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The Andersons receives patent for Humic Coated Urea product

the andersons receives patent for humic coated urea product - The Andersons receives patent for Humic Coated Urea product

Another budget season has arrived and it’s going to be exciting! Pandemic impacts, parts and material shortages, and cost increases across the board have all combined to make this year’s predictions of next year’s actual costs an epic adventure. Now is the time when savvy superintendents prove their worth, especially when it comes to budgets and financial plans.

Your accomplishments and challenges next year will be linked in some way to this budget. There is a lot at stake. You will need more than a crystal ball to be successful, so let’s review the flow of the budgeting process with tips for a year of opportunity.

Get organized

First things first, I know that it’s been a tough year (or two) but take a deep breath and get organized before you start planning next year’s financials. Clear your mind, clean your desk/office and set a few personal deadlines that will allow you to take small steps toward the tasks that align with property operational benchmarks. Make sure your systems (computer, internet, notepad and, of course, the calculator) are functioning properly.

Gather pertinent historic data and reach out to your vendors for their best available updates on trends as well as current and projected pricing. Separate your labor expenses by job group (full time, part times, seasonal, hourly, salaries etc.) labor will be an even bigger issue in 2022 so try to be creative within your market using flex schedules and perpetual recruiting.

Review existing controllable line items and consider changes that will minimize large swings and inconstancies. For example, will you put aeration tines in the “Operations Accounting” line or the “Equipment Repair” line? What has been done historically and in what months? Will you aerate more or less in 2022? Plan the work and then work the plan. Make sure you identify any accounting forms/processes and consider making customized forms, charts and graphs to explain the value of your spending.

Be prepared for resistance  

This year more than ever expect resistance and deep questions as you present and defend your budget for 2022. Being prepared takes the emotions out of the situation while establishing your credibility as the local expert. Be professional, know the data points, show up early for the formal meetings and above all speak to your expenses as investments and insurance policies that all indirectly generate revenue that allows the business to be profitable and sustain itself year to year.

Identify the top three items that will need to be defended and practice your responses in exact words (written and spoken). Dress appropriately for budget presentation meetings, confirm dress codes with senior stake holders. Knowing the larger financial picture is another plus. You should not just know your numbers but the overall performance of the operation as well to gain insights and perspective to ensure you get a fair share of the available assets.  

Overcommunicate

The actual crafting and approval of the budget is a public relations opportunity for the golf course superintendent. It is easier to earn a budget increase if you can effectively communicate the value and details of the financial ask. You should have pictures, descriptions and third-party consultant (arborist, architect, electrician, building contractor, etc.) recommendations available as needed to use in reports, meetings and official club communications. Make sure not to send out confidential information beyond the approved groups.

The trick is to be aware of upcoming expenses and let it be known that these items will need to be addressed and at what cost/value. Your track record of accuracy and flexibility when the chips are down will be another advantage that should be communicated often. You should be wielding words and numbers as powerful support for your agronomic value as if your job depends on it, because now more than ever it does.

Anthony L. Williams, CGCS, CGM, is the director of golf course maintenance and landscaping at the Four Seasons Resort Club Dallas at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas, and a frequent Golf Course Industry contributor.

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