MRS GRASSCUTTER was extolling the virtues of shopping the other day; well, she is a woman! She was arguing that shopping online was soulless and she liked the touch feely aspect of shopping more than anything else - squeezing this, trying on that and talking to real people - and it got me thinking about how I do my shopping for my work items.
I confess that I now buy most of my general day to day stuff online but, just to annoy the good folk at Pitchcare, always ring up first to have a chat; a sort of halfway house approach, I suppose. Of course, I am usually buying products that are tried, tested and suit my requirements, but it never hurts to find out if an alternative has become available and, just by chatting, I might get a bit of extra discount (hope you are reading this Kiran)!
As the move to online shopping has become the norm, so visits from sales reps have become less frequent. Now, some may say that this is no bad thing, but I actually enjoy talking to reps - most of them anyway. Perhaps it's a peculiarity in this industry, but I rarely get the 'hard sell' approach and these guys and gals seem to genuinely understand their products and what they are used for; although I don't get touchy feely with them!
An hour spent with one who 'knows his (or her) stuff' can be invaluable, in my opinion, so my colleague and I always find time for a chat over a brew, even if it extends our day a little.
The more I have shopped online, the more confident I have become. I started out buying smaller items, partly just to satisfy myself that the system worked, but will now order most things online once I am confident that the product is right for me and that customer service is not compromised in any way.
As I write this, we are fast heading towards renovation time, so rep visits have become a little more frequent, as is usually the case as they try to extract one more large order out of me or even try to get me to change supplier. I am happy with that as no company has a god-given right to my business and competition is important, whether I am buying grass seed, fertiliser or a mower.
Talking of machinery, I am not really in a position to buy new as our budgets are so tight, so the opportunity for online browsing has made the search for the right secondhand machine so much easier. Of course, once I have found what I want, I still have to go and kick the tyres and get the thing back to base.
Our machinery is pretty basic. We have a couple of decent cylinder mowers, although one is getting a bit long in the tooth, a few rotaries, spray jet linemarkers (one bought new, shock horror!), a walk-behind spreader, a fifteen year old Kubota tractor and a basic aerator to keep the surface open.
Renovations will be carried out by a local contractor, with myself and my colleague helping out as much as possible to keep the cost down. We also use him for verti-draining as required, and affordable, through the winter.
With such a mild winter, albeit somewhat 'damp', our stadium pitch has finished the season in pretty good shape; perhaps the best I have ever seen it, and this has prompted the inevitable question from the powers that be; "do we need to spend so much on renovations this year?" So, yours truly has had to explain that "it's not what you see now, but what you want next season" that is important so, yes, you will have to dip your hands into your pockets! They seem to have grasped the theory.
The team clung on to its league status after what Gary Lineker always calls "squeaky bum time", so that probably helped the financial decision. Once the renos are complete, Mrs Grasscutter and I will try to get away for a few days R&R (and shopping, no doubt), leaving my colleague, who has two young children, to take advantage of the start of the summer holidays, at twice the cost, more than likely!
Keep the faith: and keep cutting the grass, after all that's all you do!