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You’ll Never Have Enough Staff Until you _____ Enough Stuff.

Business Friends,

I’m taking the liberty to call all of you friends as some of you have taken the liberty to give me a new name when I checked out at your store. But before I tell you about that let’s begin at the beginning of my visit and work to the end.

As I shop this spring it is obvious that one of the biggest opportunities you have is to sell more stuff to the customers in your store right now. So what’s getting in the way of that?

Just the same as in previous years, I walk through stores from front to back and then back to the front and repeat the process. I am NEVER (okay, rarely) spoken to even though there are plenty of employees that I walk by as they are busy adding more stuff apparently for someone else who arrives after I leave to buy.

Instead of selling more of what you already have to customers already in your store, everyone is focused on adding more stuff that won’t be bought by the customers who are already there.

In my estimation, the lost opportunity from this lack of proper focus is in the 15-25% range. Can you really afford to miss that much? Are you confident that enough customers will keep on coming in to make up for what you’re missing now?

When you’re really busy you can’t have enough people to help every customer. I get that. Still, there is opportunity, but you’ll have to stop making it harder for the customers already in your store to shop. As I fight to get my cart through your stores I have to think that it might be better if you saved some room for me to get through to see more of less stuff. Think about it.

When I do manage to buy something and go to the checkout I am essentially ignored there too. The most recognition I get is to have my apparently new name printed on the receipt – “Cash Customer”. Since this is my last impression of your store, it is the most recent impression. If it is underwhelming I am highly unlikely to return soon, much less to excitedly tell friends why they should come to you.

So, what are you going to do about it?

Why Some ________ Cost More Than Others

Copper River King Salmon!

Why is this salmon more expensive than others?

Salmon became one of my favorite foods over 20 years ago on my first business trip to the Pacific Northwest. The high benchmark was set back then with the Alder Smoked Salmon at the original McCormick & Schmick’s  restaurant in Portland Oregon. A pursuit of the perfect salmon occasionally comes close but has never matched the perfection of that meal, even on return trips to McCormick & Schmick’s.

Once I discovered the secret to better tasting salmon the pursuit became more intense. Dayton, Ohio’s Dorothy Lane Market provided the education, and inspiration to invest in a better fish. Lots of grocers sell pricy salmon but never before was there an explanation of why the price was higher when the flavor was often not exceptional. I came to the conclusion that the prices were higher because the store was expensive. Then the email newsletter from my friends at DLM gave me a real reason to pay more for their Honestly Better® Wild Alaska Copper River King Salmon. You may also want to know why (some) salmon costs more than others. Here’s a short story from my most reacent Fresh News from DLM.

Honestly Better® Wild Alaska Copper River King Salmon has Arrived at DLM!

This run of the Chinook Salmon (the King Salmon) is one of the most sought-after fish for those who appreciate the best of the best. The reason for its prized flavor is its high omega-3 oil content. The fish must build up such a large fat content in order to give them the energy to travel the long spawning journey up the Copper River. Fighting tidal currents through the sandbars of the delta, raging rivers from the mountain snow melt, and a never-ending line of bears dining at the salmon buffet, these fish deserve a break! So, plan on inviting one over for dinner. With the rich flavor this fish has, we recommend a little Vera Jane’s Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, kosher or sea salt, and fresh dill as the only seasoning needed to grill or broil. This is one of the most regulated fisheries in the world, so the supply and price are market driven (In other words

Moral of the Story

If we try to sell better stuff it should actually be better. We should invest the time to tell the story explaining specifically why it is better and how it got to be that way. The tasty salmon’s pursuit of the spawning grounds up the Copper River make it the best of the best salmon – well worth the $$$$. Are your products and services better? How? Why is that important?

Yes, I AM definitely talking TO YOU.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I AM definitely talking TO YOU.

When I see clients and readers of my magazine articles, blog, email news, and other printed words people often tell me that what I write makes them feel like I’m talking directly to them. I hope that is true for you. If it is you’re right.

No, YOU may not actually be THE client I’m talking about in any specific article or discussion, but believe it or not, all the mistakes you have made have most likely been made by others before you.I write to the situations I see other clients get into that I wish for you to avoid or take supreme advantage of, depending on the situation. 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

Will this be the Year of the Fairy Garden?

Are fairy gardens even on your radar screen?

Fairy Garden at Tonkadale Greenhouse

Chances are you have very little interest in Fairy Gardens. Maybe you should take an interest, even for the unusual reason that doing so may build traffic for your garden center.

I posted an article titled Building on an Old Plant Category back in May 2009. In the article Fairy Gardens was briefly mentioned. Since then nearly every day brings at least one visitor to the blog via a web search for “Fairy Gardens”,”Fairy Tree Garden”, or similar. When I tried my own search the page doesn’t even come up in the top 20 Google search pages so that tells us something about how serious these hobbyists are.

Before you disregard the possibility of promoting Fairy Gardens do your own search and check out just how active this little corner of gardening is. Miniature gardens are within reach of anyone. They seem to be drawing the interest of young and old. Very little space is required, with many gardens being constructed in containers of all sorts. Continue reading

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