January 2014

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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Facility & Operations | By Scott Miller and Craig Bronzan Contracting services: how to successfully develop productive partnerships I n recent years, most parks and recreation agencies have had to deal with the economic realities of reduced revenue and higher personnel costs. On the recreation side of the house, program fees and charges can be revised and/or programs can be eliminated/given to other service providers to close budget shortfalls. However on the parks side, which is charged with maintaining the amenities, facilities, and landscape, raising additional revenue can be problematic. As a result, many agencies are either considering or have started to contract for maintenance services. Contracting for maintenance services, a concept that many times replaces department employees with con- The quality of service provided by a contractor is paramount to any success. The contract needs to clearly state your quality standards so that you get what you want. 8 SportsTurf | January 2014 tract employees, is usually looked at as being "bad" or something that will not provide the same level of service. However in our new economic reality, contracting may be something that we have no choice other than to accept. If that is the case, there are some lessons learned that can help to make contracting successful. Contracts that are professional services contracts, where negotiation is possible, are more successful than "low bid" contracts. Experience shows that a low bid contract can end up costing more through change orders and other extra work than a contract that allows for ongoing negotiation. Price is important; however if it is the only criteria you are able to look at, you will probably end up spending more in the long run. The quality of service provided by a contractor is paramount to any success. The contract needs to clearly state your quality standards so that you get what you want. Do not beat around the bush: if you want your turf to be "weed free", then write your standards that way. Time is not something we are blessed with these days and spending additional time trying to haggle over agreement on a standard is time you do not have. Standards need to be written in as simply and directly as possible, so that a 12-year old child could say, "Yes it does or does not meet standards." QUALITY OUTCOMES IS THE GOAL Standards for quality should be written as "outcomes" and not based on a performance that you have to count. You want to let the contractor know what you want: weed free turf. You don't want to direct the contractor on how to make the turf weed free or you will be treating the contractor more like an employee and you will have to spend time making sure they do what you told them to do. The relationship between the contractor and the agency needs to be written into the contract as that of a partnership where the contractor and agency have a shared interest in maintaining the landscape. One of the arguments against contracting is the belief that a contractor will not care as much as an agency employee. If the contract is an "us versus them" contract, that will be true. If the contract allows for incentives and collaborations, and extensions or options based on a partnership, the contractor will look at the contract as a longer term investment and will hopefully bring skills other than burying the agency in change orders. The City of Roseville uses both collaborations and extensions as methods of showing their long term commitment to their partners. In return this commitment provides their partner with a level of comfort that enables them to invest in both people and equipment that will make them more

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