Online Only: Two Way Street

One thing most people know about Lloyd Traven of Peace Tree Farm is that he doesn’t have a problem speaking his mind. His weekly “Rants,” sent out by eMail, touch on just about anything that he finds worthy of his two cents. They are generally well-received (sometimes not) and often conjure up discussions and feedback from those who read it.

Lloyd Traven has a good grasp on what customers expect of him. But what about retailers? They aren’t off the hook. Here are a few things he expects back:

1. “Get back to me when you say you’ll get back to me.”
2. “Look at your vendor as somebody that’s very interested in your success. I cannot do anything but fail as long as they look at me as an adversary. We’re not trying to steal their money. We’re trying to make money for them.”
3. “I expect loyalty. When I do the job for you, I anticipate in my production planning that you will come back to us. When a customer, without telling us, decides to change programs and decides to make that change because of margins and not quality, I get really upset about that because I don’t believe they can find a better product. When they say they switched because it’s easier for them, well that drives me crazy.”
4. Visit. “If people come to see what we do and see how clean we run it, then we believe they will get very excited. When I show them around, they’re saying, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this.’ That’s when you begin to sell to them, saying, ‘If you carry this material, you will be selling what other stores do not have.’”

Communication is something Traven does well, and it definitely carries over to his retail customers – New Jersey’s Amy Seuberth from The Farm at Green Village and Stephen Barlow of Barlow’s Flowers can testify to that. And when it comes to contacting each other, all three agree that a good deal of expectation gets involved.

Managing Expectations
“After chasing a retailer for five weeks with phone calls, eMails, messages left with their secretary…enough already,” Traven recounts a recent experience with one of his buyers. “All I want to hear is ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ And ‘no’ is okay. Just tell me you’re getting the eMails and messages and that you’ll get back to me. Just tell me something.”

This particular instance was an outlier for Traven. His normal interactions with customers typically occur on a once a week basis, at least. He works on three circuits: phone, eMail and fax. “I send out availability, pictures and my Rant.”

In building and keeping quality relationships with his customers, Traven has learned that everything revolves around honest communication. “Tell them what it looks like. If it looks great, let them know that. If it doesn’t look great, let them know that,” he says. “No surprises.”

Peace Tree Farm customer Amy Seuberth of The Farm at Green Village says, “I know I’m getting a good product. Lloyd’s upfront about it. He’ll tell me, ‘Don’t take that’ or ‘It’s not ready yet.’”

Retailer Likes And Dislikes:
1. “It’s nice to be able to call someone’s cell phone,” says Stephen Barlow of Barlow’s Flowers in Sea Girt, N.J. Using Traven as an example, “It can be 6 o’clock in the morning or 8 o’clock at night and he’ll pick up his phone.”
2. “Sounds funny, but we don’t have a huge place and smaller growers usually have smaller trucks and I like that,” says Barlow.
3. For growers looking to earn Barlow’s or Seuberth’s business, wait until after the busy season. “They should know spring is not a good time,” says Amy Seuberth of The Farm at Green Village. Barlow says, “Stopping in on a busy, sunny day will leave a bad taste in my mouth. It shows they don’t understand my business and my situation.”
4. For those same growers, be sure to stop in with a sample. And remember color sells, says Barlow.
5. Barlow explains that getting invited out to the grower’s operation in early spring is another way to get them interested in their product and check out new varieties.
6. When it comes to availability sheets, “Throw something on your hotlist that will give us ideas and get us excited,” says Seuberth. “We’re all plant nerds, so use ‘deer resistant,’ ‘shocking color’ or ‘great for the weekend’ to get our attention.”
 

With some of Peace Tree Farm’s larger, higher profile customers, Traven has learned that this necessary communication might demand more than one phone call and more than one eMail. He understands that while these customers want to talk to him and require that personalized touch, they also expect him to do all the footwork and make all the follow-ups.

“They expect me to understand that he or she will be interrupted several times during our conversation and will probably have to leave at one point, which means I’ll have to call them back later to finish the order,” explains Traven. “I understand that, and I’m fine with it.”

Speaking of personalized, Seuberth refers to an eMail she recently received from Lloyd. “This morning I got an eMail from him saying, “Great new and weird datura available and you’re the first one to know about it. That email just went to me and that’s nice.” Seuberth loves it when growers keep an eye out for her. “We don’t have time to look around and find what’s new,” she says. “We just get into a routine of ordering…begonias, vinca, impatiens.”

 

Leave a Reply

More From Finance/Operations...
Heuch Pink Fizz_featured

March 2, 2015

Intergeneric Crosses Are A New Perennial Trend

Intergeneric crosses, oddities some botanists say are an impossibility, have made serious inroads in the perennial world.

Read More

March 2, 2015

Robots Grab Hold Of Growers’ Material Handling Needs

Harvest Automation’s HV-100 robots automate one of the hardest, most labor-intensive jobs at growing operations – plant spacing. With more technology coming, investing in robots could become even more realistic for growers of all sizes.

Read More

March 2, 2015

Smartpot Uses Sensors And Cartridges To Ensure Success In Growing

Click & Grow helps make it simple for consumers to grow their own herbs and spices at home, even if they have little experience with plants.

Read More
Latest Stories
IPPS Sharing Plant Production Knowledge Globally Logo

February 25, 2015

International Plant Propagators Western Region Sets Ann…

The annual meet for the International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS) Western Region has been set for this September. It will take place September 23 to 26 in Modesto, Calif., and will include learning sessions, tours to local nurseries, a research poster display and poster presentations, various networking opportunities and an awards banquet to close the event.

Read More
myers industries Lawn and Garden Logo

February 24, 2015

Myers Industries, Inc. Lawn And Garden Business Sold, N…

The management of Myers Lawn and Garden Group, along with Wingate Partners V, L.P. have recently acquired the Myers Industries, Inc. Lawn and Garden business. The new company is named The HC Companies, and will continue as a North American leading provider of horticulture containers supplying the greenhouse, nursery and retail markets.

Read More
american-hort-logo

February 17, 2015

AmericanHort Announces New Board Members

AmericanHort recently announced the election of new officers and members to the board of directors. Each will assume their positions on the board during Cultivate’15, July 11 to 14 in Columbus, Ohio.

Read More
All American Selections

February 17, 2015

All-America Selections Elects New Officers, Names New J…

While meeting during the Flower and Vegetable Seed Conference in Tampa, Fla., hosted by the American Seed Trade Association, All-America Selections elected new officers for a two-year term. Read on to learn about the new officers, as well as all of the new judges that were added in 2014.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower.com on your desktop, on your phone, on your tablet

February 11, 2015

GreenhouseGrower.com Relaunches With Responsive Design …

Greenhouse Grower magazine, the nation’s leader in profits, production and education for greenhouse growers, announces the launch of its completely redesigned website, GreenhouseGrower.com. The new design is the product of direct user feedback and GreenhouseGrower.com analytics, and includes responsive design for ease of mobile use.

Read More
Andy Higgins

February 3, 2015

MasterTag Names Andy Higgins As Its New President

Former CEO and president of Ecke Ranch, Andy Higgins, joins MasterTag as its new president. He brings more than two decades of industry experience to the position.

Read More
Syngenta Bioline Hires Ronald Valentin For Technical Lead Role

January 28, 2015

Syngenta Bioline Hires Ronald Valentin For Technical Le…

Ronald Valentin has been appointed technical lead for Syngenta Bioline, effective January 2015. He will be responsible for technical support of Bioline biological control agents and will be instrumental in helping growers develop integrated pest management (IPM) solutions.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Give Equal Time To The Number Crunchers

Before investing in a new business opportunity, check in with the financial gurus of your organization to make certain you have the cash flow to back up your efforts.

Read More
Plant Introductions, Inc. partners Mark Griffith, Dr. Michael Dirr and Jeff Beasley and Bailey Nurseries President Terri McEnaney.

January 20, 2015

Bailey Nurseries’ Purchase Of Plant Introductions Inc. …

When Bailey Nurseries purchased its long-time breeding partner, Plant Introductions, Inc. (PII), in early January 2015, it freed the PII team to concentrate on what they do best: develop new plants. Bailey Nurseries will take on the business management side of the partnership, but otherwise the relationship it has enjoyed with PII for years will be largely unchanged.

Read More
Plant Introductions, Inc. partners Mark Griffith, Dr. Michael Dirr and Jeff Beasley and Bailey Nurseries President Terri McEnaney.

January 13, 2015

Bailey Nurseries Acquires Plant Introductions

Bailey Nurseries has acquired Plant Introductions, Inc. (PII), effective January 1, 2015. PII has developed numerous innovative new varieties that have been marketed worldwide, many introduced by Bailey Nurseries.

Read More

January 7, 2015

How Inflation Affects Your Business And Why You Can’t I…

Awareness of the true increase in costs after inflation is a necessary part of good financial management for greenhouse operations.

Read More

December 4, 2014

New Developments In Shipping/Logistics Software

Improved shipping and logistics software from Picas Software and MapMechanics makes it easier for growers to plan loads efficiently and automate day-to-day distribution planning.

Read More
Fritz Dramm

December 2, 2014

Dramm Corporation Welcomes Back Fritz Dramm

Dramm Corp. recently welcomed Fritz Dramm as the new fertilizer production and compliance manager. Dramm previously worked at the company through high school and college, and is back after 20-plus years.

Read More
Sarah Harwood

November 24, 2014

Take Control Of Your Operation’s Succession Planning Pr…

Proper business and estate planning with your intentions clearly expressed can ensure your goals for the future of your business are fulfilled.

Read More

November 24, 2014

Succession Planning For Growers

Succession planning is a sensitive subject, but one that needs to be addressed when deciding on your operation's legacy. Greenhouse Grower caught up with two growers who shared their process and provided tips for a smooth transition.

Read More

November 24, 2014

BrightFarms Pioneers Hydroponic Greenhouses For Urban A…

BrightFarms brings fresh, local produce to underserved areas with hydroponic greenhouses located on neglected urban spaces.

Read More

November 10, 2014

NGB, AFE To Join In #GivingTuesday On December 2

The American Floral Endowment will participate in #GivingTuesday on December 2, a national movement to encourage charitable giving.

Read More

November 8, 2014

Amid Drought, Californians Talk Water

As extreme drought conditions continue, the state looks at how it manages its resources, while growers try to conserve and meet changing consumer needs.

Read More