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New Garden Centers in THIS Day and Age?

You’ve got to be crazy! Who, in their right mind would dare start a garden center now?

Well there are some people who are. Read about them in the Garden Center Birth & Re-birth room.

It is in the nature of our business that we’re approached by wanna-be garden center owners. The reasons for starting a garden center now are many, but these five are the most popular.

Continue reading

“Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

In a competitive world you must stand for something and stand out.You must, as Steve Martin said, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

Most small businesses have a difficult enough time figuring out what to sell. They often become a “wandering generality” of their business type. They by default become “A jack of all trades and master of none”. To the general public they are second citizens to the predictable although not perfect national brand experiences whether carpet cleaner, lawn care operator, security alarm system, garden center, restaurant, etc. Don’t you also find it to be  easier, faster, and “safer” to choose the national brand over the mom & pop motel? One of the reasons the general pull of national brands is true is that the better brands re-invent themselves the way Holiday Inn has been doing.

How do you rise to the top in the customers mind?”

Steve Martin achieved outrageous success by developing a unique method to his apparent madness, which led to his becoming “so good that the entertainment world couldn’t ignore him”. And, as they say, the rest is history.

The same wisdom applies to steady growth, taking a step to the elusive “next level”, or catapulting to even higher levels.

The Steve Martin Method Continue reading

Educate for Understanding, Train for Skill

My son Owen began his college career this past year at Xavier University in Cincinnati. It was interesting to see how various people who asked him what major he had chosen offered their style of advice to him. I think he made the right choice, but it will be a while before we know.

The education many college freshmen begin pursuit of today will be obsolete by the time they graduate four years later. Education is and always has been a constant pursuit. Learning to learn well is the only possible way to compete in the future.  It really always has been that way, but in the past you could have a career and retire before your industry of choice made your education obsolete.

Our world is changing faster than anyone can change with it. Can you beat the pace of change by being the one causing the change? No way. Continue reading

It Ain’t _ _ _ _ Until It’s Over.

This is addressed mainly to garden centers that are located in the areas that experienced a very strong and warm early spring, a very wet and cool early May, followed by recent high humidity and daytime temperatures. This year that covers most of you.

In the past several days I’ve talked with several garden centers and found all of them to say something to the effect that there was NO WAY they could make up what they’re behind this year. I think they are WRONG. Continue reading

Should Your Suppliers Sell Direct?

(Approx. read time 3 min.)

Proven Winners is now selling online direct to consumers.

Yes, others do it but Proven Winners is the first major brand in our industry that has begun selling finished annuals, perennials, grasses and shrubs direct to consumers from the Proven Winners website.  This is called cross-channel distribution by the way.

Just when I was getting used to things as they are now my cheese has been moved again. This is not entirely a bad thing though I’m still not saying it’s entirely a good thing. Maybe it is just is what it is? Continue reading

All you believe…may be ALL WRONG – Belief #5

Misconception #5 – Lower Your Prices and Make it Up on Volume

(Read time approx. 3 minutes.)

This is the fifth misconception in a series of six. The concepts being discussed here will likely be counter to your beliefs. The comments left on the previous posts are quite interesting so you may want to go back and read them. Click HERE to go back and begin with the first post related to this series.

Possibly one of the greatest travesties to befall the independent garden center as an industry is the fallacy that if you offer lower prices you will “make it up on volume”.

This is what I  call Fifth Grade Economics. The general level of knowledge about economics in our industry was learned in fifth grade social studies class. In my fifth grade class Mrs. Woods taught us about supply and demand, and how if you lowered the price you would “make it up on volume”. Unfortunately this same macro-economic principle has been perpetuated in higher education and has not been balanced with understanding of the micro-economic application in an independent garden center serving niche demographic and psycho-graphic customers.

Continue reading

All you believe…may be ALL WRONG – Belief #4

Misconception #4 – It is better to ‘Bootstrap’ than to borrow or wait until we make enough profit and keep capital investment low.

(Read time approx. 3 minutes.)

This is the fourth misconception in a series of six. The concepts being discussed here will likely be counter to your beliefs. The comments left on the previous posts are quite interesting so you may want to go back and read them. Click HERE to go back and begin with the first post related to this series.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for frugality, living within your means, and saving money where it doesn’t compromise quality. But when it comes to investing in an income producing business being frugal for the sake of being frugal can put a lid on income and profitability. It is a hard economic reality that the number one cause of business failure is under-capitalization. No business will ever outperform its level of capitalization.

There are several major reasons people in our industry are often led to invest less than they should in their business: Continue reading

Open Letter to Independent Garden Centers

Read Time: Approximately 5 minutes text, 15 minutes with links and video.

Friends,

Independent garden centers are my future. I am a fortunate person to love what I do and do what I love. I sincerely want that to continue, and I realize it is entirely dependent on the success of my clients.

Today I feel compelled to share with you some information you would probably rather not hear or would rather not consider. Sticking your head in the sand is a possible reaction to this.

Consider carefully how you choose to respond. This could be a decision that changes the course of your business and your life completely within a very few short months.

Is the sky falling? No, it definitely is not, however, just because the sky is staying where it is does not excuse us from examining other things that may be falling. Continue reading

Handling Haggling

Handing MoneyHaggling on the Rise

The introduction of the new Taggle concept for in-store bidding on merchandise at participating retailers brought about a plethora of media reports on the haggling fad. Now some retailers are adopting haggling procedures and training their associates. Don’t fall for it.

Continue reading

Recessionary State of Mind

Forrest Gump

“Recession is as recession does,”

This was the reported response (according to About.com:Retail Industry) from the fictitious Forrest Gump Worldwide Management Consortium to an October 2008 AlixPartners survey of consumers on the prospects of a recession:

  • 86% believed the U.S. was in a recession or depression.
  • 64% said they would spend less in retail stores to prepare for the hard economic times
  • 46% predicted hard times would last three years.

The point of the article is that consumer response to recessionary news determines the level of recession at retail. More important, the response by retailers determines how well they do. The article cites cases during previous recessions where companies and brands such as Chrysler, Ivory Soap, Kellogg’s, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell successfully introduced new strategies that brought them greater market share both during and post recession. Time and again history has shown that retailers that respond with aggressive marketing of innovative strategies come through and out of troubled times better than those who do not.

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