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Connecting

Connecting

by Danny Summers

As a Garden Center connecting with your audience is extremely important. It always has been. Connecting happens in a multitude of ways. It certainly happens whenever the customer enters your Center and interacts with your team, and shops for your plants and products.

The other ways of connecting has been changing over the last two decades. More connecting today happens through your messaging or sharing of information through the various channels of communication. At the same time, your audience is slowly changing and the way they want to receive your information may be different than how you are positioned to share information today.

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A Powerful Story

A Powerful Story

by Danny Summers

When our girls were young, we stumbled upon a magical story crafted in an animated film titled The Man Who Planted Trees. The fictional story paints a simple yet powerful and unforgettable message set in the early 1900s. It introduced us to a shepherd named Elzéard Bouffier who quietly takes on the task of planting 100 acorns a day in an effort to reforest a desolate region in the French Alps. As the story unfolds, you see the shepherd's work transforming the region as life (and hope) returns and the world around is renewed.

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Power Tools!

Power Tools!

by Danny Summers

Having the right tools can make a world of difference. And knowing what tools to use for the job or task is equally important. If you've been around The Group and read my messages over the years you certainly have heard me refer to the POWERtools area of our WebSystem. It is located under the Clients-Only pull-down menu and contains all of our tools for download.

This week we feature two of those POWERtools in a message from Robert Hendrickson as he created both during his decades of helping Garden Centers. They are the Monthly Department Review and the Ad Planner, which are now updated for 2022 (both USA and Canada versions).

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Marketing = A BIG Deal

Marketing = A BIG Deal

by Danny Summers

Does the image above look like your Marketing challenge today?

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Planning for 2022

Planning for 2022

by Danny Summers

We know it has already begun. You've already started some of your planning for the next spring season. I know you have questions about what to expect and what you will need to prepare for as you do all of your planning. How do you budget for 2022? As a total Group, we ended 2020 in the mid +20% range ahead of 2019 sales, and it appears 2021 may be slightly into double-digit growth on top of that. But what lies ahead in 2022?

Just like the image above, your crystal ball may not be very clear. At the same time, both Steve Bailey and Tim Quebedeaux have been expressing some concerns about inventory levels as we near the end of the selling season. Will you carry over more products than you should? The answer to that may be in Steve Bailey's message in the Week 37 WDR cover page... do you need to re-read that?

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Find Your Work Zen

Find Your Work Zen

by Danny Summers

While the title for this message can be for you, I am really presenting this as an idea for our Centers to consider as a message to promote to prospective team members (new-hires) in the coming seasons.

Evidence is mounting that Garden Centers can be in a prime position to capture the attention of a large number of Millennials who have discovered over the last 18 months they really do not want to return to their typical work environment. I can see the job listing now... Find Your Work Zen at (insert your garden center name here)!

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Success... by the Trailer Load!

Success... by the Trailer Load!

by Danny Summers

For everyone who has attended The Fall Event, you know one thing you can count on is recognizing the most successful performing Garden Centers from our two financial sharing programs, the Weekly Department Review (WDR) and the Annual P&L Study. During the first day of The Fall Event 2021, we did just that. In fact, this year we handed out more awards than ever before!

When Steve and Tim sent me the reports for both the WDR and the P&L Study, I knew there would be a lot of awards this year. But it was when I picked up all of the plaques at our trophy supplier that it really hit me just how many more there were this year. In fact, we had to rent a U-Haul trailer for the trip to Wilmington – for the first time ever!

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A Culture of WHY

A Culture of WHY

by Danny Summers

Over the past two weeks, we have been experiencing Florence Williams' wonderfully impactful story of 'The Nature Fix.' It is the result of her multi-year work of documenting WHY nature is so important in the health and welfare of every human being.

Many of the details contained in her book support what we all have known for years about the importance of plants and the activity of gardening. We just did not have the science to back up our beliefs... until now.

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Marketing Ideas for 2022 - and beyond!

Marketing Ideas for 2022 - and beyond!

by Danny Summers

Great ideas are in the making. I believe this to be TRUE right here within The Group. In the coming weeks we will have a whole collection of ideas that can help fuel your marketing message for 2022 and beyond! And it all begins at The Fall Event with Florence Williams and her book... The Nature Fix.

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The Train of Garden Retailing

The Train of Garden Retailing

by Danny Summers

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?"

As I thought about my response, aside from all the normal unique sharing, programs and services The Group offers, strangely enough what I have told our daughter and her husband about buying their first home came to mind. We have had numerous conversations with them about how home prices keep going up and how much more difficult it might be to get into your very first home. I said, "Home ownership is like jumping onto a moving train. Once on-board you gain equity as the overall market goes up and as you pay down the mortgage. If you are not on the train, you are loosing ground, going backwards as the train moves forward."

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Your Best Ideas (or your biggest questions)

Your BEST Ideas (or your biggest questions)

by Danny Summers

You have them... all of us do. It's the idea that comes to you late at night or in the early hours of the morning and you just have to write a few notes before it's gone. It can also come at unusual times during our daily activities. It might be while you are shopping at a frequently visited store, or in line at the drive-through restaurant, or just driving down the road – or mowing the lawn. My Dad often said some of the best thinking happens while on a tractor. Some of the most ordinary things can trigger the very BEST ideas. They can also present some of your biggest questions.

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Imagination!

Imagination!

by Danny Summers

Kids have "wide-open" creativity skills with no throttles, governors, or constraints that most of us adults have developed. If you look closely at the photo above you will see the titles... "Thinker, Thinking Cap and Idea-O-Meter" depicting the story of how kids don't have the "I Can't" or "It Won't Work" weights holding them back. As we progress through life we encounter many "guardrails" that tend to build upon each other and restrict our creativity. In the following text I found some wonderful words written by Samuel Ullman (1840-1924), an American businessman, poet, humanitarian, and religious leader, born in Hechingen, Germany and died in Birmingham, AL. Here's an interesting introduction I found to Ullman's famous poem 'Youth.'

 

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What's New?

What's New?

by Danny Summers

That was on everyone's mind last week as we converged upon Columbus, OH for Cultivate'21... the very first industry trade show since early last year. And it was GREAT in many ways!

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Good News

Good News

by Danny Summers

If you were with us last Thursday during the final GROUPtalk LIVE Series session, you heard Ken Gronbach say these words, "If you want me to tell bad news for the garden industry, I'll have to make up something, because there just isn't any." This session was a followup to his keynote presentation last August as we began our series.

Ken is a demographer and his studies analyze world populations, growth, shifts, and trends. Ken's message reinforced what our Centers have experienced the past 16 months – countless new customers, many of them young, and all wanting more gardening and plant experiences.

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For the Love of Plants

For the Love of Plants

by Danny Summers

The Love of Plants can be a powerful thing. It's powerful in many ways. If you consider the simple relationship we humans have with plants... we breath oxygen they give off and they need the carbon dioxide we exhale. That's about as close as a relationship gets - the very definition of symbiotic.

While you might not consider that to be a form of love, how we see people interact with plants can truly be expressed as a form of love. And, they will certainly say how much they love to garden, how they love their flowers, trees, and plants and how they love how the activity of gardening or being around all these plants makes them feel.

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Building Relationships

Building Relationships

by Danny Summers

Relationships. It is the lifeblood of a successful career or business. It spans all aspects of your operation... Your customers. Your staff and management team. Your growers and hardline vendors. Other relationships you have are here within The Group. The relationships built with The Group's team of Service Providers and your peer Centers is something that is very unique today.

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Simplify.

Simplify.

by Danny Summers

Let's face it. Things tend to get more and more complicated. Every time we add a new program or product, does it replace an existing one or just increase your the list of "things-to-do" and multiply your weekly, daily (or even hourly) challenges? With where your Center has been the last 15+ months, it's time to focus on simplifying your operation. You can begin at The Fall Event 2021.

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A Bright Future

A Bright Future...

by Danny Summers

That's what I see ahead for Garden Retailing and the Horticulture Industry as a whole. We have several both direct and indirect evidence to support this vision for what's beyond the horizon. First, let's consider what almost every Garden Center has experienced the past 15+ months. Reports of seeing 20-25% new customers and a high percentage of them were young. And by the questions they asked, they are new to gardening. We have wondered if they would return this spring and most indicators point to YES, they have. These new plant and gardening enthusiasts are finding their own joy and passion in their garden activities. If we can continue to help them be successful and build upon this new-found relationship with plants and their garden, this may very well be the much needed bridge of transition between boomers and the next generation. These new young customers are one of the best pieces of evidence to support the vision of "A Bright Future."

Additional evidence to support a vision for "A Bright Future" can be seen in this year's nominees for Green Profit Magazine Young Retailer of the Year Award. In the December 14th edition of GROUPtalk, we announced a new Group effort to co-sponsor and promote Green Profit Magazine Young Retailer of the Year Award for 2021. The Garden Center Group, with support from our Partners for Success, are official sponsors of the 16th annual award, along with AmericanHort.

This past week, Green Profit announced the three finalists for this year's awards. They are:

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Smarter. Not Harder.

Smarter. Not Harder.

by Danny Summers

Let's face it, with what you have been through the past 14 months, this should really get your attention.

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High Terrain

High Terrain

by Danny Summers

You are in HIGH TERRAIN today. You are and we all know it. The image above might be a micro respite from today's hectic pace, but what I am referring to is the HIGH TERRAIN of the new levels of your Garden Center sales during the Spring of 2021. This in on top of the mountain of sales most Centers developed in 2020.

With 2020 in the rear-view mirror, we were wondering if you could even match, not to mention build upon last year's performance. Seeing Week 18 (May 3-9, 2021) results just in last Friday provides a very positive outlook for surpassing 2020. Let's compare a few figures against this time last year and now.

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