Fall Is for Planning! Put those IGC Ideas into Action

By: Clint Albin

From: Garden Chic, Best of Show Issue, 2012

 
Fall Is for Planning! Put those IGC Ideas into Action

Fall isnít just for planting - itís for planning! Garden centers too often wait until winter to plan for the following spring and beyond. Start now making your sales, marketing, merchandising and operational plans for 2013, while all of the information you gained at the IGC 2012 last month is fresh on your mind. When you start your planning now, youíll have more time to create an achievable timeline to success that doesnít get in the way of selling in the spring.

IGC Inspirations
Hereís just a sampling of what we learned at the IGC Show this year. Keep these tips in mind while planning ahead:

Remember what Rick Bayless talked about in his keynote - there is a way to expand and grow your business to existing and new customers by logical brand extension. In his case, he took the ingredients and recipes that he served to customers in his restaurant and created packaged items sold in the aisles in Whole Foods Markets. In the case of your garden center, take a group of individual items and make a package. Dominating your marketplace in planted containers is something you can do differently than anyone else - it  just requires focus and planning.

Remember what Judy Sharpton told you about cause marketing in her IGC Know2Grow Retail Conference session. If you donít know about America in Bloom, contact the program to find out how your town can be involved. If you havenít looked into Pink Days, the breast cancer awareness program centered around Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea, contact Proven Winners to see what other garden centers are doing. Any size garden center with any customer demographic can make this a successful program that benefits the community - and the bottom line.

Kyle Lacyís panel discussion on how garden centers are using social media made it clear - if you arenít using social media, youíre dead. Master all forms of social media now! If you havenít connected to where 80 percent of your customer base is, youíve lost.

Robert Hendricksonís session on finances with Steve Bailey drilled the idea that businesses use real numbers to make real business decisions. In the duoís work with garden centers around the country, they have a baseline for comparisons of what looks great, good and not-so-good. If you havenít talked to Steve, get in touch, because your planning could be enhanced if you have a baseline to give guidance to your buying, marketing and operations staff.

How could we forget the bus tour visit to The Gardens at Ball Horticultural? The photos of those mixed containers - you liked them enough to take their picture, now like them enough to show them to the person in charge of your mixed container selection. Incorporate some of Ballís ideas into your own container gardening weekend next April.

What a great idea for Blumen Gardens to have an event space to hold receptions and special events! Do you have an event space like their Tea Room? If youíve never researched the events market, this fall is the time to determine if your town needs another venue - it could be your garden center!

Vertical and living walls - need I say more? You saw them at The Gardens at Ball and in different booths on the trade show floor. You saw them in the airport as you arrived, and you heard about them at the conference. The idea isnít going away. Consumers are going to buy them from you (or someone else), so plan now and have a great living wall installed for your open house next spring.

Those new products in the New Vendor Zone wowed you! Once you get confirmation that the orders are placed, have a staff meeting to determine how youíre going to merchandise these new offerings, what form of advertising is best to promote them.

Did you see all those garden writers, bloggers, social media experts and photographers at the show? Reach out to them and talk about what great new products and ideas you took away from the IGC Show. Tell them about the new products youíre going to be featuring in your store, and find out if they need additional information or contact resources so they can feature them.

NOW IS THE TIME Start now making your sales, marketing, merchandising and operational plans for 2013, while all of the information you gained at the IGC 2012 last month is fresh on your mind.

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