Finger on the Pulse!

Finger on the Pulse!

by Danny Summers

This is a very important function of managing your Garden Center today. One of the major benefits of Group participation was most evident in the spring of last year. I remember it very well, just like it was yesterday.

It was Monday, March 23rd, the beginning of Week 13 and that was when we saw the first of our centers being forced to close due to state mandates. Fortunately that Center was in the middle part of the country where spring had not really began yet. Over the next few weeks, most all centers began to deal with new issues, whether business restrictions, new safety protocols and of course staffing issues.  Many Centers had to quickly assess their position with large portions of in-bound orders scheduled for delivery and how they would be able to serve their customers in the coming weeks. In addition, they were wondering what the reaction to stay-at-home orders would be in the minds of the customer. One very important Group connection point was the ability for Centers in the middle to northern portions of the country to watch what was happening down south. Let's look at a few figures from the Weekly Department Review (WDR) from a few of those weeks.

The WDR for Week 12 (March 16-23) where approximately 65% of our Centers were open and reporting, showed an early season YTD sales gain of +40.5%. It was the result of the combination of increases from of 2/3rd transaction counts and 1/3rd average sale.

By Week 18 (April 27-May 3) more centers were opening while most all were shortening their hours of operation. That week the WDR showed the total YTD sales gain had slipped to +17.6% with almost all of this coming from average sale gains and transaction counts sliding. This was when many Centers were only open for curbside pickup or delivery or appointment-only service.

Let's jump ahead to Week 22 (May 25-May 31) when we see the results of more Centers regaining their footing for more open-for-business operations, even with many protocols in place and still limited hours and reduced staff. By the end of May YTD Sales gains was now reporting +28.8% over 2019, and with an almost even split between average sale and transaction counts.

By Week 26 (June 22-28) we were at the mid-way point of the year and seeing a rebound of earlier gains as YTD sales was reported at +29.2% that week and by then transaction counts had overtaken average sale levels in their gains. The question on everyone's mind... Could we hang onto the YTD gains the balance of the year?

Where would we end the Year? If your Center was reporting in the WDR, you know "the rest of the story." The Group finished the 2020 year even ahead of the Week 26 numbers. An interesting observation is the year ended with gains resulting from almost the same combination of average sale and transaction counts as we were seeing back in Week 12... 2/3rd transaction counts increases and 1/3rd average sale increases.

So how does this help us in 2021? As I write this for you (last Friday) we have just received the Week 6 WDR for 2021, and we are considerably ahead of the YTD Sales percentages we saw in Week 12 last year. And, at this point those gains are about 70% in transaction counts and 30% in average sales. It is still very early, but every week can help us in watching and assessing the season and year to come. All that I have shown you here leads us to the most important point...

Finger on the Pulse! There is no doubt that to be most effective you must have your finger on the pulse of your Center's performance every day. But your business is not an island and being connected to Centers in The Group through our many systems and programs helps you leap forward and also can help make your job easier.

  • Your participation weekly in the WDR and the Annual P&L Study is a very important part of maximizing your business success.
  • Seeing what other Centers are doing each week can help drive your decisions and build your Center's success in this season, this year and beyond.
  • Reporting can also make your job easier by making the right decisions the first time!

I know I am "preaching to the choir" here but as I step off my soapbox I just want to encourage you to be sure to participate in the WDR every week you are open. Make sure Tim Quebedeaux knows your open weeks so he can anticipate your incoming reports. Talk to him about how to speed up the reporting process with your systems in mind in order to make it easier to report. Consider delegating the reporting to a key staff member. The more you report, the more you see what everyone else is experiencing... and your finger will be on a bigger pulse!

What will we see in this year's numbers when we get to Week 12, 18, 22, or even 26? So far, our finger on the pulse indicates we should be expecting a repeat in 2020 as you continue to help more of your community find the joys of gardening.

Here's to a Successful 2021 - we are excited to be here with you!

Sharing is at the heart of The Group and your ideas are very important. Are you and your staff all subscribed to our eLists such as GroupEs, Retail-Grower, Retail-Landscape, Owners-Only, and a number of others? Need help subscribing? Let me know as I can show you how you can sign up.

Thanks for sharing!

Danny Summers
[email protected]
Tel: 678-909-7770
Cell: 678-761-7145

REMEMBER: Your interaction (by phone and email) with Group Service Providers such as Steve Bailey, Tim Quebedeaux, Sid Raisch, Robert Hendrickson, John Kennedy, Jean Seawright, and of course Danny Summers are included in your retainer!

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