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The Second Half

Still Keeping Score?

Welcome to the Second-Half of the Business Year

This is the second half of the fiscal year for most garden centers, aka the un-profitable half according to one client.

The second half of a ball game is where it all happens most of the time. The second half of the calendar fiscal year of a garden center is not so exciting, but it is still where the game is won or lost. Although I’ve never seen a garden center add even one dollar to their bottom line after June 30 (in any year), every dollar that is preserved from July 1 forward is preserved for profitability.

BUT, if you want to end up with a small pile of profit at the end of the year begin with the biggest possible pile of profit by the end of the first half of the year. You can quote me on that.

Maximizing Second-Half Profit Starts in the First Half of the Year

Even though every dollar of margin earning income from the second half is to the good, there are no lines at the concession stand during the second half of the game, and thus, limited  potential to accumulate significantly more margin dollars. Continue reading

WHY Do Customers Think of You?

What do customers think of you?

While they probably don’t just sit around and actually think much about the companies they do business with, consumers generally form specific opinions about stores over time and exposure to marketing messages, personal experience, and what they hear from others.

Whatever value equation a company brand has established with a consumer, unless it is a discount brand, it is lowered by constantly promoting deals and discounts on what customers already want to buy. These discounts do more than cost money. They also make it easy for the customer to categorize in their mind what type of retailer each store is to them. And once they’ve chosen the category, it is very difficult to change their perceptions. 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

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 #1

Misconception #1 – Garden Centers Should be Open Year-Round – Oh Really?

(Read time: approximately 3 minutes.)

Hot NOW!

Are Krispy Kreme's Hot NOW?

(Garden centers may be violating the Scarcity Principle)

A correct statement would be closer to this:

Belief #1 “In certain conditions garden centers should be open year-round, and in other conditions they should not be.”

The conditions for being open fall primarily into three categories. 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

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

What’s Wrong with this Message?

Enough about the economy stupid.

Yes, we need to be empathetic to the consumer’s need to save, but the problem is amplified and exacerbated when everyone who is marketing has the same basic message across all communication channels. A basic tenet of marketing – differentiation, is lost.

Shouldn’t your brand be all about helping consumers escape the everyday issues of life? Keep in mind that when your advertising messages remind your own brand constituents of the harsh realities of living today, and that they should save money every time they buy you are NOT making them feel like they need to have what you’ve got. Continue reading

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