You can’t walk into a restaurant that cares about your business during this recession without someone opening the door for you; without seeing attractive photo-driven menus with discounted prices; without neatly dressed waiters providing courteous/timely service; and without being given some sort of coupon inviting your return business.
Basically, restaurants and most retail businesses today are pouring on the “TLC” to maintain client relationships in a bad economy – and it is working across the board.
Similarly, golf course superintendents would be wise to adopt an enhanced “TLC” (i.e., more personal) approach when providing golf course maintenance service in this economy.
For example, superintendents might consider/reconsider the following:
- Maximizing their personal appearance and dress. (See my September 11, 2009 blog message.)
- Increasing their job visibility in ways profiled in my August 20, 2009 blog message.
- Attending Board meetings. (See my August 13, 2009 blog message.)
- Inviting members/players to play weekday golf through a foursome sign-up sheet where pertinent aspects of the maintenance program can be informally discussed throughout the round. Present resulting discussion profiles on the program’s home web site.
- Assuming their maintenance facilities are impeccably maintained (see my September 19, 2009 blog message), scheduling occasional “Open House” mini clinics for members/players and their families/children to tour the facility, to educate the brethren to the “sexy” side of providing a quality golf course and to provide attendees the opportunity to ask questions about the maintenance program. Identify questioners and present Q&As on program’s home web site.
- Tightening dress requirements of the grounds crew and train crew members in ways to extend courtesy to members/players on the course.
Two natural questions must be asked:
- Will the above-suggested initiatives mean anything if the golf course superintendent is not managing a tight cost-efficient budget and providing a quality of grass that satisfies the player community? Of course not, because job performance will always come first!
- Then, why commit to providing all the “TLC” attention in the first place?
Because building meaningful rapport with the member/player community:
- Will be noted by employers, whose very success depends on pleasing their customers (i.e., players).
- Is an enjoyable rewarding exercise; i.e., builds crew morale.
- Costs absolutely nothing.
- Allows members/players to take pride, maybe for the first time, in their maintenance program and personnel – thereby enhancing the job security of the maintenance staff from top to bottom.
- And (most importantly), will minimize/eliminate the opportunity a marauding GM, or a politically motivated committee person might have to unfairly take away a superintendent’s job.
A golf course superintendent’s ultimate job security depends not only on job performance but also on building rapport with the player community.
Two “aces” up a superintendent’s sleeve are better than one.
Coming out of the 1990s and beyond, it was universally accepted that a superintendent over the age of 50 years would have a difficult (if not an impossible) time getting a new job of any value. The sad reality of this situation was that it was true then and still is unnecessarily true today.
Surprisingly, this policy prevailed while many golf courses at the time were in a free spending mode (i.e., the “keeping up with the Joneses” era.)
Only when this recession began to take root in 2007 did the concept of spending “cost efficiency” begin to take hold; i.e., to the point where today a persistent bad economy puts a premium on tightly managing conservatively drafted budgets. Consequently…
…superintendents who spend inefficiently put their jobs at risk; while superintendents who spend in a cost efficient manner are/will be in demand.
Like Having An Ace Up Your Sleeve
Accordingly, veteran superintendents with proven “cost-efficient” track records literally have an “ace” up their sleeves to play in this dangerous job game of “musical chairs” that bad economies foster.
The problems, however, are twofold: (i) too many veteran superintendents don’t know they have this “ace” to play when seeking new employment; and (ii) those that do understand don’t know how to play the “ace” to their advantage. Therefore and unfortunately…
…the job-securing “aces” (i.e., advantages) uniquely available today to veteran superintendents are being wasted.
Following is the approach veteran superintendents should adopt to maximize their job-seeking opportunities in this difficult economy; i.e., they should:
- Prepare personal web sites that effectively and “graphically” present their established “cost-efficiency” bona fides.
- In job application cover letters, request/sell the concept of an informal tour of the hiring golf course and maintenance area with a Search Committee member(s) before formal interviews are scheduled. (See my March 20, 2009 blog message entitled, “Stress Free Job Interviews.”) This will allow candidates to point out on a hole-by-hole basis and throughout the property where the potential cost savings lie.
- When presenting “plans of action” to Search Committees, graphically detail the stated goals/objectives and the method that would be used to advance the spending “cost-efficiency” of the hiring club/course.
- Once a job is offered – recognize that the concept of a written contract with a binding arbitration clause (see my June 18, 2009 blog message entitled, “Binding Arbitration Wins.”) is now in play because of the unique and necessary fiscal experience a newly hired superintendent can bring to the table.
When respected national economists are saying today that, “the middle aged may never get hired again,” superintendents have two things going for them: (i) the number of jobs (i.e., golf courses) will remain relatively constant; and (ii) “cost-efficient” superintendents will always be in demand.
Because “age” should no longer be an issue, advance your career planning years accordingly.