The Benefit of Community to Grow Your Business-Part 1

The Benefit of Community to Grow Your Business - Part 1

by Danny Summers

COMMUNITY: The idea for this message has been developing in my mind over recent months. As I have talked with Retailers, both inside and outside The Group some observations have come together to support these ideas. I will share these observations in several segments in the coming weeks. Here's Part 1.

Earlier this year I received a call from a veteran garden retailer whom I have known and respected for a number of years. During the conversation, he talked about all the opportunities he had through the many years to meet and interact with fellow retailers at industry events and develop life-long relationships that have helped him be successful. He added that many of those events were no longer in existence today. He went on to tell me one of his sons was coming back into the business and he expressed his concern about how his son would develop business relationships, like he did. He went on to say he sees The Group as one of the very best opportunities today to network with fellow garden retailers, share great level of details, and build connections and relationships that could help his son to be successful.

In the Beginning: In the early days of the new Garden Center's business life, it certainly can be a struggle for the first couple years. But within a few years, they find their footing and begin to see growth, both in overall sales and some profit. Owners and Managers have a number of ideas and it is with those ideas, working through trial and error processes, they begin to see success and plot a course for their business.  Over the next few years, growth can seem to come easier, but over time they tend to run through the ideas that fueled early success and the business begins to hit a plateau.

The Plateau Effect: Once in a more mature level, businesses can experience a plateauing effect. The time it takes to begin to grow again, depends upon how driven the owners and managers are to regain their position of growing their business. The graphic shown here is a hypothetical view of such a position and you can see the early growth (success) years and the flattening out of the success. At the same time we could also project costs to increase during this plateauing period, eating away at the profit after so much effort has been put into building the business.

The Four Walls Syndrome: I have seen this a lot. You have too and if you're a garden retailer, you know it is true.

You spend so much time at your business it is like you have blinders on. You don't have time for thinking about the big picture, big ideas, or learning from outside sources. This is what I call the Four Walls Syndrome. What you know is within the four walls of your business and over time, you tend to run out of those great ideas that fueled your business growth and success and you stagnate.

So What's the Answer? How can you regain the edge you had in the earlier years? How can you reach a higher level, that next level of business development (growth and profitability)? Recently, I saw Meadows Farms use the following graphic in one of their emails to customers showing the average growth rate of Thuja x 'Green Giants' Arborvitae and I realized... this is what we need to see in our centers' sales graphs.

In Part 2, I will share more of my observations but for now, a simple hint to where all of this is leading is in the title of this series itself. You already know the answer. Until then, be thinking about where your business is currently. And more importantly, where do you want to go. Are you driven to grow your business? We'll explore more soon.


Danny Summers, Managing Director & Chief Instigator
The Garden Center Group
North America's Resource for Garden Retailing

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