Greenhouse Canada

Features Business Retail
Stop Talking and Do It Now

October 31, 2008  By Amanda Ryder

Chances are you already have that
list in the back of your head – actions or tasks you know will improve
your business, but things you just don’t have time to do right now. Now
that the summer season is over it’s time to stop making excuses.


18 things you should implement at your centre

Chances are you already have that list in the back of your head – actions or tasks you know will improve your business, but things you just don’t have time to do right now. Now that the summer season is over it’s time to stop making excuses. Corey Bordine, president of Bordine Nurseries in Michigan and past president of the American National Landscape Association, spoke at the 2008 Independent Garden Center Show in Chicago and compiled a must-do list for garden centres. Grab a pen and your day planner and start scheduling!


Have a mission statement
1.  Bordine advises that garden centres create an effective mission statement that actually says something, instead of creating a mission statement just to say you have one. And don’t be afraid to state that you want to profit in your statement – that’s the goal of having a business after all!

Put it in writing
2.  Document the practices you use to run your centre. This could mean anything from staff policies to dress code – “if you don’t put it in writing then you’re working on a system where knowledge is passed from person to person,” says Bordine. When a boss makes a decision, by the time the last person receives the direction, the message will likely get lost and convoluted. “You need to decide, document it or decimate it.”

Establish a board of advisors
Bordine told retailers at the IGC Show to build a board of directors or advisers composed of your chartered personal accountant, your attorney and two other retailers. It can be as simple as taking them out once a year for lunch to chat about what’s going on in the industry.

Cut your loose ends
You’ve probably got those employees that are just hanging by a thread. They bring other staff members down and aren’t doing a thing for your business. “The three people that should be off the bus need to get off now,” says Bordine. “If you have those people in your organization then let them know. Stop talking about them and do something.”

Get involved in governance
Bordine says independent garden centre retailers need to get involved in government either on a big level or on a micro level. “In water boards, on city council, those people have immediate impact on our business,” says Bordine. Join up so you know what’s happening in your community and so you can act as a voice for your business.

Accept that the old word ‘gardening’ is dead to new customers
“The word gardening means work to new gardeners. You can’t market the same way you did 20 years ago,” advises Bordine. Your customers are new to the horticulture world and are looking for inspiration, not confusing Latin names.

Stop blaming the weather
Take a good, in-depth look at your business and find out what’s really causing the good and bad retail times. “We can blame the weather for a specific event or season but we can’t blame it for less traffic in the last seven years.”

Own the green movement
The garden centre industry is the original and first green movement. Bordine told retailers to reclaim the green movement and promote it loud and clear at their centre.

Promote vegetables and herbs as culinary
One of the most popular television shows with the 18 to 30 year olds segment are cooking shows and Bordine says garden centres should be doubling and tripling these areas. He sees this as a big growth area for garden centres and retailers need to tie their products in with food – and charge appropriately.

Create buzz
  Take what’s ordinary, boring and mundane and get them noticed. This could apply to your displays, your packaging, signage or even the way your gift cards look. ‘Buzz’ is getting people to talk about your centre and it’s free publicity that doesn’t cost you a thing.

Expect, inspect and respect
When it comes to employees Bordine says managers and owners need to keep these three things in mind. He likens management to being the tough teacher that became everyone’s favourite. “Don’t respect people that don’t care,” says Bordine. Instead, show your employees you care by respectfully pushing them to do their best.

Know and embrace technology
Buy a POS system to help manage your inventory, your customer’s buying habits and preferences. Get to know (but not necessarily sign up!) for things like Facebook, MySpace, Google and blogging. Find out what your customers are saying about you and what they are asking for.

Eliminate your dead inventory
Get rid of what Bordine calls your “dust and move SKU’s” or those products you’re forever cleaning off and relocating to a new area. Either bid them farewell or find a new creative way to showcase that product in a display so it’s more appealing.

Get rid of at least 10 per cent of your SKUs before spring 2009
  “Be selective and buy from the best. You don’t need 20 different solutions for slugs,” says Bordine. Stop overwhelming your customers with too many options – your customer sees you as the expert so direct them to only the best products.

Raise your prices
  In a slowing economy where high gas prices have forced up the cost of transportations, consumers are becoming accustomed to price increases. “Your customers already expect it.”

Stop pricing based only on your cost
  This strategy only works with big box retailers like Costco and Wal-Mart. “Look at a product and think what would someone pay for this,” says Bordine. Focus on what the product is worth in the eyes of your customers, not what it costs you.

Accept that the there is more margin when you are unique
You can’t do battle in a war of prices with major retailers. It will only force your prices and your margin down, a reality you can’t afford. But if your competitors don’t have a product, then shoppers have nothing to compare prices to. “With uniqueness, it can’t be price-shopped,” says Bordine.

Spend more time working on your business than you do in your business
“You’ve got amazing people in your business,” advises Bordine. “Let them do the work in your business while you work on it.”

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