Value for money
Every decision is crucial to the viability of your vineyard and an efficient management program will make a major difference to your profitability. Ideally, management practices should be orientated towards target quality levels for your vineyard, and although mindful of potential economic uncertainties, should not compromise on workmanship.
In a competitive market, there will be a tendency for short-term undercutting even the most stringent of pricing levels, however, these prices are unlikely to be viable in the long term so you may be forced into a continual cycle of shopping around, if pricing is your only criteria. Contractors come and go, so by employing a contractor who specialises in structured management services you will not only be able to gain peace of mind, but reduce any uncertainties about sourcing labour, equipment and materials for your vineyard.
As with most major outlays it is always advisable to do some reference checking before engaging a contractor. A business may use a certain amount of spin to get a deal over the line so take care also that you aren’t being given misleading information about the business’s activities or abilities. Professionals who offer a good range of services, properly researched to ensure the best value for money, are probably a safer option for the long term. If you are still unsure, there are a number of other points to consider.
A contractor who employs staff with the qualifications to back up their reputation should always be your first choice when deciding on the services being offered. All key staff should be trained to industry standards and have the relevant licenses to undertake the various vineyard operations. Related to this, work health and safety standards and risk assessment procedures are a good indication that your contractor cares about the risk to their staff while engaged in services on your property.
It has also become quite prevalent in some sectors to engage subcontractors to maximise GST off-sets, instead of employing staff. While not always so, this attitude may be indicative of any regard for liability for the work being undertaken. However, there are also valid reasons for a contractor to subcontract out a portion of work, especially where specialisation or seasonality factors are concerned.
Longevity in business is usually another good indication of good business practice. This not only means that your contractor has the necessary experience and credibility, but also means that they have established contacts whether that be suppliers, subcontractors or affiliations. Industry affiliations are a good sign they are subscribing to current or even innovative vineyard practices and are complying with statutory regulations.
When engaging a contractor to carry out management services, or even just a large parcel of work, a written contract should always be considered a sign of good will. Misunderstandings can occur with even the most reliable operators so a contract or other written agreement is one way of ensuring any ambiguities are taken care of from the beginning.
While the aim of an agreement isn’t to spell out every possible contingency, it can be a useful tool in promoting understanding about how business is going to proceed and can be adapted for individual needs. A clear-cut contract will allow you to live your life without the need to worry about the “what ifs” and will openly define what you get for your outlay. Guarantees and responsibilities may also be factored into the contract, giving the means to preserve the integrity and reputations of the parties involved.
The provision of quotes and budgets are also important to consider because it will give you further confidence that the forecast expenditure is accurate and can be met by expected income to generate a profit. A prudent contractor will, however, reserve some rights for unforeseen circumstances to be charged on an hourly basis, but these should be minimal.
The bottom line is to think carefully before you act, check out credentials and act on the best information available. Think first and foremost about safety and standards. Value for money will automatically follow.
If outsourcing your management services is an option you may have been considering, please direct your enquiries to Tom Ayers, 0417 395 325