About that 2020 budget

Columns - game plan

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October 2, 2019

© Philip Steury | adobe stock

The budget cycle is complete at most golf facilities for the 2020 calendar year. If your budget was approved and you received the allocation you hoped for, congratulations. But if you feel a lack of funding puts your plan for staffing, course conditioning and maintenance in jeopardy, you might need a different approach to the next budget cycle. Here are five steps to consider when planning your budget.

1. Identify the Gatekeeper. There is often one person who sets the tone for the next year’s budget. It’s normally the controller or accounting manager; in private clubs, it may be the chair of the finance committee. This person sets the minimum standards for the budget, and he or she must be educated and kept informed regarding your priorities and needs. Research the background experience of the gatekeeper so you understand the perspective from which he or she considers budget requests. Take the time well ahead of the budgeting period to ensure that this key player understands what is needed and the extent to which you have gone to manage costs.

2. Understand the Budgeting Process. Many golf courses and clubs use different budgeting processes, sequences and schedules for development, planning and decision-making. Make sure you understand the expectations for your role, and then work diligently to exceed them by providing background and support information ahead of schedule. Understand how your club handles budgeting and who the decision-makers are. Meet with them to explain your needs and priorities. Explore and learn their viewpoints concerning your budget needs and how they evaluate your problem-solving. Help them to know how much thought and planning you have given their viewpoints.

3. Plan Ahead of the Process. Schedule quarterly budget-planning meetings with the gatekeeper and key influencers of your budget submittal. Inform them fully of your needs for the next budget year, answer their questions and demonstrate your commitment to their preferences and needs. Invite them into your operation so they may judge for themselves your organization and methods of management. They need to understand that you are efficient and diligent with the funds for which you are responsible.

4. Organize Your Roster of Priorities. Knowing the viewpoints of the gatekeeper and influencers involved in your budget helps you prepare your list of your priorities. Be concise in stating your game plan and the rationale behind your requests. Support each proposed budget line item with incremental details for costs per unit of measure and the number of units required. Show all the facts and figures that support your needs. Your objective is to ensure that the gatekeeper understands the due diligence and conscientious approach that went into your request, which will increase their confidence in the validity of your request.

5. Educate the Influencers. Prepare individualized budget discussions with influencers. Schedule one-on-one meetings with each person who will have a voice in approving your budget. Persuade one influencer at a time until you have met with each of them and gotten their buy-in. See that you understand their viewpoints and biases. Once you fully understand the individuals, evaluate the group thinking to which you must respond.

By understanding the budget influencers’ priorities and then presenting your credentials in an organized and well-researched fashion, you’re well on your way to getting the decision you want and the budget that will help you do your job more effectively.