Greenhouse Canada

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Amanda’s top ten

April 16, 2010  By Amanda Ryder

It may seem like a retailer’s dream – the phone is ringing off the hook and your parking lot is at full capacity.

It may seem like a retailer’s dream – the phone is ringing off the hook and your parking lot is at full capacity. But if customers are left waiting and don’t get great service, a buzzing garden centre can quickly turn into a nightmare.

  1. Call in more staff – If it looks like traffic isn’t going to slow down anytime soon, then call in the reserves. The longer you wait, the more impatient your customers will get.
  2. Make sure everyone’s moving – Take a break from the floor and look at what everyone’s task is for the day. Can you move someone from the back greenhouse and get them waiting on customers? You can always ask someone to stay late and finish up administrative tasks once the garden centre closes.
  3. In-store is most important – Don’t ask customers who’ve taken the time to come to the garden centre to wait while you grab the phone. Face-to-face customers take priority. Let the phone-in customer leave a message. If you must grab the phone, take a quick message and make a note to call back later so you don’t forget.
  4. Acknowledge customers – Teach your staff to acknowledge customers as soon as they can. A simple greeting lets shoppers know you have noticed them and you are available, no matter how busy the garden centre is.
  5. Don’t rush – Your customers only have to look around the crowded retail area to know that you’re busy. If you rush them, they’ll resent it and walk away feeling ignored. Take the time to properly wait on each customer and address any questions they have.
  6. Break time is still crucial – On a non-stop customer day, it’s even more important to ensure that your employees receive their required breaks and lunches. No one wants to be looked after by a tired, hungry and irritable staff member.
  7. Don’t juggle a roster of customers – If you’re waiting on four or five customers at one time, you can’t give shoppers the attention they deserve. Find additional customers another staff member who would be only too happy to wait on them.
  8. Provide the extras – Splurge on free refreshments and baked goods, or host a barbecue on busy days. Customers will forgive a short wait time if they can quench their thirst or ease their appetite.
  9. Reward the brave – For those loyal shoppers who brave the busy crowds, give them something in return. It can be a free giveaway or a coupon to entice them to come back. Tell them you appreciate the fact that they took the time to come out and perhaps waited a little longer than usual.
  10. Thank the retail gods – A never-ending stream of customers can be stressful, but don’t forget, it’s a good thing! There’s no such thing as too many customers.


Amanda Ryder is editor of Canadian Garden Centre & Nursery and can be reached at

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