Studying Your Audience

Studying Your Audience

by Danny Summers

As we have wrapped up spring in most regions the last few weeks, you now have the majority of your Spring 2024 Customer Data available to study. We can see in Week 22 of the WDR, year-to-date Average Sale remains virtually flat with this same week last year. But Transaction Counts year-to-date are down about -5%.

These compare to Average Sale being flat and Transaction Counts being +2.6% as of this week last year. And then end-of-year for 2023 being virtually even with Average Sale & Transaction Counts resulting in near-even sales against 2022.

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Delivering an Exceptional Customer Experience - Part 1

Delivering an Exceptional Customer Experience - Part 1

by John Kennedy

Part 1 - Introduction: Setting the Table for Success

As Danny mentioned a few weeks back, the Starbucks story was built upon a hyper-focus on the customer experience. The idea of dusting off this video series from Member Clicks and reintroducing it (or introducing it to new folks) would be a great chance to “sharpen the saw” for your training and development goals during the summer.

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Crafting Opportunities

Crafting Opportunities

by Danny Summers

One of the earliest forms of what we might call a craft today is Paper Mache. The image of the bee above is an example. A quick search reveals Paper Mache's beginning can be traced back to the 1300's. Today, we could quickly envision a piñata to represent Paper Mache, or an elementary school project. I can remember our girls using Paper Mache to building a volcano for one of their projects (and no kitchen or dining room tables were damaged by eruptions).

I am thinking for Garden Retailing, the idea for Crafting Opportunities could be focused toward both plants and product categories as well as activities outside of the typical spring season.

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Incredible Shrinking Transactions, and What to Do - Part 4

Incredible Shrinking Transactions, and What to Do - Part 4

by Sid Raisch

Part 4 - Sell What THEY Want to Buy - The CHEESE
[Continued from Part 3 - Click HERE to read from Group Blog]

We’ve covered a lot of ground so far in Parts 1, 2, and 3 of this article series. Be sure to click on the link above to review Part 3 or to catch up if you haven’t been following along with each part.

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Creative Juices

Creative Juices

by Danny Summers

Real creativity, what we may call Creative Juices, must take a special kind of focus and attention. It may require quiet space to really unplug and block out all the typical hustle and bustle you normally experience in the work setting. I decided to ask Tom Kegley what he does to be in the best position for his most creative work. Here's what Tom said:

"In my work, CREATIVITY is equal parts INSPIRATION (concept) and PERSPIRATION (execution). Given this notion of Applied Creativity, I’ll focus on the front end. How does something intangible as INSPIRATION happen?

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2023 P&L Study Review - Part B

2023 P&L Study Review - Part B

by Tim Quebedeaux

Part B – “Best Practices Standards” – Physical Facility, Revenues, Payment Types, and Labor Hours

Last week we saw how the Bubble Chart shows us how important the bottom line (Profit) is, over the top line (Revenues).  It states, “It is not how much you SELL, it is how much you KEEP."

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Focus on the Customer!

Focus on the Customer!

by Danny Summers

This story begins as a little coffee shop opened in 1971 in Seattle's Pike Place Market. The story actually began when three students met a few years earlier at the University of San Francisco. The three classmates were Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker. They were all interested in the coffee business. Maybe it had something to do with long hours studying and coffee helping to keep their eyes open. Following their common interest, they visited a little coffee shop across the bay in Berkley which had opened a few years before.

The Berkley shop the three students visited was owned by Alfred Peet, born in the Netherlands, who "cut his teeth" in the coffee industry in his homeland, caring for the roasting and grinding machinery at the small coffee company his father owned, the B. Koorn & Company, located in Alkmaar, Holland.

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2023 P&L Study Review - Part A

2023 P&L Study Review - Part A

by Tim Quebedeaux

Congrats to all the Garden Group Centers that reported in the 2023 Profit & Loss Study, a record 86 Garden Centers with 66 of those reporting to at least Part 4 (Inventory Turns & Gross Margin Return on Inventory Investment - GRMOII). This is an EBIDTA (Earnings before Interest, Depreciation, Taxes and Amortization) P&L Study otherwise known as an Operating P&L Study. We use this type of Profit & Loss so that we can compare apples to apples, how your Garden Center operates compared to other centers. The Study compares your center to The Total Group, Centers in your Region, Centers that are either Retail or Retail-Grower, Similar Sales Level to you, and ultimately to the Best of the Best Group.

To be able to even think about comparing your business to others, you need to be able to measure what you are going to compare. Reporting to the Garden Center Group Annual P&L Study is a great start! Once you have that accountability in the numbers, the all-important Key Performant Indicators (KPI’s), you can begin to compare your profitability to other centers and begin to ask the questions – how and why did they do it?

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Observations

Observations

by Danny Summers

During your busiest times, I understand how difficult it is to step back to make observations to develop important perspectives. But for Owners and Managers, stepping back during these fast-paced days can be critical and provide the best insights for making important changes.

This is like a major league baseball manager viewing from the dugout, he is reading every move the opposing pitcher is making and directing adjustments for his team.

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Incredible Shrinking Transactions, and What to Do - Part 3

Incredible Shrinking Transactions, and What to Do - Part 3

by Sid Raisch


Part 3 - Meet Them - Where THEY Are (Not Where We Are)

READ THIS FIRST - This week as we head towards Mothers Day, be thinking about the customers who haven’t been in your store and you won’t be seeing this week, next week, next month, or ever, if we don’t figure out how to REACH them.

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Being Creative - Organically!

Being Creative - Organically!

by Danny Summers

Sometimes, great ideas begin... Organically.

And by "organically" I don't mean our first reaction of thinking about your favorite compost or plant nutrient. Instead, I am thinking about an idea that arrives "naturally" or without great effort to create a wonderful new idea.

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Tricking Broca

Tricking Broca

by Gail Vanik

Even though garden centers are primarily a visual industry with bright colors and interesting textures, another sense should be considered when planning your marketing mix: auditory.

I’m a huge fan of radio advertising because it’s one medium where you can cast a net broader than anywhere else to catch new customers. The airwaves reach far and wide, and radio worked especially well for me in Colorado when I would have gone broke advertising in every small-town newspaper within our 200-mile marketing area.

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Going BIG in Big D!

Going BIG in Big D!

by Danny Summers


Do you know The Fall Event 2024 is heading to Dallas, Texas this September? If you don't know, either I have not been doing my job, or maybe you have not been reading GROUPtalk, or seeing any of my mountain of emails with my signature line to shout the event dates, or perhaps you have been distracted by other things. In any case, you know now!

I will begin by revealing the initial details below and will be sharing more of the entire program in the coming weeks. There are a few important things you should know now before you start considering your travel plans.

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The Garden Retailing Train

The Garden Retailing Train

by Danny Summers

If you have been receiving GROUPtalk for some time now, the image above and the title of this message may seem vaguely familiar, and you are correct. I first used this in August of 2021 with a slightly different title, "The Train of Garden Retailing." At the time, we had already been through the spring seasons of 2020 and 2021. I know you remember what that was like. It was a time of great change for all Garden Centers, adapting to new ways to do many things, in order to serve your growing customer audience.

In the August 2021 message, I began by saying, "At first glance this might appear as a strange combination...Train verses Garden Retailing? But bear with me as I share some thoughts I have had in recent months. This idea came to me as I was talking with prospective Centers who asked about what we do in The Group and why they should consider joining. Basically, "Why The Group?"

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Incredible Shrinking Transactions... and What to Do – Part 2

Incredible Shrinking Transactions... and What to Do – Part 2

by Sid Raisch

Incredible Shrinking Transactions, and What to Do - Part 2

by Sid Raisch

[Continued from Part 1 - Click to review from Group Blog]

The Garden Center Group’s 2023 P&L Study shows a continued trend of flatness of the three top KPI’s with nearly flat revenue, transaction counts, and average dollars per transaction (barely keeping with inflation). Of course there are the above average performing companies who lift this average, along with the corresponding below average performers. No matter which side of average a garden center is, this is an alarming trend. The most alarming thing is the slide, which began in 2008 at the start of the Great Recession and continued to 2019 (after a brief COVID relief in 2020 and 2021), has returned and it is sticking. The reason - Baby Boomers are aging out. The real reason? We as an industry are failing at replacing revenue from Baby Boomers.

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Founded with a Purpose

Founded with a Purpose

by Danny Summers

If you have been in the BWI (Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport) and in the A/B Terminal Food Court area, most likely you have seen the round coffee stand in the center of the area. It is Mayorga Coffee, a local coffee roaster in Rockville, MD (about 6 miles northwest of the Washington, DC beltway).

Having enjoyed my first cup of what I call Mayorga's flagship dark-roast, Cafe Cubano, I was determined to find where we could get more for our everyday java-fix.

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Invasive Plants?

Invasive Plants?

by Danny Summers

Being "in the industry" we know what this title refers to... In our world, a plant being termed an "Invasive Plant" says it is aggressive, multiplies at will and overtakes space from other plants, and disrupts the careful balance of the native landscape.

But the idea of this message is a positive one and an observation of seeing numerous images of plants making big impressions for products and people outside our industry.

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Incredible Shrinking Transactions... and What to Do – Part 1

Incredible Shrinking Transactions... and What to Do – Part 1

by Sid Raisch

I’m writing this fully knowing that some of you are going to be mildly irritated and full blown mad at me about it. But I will speak the truth as I see it and will ask you to either deny it at your own risk, or deal with it as effectively as possible. This isn’t only to define the reality of the problems we face, it is to offer a simple solution. The challenge isn’t having a solution. The challenge is to convince enough people to embrace the opportunity to accept it and to step forward decisively and boldly. It is also to ignore the naysayers and those who will stand in your way - our way.

Over 215 million Americans across three generations (Gen X, Gen Y aka Millennials, and Gen Z) now understand the critical importance of plants and pollinators for life and sustainability. They seek knowledge beyond what previous generations did, recognizing that neither big-box stores nor online searches can fully satisfy their quest. This awareness presents an unprecedented opportunity for the garden industry. If we keenly observe market trends and respond smartly, we can achieve our industry's highest aspirations. For those who might not find inspiration in this vision, it's a cue to step aside and watch as proactive leaders make impactful strides putting preparation for opportunity well ahead of hoping and wishing and blind luck.

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When the Press Calls

When the Press Calls...

by Danny Summers

Sometimes things just don't work out the way you first thought they might. That is most often the case When the Press Calls. About 2 weeks ago I was contacted by email by a writer with Associated Press (AP). The conversation began with...

"Hi, I cover small business for the AP, is there someone at The Garden Center Group that could speak to me about what challenges the industry is facing these days, i.e. high labor costs, volatile weather, etc. and what are some bright spots?"

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Be a Regular Guy or Gal

Be a Regular Guy or Gal

by Gail Vanik

This is a tale of two Garden Centers. I’ve owned both of them. The first was a small Garden Center in a rural area in small town America. Although we experienced some success along the way, it seemed like we weren’t able to grow sales the way I had hoped and projected. Since I had simply continued the marketing efforts of the previous owners – newspaper, a paper newsletter that was mailed monthly (sometimes), and a few print ads here and there, the frustration of “why isn’t this working when it worked so well for them” continued for several years. Overwhelmed with all of it, I admit I wasn’t much of a “regular gal” back then.

The second Garden Center was that same small Garden Center a few years later but by now the world had changed. Our sales numbers reflected that the previous owner’s methods were no longer effective. I switched things up, but more importantly, I made a firm commitment to a consistent schedule, even during times that were slow or when we had bad weather. Once I became a “regular gal,” things improved.

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