Music and The Very Independent Garden Center World

Music and The Very Independent Garden Center World

by Robert Hendrickson

"It was easy for me to turn things over to the experts since none of the music I listen to would ever be used for creating a shopping environment at garden centers. Hendrix, Zappa, King Crimson and Miles have their place, but probably not among the petunias. But garden center owners asked me for help in deciding what music to play in their stores. My job has always been to help solve garden center problems. So I did.

During the Spring of 2008 after several meetings with corporate representatives, I commissioned Muzak, the world's leading supplier of music environment to the most successful retail brands in the country, to conduct a study and identify the most suitable play list for garden centers. After visiting a number of centers around the country interviewing garden center owners, employees and customers to develop a shopper profile, they created a custom playlist designed exclusively for garden centers in The Group.

Finally... no more personal opinions from horticulturists on what music should be played in garden centers. We now possessed the perfect music playlist, created by professional sound engineers, so garden center owners and employees could focus on their real jobs.

Representatives then attended The Fall Event in Portland, used the suggested playlist as background music during our lunch and introduced an exclusive program that included discount pricing on equipment, installation and monthly fees. Following The Fall Event, details were mailed to each Group center explaining the program with a contact person specially assigned to handle Group accounts. Our little cadre of companies were now in the same musical orbit as some of the country’s largest retailers. Amazing.

With confidence that this would be a tremendous success (since garden center owners could now trust professionals to decide what music should be played and employees would stop trying to impersonate DJs based on their personal music preferences) I watched as the program slowly imploded. People had their reasons. They always do. I know one center grabbed the package as finishing touches were being made to their new store, but after so many years I've forgotten if there were others. Obviously, there were not enough to make the program sustainable.

After forty years in the industry, experiences like this reminds me just how independent the world of independent garden centers can be. But keep this in mind… garden center customers shop where they believe they’ll find experts to help solve problems beyond their level of knowledge and experience.  Sounds like good advice for all of us.

As far as now offering suggestions on the music garden centers should be playing for customers… I'm afraid on this topic... Elvis has left the building."

Ok… this was written a long time ago by some guy named 'Mean Robert'. The guy who tried to help but often just made people cry as a result. So here’s a few 'Nice Robert' suggestions based on what he remembers from the music debacle …

  1. The music shoppers hear while shopping is support to what shoppers see while shopping.
  2. Don’t let anyone from the company decide what music should be played in the store. They’ll be wrong.
  3. Don’t have a team of people from the company decide what music to play in the store. A team will be even “wronger”.
  4. The correct music is music that is best for shoppers, not what the staff says they want to hear.
  5. There’s a whole can-of-tunes regarding the legality of how music is being played in a retail establishment. Better safe than sorry, so do some research before taking the easy route. Chances are most garden centers are not in compliance.
  6. Go to several of your favorite retailers, the companies you admire and enjoy shopping. Chances are the last time you were there, you didn’t even notice the music being played. That’s a sure sign of success. The right music supports, not distracts. Now listen on purpose. Is this the type of music you feel would fit your shopping environment? Is it similar to the music choices you’re already making? If so… congrats. If not… Danny has an option for you to consider in The Group's contacts at Easy On Hold.

More details HERE.


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Robert Hendrickson
Cell: 443-255-8282

Robert Hendrickson is founder and a service provider for The Garden Center Group and our "guru" for how to best tell your story.

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

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