How Did They Do That - Details from the 2016 P&L Study

How Did They Do That? - Details from the 2016 P&L Study

by Danny Summers

As all of the Group Clients who participated in the Annual P&L Study for 2016 have received their own reports, Steve Bailey has shared some details for total Group results. One thing that stood out was Transaction Counts with the Best Practices/High Achievers (+4% when the Total Group was -1%).

So, under the heading of..."How Did They Do That?"... we have asked the question. You will be very interested in some of the answers they have shared.

Here's a few details of great interest:

Item Total Group

 Best Practices/High Achievers

Total Sales 2016 vs 2015  +1.9%  +4.9%
 Average Sale  $58.14  $60.28
 Transaction Count +/-  -1%  +4%
 Items per Transaction  5.8  7.0







You Increased Transaction Counts in 2016 - Tell us how you did it!

Buchanan's Native Plants, Houston, TX: 

Our transaction count (TC) for 2016 was up by about 12% however, if we compare 2016 to 2014 we are only up by 6%. 2015 for us was a very hard year with the weather. Being located in the Heights of Houston is a big part of the increase. Our area is still growing and with no sign of slowing down. A good problem to have I guess! A better indicator for us that we use is AVG sale. So far this year, 2017, we are at $73.36 compared to $68.09 last year for the same period. We will use both indicators for inventory control as well as planning for the next buying cycle.. For example if we are running at a 15% overall increase we will adjust our purchases to match the increases we are getting. Now this is not a perfect system however, when we are on the up side of the bell curve we might go to a 20% increase and on the down side of the curve we might use a 10% increase. It depends on weather and season. Our goal is always to protect inventory as well as making sure we have enough inventory to cover. Just one more thought on the subject. We will use all of what we call 'control levers', avg sale, Margins,TC etc, in all time frames of the season. The main issue we have is uncontrolled growth, seems like a great problem to have and it is however, it is still a problem that we will deal with in all areas of the company. Supply chain to sales people all feel it. So it is very important to us that we use all the data we have to make the season successful and make sure the new customers we get continue to come back and have a great shopping experience while they are here. That way out TC will continue to grow.It's always fun!

Kevin Barry
General Manager / Buchanan's Native Plants


Plants for All Seasons, Houston, TX:

As is Kevin, we are also in Houston and suffered through a very wet Spring 2015 and a fairly wet Spring 2016. Our transaction count was only up 10% at the end of May '16  with what many here consider the end of our Spring sales. We ended up the year with a strong 17% transaction increase because of an unusually strong August, September and October which was caused by a severe infestation of sod web worms. We were able to capitalize on that fully by doing live Facebook videos which caught the attention of news stations, garden clubs and homeowners associations which brought many new faces in from all over Houston to buy insecticides. Average sale for that infestation was way below our average but transaction count and margin dollars were way up.

Victor Flaherty
Owner-Plants For All Seasons


Waldoch Farm, Lino Lakes, MN

It's great to be in the increased transaction counts group - Good work teams! After talking about this with my brother, we conceived that our transaction increase was probably due to growth in the fall, and not due to our efforts in the spring. Our business has been growing our Fall Fun department, which has experienced department growth in the 40%s for 2016.  We completed our six year of running a corn maze in conjunction with our pumpkin patch.  We looked at our numbers from the midyear report and confirmed our thought; transaction counts were down 1% from 2015 at the June 30th mark.  By end of 2016 we gained on the 2015 transactions and had surpassed those numbers by 18%. This growth is then directly related to our efforts in growing our Fall Fun; Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze in September and October.  

Andrew Joyer
Waldoch Farm


Four Seasons Nursery, Central Point, OR
I feel our increase in transaction count was due to a very early and long spring.  The weather has played a huge part this year as well but the other direction.  Wet and cool, our transaction count is way down.  I think this year will be more indicative of a normal year.  Sales last year rose early and stayed high for a long time.  Our Mother’s Day was pretty blah because people had already made their purchases.  This year I think our Mother’s Day will be quite high.  I hope…
Tim Elbert
Owner - Four Seasons Nursery


Gill Landscape Nursery, Corpus Christi, TX
OK - I have a success story! We bought property out in the country in 1980 and built our retail garden center and landscape construction business, sitting on about 4 acres. Our neighbors were horses and cattle and roosters. Because we were so far out from the heart of Corpus Christi, we opened a small satellite garden center in 1987 in the center of Corpus on 1/2 acre. It was originally a gas station/convenience store we converted with little expense. We rented that space for 29 years and were very successful there. Our Corpus Christi neighbors loved that little store and it sold more and made more money than our main store in the 90's.
As the town grew, folks moved closer and closer to our original store on Airline Road. So, in August of 2016, we closed our little garden center and moved our entire team out to our main store, gambling that folks in town, so happy with Gill's over the years, would make the drive out. And it worked. Our traffic at our main store is up 34% or 6400 customers since closing  our satellite store 7 months ago.
I will say, the minute we decided to close our smaller store, we immediately went to work on our main store, adding shade & parking, painting and just generally spiffing up. That guaranteed our loyal customers from the inner city would be pleasantly surprised to visit a much larger garden center with much more to select from.
Robert Hendrickson and Steve Bailey talked us through some of our challenges and concerns as we made the change, and we are thankful to them. All in all, it was good for our company and definitely good for our balance sheet!
Sally Gill
Vice President - Gill Landscape Nursery

A special THANK YOU to everyone who shared their experience for increasing their transaction counts last year. Sharing is at the heart of The Garden Center Group!


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