Photo courtesy of PBI-Gordon
If you know you need certain products for your golf course every year, early order programs can help you stretch your maintenance dollars and ensure you always have the essentials on hand. However, the temptation of savings can also lead to purchasing mistakes that may end up costing you more money down the road. Read on for insights on how to maximum your EOP benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls.
Early order programs for golf courses
Early order programs are based on the concept of committing to products and payment in advance in exchange for better prices. The early ordering process in the golf course market originated in agriculture. These early order commitments from farmers improved manufacturing efficiency and helped minimize the risk of in-season product shortages.
With many of the same manufacturers, suppliers and distributors operating in both agriculture and golf, targeted efforts evolved to develop early order programs for the golf course market. As a turfgrass herbicide may command a better price margin than the same herbicide in corn, the manufacturing plant will likely manufacture and package the golf course-branded herbicide first. So, aligning product needs for turf versus agriculture helps improve efficiency and ensure adequate product allocation.
Advantages of EOP participation
Superintendents can see significant cost savings on essential products by ordering early. While many EOPs have a minimum participation volume or “spend,” a high-volume or high-spend minimum is more exception than general rule. This means golf courses with less resources can participate.
There are programs that could make your head spin with disclaimers and restrictions, or obligations to buy other products that almost require a law degree to fully understand. The old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is,” usually applies. Let the buyer beware, read the fine print and ask questions before committing.
Manufacturers sometimes require or incentivize bundling products to get you to a volume or price level. The more you buy, the greater the savings. This also helps incentivize the purchase of products of secondary or less-essential value by linking their purchase to savings on a product of greater necessity. For example, if you need $3,000 worth of an essential preemergence herbicide, an additional 5% price break may entice you to buy $1,000 worth of a second-tier postemergence herbicide or a curative caterpillar control product.
Once you get a product in the maintenance building, the chances of the product being used increase significantly. In sales lingo, this is sometimes referred to as “pounds on the ground.” The goal is to get the product out to the golf course rather than let it sit in a distributor’s storage building, where a manufacturer may need to pay storage fees and profitability declines. Be mindful that you aren’t ordering unnecessary products to save a small amount of money on the products you do need.
While it may not often happen, there can be instances of product shortages in the golf course market during the season because of mishaps in production. An unforeseen run on a product because of excess demand or an impending loss of registration in either the turfgrass or agricultural markets can also result in shortages. Making an early order for a specific quantity of an essential product helps to ensure you will have the product when you need it regardless of demand.
How early order programs work, and with what
While early order participation in the golf course market originated with high-volume, high-demand products, the scope of products eligible for discounts or incentives has expanded over the years. Insect baits, blended stand-alone fertilizers, surfactants, wetting agents, colorants and pigments are now often included. Even alternative products may be included alone or bundled with other products.
One of the key components of early order programs is that the distributor or often the area distributor sales representative is the contact person for orders. Some distributors have streamlined this process to make the experience easier with online ordering capability vs. meeting with each distributor’s sales representative.
Often distributors realize a service payment from the manufacturer when a product is sold or shipped at a listed price. This explains why some products are sold at the same prices regardless of which distributor gets the order. Some distributors attach incentives to their proprietary products, such as surfactants, pigments and fertilizers, when accompanied by orders of a manufacturer’s agency product.
EOPs generally scale incentives or savings based on volume commitments. Sometimes the volume price advantage is reflected in the package size, such as bulk packaging that is often large and heavy, requiring metering devices. However, if bulk packages are returnable, that eliminates the need for potentially expensive disposal.
Photo courtesy of the USGA Green Section
In conjunction with early order programs, manufacturers and distributors promote programs that may have guarantees or assurances associated with following a specific outlined treatment program based on a calendar. Read the details of these programs carefully, as many don’t guarantee product performance or offer monetary compensation for product failure — they might just replace the product or provide an alternative product free of charge.
You should ask whether there is flexibility to mix and match products without loss of discounts or whether the discount or rebate is tied to a basket of defined products. When is payment due — upon placement of the order, at a predetermined time, or when the product is delivered? Is there any flexibility to delay payment or are there penalties for doing so? Is delivery based on timing for application or other factors? Is there an installment payment plan? If additional product is needed beyond the early order, are there incentives or discounts that can apply after committing to a certain product amount? Some manufacturers’ programs offer an in-season discount or yearlong rebates based on early order amount.
Put together an EOP plan
The first step in planning any purchase is looking at your budget. How much money is budgeted for the products you will most likely need to maintain the golf course over the course of a year? Will you have a savings balance to pay the bills when they are due, or is payment based on a monthly budget or course revenue? Knowing these details is important, because any unexpected downturn in rounds and revenue can impact a facility’s ability to pay for products that were ordered early.
Editor’s note: Set the stage for successful budget requests and productive communication with your facility’s financial decision-makers with these 8 essential budgeting principles for superintendents.
Stock and inventory
Take inventory of the products on hand at the end of every year or prior to early ordering. What’s still sitting on the shelf or on pallets around the maintenance facility? It’s important to use products before they deteriorate, settle out or chemically degrade. Ideally, you want to use what’s in stock before buying more. If you didn’t use all of a product that was purchased the prior year, this could mean that the quantity needed is less than you expected. Did a bundling incentive leave you with a bunch of unnecessary stuff? Did you buy too much of something trying to max out a discount?
Look at the current year: How did it compare with previous years? Was it an average year for rainfall, temperatures and pest pressure? Did the quality of the golf course and playability meet golfer expectations for your budget? Did you have enough of the priority products from the previous year to address your golf course’s needs?
Prioritize your EOP purchases
1. Target needs
Categorize your greatest predictable and essential needs. Separate the product categories into areas. If maintenance of your greens, fairways and tees depends on a growth regulator, list the growth regulators of interest. Calculate acreage, rates used and number of applications to arrive at a total volume needed. The same could be done for the products needed to control predictable seasonal pests such as crabgrass, goosegrass and annual bluegrass.
2. Identify products
Prioritize the products you plan to use for the upcoming year. If you are using the same fungicide for greens and tees, list these areas and add them together later to arrive at volume needs. You should make note of the rate you intend to use and the total area to be treated. Multiple applications may be needed.
Assign rankings to your areas and products of greatest anticipated needs. Rank these areas and products with numbers from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest priority. As an example, pests like armyworms or sod webworms can be erratic and could rate a 2, while Pythium blight prevention on creeping bentgrass greens might warrant a 5.
4. Calculate and record
Arriving at a number of pounds or gallons of a specific product entails multiplying the application rate by the acreage involved and the number of applications.
5. Total an early order
Take all of the products and tabulate the anticipated needs for the next year. Then, subtract your current inventory to arrive at how much would be needed. If the product ranking is a 5 and you have none of it in stock, 100% participation in early ordering is justified. If the product ranking is a 4 or 3 and you have some material in stock, purchasing 50% of the total reduces the risk of buying too much. Anything below a 3 is probably not something to be buying through early order.
Prioritizing which products you plan to purchase through EOPs allows for unforeseen issues that may arise. Cooler and drier weather may delay weed germination, which translates into potentially lower rates or later application events. If a new herbicide gains registration, you may not need or want 100% of the previous year’s amount of a given herbicide. It’s nice to have money set aside for any products that gain registration in-season. There can also be some in-season deals. An expensive branded product may lose its patent, and a less expensive generic or post-patent product may become available. Sometimes these deals can translate to better cost savings than early order purchase discounts.
Choose your distributors wisely. You might want to place your entire order with one distributor or split it among several, especially if there are added spend incentives on that distributor’s proprietary products. A distributor may have some additional incentives to capture your entire order. This is a good time to ask questions or request additional assistance from your distributor or representative. A good percentage of the price you pay for a product goes to the distributor and is attributed to customer service. Do they help with problems? Do they offer additional services like product application? Can they custom blend a fertilizer for you? Are they accessible throughout the season when there are problems? Ask questions and see if additional services are available for the season. Ask if any of the products you are interested in have had any label changes. Are any formulation or product changes anticipated?
Dodge potential EOP pitfalls
Don’t buy something you aren’t sure you’ll use. This can lead to wasted money or applications that aren’t necessary. Making applications simply because you have a product on hand is wasteful and increases the risk of product antagonism and potential turfgrass damage.
If you don’t really need something, don’t buy it for the purpose of getting a better discount on something else that you do need. Be cautious about prepared agronomic programs. Many of these are designed with a bias toward that company’s products, regardless of whether those products are the best or most cost-effective approach for a given problem or purpose. Often an agronomic program will substitute individual products for premixes, which can result in overapplying something that isn’t needed but is less likely to have a generic equivalent. These programs, especially if affixed to some guarantee or assurance, are often written for a worst-case scenario in a broad geographical area without regard to local environment and cultural programs.
Through the USGA’s Course Consulting Service, a USGA agronomist can work with you to put a plan together for the early order process. Get more information.
— Steve Kammerer, Ph.D., USGA Southeast regional director
Create your own masterpiece
With the combined power of two unique active ingredients, Fluindapyr — a new and novel FMC SDHI fungicide — and next-generation DMI, Flutriafol, Kalida provides complete protection against your most troublesome warm- and cool-season diseases. As a foundation fungicide, Kalida raises the bar on broad spectrum with excellent control of numerous tough diseases, including:
- Warm-season: Take-all root rot, Bipolaris leaf spot, fairy ring, mini ring, large patch
- Cool-season: Anthracnose, brown patch, dollar spot, fairy ring
In support of FMC’s Give Back to Local Chapters initiative, each Kalida unit purchased during EOP will generate $25 to your local GCSAA chapter.
RebateLock is back and better than ever.
Get more information and enroll at FMCTrueChampions.com.
The PBI-Gordon annual early order program
Success depends on making smart choices, and the first smart choice of the 2022 season is getting the best deals on the best turf products from PBI-Gordon.
The PBI-Gordon Early Order Program gives end users the best prices when they order qualifying products from a PBI-Gordon distributor between Oct. 1 and Dec. 17, 2021. And end users can maximize their rebate by placing an order before Oct. 31, 2021.
- Level 1: rebate ($500-$999) earns an additional 15% rebate
- Level 2: rebate ($1,000 or more) earns an additional 25% rebate
The PBI-Gordon EOP features 16 of our most popular products, including:
- Q4 Plus Turf Herbicide for Grassy & Broadleaf Weeds — Save money and labor with rapid, broad-spectrum control of tough grassy and broadleaf weeds from a single product.
- SpeedZone EW Broadleaf Herbicide for Turf — The fast, broad-spectrum control of the #1 speed herbicide in an advanced emulsion-in-water formulation.
- TZone SE Broadleaf Herbicide for Tough Weeds — Trusted broad-spectrum control of tough broadleaf weeds plus yellow nutsedge suppression in a cool-weather speed product.
- Segway Fungicide SC — The industry standard for control of Pythium root dysfunction, blight, damping-off and root rot.
- Union Fungicide SC — Lasting control of 17 diseases, including brown patch, plus the same proven Pythium control of Segway Fungicide SC.
Hit the ground running in 2022: Visit EOP.PBIGordonTurf.com to see the full list of qualifying products and enroll!
Simply Grow Together
Quali-Pro has been a leader in the development of innovative and post-patent formulations, offering professionals the industry’s widest array of active ingredients. Quali-Pro provides solutions for golf course superintendents, sports turf managers and lawn care professionals that are backed by university research and a dedicated staff of professionals.
2021 Quali-Pro Early Order Program Information
Quali-Pro is offering special incentives now through Nov. 30. Take advantage of the Simply Grow Together (SGT) early order program by Oct. 31 for the biggest rebates.
To qualify, the participating end user must earn a minimum rebate of $100. When 50% or more of the total rebate is derived from Platinum Products, a Double-Base Bonus will be added to your rebate total. Products must be purchased from an authorized Quali-Pro distributor between Aug. 15, 2021 and Nov. 30, 2021.
This is an end user promotion. Distributors and dealers are not eligible for this rebate. Purchases used to qualify for this promotion are not eligible for any other free goods, cash back or rebate programs. Internet sales and purchases do not qualify.
Submit your rebate online at simplygrowtogether.com.
All submissions must be uploaded by Jan. 14, 2022.
Strengthen your turf management program with Corteva Ultimate Rewards
The foundation of success for your course is better-looking turf and superior control. That’s why maintaining attractive, playable golf courses requires the use of proven turf management products. As you think ahead to address next year’s needs, Corteva Agriscience is providing an easy way to earn cash back on the products you rely on. From Oct. 1, 2021, through Feb. 28, 2022, Corteva Ultimate Rewards is offering top-notch rebates to golf course superintendents on all qualifying products.
Corteva Ultimate Rewards benefits
With Corteva Ultimate Rewards, the more you purchase, the greater your rewards. From rebate multipliers and yearlong rate locks to a flexible ordering period and cash-back incentives, participating in Corteva Ultimate Rewards provides a simple way to save when buying the products you need for exceptional weed, insect and disease control. Purchase participating products before Dec. 31 to not only earn cash back but also lock in your rebate for the full market year.
Diverse portfolio of eligible products
You know the difference between getting the job done, and getting the job done right. As an industry-leading preemergence herbicide that also offers excellent early postemergence control of crabgrass and more than 45 other grassy weeds, Dimension specialty herbicide is the backbone
of a turf management program you can rely on year after year. This No. 1-selling herbicide now comes with the ultimate offer:
Golf course superintendents can bundle Dimension with up to three other premium turf management products, such as Defendor and GameOn specialty herbicides, to strengthen results, earn cash back and keep courses attractive and playable. Participating product categories include:
- Preemergence herbicides
- Postemergence herbicides
How to secure your savings
Taking advantage of this timely program is simple:
- Go to COREUltimateRewards.com, pick your distributor(s) and complete your rebate form.
- Submit your rebate form.
- Enjoy locked-in savings through September 2022.
All eligible purchases must be invoiced through participating distributors from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, 2021, to qualify. If you purchase from a Corteva direct distributor, we will use electronic data interchange (EDI) to validate your claim. Otherwise, if you purchase through alternative distributors, directions will be provided that detail how you can proceed to receive your rebate. Rebate checks can be sent directly to you or processed as a credit on your account with a participating distributor of your choice.
How will you apply your rebate dollars? With Corteva Ultimate Rewards, the power is in your hands.
Nufarm Edge Rewards Program boosts savings potential in 2022
The 2022 Nufarm Edge Rewards Program offers golf course superintendents the best opportunity to save on more than 35 popular Nufarm brands during the upcoming season. Nufarm is a leading provider of high-performing plant growth regulators, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. Superintendents earn top savings on these proven solutions by participating in Nufarm Edge Rewards during two order periods.
- Save the maximum during Period 1: September 13 - October 31, 2021.
- Extend your time to save during Period 2: November 1 - December 10, 2021.
NEW increased volume bonus rebates for 2022
Nufarm’s Volume Bonus Offers are designed to deliver an added edge with savings of 150% to 400% over regular period one rebates on five top-performing golf solutions. During period one, stack Edge Rewards and Volume Bonus Rebates to maximize savings on Pinpoint, Traction, Anuew, Aloft GC SC and Millennium Ultra 2.
Volume Bonus Rebates are only available during Period 1.
- Pinpoint Fungicide: Save $30 per jug. 50% increase over 2021
- Traction Fungicide: Save $55 per jug. 10% increase over 2021
- Anuew PGR: Save $21 per package.
- Aloft GC SC: Save $50 per jug.
- Millennium Ultra 2: Save $50 per jug.
NEW premium savings on three premium herbicides
New for 2022, superintendents can find significantly increased period one rebates on premium herbicides Escalade 2, Cool Power and Horsepower. Ideal for weed control in fairways, rough, aprons, and tees, the 2022 Edge Rewards Program offers best savings on these three proven solutions.
Best premium herbicide rewards are available during Period 1.
- Escalade 2 Herbicide: Save $15 per jug. 50% increase over 2021
- Cool Power Herbicide: Save $15 per jug. 50% increase over 2021
- Horsepower: Save $15 per jug. 50% increase over 2021
Registration is quick and easy
Registration is easy and required to participate in Nufarm Edge Rewards. Visit www.nufarmrewards.com and submit the registration form. Previous registrants are automatically registered and do not need to register again. At the Rewards website, browse eligible products and build a qualifying order with ease using the online Nufarm Edge Rewards Calculator Tool. It can tabulate your savings and be emailed directly to your distributor.
Your solutions for a superior year
Order early. Save big.
From Oct. 1 through Dec. 6, 2021, take advantage of discounts on the latest innovations and agronomic solutions from Bayer. With four ways to save, the Fall Solutions program will offer the best deals on the essential products you need to make next year your best yet.
Beginning Oct. 1, more details will be available at es.bayer.us/fall-solutions. In the meantime, you can take advantage of special discounts through the Now Solutions program, which runs through Sept. 30.