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Nursery Profile: Troy’s Landscape Supply

Utilizing the latest high-tech tools sets Troy’s Landscape Supply apart from their competition

In 2001, Troy’s Landscape Supply had the opportunity to move from a 4 acre location they leased, and purchase and build a new facility on a 25 acre nursery. The larger operation meant more plant lines to sell, more different product sizes and multiple price skews for the cashiers to try and keep straight. That’s no problem if labels don’t fall out of the pots or they are not removed by customers, which we know to be inevitable.

During the first spring season, owner Troy Miller saw check out lines that were out the door and almost reaching the parking lot. While on one hand this meant that they were busy, he also knew a long wait line is a recipe for disaster, and some customers will simply walk away.

Miller began a search for a scan based system. Keeping their rule of “customers first” in mind, he shied away from handheld systems, which simply produced a slip that consumers would have to take inside to the registers to check out. After looking at several options, they chose a system from SBI Software. Their new handheld system allowed Troy’s to check out the customer anywhere on the property as they included a credit card machine and receipt printer on their belt.

Miller started out with three registers and six handhelds, and now he runs three registers and 15 handhelds. Sales are five times the amount of when he first incorporated this technology into his store. Aaron Allison, SBI Software Partner, says that Troy’s has harnessed the power of the handheld like no retail customer he has. “Retailers can’t always physically increase the size of their parking lot to help with turnover, but utilizing handhelds in essence can,” Allison says.

What differentiates you from your competitors? 
Despite technology playing a key role in their garden center’s success, customer service is still “king” at Troy’s. It is their customer service that makes them stand out from their competitors. Troy’s actually has about a dozen other garden centers in its general area that would be considered competition. But employees’ positive attitudes and willingness to go the extra mile for their customers is what sets them far apart from any and all of them.

How do you reward your best-performing workers?
In the green industry you’ve got to “make hay while the sun shines,” so time off, let alone a day off on the weekend, is rare at garden centers. However, this is actually the norm at Troy’s. Their best-performing employees are rewarded with flexible hours, free product, and bonus family time, even on busy weekends during peak season. Nothing is formal, but paying attention and noticing who is doing exceptional and rewarding them goes a long way.

While it may seem simplistic, Miller thinks a good old-fashioned pat on the back or even a wink or nodding sign of approval does wonders to keep employees happy and motivated to do a great job. He says owners, managers, and other employees all work very closely together and see each other day in and day out, which keeps them from having a disconnect like many other businesses do.

What training or continuing education opportunities do you offer your employees? 
Troy’s obviously prides itself on its customer service. Part of that service is providing a professional knowledge base, so Troy’s invests in continuing education for their employees. Their staff never stops learning. Between trade shows and seminars, the winters are packed full of opportunities for self-improvement. However, most of Troy’s sales people will tell you that they learn something new every day from customers and their co-workers.

What has been the most effective marketing tool for you? What are you doing to reach younger generations? 
For more than twenty years, Troy’s most successful marketing strategy has been word of mouth. It is free, honest and natural, and it works better for them than any other form of advertisement. Word of mouth marketing has no demographics or age barriers, and they think they have a healthy customer base of all ages.

To keep all of these different groups satisfied, they all have to be treated differently. A twenty-five-year-old new home owner is not looking for the same service as a seventy-five-year-old person. They must be treated in a different manner to keep both happy, even if they are looking to purchase the same product. Knowing your customers and treating them accordingly is the best marketing that can be done for any age group.

What do you do to gain repeat customers?
Troy’s firmly believes that treating each customer the way they need to be treated and selling them quality products at fair prices will always make a repeat customer — always.

 Originally published in Garden Center Magazine, April 2013 IGC Profile

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