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NEW: Wednesday Walk-About

NEW: Wednesday Walk-About

by Danny Summers

Beginning this week, we introduce Wednesday Walk-About, a new way to gather together to explore areas of The Group WebSystem. We will walk about the many areas and drill down into the tools and resources you may not even know are available to you as a Group Center. Have you ever wondered:

  • How can I quickly search for other Garden Centers in our area?
  • Is there a map showing all Group Centers?
  • How can I search and connect with other Centers and peers?
  • How can I quickly search for the Top Performing Centers?
  • How can I add new staff members for access?
  • How can I or my team subscribe to one or more of the 12 eLists?
  • How can I subscribe my team to weekly eNews GROUPtalk?
  • How can my team learn more about The Group Financial Programs?
  • How can I engage my team to learn more about The Group Marketing ideas?
  • What is the easiest way to connect with The Group Service Providers?

These are just a few of the many areas we will explore this Wednesday. Watch for a Zoom invitation coming to the GroupEs eList. If you are not currently subscribed to GroupEs, send me an email and I will show you how to log in and subscribe.

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A View Ahead for 2024

A View Ahead for 2024

by Danny Summers

Looking ahead or forecasting can certainly be tricky. Your crystal ball or binoculars, in this case, can often be "foggy." It seems to work best simply to take in all the indicators you can, lay them on top of a "gut feel" and top it all with years of experience from you and your team. Maybe then what you see will be less "foggy" and closer to what really will happen. And even then, just like Tim Quebedeaux's Dynamic Budget, you will need to be in a position to adjust and adapt mid-season.

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Better Shopping Carts - A Working Focus Group

Better Shopping Carts - A Working Focus Group

On Thursday, November 2, 2023, Danny Summers hosted a working Focus Group on the subject of Better Shopping Carts. Long-time Group Sponsor, R.W. Rogers' CEO Bob Rogers, joined the session to participate in this idea session and share new perspectives on what modern day needs are for helping to produce higher average sales. This is a working group which will have a continuing series of discussions and reviews as new prototypes are produced. A special THANK YOU to everyone participating.

A new eList has been developed for this focus group called BetterCarts. Group Centers can subscribe by logging in and go to MY PROFILE, then MY FEATURES and eLists. Once there, simply select the BetterCarts eList Subscribed button to turn on. You will receive an email confirmation.

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Signs of Progress

Signs of Progress

by Danny Summers

For some of us the image above seems very familiar. For decades many Garden Centers utilized the trusty little red wagon as the main form of shopping cart for customers to select plants for their homes. I know of one close to us who still does.

Most Centers have progressed by offering their customers more convenient and efficient ways to shop, including better shopping carts. With the Average Sale being such an important component in a Garden Center's success (actually one of our Big Three KPIs here in The Group), the number of plants that can fill a cart is critical. Sid Raisch has often discussed the need for larger carts and encouraged Centers to consider them so not to artificially restrain Average Sale.

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Needs for the Future

Needs for the Future

by Danny Summers

Taking time to look ahead is an important task but how often do we really do it? And let's face it, in the middle of a busy (normal) day it most likely doesn't or can't happen. Even if you remember a few minutes to push away and think about "what if's", the best you can do is jot down some quick notes and continue later.

The Eureka! session at The Fall Event 2023 offered a vision of what the possible benefits could be in having a planned period of disconnected thinking time for you and your team. The saying "can't see the forest for the trees" applies during our normal day. There are so many areas to consider your needs and opportunities for the future. One such area is your marketing efforts. This is a huge subject and covers multiple facets when you consider everything that your audience sees from you... your brand on everything. Every message you present to them, whether it comes through your website, emails, social platforms, traditional advertising and even your facility and your team, helps create the standards for your marketing.

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Reaching New Heights

Reaching New Heights

by Danny Summers

Last week, we shared a photo of our 2022-2023 100% Club Award Centers that were with us at The Fall Event 2023. It was an amazingly large group. Keep in mind there were 20 more that will receive their plaques by mail this month! The 100% Club recognizes Centers that report every week in The Weekly Department Review (WDR) over a full 52-week period (July 1-June 30). This calendar year we now have over 4,200 weekly reports as of Week 40, ending October 8th!

This week we spotlight awards from the 2022 Annual P&L Study, recognizing performance levels based on profit! Over the years it is so gratifying to see Centers progress from one level to the next. Doing so takes time and great effort and creates pride in a business that reaches these heights.

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Just Like Clockwork - The 100% Club Awards

Just Like Clockwork - The 100% Club Awards

by Danny Summers

An exciting moment at The Fall Event is always our Awards Program, recognizing individual Centers' milestones and accomplishments from both the Weekly Department Review (WDR) and the Annual P&L Study. The presentations begin with what we call The 100% Club. This award recognizes reporting Centers who have reported every week in the WDR they are scheduled to be open. You may remember an earlier blog message I shared back on August 14th titled Just Like Clockwork. In that message we spotlighted 37 Centers who had not only reported 100% in the most recent period (July'22-June'23) but also had done so for 3 straight years!!! If you missed that be sure to see the link below.

This year at The Fall Event 2023, we awarded 49 Centers with their 100% Club Plaques (seen above). This was 49 out of the 69 total Centers recognized. That's 71% of the 100% Club Centers attending!

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A Fabulous Fall

A Fabulous Fall

by Danny Summers

Following the hot days of summer, we wake up one morning, walk outside, and instantly feel the first hint of fall in the air... It's a magical feeling. We all know Fall is coming. We just don't know when and we wait in great anticipation and longing for the first day you need your favorite sweater. What a great day!

As Garden Centers you have been planning and preparing for those Fall Days for several months as you make way for the transition to Fall color annuals, all those great pumpkins, gourds, and more.

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Fresh Ideas

Fresh Ideas

by Danny Summers

The concept of Fresh Ideas is like being in your garden early in the morning while the dew is still on every plant. Just imagine we are picking the most beautifully ripe tomato right off the vine. If you're like me most likely you're picking the smaller tomato varieties (one of my favorites is Juliet, a small Roma style that has a wonderful flavor)... and you just pop one into your mouth standing right in the garden... Now That's Fresh!

Integrating "Fresh" with "Ideas" suggests a very similar experience. The results can be wonderfully new, refreshing, and exciting. It can open up a whole new realm of things to explore and create.

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RCA-20

RCA-20

by Danny Summers

For some of us, the title of this message might take us back to our childhood days and one of the earliest TV sets. In fact, for me and our family, it was more a piece of furniture than actual electronics. And it was a black-and-white picture! Ours' was more of an upright piece of furniture with a dark mahogany finish and a large speaker at the bottom. And I remember it had an RCA Victor label on the front. The picture above is not actually our tv, but it is very close (as my "kid memories" recall).

I had no clue what RCA Victor stood for but a quick search today fills in the blanks... Radio Corporation of America and Victor Talking Machine Company (when they merged in 1929). Does anyone remember their "His Master's Voice" logo with a dog listening to the record player?

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Spotlight on Ohio

Spotlight on Ohio

by Danny Summers

As we see the year progressing in Week 32 just reported last Friday, there is one Group Region that is leading in year-to-date sales growth – OHIO. No other Group Region is a single state, but as we divide Group Centers into regional and sales groups we have enough Centers concentrated in Ohio to do so.

The Group as a whole is just about even with 2022 year-to-date sales. Here's The Big Three for the Ohio Region:

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Just Like Clockwork!

Just Like Clockwork!

by Danny Summers

Clocks are something I have always had a fascination with, especially the old ones. I'm talking about mechanical clocks, not electronic ones. One of my fondest memories is sitting on my Grandpa Chet Summers' lap listening to his Hamilton Pocket Watch. Something so small but so accurate and dependable, to me, is the perfect example of amazing craftsmanship. This Hamilton Pocket Watch, model 992B was required for all Burlington Northern Railroad employees in the early 50s (I can share more sometime on this piece of family history that I still treasure today). A cousin of mine recently gave me a Seth Thomas Kitchen Clock that was our Great Grandparent's – my Mom's Grandfather. Once we returned home with it, I found the manufacture date on the back of November 1890. And it still runs great and keeps accurate time today –133 years later.

The message Just Like Clockwork, in my mind, refers to something or some process that works so well, it is as dependable as the family pocket watch or even kitchen clock that runs today, just as well as they did when they were first made. It's something you can count on... Just Like Clockwork!

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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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