A Better Facility = Better Marketing

A Better Facility = Better Marketing

by Sid Raisch

Part 1 of a Series with the Theme “A Better _______ = Better Marketing”
  [Go to Part 2 "A Better Merchandise Selection = Better Marketing - HERE]

A Better Facility = Better Marketing - Architectural Word of Mouth

Marketing is an important part of the job of everyone in a company. It’s everything a company and everyone in it does within, outside, around, and beyond. In this series of articles we’ll be discussing how different views of marketing make a huge difference in choosing, taking, and owning our position now and in the future.

Can you recognize a former KFC or Pizza Hut building?

The luster of those iconic brands has faded since their glory days of the 70s when they “owned the market” for their business category.

KFC = Fried Chicken

Pizza Hut = Pizza

When we think of a business we impulsively visualize the physical representation of it in our minds-eye. It’s difficult to shake a distinctively designed architectural past. Even as these companies have evolved, their architecture reflects their past and present into the future.

The street appeal is one piece of the architectural design of a company, and it continues throughout the facility. The parking lot, lobby, bathrooms, main aisles, checkout, and other areas all have the potential to create a memorable positive or negative impact. It’s even more important to create a distinctively designed future today. Without a distinctive facility, the default position in the mind of the people in the area will likely be the first garden center they think of - a box store because everyone knows that The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, Meijer, Fred Meyer, Menard’s, etc. are garden centers. A greenhouse is a distinctive visual descriptor. This is why box stores have greenhouses in front of all of their stores. A greenhouse alone doesn’t create success of course, but it is a beginning.

Win-or-Lose Facility Marketing - by Design:

Getting ALL of the population in our market to know about us is an essential part of owning the market in our business category, and in the product types we sell. Not everyone living in or traveling by our store will become our customer, but if they’re able to tell the others something or better yet – several things that are significant about us, we’ll get more word of mouth marketing benefit from even the most casual of encounters.

Façade - Moving beyond the basic impression of a unique building façade, a landmark sign, and other features contribute to the marketing of the business and become burned into the visualization of the business by anyone in the community. To stand out, go above and beyond to create seasonal word-of-mouth worthy features like extreme landscape plantings, yard art like planted trucks and VWs, straw bale sculptures, and painted murals.

Street Appeal - Looking beyond a building itself, the bigger picture is an expansion of our opportunity to be distinctive. What is grabbing the attention of people driving by your place today? Do the people driving by actually notice our business is there? What has changed? If nothing changes, nothing changes. We all zone out when we drive. We don’t notice what we don’t notice. If nothing has changed since the last time we drove by, we probably don’t notice the business is even there. If we do notice, what do we say if they were to describe it to someone? “It’s the greenhouse with the tow truck planted up with mums”.

McDonald’s 8-Second Rule – I learned this when I owned a company doing landscaping for McDonald’s. We need a minimum of 8 seconds from the time we identify a business to safely turn into the driveway. If we pass by, even with intention of coming back, we may spend our time and money somewhere else before we do. If we don’t pass by we just may cause what would have been an avoidable accident.

Bathrooms – One of our basic biological functions has greater influence on our actions than we might believe. Where do we stop and where don’t we stop when we need to go? Do customers come back after learning the hard way that they need to go to the bathroom before they come? I can tell you that in our family travels we do not stop at Speedway stores because of my wife’s disdain for their consistently dirty bathrooms. It took about three tries many years ago to notice the consistency and they were ruled out forever. In terms of lifetime value of a frequent traveling customer, they have lost a lot of money over the years, and nobody noticed because those numbers don’t show up in any “lost sales” report.

“You HAVE to come see this bathroom NOW!” Go beyond eliminating the grit of a bathroom and make it memorable, and positive word-of-mouth worthy. In terms of ROI invested in this type of marketing, you’ll never buy it for less because it is durable and lasts a long time. A client had no bathroom facilities and relied upon a portable. You could see the disappointment on the customer's face when they asked, and were directed to the portable next to the parking lot. In a turn of events, the owners ordered a new handicap size portable and put it on a paver pad behind a fence for privacy. They decorated it inside and out. The very first day it was open everything changed as customers would return from behind the fence where they’d been directed to find the “bathroom” and call out to their friend, “You’ve got to see THIS bathroom!” We can create an over-the-top positive bathroom word of mouth in about a half day, indoors or portable. I challenge anyone reading this to create their own masterpiece of a Puttin on the Ritz bathroom and send a picture of the before and after transformation. (If you transformed your bathroom pre-pandemic, it’s time to create a memorable makeover.) I started this list of areas to work on with bathrooms because it doesn’t matter how well we do everything else if it is all zeroed out by a negative bathroom experience, and in order of impact for creating a positive experience, nothing else compares.

Parking Lot – Is the entrance clearly identifiable from a distance that allows safe turning? Is it obvious where to drive once off the street, where to park, and how to get back out? Drivers are accustomed to the standard of the parking lots of other places they do business. Does ours reflect their best experiences, or is it the worst? If all you have is gravel at least make sure it is graded, well-drained, and without bumps and puddles. Was anyone a little less impressed with the Terrain store we visited at The Fall Event 2021 after getting back on the buses? We all may be used to the mud, but what if you were their ideal customer?

Entrance/Lobby – Is there a transition that allows the customer to decompress from their crazy busy distracted multi-tasking life into the state of mind we wish them to get into? Does it raise the perceived value of everything we sell before we’re trying to sell it?

Main Aisles – Do aisles guide customers comfortably through all areas and categories of products, allowing space for them and their cart, clean and free of obstructions? Can a person on crutches navigate them?

Checkout – Does the appearance and comfort of the checkout area reinforce the perceived value of everything the customer put in their cart while soothing sticker shock and buyer's remorse?

Let’s Get Real – Hitting Between the Eyes

The most important feature of a facility is one you feel, not see. It’s the CLIMATE – Do customers come back freely on any day, and any time of day, in any weather? Hmm, we’re going to have to really think this one over deeply. The constant question of what can be done to increase business in slow times is not a bad question, it’s the wrong question.

There is a LOT more opportunity to increase traffic in the slower times that lie AMIDST our busiest times in our peak seasons, and at a greater profit than there will ever be in the slow seasons. The fringe times – when the climate is less than perfect are laden with opportunity to deliver sales, and the greatest productivity in terms of incremental margin and profit.

Think of the temperature, sun glare, lack of adequate lighting, wind, RAIN, etc. Chances are that the reason more customers are not coming in slower times has at least something to do with their past experience, even at another garden center. Our incremental ability to deliver a better, more shoppable environment on the fringes of the best weather is a gateway to incrementally greater profit. A reasonable effort to provide protective covering, shade (for customer comfort), and airflow, is necessary to overcome this important and valuable barrier.

Are you still wondering if the decrease in customer transactions this year is due to the economy? Every garden retailer I ask about this with their details in mind admits it was specifically the rainy weather that caused loss of traffic/transactions. Let’s get a clue here and get busy creating more weather-resistant facilities. Before we re-invest any profit in our businesses, let’s be sure we’re investing in healing this critical industry Achilles heel.

A Better Facility = Better Marketing. If our facility isn’t much better, it doesn’t matter how much better our other marketing is. If you want encouragement and useful guidance for improving your facility as a marketing tool (and you do), I can help. Send a text now while you’re thinking about it and I’ll get in touch now (937-302-0423).

Your friend,

Before procrastination or other busyness steals another year from you Text or Call 937-302-0423 or send an email to [email protected] .

Sid Raisch is an advocate for family business leading growth, change, and results throughout US horticulture. Redefining the business future for consumer horticulture by understanding how the end-to-end supply chain needs to be redirected is a skill Sid has honed into an art. He has understanding and insight through inquisitive observations and extensive experience and has served as a trusted advisor helping transform both national and local businesses into more profitable and sustainable businesses. Developing national and international educational programs that create change in culture, community and company provides Sid venues with a front row seat creating effective and innovative business models.

Sid is a Certified Value Builder System Advisor, and currently serves as Chief Strategist and the Swiss Army Knife of Consultants to The Garden Center Group clients. Contact Sid at [email protected] or call or text  937-302-0423.

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

Share this post:

Comments on "A Better Facility = Better Marketing"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment