The bottom line on EOP

By |  November 1, 2018 0 Comments
Golf course spray application (Photo: PBI-Gordon)

If you know what products you need for next year, you won’t find them cheaper than during the EOP period. (Photo: PBI-Gordon)

As the calendar rolls over to October, many northern superintendents anxiously await the return of a cold, snowy tundra and putting that lush playground to bed for the winter. Oh, the anticipation of emptying out the irritation systems… protecting the playing surfaces… blowing leaves to oblivion.

As the seasons change, it seems a pretty good time to sit back and think on the season that was. What worked? What didn’t? What should we add to our spray program? What did everyone else use, and should I try that?

Maybe you’re thinking about putting out a text to a few buddies to see what they are thinking about adding to their programs for 2019… or maybe I can call on my preferred vendors and get their opinion about pricing or potential label changes… maybe even learn about the new stuff that is in the pipeline… maybe put that in the rotation.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! As Mr. or Ms. Superintendent ponder these ideas over a cup of hot brew, it suddenly occurs to them — “Oh yeah! An army of knuckleheads have called, texted, emailed, cold-called… and told me that all life on Earth will come to a complete and utter standstill at midnight on Oct. 31 if I don’t order up my entire year’s worth of everything I am sure to need in 2019.”

But why?

Close-up golf course spray application (Photo: PBI-Gordon)

Get your ordering done before the first snowfall and there’s one more thing off your to-do list for next season. (Photo: PBI-Gordon)

The bottom line

Why does this happen, you ask — seemingly earlier and earlier every year? Let’s take a trip back in time to the day I was privileged to sit in on my first manufacturer/distributor EOP planning sit-down. (EOP, of course, is early order program. We folks in sales love acronyms: OEM, FYTD, GIS, MR, DR, BMP, BFF… you get the picture.)

Having been a superintendent for 19 years and on the receiving end of all the fuss, I thought I finally was going to get the inside scoop. I made it a point to ask to be enlightened early in the meeting. That way, I would be able to better focus my queries later.

OK. So, I’m ready to let you in on the secret. Exactly what they told me. Here we go. Are you sitting down? Here’s what I got:

“Cause it’s October, dummy.”

They all laughed at me and ate another doughnut while I sat disappointed with the realization that there is no bottom-line secret. To this day, nobody has been able to give me a clear, concise explanation.

EOP defined

Different distributors and manufacturers run varying deals, but basically you are encouraged to commit to next year’s stuff as early as possible in the fall. They incentivize end-users with a combination of extended terms, rebate checks, rebate credits, percentage price reductions, gift cards, warehousing specials, delivery deals, free stuff, outright bribes, tchotchkes, payment plans, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Everyone is trying to beat everyone else to the punch. But hey, you won’t have to pay until next year, and you can reduce your expenses by quite a bit, maybe up to 20 percent.

Advantages to end-users

  • The earlier you order, the more you’ll save. The simple fact is that you will not get better pricing, especially with agency items. While some vendors run programs throughout the season, the prices don’t match those available during EOP. If you know what you will use, you won’t find it cheaper.
  • Things are fresh on your mind. The longer you wait, the greater the chance that you may forget the tweaks. A long winter can dull your recollection.
  • Rest assured. By getting everything handled before the snow flies, you can take solace in the fact that you will have one less thing to worry about going into next season.
  • Reaction to generics. Agency products ordered in October become price competitive with post-patents. Get — at a discount — all the support, consistency and backing that the generics don’t have.

Advantage to manufacturers (what they tell us)

  • Inventory and production levels. Just about everything you use gets made in short production runs. Having an idea of market trends helps manufacturers keep costs under control.
  • Better servicing the customer. A stretch, but by knowing what you want and when you want it, you’ll be a happier, more organized camper.

Advantage to manufacturers (unofficially what may be true)

  • Money and market share. Get it while the getting is good.
  • Ricky Bobby Syndrome. “If you ain’t first, you’re last!”
  • Head office impact. What if they change the program to say… February, and I’m just spitballing here, to coincide with GIS for example? The boys in the home office will interpret this fall as a loss and heads will roll.

While the recent past has been somewhat stable, there is no doubt that over the years purchasing decisions have moved from late winter to early fall. The old-timers always tell us that these decisions were made “after the show,” in early March. That way any new products or changes to existing products could be examined at the annual GCSAA Conference and Show (before it was called the Golf Industry Show).

With what seems like an annual influx of new distribution partners, the pressure is not going to ease. I don’t want to be a bearer of bad tidings fuddy-duddy, but I’d suggest you accept it and be ready to go. In fact, I hope you already considered all this last month!

About the only way this is going to change is if all end-users get together and let manufacturers know how things are going to be.

Bonus advantages

There are some bonus advantages to EOPs that perhaps you’ve overlooked. 1: You’ve already seen us in October — your winter is free! 2: You’ll probably forget half the stuff you early ordered, why you ordered it and why you ordered so much of it. Don’t fret — your sales person took notes and gladly will remind you over lunch in March.

So with that, all of your salespeople hope to see you in March.

Dave Blomquist is a sales rep with Chicagoland Turf. Prior to joining Chicagoland Turf, he was a superintendent for 19 years at Twin Orchard CC and Naperville (Ill.) CC.

(Editor’s note: This article first appeared in On Course, the official publication of the Midwest Association of Golf Course Superintendents. It is reprinted with the author and the MAGCS’s permission.)

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