Plant Quality Isn’t Enough [Opinion]

Richard Jones

Any time I talk with a grower and ask, “What’s different about your greenhouse business?” the answer invariably involves some mention of “our people” and “our quality.” I seldom disagree with those responses in principle. You can’t be a successful business of any kind in 2012 without having a pretty good staff in place. And I think we’ll all agree that the quality of plants growers are bringing to market these days is higher than it’s ever been.

But the part about your quality making you different from everyone else? I’m not so sure about that. One of Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 growers shared the following thought at OFA Short Course this summer. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s correct:

“We all talk about how good the quality of our product is. And you know, we’re right. Most growers do produce very high quality plants these days. But it’s not enough anymore. Quality is the minimum basic requirement for our products.”

I’m not sure if it was ever as easy as just growing great plants and setting them out to be swallowed up by hordes of rabid gardeners clamoring for your product — but if it was, well, those days are long gone. When all of the product is equal, you differentiate your plants and your business by the value you create in the minds of your customers, both retailers and consumers.

That Means Marketing

Every grower understands the business of greenhouse production these days. Managing costs is the key to profitability. Good growers are worried about fractions of pennies because they add up to thousands of dollars on the bottom line.

But you have to sell those plants to bank those dollars, and marketing is a financial wildcard in the process. At a glance, it may seem to go against that philosophy of managing costs closely. Calculating a return on your marketing investment can be an exercise in uncertainty. So how do you justify the investment to market your crop, not just to your direct customers at retail, but farther downstream, to consumers who may — or more likely — may not have any idea who you or your greenhouse business are?

We talked a lot about this at Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Breakfast at OFA Short Course, and you’ll find some of the most interesting takeaways from our panel discussion. In a nutshell, one of your many jobs now is creating value so a retailer chooses your plants over someone else’s, or so a consumer considers buying plants in the first place. Devoting the resources is simply a cost of doing business. As Natalie DiScascio, marketing coordinator for Delray Farms said during the panel discussion, “Participate or find something else to do.”

We don’t need a big industry-funded checkoff program to create demand. (Is anybody still holding their breath waiting for that to happen? Exhale now.) It’s our job — yours and mine. Are you reaching out to your customers and your customers’ customers to help them understand the true value of your plants? If not, it’s time to start.

Leave a Reply

More From Grow Initiative...
Basil Planting feature

March 29, 2017

How You Can Embrace Greenhouse Food Production With Confidence

Maintaining balance, learning continuously, and seeking support will help make your transition into producing greenhouse food crops a smooth one.

Read More
If your Wi-Fi is truly secure, your staff can help customers on the sales floor starting today

March 25, 2017

What Marketing Approach Can Attracts the Most Customers to Your Greenhouse?

Inc.com surveyed more than a thousand customers to find out which marketing strategies worked best to entice them to try out a new business

Read More
Greenhouse Loyal Customer

March 16, 2017

How Brand Enthusiasts Can Be Your Most Loyal Customers

A marketing expert shares three core principles that direct-to-consumer companies can follow to create brand enthusiasts.

Read More
Latest Stories
Basil Planting feature

March 29, 2017

How You Can Embrace Greenhouse Food Production With Con…

Maintaining balance, learning continuously, and seeking support will help make your transition into producing greenhouse food crops a smooth one.

Read More
If your Wi-Fi is truly secure, your staff can help customers on the sales floor starting today

March 25, 2017

What Marketing Approach Can Attracts the Most Customers…

Inc.com surveyed more than a thousand customers to find out which marketing strategies worked best to entice them to try out a new business

Read More
Greenhouse Loyal Customer

March 16, 2017

How Brand Enthusiasts Can Be Your Most Loyal Customers

A marketing expert shares three core principles that direct-to-consumer companies can follow to create brand enthusiasts.

Read More

February 17, 2017

How to Keep Customers Coming Back With Top-Notch Servic…

A recent article on Forbes.com outlines seven ways organizations can take their customer service from good to great and beyond.

Read More

January 27, 2017

Why Greenhouse Growers Must Know Their Costs to Stay Co…

Tom Dudek, Senior Educator at Michigan State University Extension, says greenhouse growers should evaluate their production costs to determine if they need to make adjustments to stay competitive.

Read More
Workplace Trends

January 20, 2017

10 Trends Predicted to Impact the Workplace in 2017

Here are 10 workplace trends that Forbes contributor Dan Schawbel predicts for 2017 that may change the way you do business in the future

Read More

January 10, 2017

Sidney B. Meadows Scholarship Endowment Fund Accepting …

The deadline for applications is May 26, and 12 scholarships of $1,500 each will be awarded at the SEGreen Conference in August.

Read More
GROW Logo

December 28, 2016

Greenhouse Grower’s GROW Initiative: A Year In Review

Staying ahead of the competition in today’s world is about remaining in constant motion with innovation. To create a competitive advantage, you must consistently experiment with and learn from new ideas. Greenhouse Grower’s GROW initiative provided cutting-edge ideas and actionable advice.

Read More
Grow Summit 2016 group shot

December 20, 2016

Less Talk, More Action At Greenhouse Grower’s GRO…

Investing in technology, developing new marketing solutions, and recruiting young growers were just a few of the issues covered at GROW Summit 2016.

Read More
Dramm-Echter-Pink-Gerbera-Daisies

November 22, 2016

Dramm & Echter Donates Pink Gerbera Daisies During …

“As a local flower farm, we are honored to show our support by sharing symbolic pink flowers with each participant as they reach the midway point on their amazing journey,” says Bob Echter, Owner of Dramm & Echter.

Read More
deming-pdsa-cycle

November 21, 2016

How The PDSA Cycle Can Help You Improve Your Business

No successful business stays stagnant, which means you should constantly be looking for ways to make improvements to your business and your products. Are you looking for a good model to follow? Try the PDSA Cycle.

Read More
afe-fundraising-dinner

November 17, 2016

AFE Fundraising Dinner Celebrates Success, Raises Almos…

The American Floral Endowment’s biggest fundraising event of the year, the 2016 Annual Fundraising Dinner, did more than just honor industry champions. It also raised nearly $20,000 for the future of floriculture programs.

Read More
hoffman-nursery-owners

November 9, 2016

How Hoffman Nursery Invests In The Future Of The Greenh…

Hoffman Nursery believes in the future leaders of horticulture, and the operation invests in several programs to cultivate young people in their careers.

Read More
2015 GROW Summit_discussion shot

October 28, 2016

How We Can Inspire Millennials To Get Involved In Horti…

By uniting our efforts, we can attract new generations of growers and consumers to the horticulture industry, starting when they are young.

Read More
green-plan-it-gardening-outdoor-nature-explore-classroom

October 22, 2016

Here’s A Great Way To Bring Horticulture And Scho…

The Green Plan It Challenge gives school students in the U.K. the opportunity to participate in a 10-week project where they rethink the role of green space and develop solutions to horticulture-related problems.

Read More
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

October 19, 2016

How Jeffery’s Greenhouse Is Investing In The Indu…

Greenhouse Grower reached out to Albert Grimm, the 2016 Head Grower of the Year and Head Grower of Jeffery’s Greenhouse, to ask what he and his company have done in the last 12 months to invest in the industry. Here is what he had to say.

Read More
Dallas Johnson Greenhouses has significantly reduced the amount of time and labor spent pulling and processing orders, while improving plant quality at retail

October 1, 2016

Political Stalemate On Labor Means Your Opportunity To …

Despite the frustrating nature of our current political climate, now may be the best time for you to address your long-term labor and automation needs.

Read More
Vogel Alcove NGB Therapeutic Grant Winner

September 27, 2016

National Garden Bureau Announces Horticulture Therapy G…

The NGB’s annual grant program, Growing for Futures, recently selected three therapeutic gardens that will receive grants totaling $5,000.

Read More