Ravin’ Traven: Feeling The Heat

Each week, wholesale grower Lloyd Traven of Peace Tree Farm in Pennsylvania sends out an engaging and highly opinionated rant to his garden center customers along with the most current availability, order forms and pictures of plants in the greenhouse. Here is his most recent rant, but beware, it gets hot!

June 6–Peace Tree feels the HEAT!!!

You know, for WEEKS now, I’ve absorbed all the complaining and whining about the weather being “so cold, so dreary, so wet. It doesn’t feel like spring.” So, what should we start with now? “It’s hot, it’s humid, it seems like we never had spring.” Geeez, whaddya want from me? It’s called THE WEATHER, that’s all it is and one thing is certain–we have it every spring. Can we do anything about it? I think not, so let’s just get on with what we do well–convince our customers to ignore the sweat running down their back into their butt crack and get them to buy some plants!!!

Here’s what Peace Tree is going to do to help you get this done:

1. Take away any excuse for keeping tired, crappy merchandise around and get FRESH, NICE material in. How do we do that, you ask? Simple–once you get up to one lonely cart of rice pot annuals, we will GIVE YOU A FLAT FOR EVERY THREE YOU BUY, or price them all at $15, down from the regular $22.50.

2. There is a catch, however, and isn’t there always? YOU MUST AGREE TO THROW OUT THE CRAP, no excuses, we just replaced it with a freebie, so your boss can’t give you grief anymore. WOW, that’s incredible, and a GREAT DEAL, too.

3. We will do the same amazing deal with the Novalis quarts!!!! Take a cart and we will give a free flat for every three bought, only $15 per flat of quarts. YOU AGREE TO TOSS THE CRAP, once again.

4. Buy a cart of 12-inch baskets, that’s only 30, and we’ll price them at $12. That’s one freebie for every three bought–familiar? But you MUST TOSS THE CRAP.

5. We’ll even take the empty pots back and recycle them for you. Are we crazy? Yes, but we believe in what we do. No, don’t send us dead plants, but we will recycle the pots for you.

6. This works!!! You will continue to sell product IF YOU WOW YOUR CUSTOMERS WHEN THEY COME INTO YOUR STORE. You don’t wow them with a Web site, catalog, chirpy voice on the phone, or midriff tops with exposed thongs. THEY’RE COMING FOR GORGEOUS, FRESH PLANTS. The only chance you have to impress them is when they walk in the front door of your store. It’s actually pretty simple.

7. Come on, what’s the problem? Even the most margin-obsessed buyer can figure out this one–we just reduced your cost by 33 percent, forced you to get rid of stuff NOBODY WILL EVER BUY ANYWAY, and made your store look good again. It’s a win-win.

There should NEVER be a time when you don’t look fresh, look new and pristine at your store. Do you honestly expect your customers to keep coming in otherwise? Last year, during an obnoxious heat wave that went on forever in August, Candy and I went to see Stephen Barlow at Barlow Flower Farm, Sea Girt, N.J. (or as we say here, DOWNASHORE). It was totally miserable–100 F and steaming–and the place looked fabulous. Lovely combos, benches with nice, clean material, and a bunch of people in the store BUYING like it was May. It wasn’t location, it certainly wasn’t the weather, it was the wrong season (it was even AFTER MEMORIAL DAY, the horror!!), but they were BUSY!!! WAY BUSY!!! Why? The place looked incredible, and they had what their customers wanted, ready to go that day.

Why do we fight with this concept? Resistance is futile.

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