Technicians in the Golf Industry – Are we Getting Anywhere?

Technicians in the Golf Industry – Are we Getting Anywhere?

Last year I wrote 2 blog posts on the shortage of equipment technicians in the golf industry that got quite a bit of traction and was actually featured in the Florida Green magazine. A lot of phone calls and emails made me think that maybe we were finally going to start looking at this as a real issue. So I checked Turfnet to see how many technician jobs were open and the number today is 72. Those are advertised positions, that doesn’t include the positions that are word of mouth openings.

I have also been traveling quite a bit more already this year for consulting trips and speaking. Everywhere I go I continue to hear the same things and that is where can we find a qualified technician or on some occasions anyone with mechanical ability?  The problem is many of the people I know that are really good at this job, are happy with where they are. So in order for those guys to make a move there has to be something that really gets them interested and unfortunately most of the time that is money $$$$. The problem is that we don’t see that we have a problem until we are the one’s dealing with it and then we want to do something about it. So I figured why not write this month how to not get yourself in this situation?

The solution is really simple …. don’t wait until you need someone to start trying to do something about it. Now you ask, Well what does that mean? It means unfortunately that you need to invest in this position a little more than typical. You need to at a minimum have an assistant technician that is training to move up into your head techs role when he leaves. This is the only fail safe option that I know of unless you have a budget capable of paying a lot more money. Most techs and Superintendents for that matter, know that in order to make more money they will have to, at some point, move on to another opportunity. Its one of those cases that typically happens that you don’t realize what you had until you lose it and unfortunately this happens at a lot of clubs with a lot of positions and that’s not a bad thing. What tends to happen though is we take better care of the new guy than we did the old guy and that is just reality and happens to everyone. However, if you will find the dollars to hire and assistant tech that is training to take over that position when your tech leaves it will make the transition easier and you will also be part of solving the shortage issue. That guy that moves up will one day move on as well and he will help fill voids.

The next questions you are asking is where do I find one and that isn’t an easy solution. Many guys have started pulling from automotive industries, the crew, marine and motorcycle techs, etc. The one thing I would say is find a guy with the right personality first and skills second. You can train people how to do this job but you can’t train someone’s personality. That is where tools like Predictive Index come in, to help you see what type of person you are hiring and if that person is the right “fit” for the job.

Once you have that person invest in their education such as the GCSAA Certificate Program,  local seminars, the golf industry show (if/when it’s in your area), teach them about budgets, capital equipment, parts ordering, managing people and have them work on the course some so they know how to use the equipment and what the different jobs are all about. This kind of thing will help make sure that over the long term you are not in a situation that you can’t handle. Even if when your head tech leaves the assistant isn’t ready to move up it gives them an opportunity to show you and hopefully learn where they are lacking.

Finally, a questions I get asked a lot is how do I justify having an assistant technician and the answer to that is how do you justify having an Assistant Superintendent? Its work load, it the amount of equipment you have and its value, it if you lease or purchase equipment, it’s what standard you have for the course. The easy one is you take your number of pieces of equipment you have let’s say its 100 including edgers, flymows, etc. you figure out how long it takes to service each piece (typically), then how often you mow how long it takes to check reels, how often do you grind how long does that take? Add all that up and subtract it from 2080 (actually less if your tech gets vacation and PTO). Then divide it by the number of pieces of equipment and that is how much time you have left to work on each piece in a perfect world. So every add-on thing or weld job or come look at this or meeting or thing you have to build takes away from those hours. In the end you are left with not a lot of time to spend on each piece. Think of it as having 100 cars that need service every 5000 miles and the older they get the more maintenance they require. The more time they require. Every time you just let it go because you don’t have time the chances of it breaking down go up. More techs you have, more time can be spent per machine, better you can expect those machines to operate.

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1 Comment

  1. Bobbo
    March 24, 06:50 Reply

    Good read Stephen. Only the high end clubs and few of those will invest $$$$ for this position. A lot still won’t invest in basic infrastructure to attract people . But it is slowly getting better . Some are starting to realize or here stories of techs leaving and the issues that come with that . The comment about treating the new guy better than the person that left is also true . If they want to keep what they have they should treat them like they want them to stay and yes the $$$$ when brought to them by the old tech should be considered doable considering all the down time and equipment neglect and course conditions decline that temporally come with hiring someone from a different field ( learning curve 2 years minimium ) I have gone this route before and was told to get more pay you would have to move “up” to an assistants position ? Life lesson for me .

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