Saturday, May 23, 2015

Reversal of Fortunes

       When you said this morning to take out the new triplex out to mow greens, does the "new triplex" have over 3000 hours? Lots of clubs have fallen behind in their equipment replacement plans and now have been trying to get the process restarted. While the clubhouse gets new rugs and the golf cart fleet lease keeps on rolling, you are using equipment that was meant to be replaced years ago.
       Recently, I had the chance to work with a golf course that was at this tipping point. Their main rough unit was purchased used and had over 10,000 hours! Yes, that is not a typo, over 10,000 hours.
The club has been doing well with play and would buy a piece when something would get to complete failure. The need for investment was obvious, but how do you get the board to understand where you are in your fleet needs?
       We put together, what I would call for lack of a better term, a reverse proposal. I took pictures of all the equipment that needed to be replaced. Then, we collected the hours and years for each and put it in to a formal proposal, almost like you would for an equipment quote or bid. The part that I think helped to sell it to the board was the formula on each page showing the hours on each unit and how that would translate to car miles. I used 75 miles=1 hour on piece of turf equipment. I have heard all sorts of different conversions, but that is the one I use. Then add in multiple operators, being run at full throttle and what translates to off road use to help drive home the point,and hopefully,they see a clearer picture. Obviously, not an exact science, but it helps to speak a language that the board or owner will understand.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Steak Or Sizzle?

       Recently the GCSAA had started the "Thank a Superintendent" marketing campaign. I think this is a excellent way to attempt to grow the understanding of who is providing these great playing surfaces. But I will tell you, there are many Turf Managers who do not like to talk about themselves or their accomplishment. However, there are definitely more and more Superintendents who are using what is available to communicate to their members  about what projects and day to day maintenance is being completed. The guys who made comments about ,"you and your Twitter" , a few years ago are now realizing it is not going away.
       As the social media world continues to grow, I think it will become harder and harder for a Superintendent not to become a part of it. I have had the discussion,over the past few years, with many turf managers, who want nothing to do with any of it and that is their right. If it is not who you are, it is tough to change. The problem is the way people communicate and get their information is evolving.
       What is interesting is how is it all perceived. Absolutely, it is an easy way to get information out quickly, but there another part of it that people struggle with....self promotion. Self promotion is not something that many of us are comfortable with, but often it is something that is an unwanted necessity. The discussion of is it the steak or the sizzle, I have had many times with people. The guy down the street has pretty much the same conditions as you and for some reason they are getting seen as more than they are. Why? Well they have a weekly blog explaining the past week's projects, they tweet great pictures that make the course look good constantly, they have been posting You Tube videos of projects and equipment in use. What are you doing to communicate with your members?
Your blog was set up two years ago and you posted something last November. You think Twitter, Instagram and You Tube are for teenage girls , but you are frustrated when you keep getting comments about what they are doing at your neighbor's club!
       The truth is the current expectations of people is to have instant information and it is not going to get any less. The days of the article in the club's monthly newsletter with your recap of the past few weeks, is probably not going to cut it. While finding your "voice" in social media is not easy, it is something I would urge you to consider starting.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Check the Flux Capacitor

        Last week, Andy Billing, VP of Turflux, delivered the first GPS Sprayer unit sold to White Manor CC here in Philadelphia. While there are multiple users in the Pittsburg area ,where Turflux originated, this was the first here in Eastern Pa.
       In the morning, Andy started by driving the border of the property with the unit on his trailer on the streets surrounding the golf course, to start the mapping process. He was  also controlling the unit remotely from the cab of his truck with his laptop. We then spent some time going over the nuts and bolts of the system and some of the recommended processes.
       The next step was the mapping process. With the request of  multiple maps around the greens complexes, it would have been a good day to have a FitBit. Following the painted lines to mark each map needed, made walking required. Once everything was mapped, it was time to see how the sprayer was reacting to the parameters that had been locked in. To see the unit reacting with individual nozzle control and sub-inch repeatability, I got to say was pretty cool!
       From our first meeting with the Turflux group back in the fall, I really thought this was going to be something special. To be able to control your chemical applications so precisely and the ability to be this exact, it is truly amazing. Then throw in that you can put it on any type of sprayer, old, new, Red, Orange or Green.....and I think we have a winner.


Andy Billing giving the review of what was done to the unit to upgrade it from the standard spray system to the Turflux system

Starting the mapping process

More of the mapping


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Frosty Field Day

       As I sat on my couch, after using up all the hot water in my house, trying to warm up from our field day Wednesday, for some reason, all that stuck in my head was Leslie Chow from, "The Hangover II."He had been locked in an ice machine and after being pulled out just kept saying
"Chow so cold, Chow so cold...". The planned set up didn't start off with excitement,with temps in the mid-twenty's at 7:00AM! We did catch a break for few hours of sun, but the cold rain starting during lunch and hit pretty hard during break down making it tough for our group.
       The interesting part of what could only be defined as raw weather, was it probably helped to make attendance at our field day so good. Anyone you talked to on the Sports Field Management side will tell you they are struggling to get fields open for play. From totally saturated conditions to frozen ground, getting fields open is an very big challenge. If the weather had been better, guys would have been at their own facilities trying to work on the fields.
Our program started with a heavy frost that caused us to change the schedule. Luckily we had the synthetic field maintenance talk with Chuck Hicks from Redexim ready to go. About mid-morning the sun started to peak out and we were able to break into our product stations. After about an hour and a half of product presentations, we were focused on the important part....Jim's Steaks!

     Our hosts at Episcopal Academy, CJ Lauer, Assistant Director of Facilities and Joe Beyer, Director of Grounds, were an unbelievably gracious and a huge help!
I also can't thank enough all of our vendors, who came in to support our field day.
The great  part was the feedback from customers and vendors was all very positive, even with the tough weather conditions.


Mark Pena from Jacobsen

Chuck Hicks from Redexim talking Synthetic Fields

Sumner Cross from Lawn & Golf talking about Smithco



Monday, March 23, 2015

March Madness

       The first day of spring 6+" snow storm here in Philadelphia was about the last thing anyone was hoping for. Adding to a winter that has made it very difficult to do most projects, people have had enough. Visiting with most turf manager ,they are itching to get started on the season. One club even had an opening tournament planned for this past weekend, not so much....
       What is looking like a slow start, a super wet spring is probably coming our way. Following a winter where most clubs have had no golf in months, it's not what the doctor ordered for what ill's the business of golf. I spoke with someone this past week who attended the public golf course owners meeting recently and to say the least people, were very focused on the lack of play this winter and how many courses were still not open for play yet.
       Hopefully, we start to see some higher temperatures and some good weather, especially this Wednesday for our field day at Episcopal Academy!



Saturday, March 14, 2015

And You Want To Be My Latex Salesman?

       Have you ever thought about leaving the turf management side of the business to go into sales, or the dark side, as many have referred to it? Job opportunities are harder to come by and the younger segment of turf managers ,though smaller in number, are spending longer at their first position. More and more, I am hearing of people moving away from the golf world for another job. You like the business, but just can't get a break. While sales is not for everyone, it is a way to stay involved in something you love.
      As Tim Moraghan, of Aspire Consulting, once said in an Assistant education program, "Everyone in the room can grow grass, but what separates you from the pack?" If you are thinking about sales, have you done anything towards opening that door? Even just to read a book on sales to see if it peaks your interest might be a good start. "The Little Red Book of Sales", by Jeffery Gitomer is one of my favorite books and gives an excellent vision of what sales is all about. Also, take a look at S. Anthony Iannarino's blog for another resource.
       The question that you need to look at is what does a sales person really do? Is it just driving around all day listening to sports talk radio and making an occasional stop to ask the question, "you need anything?". What is funny, if I asked a bunch of Superintendents what sales person drives them crazy and why, they could tell you immediately. That guy is the one that doesn't value my time and doesn't have a purpose for his visit. Now ask what they like about the guys who they do business with and why. I can almost guarantee that number one answer is that he gets back to me. There are definitely some other things that play into it, like value in the products they sell and in the end do you make it easier for the turf manager to do his or her job.
     I have some classifications I believe sales people fall into. Whether it is the professional visitor or the total account salesperson, you need to think about how would you do the job and be successful. Sales is definitely not for everyone, but it is an option to explore when you are ready to start the second phase of your career.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Welcome Home

       For the first time, in over 20 years, walking on to the floor at the GIS and not wearing my standard previously required jacket and tie, felt a little weird. But as the day went on, the lack of razor rash on my neck from my collar and the comments about my bright orange Cutter Buck wind breaker, felt pretty good!
      The week started out pretty rough, as it did for many trying to work their way South. A phone call at 3:00AM telling me my flight had been cancelled, but my ride to the airport on the same flight telling me, "No it is not!" caused some confusion. I learned the drawback of the discount websites for tickets (Expedia) was that our connecting flight from Dallas to San Antonio had been canceled, so they bumped us off the first leg out of Philly and re-booked us for Wednesday afternoon. We got lucky and jumped a last minute flight with Southwest to make it in just about midnight on Monday.
        Tuesday was filled with training meeting with Smithco & Turfco in the morning and a cold morning out at Oak Hills CC. This was followed by the Jacobsen business meetings. I have to admit that by the closing speech, at the end by the President of Jacobsen, David Withers, I was feeling like I was back playing football and looking for my helmet to run out onto the field. His passion for the business makes him someone that people want to follow. I have been very lucky to have had the opportunity to be around while he interacts with people and it is why Jacobsen is a large company with a small feel to it. This was followed by the awards ceremony in which Lawn & Golf Supply Company won the "Service Dealer of the Year Award"!
       Tuesday night was my first chance to attend the Jacobsen customer party that I have been hearing about for years. And yes it lived up to all I had heard....Lots of refreshments, food and a live rodeo. Throw in a live band in one room, DJ in another and about 2000 people and I believe that's a party!
       Wednesday's trade show was very busy and lots of talk about Jacobsen's new heavy duty work vehicle. The trade show layout was different and the word "flow" kept coming up. The layout seemed very segmented. The day was spent visiting other company's we work with like Ventrac, Turfco, Smithco, Turflux, Par-Aide and more which led to some tired legs. Roll right into a post show meeting and then into the Pennsylvania Room and now your feet are feeling it.
       Thursday was more of the same in the AM with more of a look at competitive equipment and other products that might be in need of a distributor. After grabbing a bite for lunch the show became a pretty much ghost town.
        Friday's travel day, with a check out of the hotel at 7:00AM and the truck pulling up to the house at 7:00PM, was a long one. Our connecting flight in Dallas spent an extra 2 hours on the tarmac waiting to be de-iced and hoping we did not get the news that airport would be shutting down with the snow. Some people did not get out until Saturday.
        All in all it was definitely a different experience with the change. I was touched that some old friends in distribution and manufacturing made the point to come to the Jacobsen booth to find me. Some others I ran into throughout the week had some very nice things to say that I really appreciated!
        Another GIS in the books, now come on Spring!