It’s All About Relationships
If there’s one defining attribute that drives the entire golf industry, it is that it is firmly based on the relationships we have with one another. This power is clearly evident in both the superintendents’ career advancements as well as in the business side of the industry, which encompasses all the necessary supplies needed to properly manage a golf course. While some people may criticize the important role that relationships play in our industry, I adamantly believe that it serves us all very well.
Unlike other turf industries, such as the landscape market, the superintendent’s relationship with the sales people he knows typically plays the largest factor when deciding whom to purchase products from. And that’s not a bad thing. Rather than simply focusing on the best price of a product or service, superintendents take into account the competence and reliability of the sales people providing them. They ask themselves which sales people know their property and themselves the best, in order to provide the products and services that best fit their course, their management style, and their overall long-term goals for both.
Now that’s not to say that superintendents don’t demand the best pricing available, because they do. Only that when it comes down to making a purchasing decision, the sales person who normally gets the business has demonstrated far more value and trust to the superintendent, both personally and professionally, than the sales people who haven’t.
It’s no coincidence that some of the most successful sales people are former superintendents themselves. Having come from the industry, these sales people have an intimate knowledge of not only the problems and issues that face a superintendent day in and day out; they also understand the personal side of being a superintendent. It’s this aspect that often leads to sales people and superintendents developing a personal relationship that extends far beyond a simple supplier and customer connection.
When I was a superintendent, some of my closest friends were my sales people. If an unexpected problem arose, I knew whom I could call and I knew undeniably that they would be there to take care of me. After I left being an active superintendent, these relationships didn’t simply disappear. I’m still in contact with most of them years later, even though I’ve not bought a single bag of fertilizer or a case of fungicide from them. That’s because our industry is a very close-knit, specialized world and the relationships that are formed during a superintendent’s career easily pass the test of time. That’s what makes the golf industry truly unique and special.