Today I received a new CISCO Systems IP office telephone that I am told will make my life easier. I didn't ask for a new one, but the whole company is on the new CISCO system and each of us now has a new phone. The new phone is wired through the corporate computer network and my computer and has Caller ID, conference-call capability, multiple lines, speed dial, a gazillion ring tones and nifty 4 × 6-inch display. The old phone I had worked fine. It also had Caller ID, conference-call capability, multiple lines, speed dial and more. O.K., the old phone didn't have all the ring tones, the larger display and Internet phoning capability. I wonder if these features will enable me to make or take more calls?

As I reflect on my zippy new phone, I see an analogy to grounds-care equipment. When considering purchases, you must ask yourself “What are the basic features that I need in the unit to do the intended task at hand?” Do you need all the bells and whistles, or can you get along with the basic machine? Of course you must consider durability, ease of maintenance, productivity and safety, but beyond that, do you need the extras? Ask your equipment dealer how the extras are going to improve your business.

I have found that new technology (cell phones, BlackBerry, e-mail, Internet, etc.) brings with it increased efficiency, such as immediate response and availability, demand from management for more frequent reporting and quicker turn-around. It does all these things, but sometimes it is easy to get lost in the technology and lose focus on the fundamentals of doing business: providing a good product or service, maintaining good customer relations, managing your staff, being aware of the present condition of your operation and implementing improvements.

With the new technology comes information overload, we all have to set priorities on the information we take in. In past years, information came from newspapers, radio, telephone, television, magazines and direct mail. We had to prioritize then, too, but now we have all the electronic information sources as well (Internet, cell phones, PDAs, e-mail and more). As I mentioned, it is important to keep focus on your customers and what they need. You are our customers and we are dedicated to bringing you the most pertinent information you need to do your job well in the grounds care business. We've done this for 40 years now and will continue to support you in the future.

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