26 Ways Growers Improve The Green Industry

beeIn Greenhouse Grower’s annual State Of The Industry Survey, we asked how your operation is living the GROW Initiative’s five pillars: How are you driving consumer success, cultivating new customers, demanding quality, investing in the industry and sharpening business management?

More specifically, we wanted to know how you help consumers be more successful and understand and work with your customers better and how your efforts are helping the industry overall thrive. Through your candid responses, we learned about some of the ideas you’ve implemented and steps you’re taking for 2015. Here are just a few.

What have you and your business done to invest in the industry in the last 12 months?

“We are working with the University of Florida, Dr. Fisher and the young plant research group.”
— George Lucas, Lucas Greenhouses

“We donate plants and time to agricultural and other schools to help acquaint them with the benefits of our industry, giving talks and allowing tours of our facility to explain the importance of agriculture.”
— Dave Eastburn, Gro ‘N Sell Inc.

“Last year, I spent more than 200 hours working on bee-related issues.”
— Kathleen Wheaton, Kathy’s Corner

“Several of our employees are actively involved in the leadership or committees of various industry groups.”
— Paul Westervelt, Saunders Brothers

“Held lectures along the east coast to promote gardening trends and sustainable growing practices related to our plant line.”
— Thomas Bodnar, White Flower Farm

“We are very engaged at all levels of floriculture and agriculture. We do a lot of political advocacy and work closely with Farm Bureau, SAF and CCFC.
— Michael Mellano, Mellano & Company

“We contribute donations to fund both scientific and marketing research.”
— Tim Stiles, Masterpiece Flower Company

“Conduct tours of our facilities for students, and assist a primary school in planting a vegetable garden.”
— Kim Jordan, Wilson Nurseries Inc.

 

What have you done to connect directly with consumers and help them be more successful and find new ways to enjoy plants?

“As the owner, I personally deliver some orders directly to construction sites to find out who is specifying my plants, and how they are being used and installed.”
— John Schoustra, Greenwood Daylily Gardens

“We are also a retail facility and I take a lot of time to talk to the customers. They really appreciate the personal touch and recommendation on what plants best suit their needs.”
— Merlin Weaver, Weaver’s Farm Market

“Recommendations for water wise perennials rather than water consuming annuals.”
— Julie Russell, The Butterfly Garden

“We wrote reviews on all of our products. Then, as plants are sold, consumers know exactly how to care for them and the benefits that plants give.”
— Charles Schwer, Mountain State Seed Co.

“Social media and our consumer website. We do co-op advertising with our retail customers in regional gardening magazines.”
— George Radtke, W.E. Radtke, Inc.

“They have my cell number and can call me anytime with questions and requests. If I see something, I’ll tell them and even find someone who has it.”
— Annie Oxner, Reed Perennials

“I sell at small garden shows and interact with the consumer, so they have maximum success with our product. I give talks free of charge to garden clubs, master gardeners, etc. I also give bulbs away for fundraising venues.”
— Terri Cantwell, Bates Sons & Daughters, Inc.

“We hosted an open house at our greenhouse, with a casual “Evening With The Experts,” where consumers could ask our head grower questions about gardening.”
— Paul Hutcheson, Windmill Heights Garden Center

“Through the California Cut Flower Commission, we have created an “American Grown” certification that is being very well received in the marketplace. This has really big potential.”
— Michael Mellano, Mellano & Company

 

What have you and your business done to better understand and cultivate new customers?

“We have started our own consumer insights group (the Home Garden Panel) that allows us to directly communicate with the end consumer in a statistically relevant way. This allows us new insights into their buying and usage habits. These insights allow us to develop and deliver a much stronger base of new items and ideas to drive consumption and increase sell-through.”
— Abe Van Wingerden, Metrolina Greenhouses

“We talk with buyers and individuals, giving samples and freebies, and teaching by example how locally grown plants and trees do better than those grown in other areas and zones not appropriate for our climate.”
— Julie Russell, The Butterfly Garden

“We continue to educate ourselves about the millennial generation and how to show the benefits of what we can provide to
the marketplace.”
— George Radtke, W. & E. Radtke, Inc.

“We do surveys and then try to implement programs to meet the needs of our customers. We have a great sales team that is out in the market, seeking new customers.”
— Danny Gouge, Willoway Nursery

“Taking time to talk to our customers and sales reps. Listening to what they have to say about their growing needs and asking how we can help. Don’t be too busy to listen — and then do something about it.”
— Dave Eastburn, Gro’ n Sell Inc.

“We are active in trade and association outreach to keep pace with changing needs/demands. These have helped us stay abreast of current and future customer needs.”
— Renee Cooper, Hollandia Produce, L.P.

“We send weekly messages via Constant Contact and update our website regularly. We answer every inquiry and are very candid in our interactions with regards to our production methods.”
— Ellen McAdam, McDougal Orchards

“We try to deal more with independent garden centers and landscapers to get a better understanding of what the consumer wants. We also organized a plant sale at our greenhouse to be able to meet directly with consumers and provide the correct advice where to use or not use our product.”
— Jaap van Staalduinen, Dutch Flower House Inc.

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