0 A Difficult Time for us all ...

DuncanMcGilvray.jpgHow to manage and adapt in a very demanding and changing market

The present financial situation in our sector has changed for the worse, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. So, rather than allow it to engulf us, we can become much more savvy and work through it by doing a few simple things - the most important one being to stay positive.

It is no coincidence that the most successful golf course and grounds managers are the ones who take control in difficult situations and demonstrate their worth by their actions, for example, when threatened by redundancies, lack of resources and capital restrictions.

They have been trained in various areas but, probably, the most important area is the ability to communicate effectively at all levels - from getting the most from their staff to presenting to a Chairman and Board of Directors.

Those among us who cannot communicate effectively at all levels get along fine when things are going well, but find it extremely difficult when a financial situation like the present one comes along. In the worst case scenario they lose there jobs.

There are, of course, situations when it does not matter how well you communicate and you still lose your job because your employer has gone to the wall, or has no option but to make you redundant. However, even in those cases, an excellent communicator and manager may have been able to stop the rot some time ago when they could have given advice from the grassroots (no pun intended).

If you are struggling what can you do?

Firstly, get involved - speak to your employer and ask them how you can help, that you are aware of the difficulties and that you believe it is your duty as an employee to help. You may be surprised by their reaction. Your employer is probably feeling very vulnerable and any help you give will be extremely well received, especially if it helps the establishment become more successful.

Over the years I have always sought help from staff. They become much more involved and part of the decision making process and it ensures that you become more successful, so everybody wins.

In the medium term, plan to train to become the best communicator and manager you can possibly be. This will, above all else, ensure your future success.

Frank Newberry has now been offering training within our sector for almost twenty years. Very few, if any, of his devotees will be struggling at this time, so it proves what training like this can do for us - in fact Frank is at present developing a marketing course describing how you can help to keep your establishment competitive, and will effectively be a guide to your future survival and success.

I attended a training course on personal presentation very many years ago and have never looked back - it was very much a turning point in my professional career.

At the time, the course was viewed as a training course for public speakers but, what it gave you, more than anything else, was the ability to communicate effectively and constructively so that you could be in control of yourself and your destiny - it was designed to make you feel very confident in your abilities without appearing to be arrogant.

So, book yourself on to one of his courses and get ready to make your job and, therefore, your life much easier. This job is not just about greenkeeping and groundsmanship, it is about managing and communicating more that anything else. You can be the best turfcare professional in existence, technically, but if you do not get the resources you need through successful negotiations you will fail.

It is that important.

What else can you do?

In general it is about managing and taking control

• Use your own labour as much as possible - instead of bringing in outside contractors
• Up-date staff training to make them more proficient
• Demand support from companies in exchange for your business
• Create partnerships with companies
• Finance large projects over longer periods

You can get great discounts at the moment because companies want to continue trading through this difficult time and will accept lower profit margins to maintain existing business and gain new customers.

Don't allow the present situation to stop you from maintaining and improving on present standards - high standards will reap its rewards even in the short term.

An interesting development is our relationship with De Vere Oulton Hall Golf Club, as you may have read in the last edition of the Pitchcare magazine.
Jim Brown, their Golf Course and Estates Manager, demands high standards, both on the golf course and estate, as well as demanding the very same standards from the companies who serve his needs.

It is worth looking into for all managers to follow that lead - the advantages are many and we see no negatives from either customer or company so, again, everyone wins.

De Vere Oulton Hall's requirements are:

• Excellent service
• Options on how that service is apportioned
• A long term business relationship built on trust and quality
• To be in control as much as is humanly possible
• To receive sound honest advice
• Open costing
• Theoretical and practical training for its staff

We have also set up agreements for parts to be available on site (agreed stock levels) which makes practical sense from both the customer and the company's viewpoint…

Customer benefits:

• On site immediately available parts
• Down time is kept to the very minimum
• Management in control
• Better discounts
• Fewer call outs where trained on site staff can cover relevant repairs
• Company on call for technical support

This approach is not only good for our customers and clients but also our industry as a whole and will, therefore, ensure the long term success of the companies which operate such a service.

It is particularly relevant at this time when every penny must be used very wisely.

Duncan McGilvray, Managing Director, Enviropro H2O Ltd. Email: duncan.mcgilvray@enviroproh2o.com

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