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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

Will More Consumers Bypass The Garden Center?

What’s NEW in the garden business? Do you know? Will you know in the future – and will you act – before it, and the customer you want in your store passes you by?

WARNING: If you just skim over this article without digging deeper and clicking on links to learn more you might as well bail out now and go stick your head deeper in the quicksand of life getting in the way of where life is growing.

What this article is really about is figuring out how to be where consumers are in the future so your garden center business has a better chance of surviving and any chance of thriving. It might help to know where many consumers are now that you may not know about, or have disregarded, or have paid too little attention to.

You may have been one of those who blew off the post here titled Will This Be The Year of the Fairy Garden? Or you may be thinking about it and looking into it and if you are sincere about that you are right to take a little time to size up the opportunity. Fair enough, just don’t wait too long.

Continue reading

Sampling Sells MORE Stuff

Sampling Sells More Stuff

If Sampling Sells MORE Stuff WHY Don’t We Do More Sampling?

On consultation sessions with clients who sell food of any type I am always disappointed that they are not sampling when I am there. Maybe I’m just hungry? Or is it because I know (and we would all probably agree) that sampling helps sell what you’re selling. Why aren’t they doing it?

Do you sample dips, etc. to help sell herbs, veggies, etc.? I’m not advocating getting into the food business, but if you’re already there get sampling! Being in the food business (any part of it) and sampling go hand in hand.

If you really believe sampling helps sell products then you would surely want to sell more wouldn’t you? The whole idea is to get a customer to try a product in hopes that they’ll like it well enough to become a regular purchaser of it as well as a regular customer in your store. Otherwise you’re just taking what comes your way and not creating a market for your products. Figure out a way to sample consistently well and keep on doing it.

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 #2

Misconception #2 – Garden Centers Should be ‘Full-Service’ – Says Who?

(Read time approx. 3 minutes.)

This is the second 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.

Who says a garden center has to be ‘Full-Service’, and WHO DO THEY THINK THEY ARE to tell YOU?

Hint: (It’s NOT the consumer.)

Why fly your flag at half mast?

What would happen in your garden center if you were to do the things you must do to raise the flag of ‘annuals’ (for example) all the way up to the top of your flag pole?

Should you be building  taller flag poles for your core product lines?

“It is not enough to do our best. Sometimes we must do what is required of us to actually succeed.” – Winston Churchill

What is ‘Full-Service’ anyway? Continue reading

Fair Follow-up to Proven Winners Fair Test?

(Read Time, approximately 2 minutes.)

There has been quite an interesting dialogue of comments following the post here on August 28, 2009 titled, Is THIS a Fair Test? Mark Broxon and Dave Konsoer from Proven Winners and Kip Creel from StandPoint reacted with more information and their views on the research conducted at Churchill’s Gardens and Rolling Green Nursery, both located in New Hampshire. The additional information they provided did not include additional photos of their research, however there are new pics of the researched displays on Garden Center Magazine’s website.

Proven Winners Test at Churchill's Gardens

Click Photo to See Tested Displays

Are we to always assume reported research is different than it appears? StandPoint’s Kip Creel said, “You cannot fairly judge the quality of the research from one photograph and a magazine article.” (That was the original point.) While this is now apparently true, it is exactly how research is judged when one photograph and an article are all you have to go on. (At the time of writing this I have not found any other stories on this particular research on the Internet.) It seems like judging the quality of the research from the information provided would be prudent. Continue reading

Do You Have Zombie Defenders?

Read time: Approximately 3 minutes

Defense Against Zombieconomy

Defense Against Zombieconomy

Your best defense is a great offense.

Not long ago I wrote posts on the Horticulture Zombieconomy, Zombie Stores and Zombie Departments, and Horti-Zombies Come Alive! Next thing you know, during The Garden Center Group‘s Fall Event awards cruise Robert Hendrickson presented me with the NY Times bestselling book, The Zombie Survival Guide – Complete Protection from the Living Dead.

The book is a sort of spoof (so excuse and think through the metaphor) on How-To survive the complacency and fearless tactics of Zombies to recruit others to join the living dead who are constantly yet un-remarkedly at work among us. 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

Is THIS a Fair Test?

Read Time: Approximately 2 minutes.

NOTE: Click HERE to read a November 10, 2009 follow-up to this post titled “Fair Follow-Up to Proven Winners Fair Test?”

You’ve probably read or will soon about yet another recent case study claiming again that branded plants outsold non-branded 5:1. CLICK HERE to go to a report on the research in Garden Center Magazine’s OPEN REGISTER blog.

A Fair Test?

A Fair Test?

Maybe I just don’t understand how  anyone could dispute the results of the study after looking at the photo of the two displays that consumers compared. What were they trying to prove? I would HOPE that the display in the foreground would outperform the other.

Which bench would you lead a well-heeled customer to if the grass is even damp? One is on a gravel paved area, and the other on grass. What would we see if we watched the customers approach identical benches in the same physical environment? Continue reading

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