The Heart is a Muscle!

The Heart is a Muscle!

by John Kennedy

As we kick off the new year with high hopes of projected profits along with extra expectations of customer counts, I thought it important to bring out an oldie but goodie.

A few years back, I wrote and presented to The Garden Center Group about a healthy business being equivalent to a healthy body. The similarities are easy to see and the approach is easy to execute.

When we go to the doctor’s office for our annual check-up (or unfortunately when we are sick), there are a few Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or body metrics that they measure---Blood Pressure, Height/Weight, Temperature, Pulse and BMI (Body Mass Index). These provide a window into your current condition and are usually compared to your last visit.

In my previous writing, I equated your blood pressure to be your sales/labor ratio, your weight to your inventory, and your BMI to your profitability. The Big Three KPI’s to focus on in any successful Garden Center. Of course, the WDR provides a deeper dive (Blood Test) into categories with comparisons to colleagues across North America, and can shed light upon what’s working or what’s not, trends, impact of weather, and number of transactions based on region…in essence, everything you would need to know about your business’s health can be found in the WDR.


As some of you may know or may have heard, on December 6th, I underwent open-heart surgery to improve my blood flow through my heart. It is a genetic condition known as Hypertrophic Obstructive Cardiomyopathy (HOCM) and is caused by my heart muscle (Septum) thickening to the degree in which it constricts blood flow out of my left ventricle. For the most part, you would have never known…your knowledge of my condition was limited to seeing me present at conferences, working with your teams, or on Zoom calls…not walking up a flight of stairs, traveling through airports, or at the gym exercising.

Over the past four years, my condition worsened to the point in which surgery was the best option, and I am happy to report I am recovering well (Souny has been amazing) and look forward to getting back into the game in Ft. Lauderdale for TPIE.

Thank you so very much to the wonderful folks who sent healing vibes, prayers and love…we appreciate you more than you will ever know!!

My reason for sharing this is two-fold. One was the level of care we received at the Mayo Clinic and two…I am convinced that your team is the heart of your business.

Mayo—We cannot say enough about the level of care and concern shown by each and every member of the fantastic team at The Mayo Clinic. To a person, they cared for us both as if we were the only patient they had, showed empathy to total strangers who were at their most vulnerable, and gave us hope that kindness and compassion can always be part of any patient/customer experience. We were overwhelmed with the experience and owe a debt of gratitude to each and every “angel in real-time” we met in Minnesota.

Your Team—As noted above, there are many KPI’s or healthy metrics to compare your business to yourself and/or others, and as the Garden Center Group, we focus on the numbers, as we should. However, after my experience with the Mayo Clinic, I believe the true heart of your Garden Center are your employees…your team.

And like any muscle, you must invest time and energy to make it strong.

Having your team collectively focusing on the customer experience, finding them doing things right, training and educating daily about plants, people, processes and products, celebrating the wins, learning from the misses, creating core values, fostering a culture of “yes,” and finally, being willing to not accept mediocrity and below-average effort are vital to the growth of your team…your heart!

Thirty minutes of team exercises throughout the day wouldn’t hurt either. Huddle in the morning (5 minutes), Mini-Games updates throughout the day (5 minutes), and 2 minutes per team member to let them know how they’re doing (30 minutes) can become your “Cadence of Communication” to strengthen your heart! Make it a New Year’s resolution!

The Heart is a Muscle---30 Minutes of “Cardio”

Again, at Mayo, to a person--the evening tech that took way too many blood tests, the woman who wheeled me out, the dozens of doctors and nurses, and even the pharmacy guy at the very end, all of them were focused on patient care with compassion and kindness…they indeed are the heart of Mayo.


So, the question becomes, “How do we build the very best team possible to deliver the very best experience for our customers on a consistent basis?”

And the answer is—Leadership, Teamwork, Culture and Communication. Place these four first and the numbers will follow…I promise.

I will end with my favorite band-- Gang of Youths, and a great song that ties this all together: “The Heart is a Muscle!”…And I want to make it strong!!

Strengthen the heart of your business and stay healthy and happy in 2024!

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]
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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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