December 30, 2013
Marketing And Plant Quality Go Hand-In-Hand
Growers can no longer rely on the quality of their crops to speak for them. Consultant Jerry Montgomery shares his thoughts on the operations taht understand that an amalgamation of all the business disciplines -- including marketing -- is necessary to grow and prosper.
August 13, 2013
State Of The Supply Chain
The greenhouse supply chain has evolved since 2000 like no other time in industry history. These dramatic changes were driven by a number of factors, including: â€¢ Consolidation at all levels of the chain â€¢ The massive explosion of retail space in the 1980s and 1990s â€¢ Power shifts from growers to retailers â€¢ The declining size of the grower base â€¢ Changing levels of support between the breeder/producers and the brokers â€¢ The economy Letâ€™s take a look at some of these changes, and how theyâ€™re impacting you and your business. Retail: The Box Stores In the â€™70s and â€™80s, Kmart was the market leader in bedding plant retail. That changed by 1995, when Home Depot, Walmart and Loweâ€™s combined had 2,913 stores with 33 million square feet of outdoor garden selling space. By 2000, these giants grew to 4,228 stores and 72 million square feet of outdoor space. […]
July 23, 2013
Patio Containers In Chicago: Garden Retail Report
It is fairly clear that many in this industry believe patio containers are important SKUs because the consumer wants the convenience of buying plant décor that can be taken home and set in place. There are thousands of recipes being offered by breeders and brokers so the choice of looks is unlimited. Unfortunately, many of the recipes do not grow well together or flower at the same time making the patio pots, in many cases, unsalable. While visiting the Chicago market in May and June, I was impressed with the huge array of patio containers and the number of consumer retail price points to choose from at The Home Depot. The selection at The Home Depot provided by Masterpiece Floral and Grand Flowers was the most extensive relative to sizes and consumer choice that we have seen at garden centers across the country. It was also impressive to see all […]
July 16, 2013
Garden Retail 2013: Chicago
The weather in Chicago was perfect and the shoppers were out in huge numbers filling almost every garden center we visited on May 18 to 19, 2013. Home Depot was the most crowded, with a busy parking lot. In looking closely at a number of shopping carts, customers were buying a wide variety of items, including large patio containers and hanging baskets. In this market, there has been seemingly no impact on the sale of Impatiens walleriana. We observed large inventories in all retail locations. The main objective of this retail tour was to see the initial launch of the Miracle Gro Syngenta branded annuals. They were on the shelves in every Home Depot, with larger displays in the suburbs than the city stores. Here is what we saw: • Two SKUs: a 5-inch annual retailing for $6.98 and a 12-inch fiber hanging basket with Calliope geraniums retailing for $19.98. […]
July 9, 2013
Garden Retail 2013 Report: Hartford, Conn.
The Hartford area is a mixture of some outstanding IGCs and the usual spread of national retailers based on population density. My visit was June 12 (warm with intermittent rain) and June 13 (cool and rainy). There was not much traffic in any garden center during this two-day retail tour. In almost all stores, whether big boxes or IGCs, there was a lot of inventory on the shelves and in some instances it had some age to it with a typical spring product mix. There was no indication of a transition to a summer product mix. In talking to the retailers, they had a decent year but most thought they still needed a good solid weekend of sales to make their year compete with last year. Walmart: Emphasis On Merchandising And Perennials It seems as though there is far less emphasis on the Better Homes and Gardens brand this season, […]
May 7, 2013
A Dynamic And Changing Greenhouse Supply Chain
As usual, the California Spring Trials offered the chance to see many new varieties and marketing programs and a wonderful opportunity for personal networking. This year in particular, however, it caused me to look harder at the changing face of the supply chain. The recent changes have caused, in my estimation, a shift in the power and importance of a number of key industry companies. Consider some significant shifts: • The Dümmen Group took control of Fides Oro’s bedding plants and perennials and its related brands, Ecke, Oglevee, Fides and Bartels. That makes Dümmen the most powerful and influential vegetative breeder/producer serving the North American market. Dümmen and Agribio will be two completely separate companies owned by H2Equity, a new company to be announced and the management. • Syngenta Flowers sold its grower distribution company, Syngenta Horticultural Supplies (SHS), to the Griffin family, a leading supplier of hard goods in […]
March 1, 2013
The Changing Role Of The Plant Broker
The role of the plant broker is undergoing some significant changes with new entrants starting to impact how the channel operates. Over the last six months, major changes have occurred to this portion of the supply chain. Some prominent examples are: • Griffin Greenhouse Supply acquired Syngenta Horticultural Services (SHS) from Syngenta.• ePlantSource, an online storefront, has announced its launch sometime around April 2013.• McHutchison has announced the formation of a new national division named Vaughn’s Horticulture, and it opened for business on February 19, 2013. The North American broker channel consists of 30 to 35 brokers, albeit some are seed only and some are plants only. However, this channel is dominated by seven companies serving the U.S. market. Below these seven companies are listed in order of sales volume based on my own assumptions: 1. Ball Seed with sales estimated to be 2.5 times more than the closest competitor.2. […]
February 28, 2013
The Art Of Selling: Ask the Right Questions
My favorite sales cliché is, “Selling is not telling,” meaning, “Don’t talk too much.” Your goal in selling is getting the customer to talk. The way to accomplish this is by asking questions that require long responses. These questions are called open-ended questions, and they are the ones that cannot be answered with a yes or no. They start with what, where, when, why, who and how. Here’s the formula: CT75 + ST25 = a successful sales call. In this equation, the customer talks 75 percent of the time, and the seller talks 25 percent of the time. When the seller is talking, most of the conversation should revolve around asking open-ended questions. The seller talks more during the product presentation and in the closing. Questions That Uncover Customer Needs Asking a lot of good questions helps uncover customer issues and problems. Uncovering the core issues will help the seller […]
February 11, 2013
Choose The Right Greenhouse Varieties For 2013
While the greenhouse industry has become more progressive in its marketing efforts, we are still stuck using very traditional approaches that are no longer effective. Let’s look at a couple of levels in the supply chain to see how they market their products. Growers There has been a huge transition in the balance of power regarding variety adoption at the grower level. This is driven by the influence of outdoor grower trials. Many retailers are selecting varieties based on what some say are the most objective trials. Leading examples are Metrolina, VanWingerden International, Welby Gardens, Costa Farms and C. Raker, just to name a few. Retailers don’t care who bred the plant; all they want to know is what works best and if it comes from a reliable source. Some industry observers have suggested the importance of university trials has vastly diminished. Breeder And Producers This group has changed California […]
February 11, 2013
2012 Poinsettia Sales At Big Box Stores
After visiting 64 big box stores in Florida and Michigan, I observed little change from last season in terms of the poinsettia market. I would say, however, the fact that Black Friday has now turned into Filthy Thursday is getting old and tired, with the industry featuring a $0.99 poinsettia that in some cases may not even be worth that price. Where is the creativity and innovation? We killed the fantasy color concept because too many companies did not apply enough paint, consequently eliminating the wow factor. Now some are doing the same with glittered poinsettias. Prices have not changed much since last year, and clearly creativity has not changed. The noticeable bright spot was the continuing improvement of the product quality and assortment at Walmart. These stores also offered great values, such as a nice 6-inch plant for $3 in the markets served by Metrolina in Florida, and $3.67 […]
January 31, 2013
The Art Of Selling: How To Think Like A Consultant
Forget about your needs like sales quotas, commission and sales incentives and serve your customers the way a consultant would. Focus on three things: Helping your customer make money Helping your customer save money Making your customer more competitive If you concentrate on these areas, your sales and income will increase. You will be viewed as a very successful professional. It’s all about the customer and his issues, not about yours and your company’s. Helping the customer succeed by continually identifying problems and providing solutions will ultimately gain you the status of a trusted consultant. How do you get to the place where your customers consider you a trusted consultant? Ask and listen. Always interview the customer on every call and listen intently before forming any opinions. Be sure to take notes. Ask questions about specific major crops. For example, say something like, “Joe, tell me about your geranium program? […]
December 28, 2012
The Art Of Selling: Building Strong Business Relationships
In today’s highly competitive business world, product lifecycles are shortened, and there is an increased ability to quickly copy or replicate industry-leading products. This makes the relationship between the customer and the salesperson even more important. It also means the knowledge and experience of the seller is more valuable than ever. Good salespeople are getting harder to find because their roles are changing and many companies do not invest in training. Professional, well-trained sellers who understand their roles and responsibilities and are managed by companies who demand accountability are few in number. Excellent salespeople have at least one thing in common — they build strong relationships with their customers. They understand if they participate in making the customer more successful and more competitive, the customer will reward them with increased sales volumes.There are the key elements of building long-term, enduring relationships: Develop an understanding of the customer’s business, who they […]
November 30, 2012
The Art Of Selling: The Role The Seller Plays
Selling is an art backed by scientific research on consumer emotions. To become a professional seller, it is critical to understand your role in the process, and then become an expert on how the customer makes the buying decision. This month we will discuss the roles the seller plays. These include Trusted Advisor, Resource Allocator and Relationship Developer. It is not that difficult to fast-talk a customer into buying your products in the short term, but the best sales programs are geared to developing long-term and enduring relationships. A professional sales person is a Trusted Advisor to his customers and continually discovers their needs and provides solutions. In this role, the sales person is always looking for ways the customer can be more competitive. The advisor does not think about his sales quotas but focuses solely on helping customers achieve their goals.Real sales pros understand how to use their products […]
November 12, 2012
Tap Into The Edibles Market
The economic downturn we have endured since 2008 has clearly impacted what consumers buy and how much they are willing to spend. In our industry, people have chosen food over flowers. According to the National Gardening Association (NGA)’s 2012 National Gardening Survey, food gardening has higher revenues at $2.7 billion than flower gardening with revenues of $2.1 billion. NGA also noted the vast difference in space allocation at retail. In many garden centers, the space is overwhelmingly controlled by flower gardening products, even though vegetable gardening drives more consumer revenue. This is a clear indication that the revenue per square foot at retail is far greater in the food category. Edible Options In The Market What has and continues to astonish me is the lack of vegetable programs dedicated to container gardening. While the NGA says 49 percent of the consumers who food garden participated in container gardening, they grew […]
October 24, 2012
Garden Retail 2012: Observations In Baltimore
The weather was perfect for shopping and gardening in Baltimore on May 12 and 13, 2012, with temperatures in the 60s during the mornings and hitting in the low 80s by afternoon with very low humidity. Shoppers were out in full force and the store traffic was really heavy. Finally, after several cold, wet weekends, the Baltimore market has opened and what timing: Mother’s Day weekend. Home Depot These garden centers are clearly some of the best, if not the best, in the country for Home Depot. There are few competitive stores in the same league. Here is what we observed that makes these stores so outstanding. The number-one reason is the quality of people in this vendor’s merchandising team. I have never seen merchandisers that are seemingly as consumed by their jobs and who work so hard to keep the displays organized, watered and very shoppable We had the […]
October 24, 2012
Garden Retail 2012: Observations in Philadelphia
The weather was cool and overcast in Philadephia on May 5 and 6, 2012, with temperatures ranging from the mid-50s in the mornings and the mid-to-high 60s during the day, with no sun until late afternoon on Sunday. Overall it was a disappointing weekend with consumer traffic far below norm for a May weekend. It seems like the consumers in the Northeast will not garden until they see a warm sunny day. Home Depot You will not see any better merchandising at store level than the Bell Nursery team of highly trained professionals that are dedicated to serving Home Depot and the consumers. This group is so interested they never miss a chance to interact with a consumer. The management structure of the merchandising group allows for a lot of support and allows for the field management people to make decisions on replenishment The other big thing that Bell does […]
October 20, 2012
Garden Retail 2012: Observations In Cleveland, Ohio
The weather was warm on May 27 and 28, 2012, in the 80s, and the shoppers were out in force buying plants and a lot of related garden items. It should have been a great retail weekend for growers and retailers. This is another market where Home Depot is the most dominant, displaying good-quality green goods in conjunction with very good merchandising. Cleveland is also the home of Petitti Garden Centers, a family-owned group of nine garden centers throughout northeastern Ohio and one of the leading independents in North America. Petitti opened new locations over the past three years, an indication of how a well-managed independent garden center can survive and flourish during these times. If you want to visit garden centers that know how to sell plants, this is the place to go. Petitti Garden Centers I had the pleasure of visiting two Petitti stores in Mentor and in […]
September 27, 2012
Garden Retail 2012: Observations In Charlotte, N.C.
The weather on Saturday, April 28, 2012, was overcast and in the low 60s (farenheit). This obviously impacted the shopper turnout, which was extremely low and very disappointing. However, on Sunday the 29th the sun came out and the temperatures zoomed into the low 80s by afternoon; stores were filled with shoppers. Lowe’s In Charlotte you will find some of the best Lowe’s garden centers in the country. This quality is driven by a combination of a very relevant assortment of products, crack merchandising and very consistent product quality with a lot of color, or as I prefer to say, “The WOW Factor.” One often neglected part of merchandising is customer interaction, but in the Charlotte store it appears to be SOP. Merchandisers constantly assist consumers by answering their questions and making a lot of suggestions. This obviously leads towards both higher sales and customer satisfaction. On the product side, […]
September 26, 2012
Garden Retail 2012: Observations On Spring From Jerry Montgomery
After enduring the spring of 2011 — arguably one of the worst years weather-wise in the past two decades — 2012 brought a spark back to the industry. A number of areas, especially in parts of the West, encountered really good weather. Other areas had a good start with many reporting record sales in March, only to see cold and rain return in April and erratic weather patterns in May. But when the weather was decent, consumers were out in force. Our team has visited 5012 garden centers since 2005. During this spring season, we visited 412 — boxes and independents — in California, the deep South, Mid-South, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. Here are the trends we saw this year. Retailers At most retailers we visited we saw fewer employees than in previous years. The exception was in independents where we observed more staff on the sales floor. A good example […]
May 23, 2018
Collegiate Plant Initiative Helps Foster a Love of Plan…
CPI offers a unique perspective of the plant world, with the goal of connecting college students with exciting plants and teaching them more about opportunities in the plant industry.
May 23, 2018
How Low Substrate pH Can Cause Lower Leaf Chlorosis
Geraniums grown in substrates below an optimal pH range will exhibit chlorotic leaf spotting between veins, interveinal chlorosis, and marginal and leaf necrosis of the lower foliage.
May 22, 2018
Little Leaf Farms Expands Its Indoor Baby Greens Produc…
The Massachusetts-based company has increased the size of its greenhouses to 5 acres, more than doubling its annual production of baby greens.
May 22, 2018
Register Now for Award-Winning Online Greenhouse Growin…
Learn about production cost and profit, as well as the basic behind plant science, via two online classes being offered by the University of Florida.
May 21, 2018
Insights From Lawmaker’s Visit to a Top 100 Greenhouse …
When Rep. Julia Brownley of California visited Sun Valley Group, she got a firsthand look at a very busy time in the life of a flower grower.
May 20, 2018
Smithers-Oasis Now Offering Rootcubes Foam Media in Ret…
Designed with smaller or hobby growers in mind, the Rootcubes packs are also ideal for larger growers to use for trials.
May 19, 2018
Westerlay Orchids Shows Its Support for Local Schools
Proceeds from all sales the company made during the Carpinteria Greenhouse and Nursery Tour will be donated to fund STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) programs.
May 17, 2018
Ian Baldwin: Why the Rise of the Under 35s Will Help Yo…
In his latest blog, garden retail consultant Ian Baldwin says this new generation of plant buyers is seriously engaged in gardening, and is using social media to help become successful plant owners.
May 16, 2018
2018 Perennial Plant Symposium Offering Power to the Pe…
Perennial and gardening enthusiasts of all experience levels are invited to attend plant discussions on Monday, July 30 for a chance to hear from the best in the field on a range of topics.
May 15, 2018
Floriculture’s Future Hangs in the Balance Between Labo…
The nation’s largest growers are investing heavily in technology, new structures, human resources, and efficiency measures to stay competitive and profitable, despite significant labor shortages.
May 15, 2018
Gotham Greens Expanding Greenhouse Production Into Balt…
Scheduled to open in early 2019, Gotham Greens’ Baltimore facility will bring a reliable, year-round, local supply of fresh produce to serve retail, restaurant, and foodservice customers throughout the mid-Atlantic region.
May 14, 2018
Growing Innovations Geared to Connect Specialty Ag With…
Innovation abounds in agriculture, yet it can feel sometimes as if the gap between exciting new developments and what growers actually need in their operations can be awfully wide. We at Meister Media Worldwide intend to help narrow this gap. Which is why we’re pleased to introduce Growing Innovations – an altogether new type of event that will debut Nov. 7-8 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV. Unlike most agricultural events and trade shows, Growing Innovations is not about technology per se, nor is it about everyday issues that growers face. Instead, this new conference and tradeshow is very acutely solutions oriented. It takes as its starting point specialty crop growers’ most pressing real-world challenges – production efficiency, labor and water shortages, logistics, and data management to name just a few – and showcases advances, both current and up-and-coming, that have the greatest potential to bring […]
May 12, 2018
Fungicide Resistance in Botrytis is an International Ch…
Clemson University’s research team is exploring Botrytis in cut roses to find out how to help you maintain postharvest crop quality by avoiding fungicide resistance.
May 11, 2018
New Sterile Ornamental Grasses One Solution to Grass In…
Aggressive grass species can turn gardeners off to using ornamental grasses. Less fertile alternatives offer options for keeping grasses from taking over the garden.
May 10, 2018
Beekenkamp Plants Acquires Sunny Osteospermum Breeding …
Beekenkamp took over all Sunny Holland sales activities in 2017, and now has ownership of the company’s entire breeding program.
May 9, 2018
How Greenhouse Sanitation Helps You Start Clean and Sta…
If you keep your greenhouse clean from the start, you’ll save yourself money in the end.