorite place to visit, a favorite park, beach, or something like that.
I’m a huge fisherman. I grew up in Tennessee. There’s no saltwater fishing. Being able to saltwater fish full time is amazing. That’s what my fiancé and I do every time we’re not working. We go out fishing. That is when we were talking about the zones and everything for golf carts and stuff. We are trying to push to be able to take your golf cart out to the Causeway because that’s where I fished the most. I remember I took our newest brand called Lynx. I took that cart out to the Causeway to take pictures at sunset and make it look pretty. I had a lot of people approach me about it.
I was like, “This is something I want to put fishing rods on the back of and carry my cooler and drive down to the water in my golf cart and not have to worry about my car overheating or anything like that.” Fishing is luckily something you can do about anywhere around Palm Harbor and Dunedin, which is great.
I grew up fishing and stuff and still do when I can. There are a lot of cool spots that you can get to from land where you don’t need a boat or anything like that. You can walk out to like the Causeway. What’s your favorite fish to catch?
It depends on what’s biting. My fiancé and I got her first redfish. That was a lot of fun. I caught my first keeper flounder and snook. Everybody’s snook crazy around here. It looks too much like a bass to me. I don’t want to go bass fishing my whole life. I’m done with this. I want to catch a big shark and Pompano and stuff.
Pompano is cool. I do some bass fishing as well, but the snooker is different because of the fight they put up. That’s why I enjoy catching snook.
I caught my first at the Causeway. I’m not telling you where because that’s my spot. It’s out there somewhere. That’s one of my favorite pastimes. I used to do golfing until I moved here, and I’m like, “It’s too hot to golf. I’m not going there.”
The fishing, I like it. No one has ever mentioned fishing, which is unique being in our area. JP, thanks again for jumping on the show. Where’s the shop located? Where can they get more info?
Big Time Carts is located at 1012 Florida Avenue in Palm Harbor, right across from Crystal Beach. There’s an auto center that Exxon Mobile Gas Station right across the street from us.
Do you guys have an Instagram?
@BigTimeCarts and Facebook as well. Our website is BigTimeCarts.com. The best way to get any questions answered is to message our Facebook page because that’s the fastest way to get a response or call our shop, which is on our website. If you are reading, if you come and get a car from us from reading this, you can get $250 off any of our newest Lynx carts, which came out.
Anybody who’s reading, you come in and mention Palm Harbor Local. You heard about the $250 off the purchase of the Lynx cart. I appreciate you doing that. Thanks again. It was fun.
Thanks for having me.
Thank you again for reading another episode of Palm Harbor Local. I hope you got a ton of value out of this episode. If you’re looking to connect with the guest or get more information on the episode, you can check the description below. I have all the links in the episode and the link back to my website. It’s PalmHarborLocal.com, where you can stay up to date on what’s going on with the show and sign up there to join the locals. Let’s get out there. Remember, together, we keep Palm Harbor local.
- Big Time Carts
- Capital Golf Cart
- @BigTimeCarts – Instagram
- Facebook – Big Time Carts
About JP Carter
JP started out as a deliver driver for Big Time Carts when he first moved to Palm Harbor. The owners, Chad and Delaine now trust him to with all parts of the business so when visit or interact with Big Time Carts there’s a good chance your are talking with JP.