Category Archives: Business

I DARE YOU!

This month I want to dare you to push yourself to be a unique gardener.  What do I mean by this?  I want each of you to make the most of your garden.  It could be adding a new vegetable that you haven’t grown before or adding a tree to your yard that you’ve always admired into your own yard!  Maybe it’s a new ground cover where you’ve always put mulch.  It’s up to you!

We all have an area in the yard, no matter the size where we could add a garden area to enjoy.  Butterflies, hummingbirds, songbirds can all be attracted to your private spaces with just a simple addition of a few flowering perennials or shrubs.  Maybe you want to mow a little less grass and add some more square feet to an existing bed!  The possibilities are endless!

I could list all the plants that I love in the garden but what makes your garden yours is YOUR plant selections and combinations!  There are endless possibilities out there for you to choose from!  You can narrow down your selections by researching them online, you could join a garden club, you could read a gardening book or magazine but my favorite way to pick out the plants that go in my garden are at the garden center!  I like to see for myself what a plant is going to look like!

You are lucky to live in an area that has many garden centers!  Of course you have Gilson Gardens but there is also, Martin’s Nursery, Springlake Nursery, Havel’s, Bluestone, Middle Ridge Gardens, Secor Nursery, Sabo’s Woodside Nursery, Wyatt’s Nursery, Petitti, Gales Garden Center, Woodworth’s and many more!  Look them up and patronize them!  Spend an afternoon and hit several!  Although Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Lowe’s all offer gardening supplies and plants, I highly recommend that you shop your local small business for all your plant needs!  Keep our county alive by shopping where the experts are!  Your local garden centers are employed by some of the most knowledgeable people there are!

Share your love of plants with people that know how to help you!  They will help you find that perfect addition to your garden!  You may find a new passion for plants that you didn’t know you had!  Plants at your local garden centers are most likely grown right here in Lake County!  Can it get any better than that?  You’ll find the right plant for the right place from the best place in America….Lake County Ohio!

Let me know what you are shopping for!  Which spot are you going to add something new?  What color bloom are you looking for?  Go ahead!  Share!

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I received this from a friend that read it online at opennhort.com.  It’s fantastic and should make all independent garden centers think about their customers. Also…to those that shop at the big box stores…remember the lil’ guys out there where you will receive the personal assistance and someone WILL remember your name when you walk in but may not have that big parking lot!

 

You know Her: she’s a great customer. She ADORES plants, devours every issue of Better Homes & Gardens, and spends Her winters pining away for the first signs of spring thaw so she can eagerly attack Her garden plans. She drives the nice-but-not-too-nice car, knows your staff by name, and wouldn’t dream of shopping for Her garden anywhere else.

Um, yeah. There aren’t 10% of Her out there anymore.

NewsFlash: She’s already cheating on you. And if she isn’t, she will.

Honestly? She likes you well enough, but she’s gotten bored with you, the spark just isn’t there anymore. She used to be surprised by something new each time she came in, she was inspired by your lush and lavish displays.

The recession-era you: with paint from two seasons ago, staff reductions, and merchandise constriction, well, you’re a little less alluring.

You’ve become predictable, and not in a good way.

She’s already shopping at Nordstrom for Her shoes but Costco for Her paper towels. She’s smart enough to see the grower’s truck when it stops at the Big Box store on Tuesdays with fresh product, which, golly – looks fairly much the same to Her eye.

She’s using more coupons these days, because austerity is ‘in.’ She’s savvy enough to price shop the essentials online. And even if you’re closer… well, your staff are more harried and distracted than ever, your parking lot is tight, she can’t get to your store after work…

Can you make Her feel special again? Can you give Her the thing she values most – Her TIME – back? Can you delight Her? Make Her life easier? If not, then you’re just 5% better than the other guys – and they’re 20% cheaper.

And she’s smart enough to do the math.

Cheap Trees Prices Won’t Last!

A tree nursery using gutters to decrease growi...

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Why Tree Prices Will Increase –

This was posted by Bold Spring Nursery.  Very interesting information.

    Usually price increases are a sore topic. In our current economic climate, cost cutting has become a way of life as businesses fight to conserve cash and preserve margins. The unwelcome news of a price increase from a supplier is usually the last thing a buyer wants to hear. The ornamental tree business has been no different. Growers have suffered a crushing over-supply of trees which was, in fact, developing 6 -7 years ago, but was masked by the frenetic pace of construction through the middle part of the decade. When the bubble burst in 2007-2008 the demand for trees was reduced dramatically, beyond what few of us have ever witnessed. Since that time, growers, desperate to maintain a market share, have reacted by cutting prices for each of the last 3 years to the point where prices, on some items, have reached 30-year lows.

    Unlike many businesses, tree growers cannot simply downsize their company to a scale that matches their sales. Existing inventory requires upkeep and that costs money. Like everyone else, growers have aggressively cut costs to try to staunch the negative flow of cash. That is a tall order in a world where the costs of raw materials such as burlap, diesel, and plastic have only increased. So, in many cases, fertilizer, pesticides, pruning, and staking have gone by the board. The results of excessive cost cutting are evident in the marketplace this year and many growers are simply not capable of supplying trees of adequate quality.  For most growers, even the cost of culling bad trees is daunting when cash is tight and so the trees sit around, on display in the fields or, in the case of containers, growing increasingly pot-bound.

    The other major area of cost cutting has been a sharp decrease in tree-planting in nurseries. Many cash conscious growers have realized that if they cannot afford to maintain what they have, then there is little point in putting more trees in the ground. As a result, tree planting has declined 70-80% over this period. This reduction occurred progressively: first by about 20% in 2008-2009 and then an additional 30-40% in each of the two following years. This trend has only just begun to become evident, with many smaller-sized trees and evergreens becoming scarce this spring. Over the next two years the breadth of shortages will increase dramatically and progressively, as more gaps appear while the old inventory outgrows the market, becomes ruined from neglect, is sawed down to increase spacing, or grubbed out entirely to prepare fields for re-planting.

    Growers are watching carefully to see which items are selling out and they will raise prices whenever market conditions allow. This is not a matter of greed as much as survival. Most nurseries are just hanging on and absorbing losses, if they are even doing that. We are all watching while prominent nurseries fail, unable to continue in an economic meltdown that was nearly impossible to predict.

    The shock waves from the sub-prime melt-down will continue to be felt, but will soon be felt in different ways. The crash of demand will be followed by a crash in supply caused by a reduction in the number of nurseries that have been willing and able to continue to risk investment in the planting and maintenance of quality inventory these last three years. And just as the construction boom masked the over-supply of trees 5-6 years ago, the construction bust is masking the currently developing shortage. When we experience even a modest resumption in new construction, the shortages will be difficult to manage.

    It is important for businesses to educate their customers for what is coming. There is a special challenge for those who are bidding projects that are further out. There is a shocking gap between the desperate pricing of 2010-11, and the prices of, even, the over-supplied market of 2007. But when scarcities become prevalent, prices will return to their former levels, and eventually go higher still. That market of shortages may be much closer than you realize. Buyers should be prepared for price increases in fall 2011 and very large increases in 2012 and 2013.

The Value of Plants in your Life

The other day I enjoyed listening to a webinar on the value of plants in our      lives.  The experts are working hard on putting a dollar figure to this value…my thoughts is it will be a while before it’s determined.

Plants add value to our homes. A well-landscaped yard will put more dollars in your pocket when it’s time to sell. This has been proven! Never mind the value if you’re not planning to sell but you have to admit that it’s a whole lot nicer hanging out somewhere where they’ve taken the time to add some color and plantings. Think about it, would you prefer to hang in the backyard with your friends surrounded by concrete and wood or flower beds and decks.

Cities are now working on adding green areas to roofs. Green and blue! Gardens, prairies, etc. When it rains, rooftop gardens catch and absorb storm water run-off or at least slows it down. This keeps rain water out of the gutters and hopefully out of the system that will overflow and end up messing with the city drainage! This saves money!

Green roofs and now living walls are being planted to save energy costs. A planted building will keep buildings cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter! Again…saving money!

Hospitals all over the world are using gardens to enhance patient well-being.  How?  It’s been proven that if patients are exposed to gardens, the recovery time is significantly reduced. Wellness centers worldwide are adding herb gardens, flower gardens and water features which in turn the patients and staff are benefiting. Shorter recovery, healthier staff…all equal savings!

So….although there are many more reasons to get a “little green”  in your life, we will all save some green in the process! So get planting and do your part to help the economy recover! Consider planting a vegetable garden if nothing else!

I’m Sorry, Did you say Something?

I attended a presentation last night that a gentleman named Marvin Montgomery gave to our local association. It really made me think about the way I react to people sometimes.

Now my job is to sell, that’s what I do. I sell plants. I am the sales manager. BUT after listening to Marvin….my thinking has been altered a bit. (or a lot!) He says people don’t like to call themselves “salesmen” and I agree. (actually I never had thought about it like that before)  We all know how we cringe inside when we pick up the phone and it’s someone somewhere trying to sell us something and most of us hate it!

“People buy from people they like and trust.” Boy is that ever true! Building relationships….how many times have we heard that when we’re dealing with social media…after all…that’s what we’re all doing out here…we’re building relationships!

LISTEN….one of his biggest suggestions to us was to listen to our customers, listen to our family, listen to our friends…..SHUT UP AND LISTEN!  Think about how many times people are talking to us and we don’t really hear what they say.  You are nodding and portraying all the body language that you’re engaged but are you?  I know I could do a much better job at this!  He said that most of us are just waiting for our turn to talk when were in a conversation with someone instead of really hearing what is being said to us. We’re busy getting ready for “our turn”…very good point! Personally this will be something I really try to improve on, especially with my family and my friends! I think it’s going to take a lot of practice!

Anyways…I just wanted to share what I learned last night and if you ever get a chance to listen to Marvin Montgomery I think you’ll be impressed!  He was just written up in the Cleveland Smart Business magazine (February 2011) and has spoken for the Ohio Landscape Association, Nursery Growers of Lake County Ohio assoc. and many many others!

     Overall, I guess Marvin’s advice is something we’ve heard before but did we really listen and do something about it?  It never hurts to hear how to be a better person, salesmen, friend, spouse, etc. again!

Oh to Twitter or not to Twitter, what is a girl to do?

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 So here I am, day two into our industry’s biggest trade show and I sit here at the end of the day, with the State of the Union going on the TV and finding myself perplexed again. Here is my dilemma….

I have attended three classes and seminars on the social medias out there. After the first two, I was happy to jump into Facebook and try my hand at blogging. (although there never seems to be enough time!) and was glad to know that Twittering isn’t something necessary for someone in wholesale…..well…then I attend a class yesterday and guess what???  NOT!

I was informed, that absolutely, I should be twittering or tweeting or whatever! I really asked the moderator if she was sure! I told her that I didn’t feel that there was anyone out there that could possibly be interested in whatever I had to tweet and what exactly was I supposed to tweet about?

The moderator was very patient with me and said that if I shared, people would follow and that people following would eventually lead to new relationships being built and that from these new relationships, would come new leads and sales some day.

 So…what did I do? I came back to the hotel room and set up a twitter account! Now…my issue, is what to twitter about! I would definately say, that more seminars will be in my future and I ask for your help!

As a sales manager of a wholesale nursery in Perry, Ohio, what do you want to hear from me?  What’s new? What trends are out there? How do I plant a rain garden? Can you picture me scratching my head cause that’s what I’m doing! I so want to be the “someone” you turn to for information that you’re interested in and yes, I want to build relationships with anyone interested in gardening, birds, landscaping, perennials….but I don’t want to be that person that just rambles to ramble so give me your ideas! Bring em on!

   I love plants, I love people and the people that love me….they say I know my stuff and that I really love to share ideas so please…join me!

Face to Face isnt’ Dead!

In the nursery industry, January kicks off the trade show season. MANTS is just ending, Mid Am is next and CENTS is at the end of the month. Those are the big three that start the year.

  Although booth space is not inexpensive and the time it takes for travel,  set-up, man, and take-down the booth is great….the time you get with your customers face-to-face….is priceless!

  Back when I first starting attending the trade shows, the floors were a buzz with people taking orders, and deals being made. At night it was all about who could stay out the latest and how many clients you could entertain.

With the times, things have changed. Companies send less representatives, the customers being wined and dined are in smaller groups, many of us are older and out not nearly as late as we used to be. Money is tight and budgets are tighter, salespeople are traveling together.  We’re all being smarter about where our money goes but with that being said….

We are all still there. Year in and year out the nurseries are setting up, putting their best foot forward, forcing plants to be green and blooming in the dead of winter to show our plants to garden centers and landscapers who will be looking for what we sell in the spring. Our key people (many times the owners themselves!) are in their booths, shaking hands, talking about the industry, commiserating over the economy and sharing ideas to get to the other side! This industry shares like I’ve never seen elsewhere. The nurseries come together…we refer customers to each other, we ship together, we share solutions to problems, we even advertise together when possible. (I am so proud to be a part of an industry that works together like a giant team!) 

But the true spirit of the nursery is the customer….for without the customer….well…you know what would happen. Customers become important to you. You work with them each year, selling them what they need and learning who they are and about their families and what’s important to them. You make these “friends” and you miss them during the winter when the phones are quiet! That’s what the trade shows are all about! Bringing people together, to TALK to each other without email or cell phones…just an honest to God conversation! There is no better way to connect with your customers on a cold winter day! Personally, I can’t wait to get this next spring season underway! Hope to see you at the trade shows!