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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

Give Me A Break

Is it time to Take a Break?

It has been said that a pilot that is landing a jet airplane is really conducting a controlled crash. I’ve heard that piloting a plane during takeoff is a 3-minutes of pure emotional rush and the landing is 3-minutes of sheer terror. In that way, explaining spring in this business is like spreading out the five minutes of controlled crash landing of a jet on an AIRCRAFT CARRIER into five weeks of pure adrenalin rush mixed with moments of sheer terror. Continue reading

Saving Money IS Making Money

Saving Money IS Making Money

It is a simple principle: Saving Money IS Making Money.

When it comes to making money there is no faster way to do it than to hold on to what you have already earned.

We’ll discuss that for sure, but hold on because there is more to it than simply holding on to what you have and we’re going to discuss that as well.

A Penny Earned

You’ve heard the adage “a penny saved is a penny earned”, which is true, but would you consider that holding tightly to a dollar may also mean saving your company from the brink of bankruptcy.

Continue reading

All you believe…may be ALL WRONG – Belief #6

Merry 2010 CHRISTmas to all! Did your business return a gift of profit to you this year?

(Read time approx. 3 minutes.)

This is the sixth 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.

“Was any profit left in your business this year?

“My salary is in the profit.”

“We don’t want to be ‘greedy’ about it.”

“If we do everything ‘right’ it will all work out in the end.”

“We leave all the profit in the business.”

“I get paid in the rent.”

Those were common responses to our questions about garden center profit going back several years:

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

All you believe…may be ALL WRONG – Belief #3

Misconception #3 – Garden Centers Should Employ Horticulturists with College Degrees Full-Time, Year-Round and Pay Them Professional Salaries with Comprehensive Benefits

(Read time approx. 3 minutes.)

This is the third 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.

Disclaimer: While I focus on the business side of the horticultural business my education, training, and experience is broad in the green industry including plant production and retail garden center with Scarff’s Nursery, landscape services with Horticultural Advantage, and marketing and sales of plants with Bailey Nurseries, and Sunrise Marketing. Let it be known that I am all in favor of the future success of the many educated and knowledgeable horticulturists in our industry, especially those that are effective in carrying out their responsibilities.

Necessity is the mother of invention. When the facts are laid out and we discover that it is simply not possible to 1) do what we once did, 2) do what others do, or 3) do what we would like to do, then why not open our horizons and explore opportunities we previously ignored? The title of this post is designed to get interest and discussion going rather than to discount the value of horticultural expertise. So please, read on then leave a comment. 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

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