President's Report - Fall 2014


I hope everyone had a productive and successful summer. As  mentioned in past Presidents messages, I would like to focus on non- technical turf management skills. 

In this edition,  I would like to talk about the role staff play in the success of a good Turf Manager and his/her ability to effectively manage budgets.

 We can  all agree that without staff, it would be impossible to accomplish our jobs. Labour costs within the turf industry range from 47% of budgets up to a whopping 72 %.  When viewing those numbers, one would then seemingly ask the question, "Am I getting value for what I am spending?"

This question is one that should be asked regularly in the course of a business year but even more so in times of economic difficulties. How do you determine the productivity of staff and how does that productivity relate to value for dollar spent?

When asked to trim budgets, labour always seems to be the first item to be looked at. Do you have a system to adequately measure the work expectation and the time it takes to accomplish those tasks?

Here is a very simple outline to calculate productivity created by Larry Simmons who holds a B.S. in economics and an M.S. in information systems.

How to Calculate Percent of Productivity Using a Standard

When attempting to determine exactly how efficient your work force is, it's important to have a measurable unit to use for comparison. One simple comparison that small businesses use is percent of productivity. Percent of productivity consists primarily of the actual work done by a worker during a period of time versus the amount of work it was possible for the worker to do in that same period. Due to the necessity of break times or administrative tasks, workers rarely reach a perfect productivity level. However, by using past productivity as a standard, you can use current figures for any period desired with a quick calculation.

Step 1
Create a standard of production to which you can compare all other production periods. You can use the last year's production records to create this standard, using the time actually producing versus the time available for production.

Step 2
Determine the amount of time that it's possible to be productive in a workweek by adding together, in minutes, the total amount of assigned work time. For example, in an 8-hour shift running five days a week, the amount of possible productivity is 2,400 minutes.  

Step 3
Determine the actual productivity time for the period by subtracting any breaks from the total possible amount. These include only the scheduled down times such as breaks for meals or other reasons, and regularly scheduled meetings. For example with a 1-hour meal break along with two other 15-minute breaks, and a 1/2-hour morning meeting, the actual productivity for the week is 1,800.

Step 4
Divide the actual productive work period by the total possible work period, and then multiply the result by 100 to get the productivity percentage based on time for the week. For example, 1,800 minutes productive work time divided by 2,400 actual time available equals a 75 percent productivity percentage. To get a more accurate look at productivity in setting a standard, extend the process to encompass a full year's worth of productivity to get the standard rate.

Step 5
Use the standard to calculate percent of productivity of later periods by calculating the productivity for that period using the set process used for the standard. Multiply the new productivity period percentage by the standard percentage to get the total productivity percentage based on the standard baseline.

Determining productivity is only the first step in assessing how well you are managing your staff and labour budget but it is necessary if you are being asked to do more with less.  For instance, if you could increase productivity 5% by rescheduling mowing times, travel routes and breaks, on a $200k budget you would theoretically be able to add $10k in value to your end product without it costing you any more money. 

As we move into the fall turf maintenance period and begin to think about budgets and plans for next year, how much emphasis should you be putting into streamlining your biggest budget line item… LABOUR!!

Have a great autumn turf management season!!


Trevor Smith
President, Western Canada Turfgrass Association