Tag Archives: Business

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.

Are you ready for a house fire?

     I generally post about plants and flowers and photography. Those are my loves and my life besides my family. However, I am posting today about fire. My mom’s and her husband’s house burned down this past Tuesday. They live about 3 hours from me so I got there the next day. Nothing could have prepared me for  the job ahead of us.  You stand out in the yard and just remember what the house used to look like. The family times inside the house….the memories.

     Stepping inside is like stepping into what I imagine hell must be like. Black soot, the smell of burnt everything, walls missing, what isn’t burnt to a crisp is is drenched. The firemen did their job, they got the fire out but their job is not to keep items dry!

     After spending three days picking through the rooms that were left, I was amazed at some of the things that seemed okay (but stunk) and crushed by those items that were gone.

     I know that come Monday, I’m calling our insurance company to make sure that we have the correct insurance to protect us if we had a fire. I’m also going to buy a firesafe box for those papers that my mom lost but now needs.  You never know if it could happen to you but if you don’t protect yourself before, it’s too last after the house is burned.  Family photos saved on line….worth every dime!

     A lesson we’ve learned from this is that no one is exempt of a disaster. We are thankful that no one was hurt and that my mom was home when the lightning struck or they would have lost their dog. Material things are just that but if you have items you know you wouldn’t want to lose. Know where they are so that when you begin to dig through the rubble….you have an idea where to start looking. Walls, drywall, roofing material, insulation…can all be between you and your beloved items.

     Insurance is a great thing to have and you must have it. Be sure to know your policy, have the numbers you need saved somewhere besides your house. Have a file that has all your important numbers.  A bank safe deposit box is worth the money. I promise you!

I found this from P.Allen Smith and since Easter is coming I thought I’d share! Don’t throw them away this year. If you can’t plant them, share them and this with someone that can.

 It’s interesting how certain plants have become associated with certain holidays—poinsettias for Christmas, roses for Valentine’s Day and lilies for Easter. Now, my poinsettias usually go out with my Christmas decorations, but I always try to find a place for my Easter lilies in my garden. Seems like such a shame to throw them away.

Lilium longiforum is the botanical name for Easter lilies and they don’t actually bloom during Easter. Greenhouse growers pot up the bulbs in fall and force them into bloom for the holiday. In the garden they flower in summer.

You can plant your Easter lilies outdoors after the holiday. Pinch off the faded flowers but don’t cut the foliage. You want to keep it as green and healthy for as long as possible. It’s this foliage that helps re-invigorate the bulb for next year’s flower.Easter Lily After the danger of frost has passed, plant the lily outside. A spot with full to half day sun is ideal, and make sure the soil is very well drained.

Plant the bulbs about 3 inches deep and 12 inches apart. Since my soil is heavy clay, I always add some extra sand for drainage. And then work in some compost before I tuck them in. Water well. Once the original foliage begins to yellow you can cut it back. New growth will emerge and you just might get a bloom too.

Next year you’ll have beautiful, fragrant white lilies to enjoy in the garden and as cut flowers indoors.

Cheap Trees Prices Won’t Last!

A tree nursery using gutters to decrease growi...

Image via Wikipedia

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.

Applicants, Friend or Foe?

     With the spring season comes the HELP WANTED signs and here come the applicants! We get large waves of unemployed coming in the door to fill out applications. Because we are a wholesale nursery and a retail garden center, we get  a wide variety of people coming in the door.

  Some are teenagers looking for work after school and weekends. Some are immigrants, some are the average Joe just out of work and looking for something to do. Some are just so over qualified, you don’t know how they could even be interested! Some are mom’s with extra time and want something “fun” to do. Some are seniors that would like to get out of the house. We get plant lovers, people with no knowledge that the “green side goes up”, ex-factory workers….you get the idea!

   Some funny things happen when people come in to apply. We get those that want to work RIGHT NOW and don’t understand that breathing isn’t the only requirement for the job. Interviews don’t seem to be these people’s forte for when called to come in for just that….they don’t show up at all.

  Then you have people that harass you…they come in everyday, want to talk to the person in charge, want to bully their way in…just so you know….this doesn’t work too well!

 Then the other day, we had this dear gentleman come in. We have on the application a place when they can put a person’s name to contact in case of emergency…he left this spot blank. Then where the line is for that person’s phone number would be he put in “911”.  We all got a chuckle out of that one.

  I think there should be a class offered (and maybe there is) on the right way to conduct yourself when applying for a position. What to wear (and what not to), what to say and communicate on the application, how to follow-up so you’re remembered and not feared…you know the basic stuff!

   Although we have many that apply…with the economy and that we are mostly seasonal…we have to work hard to “put the right people on the bus” and then after they are hired…get them in the right seats! That takes finesse! Wish us luck! The sign is down so we are now sorting through the candidates and we’ll see what happens!  Happy Spring everyone!

Just admit you’re wrong…it happens


This was sent to me by Spring Meadow Nursery and it was so on target…I had to share it! Enjoy!

Being Wrong
No one likes to be wrong.  But if you’re putting anything out into the wider world, not only will you be wrong at some point, but someone will point it out to you.  If, for instance, you write a newsletter or produce a catalog, every bad link and typo (and actual errors) will be noticed and reported back to you. 
And that’s OK.
If you aren’t making mistakes, you’re not trying to move ahead.  And if you’re not trying to move ahead, you’re falling behind.  It’s like introducing new plants; some are good, some are not-so-good.  A great plant might be wrong for your climate, production system or customer base.  But a nursery that doesn’t make an investment in new plants will eventually be holding a nursery stock auction.  Don’t let fear of failure keep you from growing new crops, or you will be behind your competition and stuck with an inventory of plants that no one wants to buy.
Umair Haque takes an even bolder tack in his ‘Fail Bigger Cheaper’ blog post.  He might be a little extreme in some of his statements, but the central premise of budgeting some failure into projects is a good one.  If you absolutely, positively can’t fail, you can’t try anything new.
Now, telling someone they are wrong or that they have failed is another subject.  While accepting correction gracefully is important, giving it graciously is just as essential.  

Right or wrong, be kind to one another.

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!