The Fall Event 2018 TableTalks




The Fall Event 2018 TableTalks


You've told us that some of the most meaningful and productive experiences at The Fall Event are a result of the time you spend getting to know and learning from your peers. So at The Fall Event 2018 we introduced a new format with each session beginning with a speaker presentation, followed by peer-to-peer (P2P) TableTalks and concluding with discussion and Q&A with the speaker. We also had a bulletin board to post Topics of Interest to determine topics for TableTalks during lunch on Tuesday. This resulted in some very interesting topics and dialog. Below you will find a list of the topics and a summary of the discussions.

Table 1 – Hiring Management
Not yet reported

Table 2 – Online Sales:  Do We Dive In? Strategies?
Reported by Bill Calkins

Check out Facebook Marketplace.
Good tactic is order online, pick up in store.
Male shopping is up.
Restaurant apps/ordering drove online sales/engagement tipping point.
GC online sales started with gift cards, moved to mulch and then to plant.
Questions:  Can a GC work through eBay/Amazon? Can the GCG offer online sales resources to members?

Check out what the Garden Corner is doing with online sales - hanging baskets and perennials.
Start by listing your top 20 SKUs for sale online.
Occasion-based online sales.
How about a FTD/cut flower type service for Garden Centers? Sort of like Bower & Branch.
Even online, the EXPERIENCE is crucial.

Table 3 – Eliminating Product Lines:  What and When?
Reported by Beth Simpson, Rolling Green Nursery

Eliminating or reduce skus: b&b trees, fairy garden accoutrements, reducing hydrangea cultivars, irrigation parts, books, scarves, Christmas nonplant

Add or Keep:  Chimes: Woodstock, music of the spheres, Tillandsias, birdfeeders, hats, t -shirts, seeds- keep all seasons in stock, mosquito sprays at register, honey, new: Buddha boards.

Table 4 – Ricochet & Bounceback Marketing
Reported by Todd Brockshus, Del’s Garden Center

Sentex was being used by Del’s Garden Center. Sentex is a text messaging service used by Del’s where they were sending promotion info; freebee coupons; and discount info on a text messaging service. The difficulty is getting current customers to opt in. $5 birthday gift certificates are sent by text to members on their birthday. Randomly a monthly gift card is given away to Sentex members. Some promos like a free 2” cactus have been good draws with the text messaging. Del’s calls their program their “lettuce group” (let us keep in contact with you by text messaging). They have been sending texts one to two times a month at most.

The group at this table thought that 80% of content should be informational and 20% be promotional when using e-marketing or social media.

Bob Neygen was mentioned as a great source for Ricochet or bounce back marketing. The group suggested switching to plastic gift cards and away from paper coupons which were viewed negatively.

Bailey Nursery offers a service on their three brands:  Easy Elegance; First Editions and Endless Summer. Sign up info is found on plant tags & labels on their branded products that provide monthly care tips. They have noticed their opt out rates shrink compared to newsletters and getting your employees to sign up for the Bailey Care Tips can make employees better sales persons. For example “how to keep hydrangea blue”.

The thought that people are looking for content and knowledge first and product second was discussed.

Del’s Garden Center used wooden nickels as a bounce back last fall and had good results even though April was all winter and no spring. Wooden nickels can be purchased online for $140 to $180 per thousand or less. The Del’s promo was a wooden nickel with the bounceback “Free Stargazer Lily Bulb” was on one side of the nickel and Del’s Company Logo on the other side. Wooden nickel redemption was several times higher than paper coupons plus the “top of mind awareness” as someone looked at a wooden nickel with your company name on the bedroom dresser or in the hand bag was a good thing. The first time Del’s did this promo in the 80s about 3,000 nickels were returned.

Google does retargeting or marketing and can even create ads for you based on searches in your area. Stores can cap their spending on websites and eliminate spending on websites considered to be in poor taste eg. porn websites.

One of the members at our lunch table discussion did a pumpkin smash after Halloween. Bring back your pumpkin on the weekend after Halloween and they raise you up in a lull or similar piece of equipment. An employee helps the child or adult smash a pumpkin from above. Safety is most important. Unsold pumpkins are also smashed. Great fun.

Customer rewards programs were also discussed. Most agree that a customer rewards program should be targeted to slower months like July or August. Other stores were doing quarterly opportunities to redeem bonus bucks or other rewards.

Steve Kendall of The Design Works informed me Thursday that a rewards program should not be looked at as a “gift” back to a customer or a “thank you” but as ricochet marketing or bounce back marketing. Your store is drawing back existing customers who may have only one contact with your store annually who become customers who make repeat visits. I had not thought of a rewards program with that thought in mind.

Table 5 – Balancing Payroll and Customer Service
Reported by Miles Hunter, Hunters Garden Centre

Either work with fewer employees or sell more or increase prices
Employees work 4 days a week 10 hours a day
Pay bonuses based on meeting goals for sales, margin, and labor goals
Offer benefits to full time employees
More signage, be consistent, they are silent sellers
Simpler displays that take less time to make or change

Table 6 – Over Ordering -vs- Not Having What They Want
Not yet reported

Table 7 – Setting Priorities for Spring
Not yet reported

Table 8 – Decreasing Transactions:  Reversing the Trend

A New Digital Sign at Faddegon's Nursery
Joan Graves of Faddegon's Nursery reported the following:

"I have some concern that others will think the digital sign is magic!  It has worked for us because located on a busy 30,000 car a day highway.

We had 3 quotes for our sign; $30,000, $50,000, and $60,000. We chose the $50,000 option. Maybe our price was higher because we ended up having both a back lit stationary sign with our logo and the digital sign attached to that. I’ve attached a pictures of what we did. The digital part is 3’ x 9’. We could have had it 4’x9’ for $2,000 more. I got cold feet and cut it down to save money. It was a mistake! We really could have used that extra space!
The 30K estimate was from a small business that was importing digital signs direct from China. He had been selling his signs to many of the local fire departments here. The option we chose was a Watch Fire digital sign. Watch Fire seems to be the best regarded brand here in the Northeast. The Watch Fire vendor brought a van with digital panels hooked up on the sides. He parked it in the full sun with a picture of a red rose displayed on the sign. That sold us. The colors of that image were outstanding!! Our sign location is east-west facing and sunlight can really dim images. If you go to view a digital sign – make sure you look at it in the sun!

To see photos of Before and After CLICK HERE.
The other huuuuuge difference was the software. Watch Fire Company can access our sign online if there is a problem. You can create and upload images from anywhere on your phone. The issues I have had are: 1: The color pallet is large – but I wish there was still more colors available for text. 2. It was a surprise to see how short your message must be to stay readable. 6 – 8 words is really all you have. 3. I wish there was a better interface between Photo Shop and Watch Fire. The problem is probably made worse by the 3’x9’ size we chose. Photo transfer might have been easier if the digital screen wasn’t so short and wide. All of these challenges would be impossible to manage with the no name software offered by the lowest bidder.
The third vendor came in with a price of $10k more for almost the exact same sign. We discovered that Watch Fire Company sells digital signs to local sign vendors at a price determined by how many Watch Fire signs that vendor sells. Vendors who sell lots of Watch Fire Signs will charge you less than a vendor who only sells a few.
That’s all I have! Hope it helps!"
Joan Graves
[email protected]
Faddegon's Nursery, Inc.
Plant, Grow, Thrive


Table 9 – Increasing Customer Count Through Marketing
Not yet reported

Table 10 – Winter Income in Cold Weather Climates
Not yet reported


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