December 2017

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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Page 27 of 51

www.spor 28 // December 2017 A lbert Einstein said, "If the facts don't fi t the theory, change the facts." In the past running and managing a sports fi eld complex used to be planned and straightforward. Goals for profi t margins were set and budgets were easily identifi ed. Labor resources were used and customers went in one of two ways: happy or unhappy. You can only do so much with what you have in regards of labor, equipment and budgets. The scenario today has changed considerably. The spokes in yesterday's business wheel only revolved around your operating budget that was put in place by senior administrators who prioritized budget controls, not the needs of the facility. With the demands for safer sports fi elds, it might be time to think about 5, 10 and 20-year plans for your facility. The quality of sports fi elds has enormously improved over the past 20 years; park and recs want safer fi elds for their children, colleges want quality fi elds for recruiting, and sports rental facilities want to be competitive with high profi t margins. The question is, are you building a sports fi eld to see if they will come, or are you are building a sports fi eld to create an experience that the players will never forget? Many maintenance facilities' departments are re-imagining their business model to stay current with customer services and trends, while also aiming to stay effi cient with costs. There are six steps for re-imagining your department that could help guide you in your process. Denison University has developed a comprehensive approach on customer service and retaining customers; I will share it with you. 1. Killing the rumor mill. Before you start your business-reimagining plan, you must fi rst eradicate the rumor mill. Rumors will always be a part of our lives in the work place. Killing them is a challenge, but stopping rumors has to be a priority. This will help you not only to be effi cient, but also competitive. Here is the rumor mill's worst enemy: communication. For example, at times you may work on a project or a task, such as getting a fi eld ready, which may have been set back due to a few neglected tasks. It's important that your crew sees you acknowledge the mistake, take credit for it and learn from it. They will appreciate and respect the honesty and maturity that this takes, which will in turn increase their likelihood to trust your word over that of the rumor mill. If you look at most problems, eight times out of ten they form from a lack of communication. No matter how the gossip starts, whether it is about projects, or the core values of the business or just the employee rumor mill, always put it to rest by communicating with your employees. 2. Mission statement, core values. To offer exceptional customer service you have to have your team and upper management on the same page. To effectively do this, start with any mission statements for your facility or department. Here are some questions to guide you: What is my risk tolerance? What is my access to capital? Who do I need to help me get there? Do I have everything I need to make this journey? What is it I am striving for? Where do you start? How can I get my team and upper managers to agree on the level of service goals you want without budget constraints, issues in staffi ng or roadblocks? 3. Points of success. This third step has helped me to keep my focus on main goals and not the distractions. The question is not "if you build it, will they will come?" but rather, "if you build it, would they stay?" Your mission statement is a short statement of your sports turf maintenance practices and purposes. It should refl ect and identify the scope of your operations. It should let the community know what kinds of services your organization provides for your local sports teams (the customers) and its geographical region of operation. What are the core values of our grounds maintenance operation? Make no mistake, values cost something, but at what price and for what purpose? Simply put, it is all about the inputs vs. outputs. The core values of your business should be based on seeing the good in your employees and developing these qualities from in house training and professional development with individualized sports maintenance tasks. Remember, everyone is great at something, but perhaps not everything. It is important to recognize that writing down your core values and hanging them in your offi ce or breakroom does not actually do Is your maintenance program staying ahead of today's curveballs? // By KEVIN MERCER, CSFM, CGM & LICM Joel Simmons, president of EarthWorks, providing training and information about his products for the grounds crew on his product.

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