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Time for Change?

Time for Change?

by Danny Summers

Is it a Time for Change at your Center? Spring 2023 has come and gone and now is the time to be thinking about how you can make your Center more efficient for the coming seasons. It's not always about increasing Sales to improve the bottom line.

We hear Tim Quebedeaux talking about streamlining your plant and product selections to turn more, have less shrink, and improve GMROII – by category.

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Connections

Connections

by Danny Summers

Being connected can be one of the most beneficial assets for each of us. And when you consider how we are connected here through The Group and what a tremendous bank of knowledge and resources we have collectively, the idea of Connections means even more.

When I see the image above and the hand touching the surface of the water and in doing so creating a ripple effect, this is symbolic of one person here in The Group, reaching out and starting a conversation. For instance, by sending a single email through one of our eLists – we'll use GroupEs as an example. This one email, almost instantly, is delivered to over 700 mailboxes! This is when the conversation with connections begins and the knowledge and experience are shared.

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The Search

The Search

by Danny Summers

The search for what's new, in both plants and products is one of the most exciting experiences we have in the industry. The anticipation of what we may find as we prepare to attend industry trade shows and then actually walk onto the show floor helps kick the "excitement meter" off the scale. Admittedly, most of the time what we find may simply be a better "tweaked" version of what we already know and use. But when we do find something incredible, our reward for searching is fulfilled.

This past week many of us, in fact about 10,000 of our closest friends and peers, converged on Columbus, Ohio for Cultivate'23 with this high level of anticipation in mind. We had a large group of Retailers (many Group Centers) search the show on Sunday for incredible plants and products... and we found some. In fact, they nominated almost 70, then had to vote for their top 15 favorites that are the Retailers' Choice Awards™ for Cultivate'23!

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The 2023 Mid-Year in Review

The 2023 Mid-Year in Review

by Danny Summers

Last week we received the special Mid-Year edition of the Weekly Department Review (WDR) from our resident Numbers Guru, Tim Quebedeaux (aka, The Cajun Cash Man).

I am always excited to see this edition as well as the Year-End edition. These are pieces of the puzzle that go into the Annual P&L Study. With our new WDR Online System that launched in January of this year, quite a bit has changed and each week we are able to see more of what I grew to expect from our two special editions. But there are still several areas I'm watching and waiting for and, of course, Tim always will surprise us with some new amazing details and views. This year is no exception. The following are a few of my observations from the special Mid-Year WDR as well as a few extra details Tim provided to me. (Thank you TQ!)

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Plants That Work!

Plants That Work!

by Danny Summers

I must admit, this idea of "Plants That Work" has been building for a number of weeks now. Let's stroll back through a few weeks and experiences that helped me craft this message...

On April 13th, our GROUPtalk LIVE Session featured a number of Group Centers that shared their performances year-to-date and ideas that they felt helped them reach their level of success. There were some common threads of ideas shared such as:

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The Summer Solstice & Perennials

The Summer Solstice & Perennials

by Danny Summers

This message title may at first seem somewhat strange, but there is a connection.

Last Wednesday, June 21st, was the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. And it was also the Darwin Perennials Day at Ball Seed headquartered in West Chicago, IL. What a beautiful day to celebrate and share so much about this important category, Perennials. That Wednesday morning, I had the thought... it's the perfect day to be thinking about Perennials... the longest day of the year for the longest-running plant category (for herbaceous plants at least).

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The Colors of Spinach?

The Colors of Spinach?

by Danny Summers

This message is not to introduce us to some new hybrid of our favorite leafy greens. But the idea for this came to me a week or so ago when I read a story by Stanberry Research of Dr. Harry Mitchell Sherman "The Colors of Healing."

Dr. Sherman was an accomplished surgeon in San Francisco in the early 1900s and in 1904, his observations set a new trend in operating rooms and hospitals across the country. Dr. Sherman realized how strained and tired his eyes became while doing surgery in a bright white environment. The white rooms and white cloth were popular back then and reflected the bright lights of the operating room. So he decided to swap out white surgical drapes for black ones, reducing the glare and making it easier to focus on the surgical procedure.

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It Begins in Cincinnati

It Begins in Cincinnati

by Danny Summers

The year is 1837 and it was a time of economic hardships in the country. Two brothers-in-law, one a candle maker and the other a soap maker, were inspired by their father-in-law to bring their two crafts together into one business.

We take things like candles and soap for granted these days. But back in the 1800s, candles were essential for light, and the availability of hygiene products was extremely limited.

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Timing Can Be Everything!

Timing Can Be Everything!

by Danny Summers

This story begins in the late 1920s with John Josiah Emery Jr., the son of a successful Cincinnati business family who made a fortune in Cincinnati’s rugged stockyards. The Emery family's success began in Cincinnati as early as 1840 when Emery's grandfather developed a successful lamp oil business which lead to candle making and continues even today as Oleo Chemicals. It is known for its best-in-class natural-based chemical solutions.

Emery dreamed of constructing the tallest building west of the Alleghenies. He hoped that his novel building would function as a “city within a city,” in which everything from boutique shops to office space could be found inside. He even planned on opening a luxurious new hotel within the structure that would rival the Waldorf Astoria.

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Eureka!

Eureka!

by Danny Summers

At first glance, you might think of the word Eureka as referring to a city or town. There are 4 or more in the US alone. But this message is intended to challenge you to think about the word as an exclamation:

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The Power of C

The Power of C

by Danny Summers

Vitamin C is one of the safest and most effective nutrients, experts say. Though it may not be the cure for the common cold, the benefits of vitamin C may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, and many more.

But this message is not about vitamin C or oranges... at all.

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Building Bridges

Building Bridges

by Danny Summers

This is a message for the future with observations and inspiration from the past.

The idea for this message came to me as we began to study Cincinnati as the site for The Fall Event 2023. There are five main bridges connecting Cincinnati to Kentucky just across the Ohio River. The oldest, and most stunning, is the one pictured here... now known as the John A. Roebling Bridge. Its story is both amazing and inspirational. This is a story of ground-breaking design that led the way for other bridges around the world, including a very famous one (more on that a little later).

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Reaching Your Audience

Reaching Your Audience

by Danny Summers

Reaching Your Audience has changed... a lot! If we could turn back time about 20 years, we would see Garden Centers reaching their audience in almost completely different ways... such as through direct mail, newspaper ads, a local radio stations, and email was becoming more widely used.

Fast-forward to today and the list has changed... almost completely. There is very limited direct mail being used today, and most of those are postcards and Every Door Delivery (EDD). A few Centers are still using local radio but streaming services such as Spotify and SiriusXM is attracting larger audiences. And a number of social platforms have reached new heights of influence.

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For Busy Times – New WDR Online Quick Views

For Busy Times – New WDR Online Quick Views

By Danny Summers

The Weekly Department Review, known by all of The Group as WDR, has seen great change and development over the 20+ years since its beginning. First beginning as a fax-based composite report, then moving to an email and spreadsheet-based program, it has become a unique tool for knowing the pulse of business activity. It began with only a handful of Centers participating to well over a hundred reporting today and has seen much growth, further development, and acceptance through the years. Since its beginning, the WDR's most unique feature is that it is fully open (not blind) and you can see each Center's name.

Just as the jump from fax to email meant a major milestone, so has another been set beginning this year as the WDR moved to a web-based system. This move has changed the WDR from a static report, a snapshot at a particular point in time, to a position of LIVE DATA with tremendous data mining capabilities. In January, as we introduced the new WDR Online, we did so with over 9 different views for comparing, filtering, and analyzing many points of data. And now we have added even more.

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Riding the Wave

Riding the Wave

by Danny Summers

We have talked before about the trend of seeing Plants and the activity of Gardening being leveraged while promoting non-related products or services. This is Riding the Wave of the growing popularity of what your Center offers... every day. Here's another example...

I was standing in the checkout line last week at our neighborhood Publix grocery store. I glanced at the magazines on display as I waited my turn. One publication slapped me in the face instantly. The title:

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The Group Knowledge Experience

The Group Knowledge Experience

by Danny Summers

The power of The Group comes in many forms and functions but behind each is hundreds of talented professionals who have a common purpose... to be the best Garden Retailer in their community. They also share a common bond through The Group and are willing to share openly with peer Centers to help others reach higher.

This was in full display last week as the April GROUPtalk LIVE Series was being held. Above is an image of some of those participating as we spotlighted four Centers across the Southern Regions to hear their experience so far this season.

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A Fresh Air Store?

A Fresh Air Store?

by Danny Summers

You may remember a few weeks ago, I shared a message titled "A Nature Store?" The overall idea was how much Garden Centers should position themselves as a vital part of nature and their audience should think of the Garden Center, their own garden, and the activity of gardening as an important part of their own health and wellness.

Coming out of winter, it is easy to attract your audience who have the internal human need for spring, its fresh new growth, its plants, flowers, and everything in the garden. Just the promise of spring helps to bridge the gap caused by "winter blues." And it is easy to recognize your Center is needed at this time of year. What I am sharing today may help you more at other times of the year. This past week I ran across a story titled:

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Visions of Spring

Visions of Spring

by Danny Summers


How big will the Spring Season be in 2023? That's a common question we all consider for months. It began last fall or even earlier. But here we are the first week of April and while most central to northern locations are just getting started, we have the benefit of seeing what's happening at The Group Centers in more southern regions.

We have been watching intently, every week when we get our WDR Reporting. And so far what we see is pretty encouraging. We all remember how 2022 gave us higher Average Sales but lower Transaction Counts. And most recognize that was a result of a compressed season last year (late Spring and early Summer).

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Collaborate

Collaborate

by Danny Summers

Collaborate seems like a pretty lite word to describe what we do here in The Group. A quick synonym search for alternatives finds: Cooperate, Unite, Join, Team-Up, Pull Together, Hang Together, and many more. All of these combined much better describe what we know today as The Group.

In the coming weeks and months you will see us having more sessions to bring The Group together... to Collaborate!

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A Nature Store?

A Nature Store?

by Danny Summers

Have you ever considered calling your Garden Center... A Nature Store?

I'm not suggesting changing your Center's name, but just in describing what you do, what you offer... A Nature Store.

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