When It Comes To Tracking Sales…

When It Comes To Tracking Sales…
What You Did Last Year Really Doesn’t Matter

by Robert Hendrickson

My doctor said my memory problem was due to two simple facts…

1. I’m getting older, it just happens.
2. The second reason was… uh… I don’t remember what the second reason was.

Ask almost any garden center owner or department manager a question about the past and the typical response will be… “I don’t even remember what I had for breakfast!”

Now you know why I invented the Monthly Department Review.

For some reason, garden center people can immediately recite the sales volume that happened last year, but few have any clue what the sales volume target is for the current month or future months. Inventory levels, staffing levels and marketing decisions should be made based on what’s to come, not what occurred. When a garden center owner starts to say… “We’re up/we’re down x percent compared to last year.”… my quick response is… “Who cares. How are you doing compared to this month/this year goals?” Comparing this year to last year is like driving in reverse while trying to move forward.

Since what happened shouldn’t be a plan for the future, how do you know which route should be taken? By choosing your destination before you begin. That’s where the Monthly Department Review form becomes the map you and your team follow.

Each month each person responsible for a key department like trees, shrubs, perennials, etc fills out the report called The Monthly Department Review. Most garden centers rely on less than six or eight department reports to predict the majority of their total company sales.  It’s a simple form that records the previous month’s sales, comments on what worked well in the department and what is in need of attention. Based on this information, a projected sales goal for the department is established for the same month next year. Twelve reports for each key product department plus estimated sales from any remaining departments when added together, creates both monthly and yearly sales goals for the company. When done properly, everyone in the company knows what’s expected from them in the future so when asked… “How’s sales going?”… they can respond… “Compared to goal, we’re x% ahead/behind.”… which will surprise and really impress whoever asked.

“A garden center owner is only as successful as the talent of the people running the company’s key departments.”

People responsible for the success of a product department are best at knowing what needs to happen in order for them to reach their projected sales goals. Update what worked best, look for new opportunities and fix any problems that need to be fixed. When these three issues are properly addressed, sales goals have a much better chance of actually coming to pass.

Each fall, all Monthly Department Review forms are revisited by the owner and team to set the final monthly department sales goals and year sales goals for each department which become the company sales goal for the coming year. Inventory, staffing, pricing and profit goals follow since none of these are possible without first setting sales goals. Monthly and yearly sales goals also become the basis for setting the marketing budget and plan.

At this point, the owner only has one thing to say to their team…

“Now that you’ve decided where to take your department and the company, I’ll do all I can to help us get there.”

Do that then get out of their way.

It’s never too late to begin using the MDR form. Given we’re only two months into a new year, start now by having the team fill out their reports for January then February. Require all reports to be completed by the 10th of each following month. Save all the copies to use at next year’s planning meeting this fall. You’re now on your way predicting 2021 sales and operations.

A copy of the Monthly Department Review for can be found by in The Group's WebSystem, under POWERtools.


Got questions about the Monthly Depart Review or need more information about your marketing programs?

Give Robert a call or email!
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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