The Heart is a Muscle!

The Heart is a Muscle!

by John Kennedy

As we kick off the new year with high hopes of projected profits along with extra expectations of customer counts, I thought it important to bring out an oldie but goodie.

Past:
A few years back, I wrote and presented to The Garden Center Group about a healthy business being equivalent to a healthy body. The similarities are easy to see and the approach is easy to execute.

When we go to the doctor’s office for our annual check-up (or unfortunately when we are sick), there are a few Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or body metrics that they measure---Blood Pressure, Height/Weight, Temperature, Pulse and BMI (Body Mass Index). These provide a window into your current condition and are usually compared to your last visit.


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Time for the Special Moments

Time for the Special Moments

by Danny Summers

As our families gathered together this past week for the holidays, it is easy to see how quickly the time together goes by. The wonderful smiles, hugs, laughter, food, and gift-sharing we cherish, all seem to go by so quickly and we are left with memories of these Special Moments (and maybe a few extra pounds encouraging us to new resolutions).

Last Thursday, I received the weekly enews from Kerby's Nursery. Joey Bokor's message was "Garden Moments." He begins the message by saying much of our lives we focus on the big events..."Events that transform our lives or that bring us attention and praise." But then Joey turns the focus on the little events or moments that can mean so much. He then leads us into little moments in the garden.

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Group Gatherings Ahead!

Group Gatherings Ahead!

by Danny Summers

The Power of The Group is probably most evident when we gather together, both in-person and virtually. The level of knowledge transfer and creative exchange is dramatic. I am always amazed in witnessing what can happen during Group Gatherings. And in the next three weeks, we will have four Group Gathering opportunities:

\Wednesday, January 10th - MANTS 2024 - Baltimore, MD
The largest of the "woody-focused" trade events will take place January 10-12. At the end of the first day, Wednesday, we will gather for The Best of MANTS at 5pm. This year, we will co-sponsor this hour+ gathering with Master Nursery Garden Centers and Prides Corner Farms to share our day-long experience. We will see a number of new faces this year and the hunt for "what's new" will certainly be center stage. If you will be at MANTS on Wednesday and able to join us at 5pm, be sure RSVP below. We hope you can be with us!

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What's Your Blind Spot?

What's Your Blind Spot?
How Cognitive Biases Limit You as a Leader

by Carl Phillips

It’s been over 22 years since the roll-out of The Garden Center Group Mystery Shopper Program. Over three thousand, six hundred (3,600+) shops have been completed that form the basis for great customer service benchmarking.


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Numbers Tell a Story

Numbers Tell a Story

by Danny Summers

Last week I shared the message What a Story to Tell and focused on the stories of how plants were found or developed and by whom. I believe the more background information about our plants the better our Centers can connect plants to people. But this week, the Numbers Tell a Story.

Last Thursday, our final GROUPtalk LIVE Series session for 2023 featured Tim Quebedeaux walking Centers through the reporting process for The Group's Annual P&L Study for 2023. Watching Tim and our Centers in attendance interact gave me the idea for this message.

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What a Story to Tell!

What a Story to Tell!

by Danny Summers

Storytelling could be described as both a gift and art. Of course, there are different methods of storytelling. When considering the written form, names like Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, Beatrix Potter, Mark Twain, Will Rogers, today's JK Rowling, and many others come to mind.

What we may not be considering often enough are the stories about the plants you offer every day. We could be challenged by questions like...

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Hallmark and the Plant Trend

Hallmark and the Plant Trend

by Danny Summers

If you were with us at The Fall Event 2022 in Kansas City, you will remember Darren Abbott, Hallmark's Senior Vice President Global Product Development and Consumer Experience, sharing much of the DNA that is at the heart of their emotional marketing which leads to product development and the ultimate customer connections. During his presentation, he acknowledged the trends toward gardening – particularly tropicals and he told us his team was developing a series of cards in their Signature Paper Wonder Pop-Up series featuring a few tropical plants.

At the time, he didn't have examples to share and could only say they were in the pipeline. This past week Karen and I were in one of our local Hallmark Gold Crown Stores to grab Christmas Cards (because we care enough to send the very best...) and as I wandered the different aisles of cards I came upon the Paper Wonder 3-D card section. And there I found four of the new tropical-themed cards and, of course, I just had to buy them!

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A Season for Tropicals?

A Season for Tropicals?

by Danny Summers

With the most recent week of the Weekly Department Review (WDR), Week 45, ending on November 12th, we see the expected seasonal surge of Christmas categories now at 17.5% of total sales. At the same time, we see the Standard Greengoods categories experiencing the seasonal shift downward, now down to just 31.9% of total sales.

At the same time the Christmas categories are gaining there is one more category gaining in its position, Topical Plants Indoor/Out. This observation presents us with the question...

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It's... Time to UPDATE Your Profile

It's... Time to UPDATE Your Profile

by Danny Summers

Now is the perfect time to UPDATE Your Profile in The Group WebSystem. This applies to both Your Personal login account as well as Your Center's Company information (if you are an Owner or Designated Manager as a Key Contact).

Doing so will ensure your information is current and can be included in dozens of search results.

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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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Why Are Employees Really Quitting?

Why Are Employees Really Quitting?
You Can Boil It Down to 6 Simple Reasons.

By Carl Phillips

It’s been over 22 years since the roll-out of The Garden Center Group Mystery Shopper Program. Over three thousand, 600 hundred (3,600+) shops have been completed that form the basis for great customer service benchmarking. Carl Phillips has been instrumental in the program development since its inception. He is known as one of the mystery shopper industry founding fathers and The Group is blessed by having his guidance. Carl shares a number of blog articles and the following is one he shared last month and we think it is timely for your review.


 


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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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Becoming Great

Becoming Great – Fall Event Thursday Morning Presentation

By John Kennedy

As the dust from The Fall Event settles and the lessons and blessings found in Cincy are applied back home, I thought it important to share the message I delivered on the final day to all of The Garden Center Group members who may not have attended or had to catch a flight home.

Ultimately, the presentation centered around the common threads of excellence found inside of great leaders, athletes, business owners, and garden centers in the world. Three attributes that they all share which place them at the top of their game—the best of the best!

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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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