Turf Equipment Consulting – Is it Worth it?

Turf Equipment Consulting – Is it Worth it?

A few years ago I started talking to golf course superintendents and General Managers on if they felt there would be any value in having a consultant come in that was experienced more in the turf equipment and facility management side of the business. I got the “well thats a good question I guess I never really thought about it”. Rightly so I believe there are really a handful of guys that have really tried doing anything with it, so not many clubs would have any experience with this sort of thing. As I continue to look to grow in my career one of those paths I see is turf equipment consulting and being a little more specialized vs being good at some and great at none.

While this is a relatively new look at equipment and facility management, I figured I would reach out and get the opinion of Bruce Williams from Bruce Williams Golf Consulting and see what his thoughts were on the subject.

When it comes to the field of Turf Equipment Consulting there are few that are versed in that topic.  While golf course superintendents may have scheduled purchases for their golf courses it would be rare that they would know all the nuances of proper fleet management.  The use of specific consultants  that understand fleet purchasing, ergonomics, fuel economy, ease of maintenance, preventive maintenance, etc. is preferable.  Those individuals can also assist in creating an efficient workspace for a fleet for a golf course.” Bruce Williams

The reality is that we are not all great at everything and many golf courses have employed agronomic consultants to protect the companies asset. Not because they fear the Superintendent isn’t doing a great job but because they don’t know if he/she is or not. It’s not their expertise. However as many of our members are business owners they see the value in not only having that asset looked after by multiple eyes but also having a resource for that Superintendent to go to when issues arise. Someone to call who understands the property and knows the challenges they are faced with. So the question is shouldn’t we feel the same way about a Turf Equipment Consultant?

At most facilities we have over $1,000,000 in turf equipment, responsible for an avg. 40k R&M budget plus the labor to manage an asset that most people at the club know very little about. How many businesses do you know of that have this type of an asset and protect it as little as we do? We typically employ 1 technician without knowing is that realistic for our property or not? We have high expectations that everything will work when we need it and all reels will be sharp but without sometimes understanding the time it takes to make that happen. Then on the other side of the coin is does our Technician have all the expertise that he needs to provide the result we are looking for? Well that would be like asking your technician to go out and diagnose some disease you have on the greens and what needs to be done. He may have an idea if he’s been in golf for a while but the reality is he’s not the right person to assess that.

In saying that I reached out to one of the courses I have been consulting at over the last few years. I asked them to let me know what value (if any) was provided to them and here is what they had to say:

“Like many clubs, Capilano’s Course and Grounds department has many moving parts. With an operating budget in excess of two million dollars as well as a healthy capital equipment replacement program, consultants are often contracted out to bring a vast array of experience and knowledge from all over North America.

In 2013, with the club desperately needing to address a deficiency in how equipment was being maintained, Tucker Equipment Management (TEM)  was selected and retained as a consultant.

TEM CEO Stephen Tucker has made four visits to the club in the past two and a half years, sometimes in conjunction with him speaking at local conferences. Along with his communication and assistance while off-site, his insight into Superintendent/Equipment Manager communication, creation of shop standards, and recommendations on facility upgrades has been invaluable.

Mr. Tucker was involved with an internal restructuring that encompassed the hiring of a new Fleet Manager as well as contributing towards the anticipated rebuild of the Fleet Repair Facility. A shop standards manual is in the process of being developed, organization of the facility has improved remarkably, preventative maintenance is being performed, and repair and maintenance costs are being accounted for.

I would highly recommend an Equipment Consultant to any club looking to improve this facet of the operation or simply form another beneficial relationship for your Fleet/Equipment Manager/Technician.” Jamie Robb AGS Capilano Course Superintendent

What I have found in many of my visits to courses is that there is no cookie cutter solution for everyone. Every operation is different, everyone’s personalities are different, expectations are different, etc. So when someone asks what value are you going to bring that could come in a lot of different forms. The reality is that until you see an operation its hard to determine the impact you can make. What I can say is that the more expertise you have working to improve an operation the better that operation will be. When you are evaluating the value of a Turf Equipment Consultant to your operation you shouldn’t have to look any further than your equipment fleet and the education of your technician. However here are a few things that I have been doing on these consultations to give you some ideas:

  • Facility Design – Take a look through new facility plans and drawings. Do a walk through of potential opportunities to improve the construction.
  • Facility Renovation – Look at potential opportunities for an existing operation to improve their facility from small scale organization ideas to full scale remodeling.
  • Data Driven Equipment Replacement Program – Walk through an agronomic plan and how it relates to the hours on turf equipment. Put a replacement plan together that is built off of realistic data to help take the emotion out of purchasing decisions.
  • Communication – Help team understand the role of each employee and where they fit in the operation.
  • Fleet Evaluation – Unbiased evaluation of equipment fleet.
  • Tournament Prep – Organize and help prepare team / equipment for major tournament.
  • Organization Training – Help technician put together a road map to getting organized.
  • Equipment Manager Search – Assist with locating a qualified Equipment Manager for an open position.
  • Equipment Replacement – Assist with equipment replacement, purchasing and leasing of equipment for the operation.
  • Shop Standards and Training Program – Assist with the road map for developing a successful training program and creating standards for the operation.

 

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