Be on the lookout for inspiration, positive changes for your business in 2015.

 It’s the most wonderful time of the year – the holidays!
While I don’t look forward to the cold weather and snow, I do so love getting together with family, shopping, baking, cooking and experiencing those once-a-year traditions mixed amongst a little time off. It’s all part of relaxing and getting refreshed just in time for the winter trade show season.

As the year comes to a close it is also a time of reflection personally and most definitely professionally.
It’s time to take stock of what worked well and what we need to do better or differently in our businesses, set new goals and create a plan to bring them to fruition. As 2014 comes to an end, I’ve had a few experiences which have left me contemplating aspects of my own business model and tweaking my plan for 2015. It all stems from a recent trip to the Netherlands and Scotland.

tip jardecemberMy time in the Netherlands was spent with UpShoot’s new plant introduction European partner, Peter van Rijssen of Plantipp/Concept Plants. Together we spent several days visiting breeder partners across the country. It was interesting to see how much is similar in nursery production in our countries, yet how much is different, too. One of the most enlightening stops was our visit to Tuincentrum De Bosrand, an independent garden center.

While I detail my time at this IGC in the November/December issue of Garden Center magazine (Nursery Management’s sister publication), here are a few key highlights for you to ponder:

This store was busy with a capital ‘B’ on a weekday! 
Even with no special events or blockbuster sales happening. The outside plant displays were clean, fresh, full and inviting, even at the end of October. Holiday products and indoor plants displays were interspersed throughout the entire inside of the store.

So why are any of these things of interest to a wholesale grower? Here is what they made me think of:

#1 If you’re selling to IGCs, you’re likely on the road visiting your retail customers.
Are you taking photos of great displays and sharing them? If they’re inspirational to the consumer, then they are an opportunity for you to inspire your IGCs to duplicate them at their store. You have the ability to help your retailers become better merchandisers and marketers.

#2 Do your retailers have impulse plant displays throughout their store? Or are the greenhouse plants in the greenhouse, outdoor plants outside, etc?
Help be an instrument of change for your customer. Anyone who shops big-box stores, in particular during the holidays, knows they do impulse right by having racks by the registers. Why not be like De Bosrand and have semi-permanent plant displays throughout the store to encourage impulse buys and reinforce that plants are the backbone of the business.

#3 When I ran my family’s garden center, I depended on my vendors to help write orders.
By that I mean I expected them to point me in the direction of the best sellers, what was new, and what type of items appealed to my specific clientele profile. Their insight made ordering not only faster and easier, it also created opportunities for potential reorders for them, if they hit the nail on the head.

Are you walking into that store with the intent of getting a sale that day or treating them in such a way that the door remains open for you to get repeat sales? Are you trying to get one big sale which may be too big — product sits and has to be reduced to sell — or are you opting to promote smaller, more frequent sales that still create a full display, but will sell out and be space for you to fill once again?

If it’s the latter, you need to be on your game so as to know when they are ready for the next order.

Are you an order taker or an order getter/keeper?
I know which one I’d rather be and which one I think will be more successful and around for the long haul well beyond 2015.

Maria ZampiniMaria Zampini is president of Upshoot LLC and Director of Plant Development and Ornamental Program Manager for the HGTV HOME Plant Collection.

 December 9, 2014 | Written for Nursery Management Magazine


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