As we head into the fall season, it’s not clear whether traditional sports such as soccer, football and lacrosse will be on the docket. They may either take place this fall or in early spring of 2021 depending on COVID-19 restrictions set by local authorities.
But rest assured at some point, sports will get back to normal, and we’ll get back to traditional schedules and seasonal timing. However, sports field managers have been dealing with anything but normalcy during the pandemic with layoffs, reduced budgets and spending restrictions. Here are three ways to do more with less as you plan for the fall sports season.
The Good, Better, Best Approach
Most large manufacturers offer a good, better and best product to fit your sports field requirements. While you may be using the best product currently, it might be too costly in the future if your budget has been reduced. Now is an ideal time to take a look at the good and better options to ensure you’ll still be able to get the products you need to maintain your fields for the 2020-2021 season.
For example, some of the products that have good, better and best options include fertilizer, grass seed, field paints, conditioners and tools. A good or better product might have a shorter shelf life but still serve your purposes for the upcoming season.
Tip: Dilute your field paint down further than you have in the past. If you regularly dilute your paint in a 1:1 ratio, is it possible this year to dilute to a 2:1 ratio? If so, you’ll stretch your paint to go a third further than before.
Another option may be to use generic brands of chemicals. These are typically post-patent products that have been manufactured with the same exact ingredients as the name brand but cost considerably less.
Be Sure to Do Your Homework
A word of caution though: Do your homework before switching to a lesser-priced product. You may be doing costly and, worse yet, irreversible damage to your fields if the product is cheaper and inferior. Be sure to talk with your salesperson to determine if a change in products is recommended or not warranted in your specific case.
One such example may be to switch to less costly grass seed. Keep in mind that it may be infested with weed seed or an invasive species of grass (poa Annua) that will be costlier in the long run to control.
Tip: Rather than pay a lower price for a blend of seed with noxious weeds and invasive grass types, invest in a quality seed blend that’s long lasting and will save on expenses over time.
I am reminded of Benjamin Franklin’s quote: “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” While saving money in one area, adjust your budget to accommodate the products that are worth the greater investment. An inferior product may look good now but will cost you, and your budget, more in the long run.
Take Advantage of EOPs
The fall is a good time to take advantage of a manufacturer’s Early Order Program (EOP), which can help you stretch your budget as well. Manufacturers will offer late-season discounts on products or a combination of products with bigger discounts.
You will typically need to meet a spending minimum and take on a larger supply of products to take advantage of these offers. But you’ll have the peace-of-mind knowing you have the products you need as you head into the spring months and that you saved some budget dollars for other materials.
Tip: Make sure you and your administrators have a clear understanding of the EOP offer and the potential for long-term savings as you proceed with the order.
These EOP programs may look like lots of money to spend up front, but if they are made up of all the products you will use, and you can show a need for them, they are another way to save money this fall.
It’s been a year of adjustment for sports field managers. As you think about how you want to prepare your fields for the upcoming season, look at ways to be creative with your budget and stretch your dollars as far as you can.
We’re dedicated to being your partner as we navigate the safest and best way to return to play. Contact me, ask questions in the comments below, view our full Sports Fields Catalog or visit your local Ewing branch for more information.