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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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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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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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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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Tea & the Garden

Tea & the Garden 

by Danny Summers

Just the idea of a simmering hot cup of Tea... in The Garden creates an ideal vision for how to begin the day. Maybe we should pause here for 15-20 minutes, grab a cup of Tea (or coffee), and step out to the Garden (or the most peaceful area of the Garden Center will do). Use the time to relax, breathe deeply, perhaps pray, and think about all the wonderful natural world around us. Then, return to this message when finished...

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Knowledge by Knumbers

Knowledge by Knumbers

by Danny Summers

OK, my spellcheck is not disabled. I wanted to intentionally misspell Numbers in order to grab your attention. If you are reading this now I guess it worked. ;-)

In general, Numbers is a big part of The Group Experience. Just from a "people point of view" when you consider our largest eList, GroupEs, has over 580 people subscribed to share all types of information. That's Numbers.

And at the heart of The Group Experience are two industry-exclusive programs that share Numbers – lots of Numbers. Both the Weekly Department Review (WDR) and the Annual P&L Study compile and share an amazing level of Numbers. By the way, you only have 10 more days before the deadline (February 15) for the 2023 P&L Study reporting. Don't miss your chance to be in the study and gain valuable insight from these Numbers!

Another important Numbers program begins this Friday, February 9th:

The 2024 Financial Basics of Garden Center Retailing Series

This February to October Series is starting its 9th year and believe me... it truly is Knowledge by Knumbers!





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Are You All-In?

Are You All-In?

by Danny Summers

It's only the 3rd week of January but still a busy time of the year with a lot going on. Group Centers are well underway with spring preparations. At the same time, several important programs are getting underway within The Group. The first two are included with your annual retainer.

Weekly Department Review for 2024
While the WDR is now more than 20 years in the making, last year was the very first year it became an online, live system. Group Centers accepted and embraced the new experience by uploading 5,506 weekly reports! That represented an amazing 97.3% reporting rate! The 5,506 uploads created a tremendous amount of data that is now available for comparison in 2024 and beyond. Tim Quebedeaux has been working on formatting the reporting so that the 100% reporting Centers don't even need to include any of their 2023 data this year... we already have it, saving them more time each week. We encourage you to report every week and save time the following year!

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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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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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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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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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What Recession?

What Recession? Why the Tide is Rising for Plants and Landscaping, and What to do about it!

by Sid Raisch

There’s a lot of noise about the economy with a tendency for businesses to join the gloomy predictions - that always follow good times, and often cause gloomy times. It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. There’s also evidence that even better times are ahead. You probably want to know about it.

There are several MAJOR reasons a recession has not begun, even though economists have been predicting one for over a year now.

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The Horticulture Declaration of Poverty - Breaking the Cycle

The Horticulture Declaration of Poverty - Breaking the Cycle

by Sid Raisch

You may not have actually signed a Horticulture Vow of Poverty, but did you sign up for it?

When it comes to the Horticulture Vow of Poverty, some may see it as a joke. But the reality is far from humorous. Sometimes, in the face of tragedy, all we can do is laugh. However, what if there's a way to transform that laughter into a solution?

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The Power of Asking

The Power of Asking

By John Kennedy

A few years ago, a grower client was trying to come up with new ideas to improve and innovate the customer experience within their business model. My suggestion set off a chain reaction of ideas and improvements by the simple (yet somewhat complex) approach—why don’t we ask the customer?

Note: Don’t ask a question if you’re not prepared to hear the answer!

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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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