EOPs: A stack of binders equals opportunity

By |  October 22, 2014 0 Comments

Our 2014 Herb Graffis Businessperson of the Year gives his thoughts on the EOP process.


Headshot: Jim Rattigan

Walk into a superintendent’s office just about anywhere in the country this month and anyone would notice a few common themes. There would be the latest edition of Golfdom magazine, and right next to it, a stack of binders that could be six or seven deep.

For most courses the chemical line item is second only to labor. We have an opportunity to save big if we take advantage of the discounts available in these binders. The competition in the chemicals market has made it a buyer’s market, with aggressive Early Order Programs (EOPs) along with generic options amplifying the competition and our opportunities.

The programs have become a win-win for superintendents, especially for those with a few years under their belt at the same course. We already know 75 percent to 85 percent of what we will need the following year. The discounts and options are getting better every year. The companies have become more flexible in their packages so we can customize and maximize our chemical purchasing.

So many superintendents have jumped on board these programs that chemical companies know if they don’t get an EOP from us they likely won’t get an order all year. From the producers to the vendors to the salesman — it’s all or nothing, with a huge portion of the annual sales being done in a month or two.

In the past, less than half of my annual chemical purchases would be EOP. However, many other superintendents saw the light before I did, and have been investing closer to 80 to 90 percent of their annual purchases into EOPs. I would usually order enough to get me through July, about when the terms of payment were due, and go from there. During those early months I enjoyed the peace of mind knowing almost anything I might need is in storage, ready to go.

Today we can customize our orders without having the fear of buying a huge season pack with a mix of chemicals we want, along with others that probably aren’t the most economical for our specific use. Every course is different, so are our chemical needs, expectations and experiences growing turf.

The pre-set packages are really well thought-out, but never exactly what I needed. The last couple years the options have expanded and I hope they continue to. I will spend much more on EOPs knowing I’m getting exactly what my course needs. Just like Goldilocks, I want it just right!

Now the real hard part: once you’ve gone through all the binders and promotional literature — how do you decide whom to buy from? Everybody is selling mostly the same programs. I’m sure all of you have the same dilemma every year. Some guys spread it out to a couple salesman. Others have one or two they have built strong relationships with over the years.

Never forget the guy who bailed you out that one time you were in a pinch. Service should still be a heavy deciding factor. Who will be standing next to you when you need them?

Post a Comment