Bob’s Market Focuses On Quality To Improve Business

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Bob's Market And Greenhouses [Slideshow]

The word “quality” has always been a mantra at Bob’s Market. Industry-wide, there is too much variation or perception of what quality is, but for us, quality means not only plant quality but the quality of order fulfillment. It means giving the customer what they expect. It means the quality of on-time delivery and consistency of products.

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Flexibility is going to be a big factor for most operations in 2013. We are all sharpening our business management skills, reviewing costs and trying to increase efficiencies.

Consumers expect quality at a fair price. They will pay for a product that meets their expectations. The industry overall is doing a better job getting information out to the consumer using tags, print resources and the internet. We all are sharpening our skills and managing inventory and labor.

So how are we going to capture sales in a limited amount of time?

I call missed sales missed opportunities. There may be some circumstances when it makes sense to lose the flexibility and take advantage of an opportunity to increase sales. There is potential in smaller, fast-turn promotions. Businesses will still need to be able to take advantage of a new plant, great price, fantastic blooms, etc. Making rigid decisions only on what you have done in the past is not necessarily going to work in the future. Timing is everything. There is a limited time when traffic is at a peak and customers are there to spend money. Do not close your mind to a potential opportunity of a smaller promotion. If merchandised effectively, this promotion can increase turns, create cash flow and, many times, offer higher margins.

To execute these opportunities, you will need to educate your staff and your customer. Train your staff weekly to make sure they are selling the items that are at their prime. Get the word out. Embrace the fact that our younger consumers are using the internet. In the old days, the advertising campaigns were months in advance. Now, you can use the internet and make adjustments on the fly. Take advantage of these promotions and opportunities as they present themselves and collect data from your customers. This will build your network of communication for the future.

Be open-minded and stay flexible. The next opportunity may be waiting for you in your inbox.

Quality also means end results for the customer. Does it perform for them? Are we providing enough information to make them successful? Quality has been a part of our thought process since the beginning of the business, when we were primarily wholesale and retail, up until current times as a young plant provider of plugs and liners.

Have A High-Quality Mindset — Always

We try to embed the idea of quality in all our employees’ thought processes, as well as the requirements to get to that level of quality. In striving to get to that highest level, you gain new business. One of the best ways to gain new business is through word-of-mouth comments from one customer to a friend saying, “You need to be buying from this person because he has great quality.” That is one of the results of focusing on quality — it can help you market and sell your product.

I can’t say there will be anything new or different when demanding quality in 2013. It will be more of a continued focus on striving to maintain excellence. It would be nice if there were standards for the industry, but there are too many areas of our industry that don’t have standards. There is no consistency in container size, and what sells in one area doesn’t sell in another and vice versa. Quality can be perception. It can be in the eyes of the beholder. The seller can think something is one quality, and the buyer can think it’s something different.

In 2013, we, from the top down to all employees, will continue our focus on understanding the results of expecting quality. In today’s marketplace, we’re facing shrinking margins and increased costs here or there. Quality is something I always think of as the value-added factor. It can separate you from the competition if you have a quality plant, quality service, quality order-fulfillment and great results for the consumer. From the company’s perspective, the focus on quality and the results of that focus will get your operation new business. It will help you maintain those customers and separate you from the competition.

Quality Affects Price, Customer Relations

There is a direct correlation between price and quality. If you have excellent product, you can often demand more value out of your product and get a higher price than the competition. You can’t, however, do that and build up extra expectations from the customer without ultimately providing them with what they are expecting. Quality can play a factor in the marketing and pricing of your product.

We have never really lost a customer because of quality. Maybe there was a factor that pricing was a little higher than the customer could afford, or the client wanted to pay a lower price, and we couldn’t get there.

If you strive to provide high-quality plants, it is easier to maintain business and harder to lose business. That is a general statement, but it is something that we strive to do. We don’t want to lose business because it is harder to gain a lost customer back than it is to keep one. It is much easier to keep a customer by focusing on quality.

Bobby Barnitz (bobby.barnitz@bobsmarket.com) is vice president of Bob’s Market and Greenhouses.

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