The Power of Asking

The Power of Asking

By John Kennedy

A few years ago, a grower client was trying to come up with new ideas to improve and innovate the customer experience within their business model. My suggestion set off a chain reaction of ideas and improvements by the simple (yet somewhat complex) approach—why don’t we ask the customer?

Note: Don’t ask a question if you’re not prepared to hear the answer!

We proceeded to build out a customer experience survey that would help the grower determine where they excelled, where they needed to improve, and the most important question hidden within the ten questions---how much (what percentage) of your rooted business do we currently enjoy delivering to you? 

The feedback was invaluable to create a strategic growth plan moving forward, and the ultimate question of the percentage of plants purchased gave the sales team an indication of how much more growth opportunity they had within their client base.

Needless to say, the sales team was surprised that their clients bought far less from them as they thought! Eye-opening insight that never would have come about had they not just asked.

The outcome: An 8% growth in sales across the top four customer levels (remember 10/20/40/20/10 from previous article titled, "Talent Development is All Math in the April edition of GROUPtalk and the May edtion of GroupTalk Live and a profitability increase from 2% to 11% in just under 18 months. Not bad from the Power of Asking.

There’s an old saying—“You can’t fix what you don’t know” and surveys are a quick way to get your finger on the pulse of your customer as well as your employees.  However, there is a complicated science behind asking the questions correctly and then responding to the answers in a timely and appropriate manner.

Doing this incorrectly can cause more trouble than triumph, and that’s why many businesses don’t ask…they are afraid of the answers or not willing to make the investment and effort needed to address the concerns and change the perceptions over time.

As part of my most recent “GroupTalk Live” session, I mentioned the need to measure both the financial success of your garden center business (The WDR) as well as the success of your employee engagement.

In essence, let’s measure both the people and the profits of your retail garden center! And as a bonus, let’s see if there is a direct correlation between a highly engaged workforce and a highly profitable business. I’d sure like to know the answer to that with evidence-based data. I imagine you might as well.

So, with great advisors, research, and a few garden center’s helpful feedback, we have now created exactly that—The Employee Engagement Survey for The Garden Center Group.

Each question is carefully crafted, each section seeks understanding and improvement, and each result is reported in an intuitive dashboard to offer the appropriate insight to accelerate your culture and workplace engagement to new heights. That, in turn, would help you attract and retain top talent by building the culture of continuous improvement.

The  employee responses are tabulated and aggregated to find patterns and spotlight strengths and opportunities to foster an “employer of choice” standing in your community.

Here is a checklist to consider as you contemplate engaging in this new program of workplace engagement, employee attraction, and employee retention.

  1. Look for the lessons within the feedback. Some may be harsh to hear and some may be happy to know, but each of the scores and comments are a voice of an employee who wants to be heard, valued and understood.
  2. Be prepared to respond to your team shortly after the survey is completed to let them know you will be working towards a deeper knowledge and understanding of the feedback and provide a synopsis of the data. Also, a timely response to the changes and improvements that will come from the feedback (within 10-14 days at most…time is of the essence when you ask for feedback. The longer you wait, the more distrust that may be sowed).
  3. Be prepared to build a strategy to address the issues (if any) that can be implemented, tracked and held accountable for success over the next 90 days.
  4. Celebrate the wins when you report the scores and know that any organization is a balance of successes and opportunities for improvement.
  5. Continue to have a cadence of communication every step of the way and provide informal “pulse” meetings to ensure traction and accountability are kept in the forefront (See “Plant Your People” program from last month’s GroupTalk LIVE for sample agendas).
  6. Leverage the wisdom of the crowd within The Garden Center Group to see who else is struggling with the same challenges and what insights and opportunities they offered to improve the company culture. “The strength of the wolf is the pack…the strength of the pack is the wolf!”
  7. Schedule your second survey within six months to determine the level of improvement (or set-backs) and to continue to have the courage and candor to ask and the wisdom and willingness to improve.
  8. This is a process that continues over time and not a “one and done” program. For those with GroupSpace, the survey is now included in your monthly subscription and will be automatically uploaded into your intranet site. The results will be kept in the confidential area of your Manager’s Portal.
  9. It’s suggested that you not participate in this process if you won’t be committed to following the suggested steps above. By not following up or by not addressing the feedback with candor and integrity, it may very well set your team back. However, if done correctly, the traction, satisfaction, and new workplace energy will be well worth the investment of time and treasure!

Investment in Your Team:
The bi-annual survey (six months apart) is $499 for Garden Center Group Members and $799 for Non-Members. Your investment includes a 30-minute consultation with John Kennedy to offer a successful engagement roadmap based on the results of your initial survey.

For additional information, a sample survey to navigate, and to express interest in this new program, CLICK HERE.

Current GroupSpace Members--Your survey can be uploaded to your site and become part of your current monthly subscription plan.  Just reach out to us at [email protected] to let us know if you’re interested.

To sign up for, just follow the link, find the “Home” tab on the left-hand side, and click “Contact Us!”   You will receive the Employee Engagement Survey included in your investment ($499 value) plus an additional $500 credit for being a member of The Garden Center Group!


John Kennedy is Co-Founder of BoomerWrangle, LLC. with his amazing wife, Souny.

BoomerWrangle is the new corporate entity that houses all of their talents & tools to support The Garden Center Group members.

From innovative solutions such as “Your GroupSpace,” customized on-boarding videos,  strategic planning and team engagement,  BoomerWrangle, LLC has become a single-source digital solution & strategic planning agency to maximize employee engagement, organizational excellence, build sales and service cultures, ease of ordering and operational efficiency!

for more information and insights into their growing toolbox of IGC solutions!

[email protected]
[email protected]

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

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