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Bending or Breaking?

Dave Wilber


In my current, often schizophrenic situation, I find myself involved in the whole concept of Early Order Season. As I write this, there are no less than thirteen “programs” that in some way or another provide an opportunity. Opportunity for what? That’s the big question for which every situation will have a different answer.

eop.jpgI’m not sure I like the concept of TurfHead Cat Herding. And honestly, when I look at the slapdash construction of a lot of early order programs it makes me think that a bunch of marketing consultants all got in a room and decided that golf course superintendents are dumber than most boxes of rocks.

But if I look outside of the turf kingdom, things like points, rebates, award levels qualifying amounts and the like are part of how a lot of people do business these days. Case in point: I spend a good many nights a year in hotels. If I choose a particular chain and participate in their loyalty program I can find myself with a whole list of potential benefits. Some are financial, plain and simple. Some are more subjective, like having a cookie AND a bottle of water waiting my check-in. The coffee place I like has punch cards. The big box electronics store that feeds my Geek lets me shop early a few times a year. You get the picture.

head-in-a-vice.jpgI’m writing this just after the first of November. So for some of you, you may have spent a bunch of October brain cells being “sold” on one program or another. You may have, possibly, committed to double digit percentages of next year’s business on several different fronts.

I try to keep my head in the agronomy vice. Again, because of turf’s new world order, I also find myself part of an organization that sells things. My marketing counterpart, for lack of better words, is perhaps the best sales and marketing guy in our business. His name is Dean Kinney. If you don’t know Dean, you should. Most days, I don’t understand Dean. And dare I say, a few days or more, I have been gonzo-sure I didn’t like Dean. But that rift comes purely because agronomy and marketing don’t like each other. So it’s bound to happen that Dean and I will have “issues”.

…what makes me refrain from tying Dean to the truck and dragging him around is that Dean cares.

However, what makes me refrain from tying Dean to the truck and dragging him around is that Dean cares. He especially cares a great deal about our clients, and recently proved this better than I have ever seen. With a little spreadsheet magic, Dean drilled into a customer’s early order and found that by clearing up some of the mud of the way that particular company’s program was presented, he could save that client a substantial amount of money… beyond what was already a very good savings in the first place.

That’s a rare degree of honesty, and these days the world needs more of that.

I know a lot of Turfheads who would rather hit a 1-iron than deal with all the sales hype and place-your-order-now pressures at this time of year. But gang, let’s face it. Right now in our industry every dollar, every minute, every gallon saved counts toward keeping a bend from turning into a break.

So if you haven’t really looked at Fall ordering programs, or if you’ve handled this fall like every other year, you might be missing some real serious opportunity. And along the same lines, if whomever you deal with isn’t helping you in the grand style of a Dean Kinney, then there’s an even bigger reason to change.


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