In my busy role as workshop manager at Buckinghamshire Golf Club, I have learned a lot and have made some critical decisions. I have been asked to share some of my thoughts, experiences and knowledge with you and to provide an insight into the life of a workshop technician.
I will be covering subjects such as budget control, health and safety, training and education, management, machinery, workshop productivity, golf club investment.
Investment - why do we need it and why is it so important?
The workshop is the heart of the club, it's where machines go for servicing, repairs, set-up, adjustment and grinding etc., and it's a vital operation. In order for it to be a success, you need the right man for the job, the right equipment, the tools and the budget to be able to achieve the best results. As we all know, turf equipment is not cheap, no matter who the manufacturer, and it is vital that we keep our fleet in the best condition - to do this, we need investment from our club.
In most cases, golf clubs make a large investment in machines but tend to forget the long term investment in upkeep. Having and maintaining a large fleet of machinery is a big responsibility, so having the right guy with knowledge of turf equipment will mean that your golf course is maintained at the highest standard, as the machines will always be available and running to their optimum. Investment in the workshop and technician is vital; it is important that the workshop is smooth running.
Controlling budgets - knowing what to spend and when?
Budg ets are always a hot topic; Where do the funds go? How much do you have? When is the best time to spend it?
Luckily for me and our greenkeeping team, Buckinghamshire Golf Club understands the importance of running a very demanding workshop and the budgeting requirements that go with it.
Knowledge is power - it's really important to pre-plan and have a schedule of tournaments which are being held, and when maintenance weeks are, as these are the times I have to carefully monitor my budget.
I also have to plan when to order bulk fuel and maintenance items, as well as when to order parts for winter and summer servicing. I also liaise with my boss on anything that may be happening that I might not be aware of, which allows me to be prepared and informed of monthly funds available.
Health & Safety - maintaining compliance
Health and safety is ongoing, but one of the most important things that I come across every day, and it's not just in the workshop; it's in our large compound and surroundings and also effects our staff. Being ahead of the game is a tough task, but one that must not be forgotten.
Talking about health and safety can be frightening and daunting task, but it doesn't have to be.
Finding information is relatively easy and free. Having the internet is a blessing, as there are many websites, links, forums and discussion groups that can help. I have found the most helpful to be the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) website, which provides all the information you need to operate in line with guidelines and current legislation. If I'm ever unsure on a specific issue, I email their helpline and they always reply with a helpful answer which you know is correct and compliant with current regulations.
I'm always thinking of new ways I can improve my workshop to make it more professional, safer and more productive, therefore making health and safety so much easier. Knowing that your workshop, compound and staff are using safe practices, and that you are ensuring your company is compliant, makes the running of a workshop a much nicer and easier place to work.
Training and education - keeping ahead
A topic that I love - 'training and education' are words that are of importance to anyone wanting to learn and progress. I think learning on the whole in the sports sector is second to none, as every day is a learning day in this profession. I constantly strive to do better and to stay ahead of the game which, in turn, makes my department run more efficiently, reduces downtime and budget. I also enjoy teaching staff on current issues, improvements, different ways of looking at things and better ways of working to make sure our machines are looked after.
Having myself as an in-house qualified trainer means our staff are trained whenever needed, which saves on time and cost. It also means that we are able to issue them with a certificate of competence from a distributor. The next stage in my progression is a City and Guilds training degree which allows me to go to the next stage in training and issuing our staff with a national recognised certificate which, in turn, will make them a real asset to any company.
Workshop management and productivity - being the best
Running a busy, demanding workshop and keeping fleet management under control, whilst budgeting and providing training along with health and safety and record keeping, really is a demanding task. Managing yourself and being productive is key for productivity - I demand the best in my workshop and from my machines, so I have to be the best I possibly can and work as efficiently as possible.
I believe that the harder you work the easier you will find your workload, and this achievement is very satisfying. You really have to enjoy your job to get the most out of it. I find being my own boss, and knowing that the only way things will improve is through my input, makes me want to work harder to achieve, and seeing results is something to be proud of!
There are many goals I want to achieve and this is my first - to run the finest, most productive and well-known workshop.
Machinery knowledge - knowing your fleet
Whether your fleet is red, orange or green the principles always remain the same. Understanding your machines is a crucial factor in running any workshop, whether your fault is in hydraulics, electrics, engines or cutting units, you need to be able to deal with it fast and effectively.
Having an on-site technician who is experienced and has the technical ability to be able to run a workshop, hold a budget and manage stock is a god-send to any golf club.
So, how do we keep on top of the latest technology which comes our way every year, what with new cutting unit designs, on-board computers or maybe new design in hydraulics? Whatever it may be, there are courses out there to help us stay ahead. Most manufacturers offer service training, operator basics or refreshers, which ensure we are aware of the changes or new technical advice we may need.
In summary, investment, training and health and safety are critical to the success of your workshop and should be taken seriously. Keep yourself informed and up-to-date, ask questions and seek advice when you need it and you won't go wrong.