Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The coupon is the lone reason behind a customer's wanting of a particular item(s). If they can't use the coupon, they won't buy the product.
A customer will complain about the price of a small plant and will often not buy a small plant, but will be more than willing to pay twice as much for a plant twice the size.
Sometimes customers need vocabulary assistance when reading coupons. A "tray" is not a "flat" and a "purchase" is not synonymous with "item."
Monday, December 7, 2009
A customer who wants to plant impatiens in the sun or geraniums in shade will complain to you that they don't ever grow well for them there...or if you tell them they won't, they'll tell you they've done it before.
After about June 30th, the "crazy ones" will appear - customers who aren't regular gardeners, who will want to plant flower seeds and shrubs on the hottest afternoons.
79% of your shrub shoppers have never actually seen firsthand the plant they want. They merely "saw it in a book." The shrub they want is usually native to South America or Australia.
Next week: The Customer continued
Monday, November 30, 2009
The most topsoil and mulch will be sold on days just after a heavy rain.
The approximate time a customer will "Just set these four flats on the counter while I take a quick look around" will be slightly longer than the time of the mad rush, in which there is never enough counter space.
When presented with an empty parking lot, a customer may park in a way that does not require the use of the parking space lines painted on the ground.
Next week: The Customer
Monday, November 23, 2009
The customer would rather ask you how much something costs, than read the sign that's two inches from their hand.
The customer, on a 53% basis, will want something that doesn't exist (for example, the blue geranium).
"The ambiguous plant" seeker. This customer identifies a plant with this description: "It's in my neighbors yard. It's sorta large. It's green and has white flowers on it. It's so beautiful. You know what I'm talking about, right?"
"Do you work here?" is often asked to employees wearing their garden center uniform.
Next week - The Probables
Monday, November 16, 2009
Senior citizens always insist on their 10% discount, even on purchases totalling $1.50.
Senior citizens will ask for their discount after you have checked them out. This can be primarily annoying for garden centers without POS systems.
Next week - Customer Inquiries
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Toward the end of the day on Saturday, I came across a Gali's relic - the "Inherent Laws Of Plant Retail." I think its date of origin is unknown (anywhere from 15 to 20 years ago), and if it wasn't for some of the text written in Sharpie, the actual paper these 20 laws/rules were written on would look very pre-Constitution.
I thought the laws would make for an excellent blog post and maybe even a smile or a "ain't that the truth." So, once a week I'll be posting an Inherent Law or two Of Plant Retail.
Law No. 1: "The Fly Theory" and its exception
Consumers will always arrive or leave in hoards to leave the sales force completely panicked or bored.
Exception: The 5 minutes to 6 p.m. stragglers. These customers sneak in just as your about to lock up. They spend 15 minutes browsing, end up complaining about something, and leave without purchasing anything.
Next week - Senior Citizens.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
This Labor Day weekend rounded out a seven-day workweek for me, which finally gave me a reason to put the PotLifter to work.
I saw the PotLifter for sale at Cornell Farm back in July. It’s one of those products that makes me wonder why you don’t see more of them around…maybe not for sale, but for use by garden center employees.
When I got home from Portland, I sent the folks at PotLifter an email saying the same thing I said in the previous sentence. I wanted to test it out and they were totally up for it. A week later a Potlifter, via our mail-guy Tim, found its way to my desk.
During a pretty steady Saturday at Gali’s (Garden Center), Chris Murray and I took advantage of some lulls and decided to give the PotLifter a standard road test.
The PotLifter is a pretty straightforward gadget. It requires two people and a good grip. You fit it around a heavy pot. Pull back to cinch it up. Then you lift. Pretty easy and pretty foolproof.
We tried it out on a whiskey barrel outside of the shop. We fit the PotLifter around the barrel and moved it easily. We only moved the barrel for the sake of moving it, and Chris said, we really wouldn’t move a planted up whiskey barrel anyway. That being said, anytime that we’ve ever had to move a (unplanted, full of soil) whiskey barrel, we had to pull out the towmotor and slide the bulky container onto the forks. The PotLifter made it a whole heck of a lot quicker.
It even works with oddly shaped pieces. This bench leg actually weighs an awkward 150lbs. I turn 27 on Thursday and I'm finally realizing the importance of having a fully functioning back and I think the PotLifter shares the same sentiment. I'm not sure it would find its way into the everyday work routine at your garden center, but it definitely has its place when it comes time to move the big (heavy) stuff.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
A June survey from GfK Custom Research North America showed 57 percent of shoppers frequently purchased store-brand products. Only 2 percent said they never purchase store-brand products.
That's heartening to hear, especially in light of many garden retailer's efforts to use their own brand on products such as plants, soils, amendments, pest controls and even gifts.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
A couple weeks ago, I stopped into Gali's Garden Center to pick up some potting soil on my lunch break. Katie (cashier) showed me a picture she took on her cell phone (pictured above). I had to have it. So she emailed it to me and voila. I know Mini Coopers are getting into crossovers/SUVs, maybe Smart Car should take a hint and think about pickup trucks. After all, city dwellers need utility vehicles, too.
"Grass Knuckles." Almost as impractical as loading up a Smart Car with a tree. Product designer Hafsteinn Juliusson has created living jewelry. But don't expect to see this while ordering a Bacon Turkey Bravo at Panera. This is more for the uber earth-conscious celebrity on the red carpet, like Natalie Portman or Leonardo DiCaprio. There are pussy willow earrings, too.
Lastly, this photo of an abandoned newspaper box potted up reminds me of the late rapper Tupac Shakur. Wait for it...wait for it... Along with rapping, Tupac was a prolific poet. His collection of poetry is called "The Rose That Grew From Concrete." There's the connection. This pic is definitely a bright spot on an otherwise blah and dreary city sidewalk.
Toronto-based street artist Posterchild is responsible for this work of urban art/guerrilla gardening.
In a recent Pop-Up City blog post, Posterchild was quoted, "I’ve always been amazed by the state of most flyerboxes. Some haven’t been filled in years. Yet, there they are: everywhere in the city taking up valuable sidewalk space. For whatever reason, a great many of them offer nothing but an empty box. But that offers a great opportunity for some people! The boxes makes a perfect platform for planters – and with them you can guerrilla garden almost anywhere in the inhospitable concrete city!"
By the way, the Pop-Up City blog is one of the coolest I've ever seen. When you have a second, check it out.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Jo-Ann Launches Promotion to Celebrate Anniversary
HUDSON, Ohio--Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts Stores is marking its 66th anniversary in business with a special offer.
The sewing- and crafts-products retailer will designate 66 of its best customers across the nation and give them $100 Jo-Ann gift cards from their local stores. Travis Smith, chief operating officer, said the campaign is a way of saying thanks to some of its most loyal customers, and a recognition of their creativity in making their own crafts and fabric items.
Founded in 1943, Jo-Ann now has more than 750 locations across the United States.
Monday, August 3, 2009
I also saw a new option for growers and retailers looking for biodegradable pots. Fertilpot is a spruce fiber pot that allows roots to poke through the pot. Consumers plant the whole thing in the ground. There’s also a shrink-wrapped label that can be branded or it can have generic variety information on it. The shrink-wrapped label gets torn off and can be recycled.
At the Spring Meadow Nursery booth I learned more about Bloomerang, a new lilac variety developed by breeder Tim Wood. It’s a dwarf lilac that reblooms three times - once in spring, once around July and then again in the fall before the frost. Amazing, right? And it retains its well-known scent. Initially it was to be released in Spring 2010, but apparently it’s growing so well that some could be available this fall from some Gold Key growers.
And finally, I heard more about Nema Globe, a new product being introduced from Canada into the U.S. It’s a retail version of nematodes to prevent pests, and can be mixed into a Nema Globe nematode sprayer to be watered into a lawn or garden. Nematodes don’t harm pets or children, and are friendly to beneficial insects like bees or earthworms.
One big highlight included Frank’s before and after pictures of the inside garden center store that received a coat of white paint this winter. It was amazing, appearing as though he adds tons of new lighting. But all they did was paint the ceiling and support beams white and lower the sight-lines of the fixtures a couple of feet. What a difference!
The panelists also talked about their plans for 2010, which for three out of the four included reducing inventory in the area of big-ticket items like statuary and furniture. They also talked about shoring up labor to make sure they’re watching labor costs, as well as using events and educational seminars to promote gardening. Denni Jones focuses heavily on relationship-building with customers via her e-newsletter and direct contact with customers. Barlow’s has begun to focus more on children’s activities and events in the hopes of bringing in families and moms to shop.
And finally, Stauffers of Kissel Hill has used a program called a detached-address label through its local Clipper coupon book to mail out direct-mail pieces at a fraction of the cost of a regular direct mail piece. To learn more about this program, click here.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Lastly, I know there's Cockadoodle-doo, and Moo-Nure and even Zoo-Doo, but I learned of one more this weekend. We had a female customer come up to the counter asking us if we had any "sheep poo." I'm not too familiar with it, but I guess it was call BahBahDoo. Hilarious. Her husband chimed in, "It was really bahhhhhd."
Friday, June 5, 2009
Retail Forward is reporting that despite deterioration of same-store sales in May (except for Wal-Mart, of course), it appears shoppers are showing signs of letting up from the current "belt-tightening behavior." Shoppers reported in Retail Forward’s May ShopperScape survey that they are less inclined than last year to limit their spending, seek deals or trade down to lower-priced brands and retailers in response to the economic downturn.
Did you see customers "trading down" this spring? We were hearing reports of foot traffic increasing but average ticket decreasing. Did this hold true for you? And if it did, do you think customers will stick with this type of spending for a while?
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Couple of things I noticed that I liked:
Oddly enough, Graf had a point-of-sale system, where Donzell's did not. Graf also did a nice job of merchandising smaller products at the register for impulse buys, like in the picture above.
And finally, I just love, love, love this pot from Scheurich. I'm not sure if this is new or if it's been around a while, but it's fun.
It's not much to look at, but the quality is decent and it's convenient. It's amazing how much traffic they get during the spring - they hire high school kids on the weekends to do nothing but direct traffic.
There's a lot wrong with it. I could go into great detail, really. But really doesn't it boil down to one thing: are they making money? I gotta say, yeah. They put very little back into the infrastructure, other than routine maintenance. They do a massive business in the spring (driven by a pretty established 7-mile radius of single-family home neighborhoods), carry some mums and host a hay maze in the fall, and turn a few poinsettias and firewood in the winter.
In these three blog posts we've looked at a good, better and best of garden centers. So who's doing it "right?"
Friday, May 22, 2009
Is it any wonder your customers are now flocking to your stores to buy veggie, herb and fruit plants and trees?
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
"This is not a pretty report, no matter how you look at it," wrote Brian Bethune, IHS Global Insight Chief U.S. Financial Economist. "Granted, consumer prices may have declined slightly in April, and that will buffer a small fraction of the decline, but spending weakness was fairly broad based with declines across most major channels."
Despite the gloomy news, garden center retailers across the country are reporting increases in foot traffic and better sales figures than last year at this time. Many retailers reported the average ticket down in April, however.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Question: A Peruvian is the youngest person to give birth on record. How old was she?
Well, if that's not a weird enough question for you in the first place, the answer doesn't make things any better. She was five. FIVE!? One, that's crazy. Two, how can that be? Her name is Lina Medina. Google it.
My biggest gripe is the question choice. When talking about Mother's Day and a quality garden center like Ray Wiegand's, the thought of a five year old giving birth shouldn't be in my head. That's quite the buzzkill. I mean, if that was your garden center instead of Wiegand's, would you care about the question? Would you be a little miff'd at this local Detroit newschannel?
I'm more interested in setting fire to junipers. Too bad I don't live in Nevada, near a Moana Nursery location. I take that back, no one's setting fire to any junipers...they're exchanging them. (Apparently I need to read the entire press release before I start typing.)
I didn't know this, but junipers are nicknamed "tall green gas cans." The University of Nevada Coop Extension explains that a juniper's dense growth and a high proportion of volatile natural chemicals make this shrub a highly flammable cocktail.
In an effort to reduce the threat of fires, the third annual Junk The Junipers is being held in conjunction with Nevada Wildlife Awareness Week. Juniper owners can bring in their tall green gas cans to Moana Nursery and receive one free replacement plant per household. The exchanged junipers will be made into mulch. Some of the replacement plants include yellowtwig dogwood, crimson pygmy barberry, Anthony Waterer spirea, snowmound spirea and Katherine Dykes' potentilla.
That's good PR for Moana. I just hope people were leaving with more than their tall green gas can replacement.
Friday, April 17, 2009
OK, I realize it’s April. It’s not like it’s Mother’s Day. But we’ve been popping in to a few local garden centers recently and I’m not liking what I’m seeing. Or rather, what I’m not seeing.
I’m not seeing clean floors, or wide aisles. I’m not getting asked if I can be helped, and in one case I seriously questioned whether the garden center was even open.
It’s going to be 70 degrees here on Saturday, and these retailers should be hopping. But if customers question whether the store is open, I’m not sure they’ll be reaping the benefits of our good weather.
There are things to be done in April, even in Cleveland. Early baskets full of pansies should be flying out the doors, especially after the long and dreary winter we’ve had. So here are the don’ts I’ve come across recently:
- Don’t barrage your customer with product at the door. I walked into one retailer recently and instantly didn’t know where to go or what to do - there was product all around and I didn’t inspect any of it.
- Don’t hide what your customers need this spring. I saw a display (if you could call it that) of garden fencing leaning up against the wall at one retailer. With herbs and veggies exploding this spring, this stuff needs to be cross-merchandised with your edibles and not in the same place it’s taken up residence the last five years.
- Don’t push your benches so close together only one person can walk through at a time and call yourself a garden retailer. How do you expect me to shop this? If I can’t get a cart through, I’m only buying as many plants as I can hold - and without getting dirty I’m going to say that’s two.
- Don’t try to sell product that’s faded, torn, worn, out of the package or just plain dirty. I’ve seen an awful lot of that in the last week, and I wonder why you think I’d want to buy a product that looks five years old.
OK, that’s it for now. I’ll be working on my new bird sanctuary this weekend, so I’m sure I’ll be stopping at more retailers.
Monday, April 13, 2009
(Their sign is classic.)
Crammed up against Griswold Rd. and a railroad track, there wasn't much in the form of curb appeal. I did think about Mike Brady's architectural style when I pulled into the parking lot.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
It must be nice to have their budget. I think that's Gene Hackman doing the voiceover, too...sellout. Didn't he coach a small town team to a national championship in the movie Hoosiers? Now, with this Lowe's commercial...it's like he's on the other team. Gene, that's so anti-Hoosiers.
Anyway, I noticed at the 20 second mark in the commercial, you get a nice aerial shot of their selection of annuals. I've been to a few Lowe's in my day. You and I both know it doesn't look like that. But we also know that your places probably do.
Hopefully, consumers who make the trip to Lowe's after seeing this commercial will learn what we already know - it's a big place with little quality. Then they'll eventually end up in your parking lot. Don't disappoint.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Sure. If you happen to wander past a CiCi's Pizza restaurant in the near future.
As the economy weakens, I've been hearing about a lot of creative promotions businesses are coming up with to drive sales, most recently, CiCi's pizza. The chain is getting consumers to rethink the value of the penny through its "Penny Picker Upper" promotion.
It works like this: CiCi's has dropped one million pennies printed with offers for free food outside its stores across the country. The campaign is being promoted via television, radio and and the Internet. Consumers who visit BeAPennyPickerUpper.com can look up CiCi's locations and make avatars of themselves.
"We realized that as a value brand, we had to take some action, and with the penny, many people just walk by it and don't look at it as money anymore," said CiCi's CMO Tom Koenigsberg. "It may be a penny, but it's still money and money is cool. As a brand, we value every penny, as well."
Check out the full Brandweek story here.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Encourage digital camera use with your customers, too. They can print out pictures of ill plants and bring them in for you to diagnose. According to a recent The News Tribune article on cameras as the newest must have garden tool, cameras help with record keeping, inventories, identification and so on.
So get out there and get your Ansel Adams on.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Those customers who actually pulled into the parking lot and parked the car, did so just to do so...if that makes any sense. They came in to remind the senses, "Hey, this is where I'll be in a few weeks."
Friday, March 13, 2009
Sure, some customers are definitely underpaying, but many are overpaying, too, which balances it out. And according to employees, patrons are definitely digging the new policy.
"In the current economy, maybe that's what people need to feel comfortable going out again," Lippert said. "They need to know that they're going to pay what they feel is a fair price for what they're getting."
Check out the full story here.