Surprise Customers With Over-The-Top Service On Busy Weekends

Carol Miller resized for onlineThe day before Thanksgiving a few years ago, I reluctantly pulled into Central Market’s parking lot. Central Market is a popular, high-end Texas grocery store chain, the luxury brand for the middle-of-the-road HEB stores.

As expected, the parking lot was packed. There wasn’t a space in the main part of the sizable lot, so I had to park some distance away. It wasn’t a promising start to what I fully expected to be an irritating afternoon. But I was making butternut squash soup and providing wine for the holiday dinner the next day, and so I couldn’t procrastinate any longer. I was doomed to endure the busiest shopping day of the year for grocery stores.

I grabbed a mini double-decker cart, resigned to cranky crowds and jostling for space in the produce aisles.

I walked in and paused to figure out where I could find the butternut squash. Almost instantly, an employee asked, “What are you trying to find? I’ll take you there.”

He guided me to my squash, and left to approach another customer.

Nice start, I thought. Too bad I still needed to visit the dairy, spice, and wine departments.

But I soon found that every time I paused to look for something, another employee immediately approached me and helped me out. Within 15 minutes, I was approaching the checkout, and waiting in line seemed like an easy thing to do after such a pleasant shopping experience.

To my shock, every single cash register was open and I was at my car 20 minutes after I left it.

It’s the best grocery store shopping experience I’ve ever had, and it took place the day before Thanksgiving, the equivalent of a garden shop’s Mother’s Day weekend.

4 Ideas You Can Use For This Weekend

At a time when younger generations are not as interested in gardening as their elders, when winning new customers is more important than ever, Central Market’s customer service can teach our industry a great deal.

  1. Don’t just do your best to make it through a crazy holiday week: Raise your standards. Before moving from Texas, I was a somewhat regular Central Market shopper. While I never received poor service, employees were more laid back, always ready to help, but not so focused on me that they spoke to me as soon as I paused to look around. Give your employees a bit of a pep rally before work starts each day, emphasizing how you want them to watch customers for their heads popping up. It’s easy to spot a customer who wants help if you’re watching for it. Up to that point, they’re walking at a steady clip (either leisurely or purposefully, depending on each person’s character) when they suddenly pause, straighten their shoulders, and look around. They are either looking for a specific product or for an employee. That’s when your staff can sidle up next to them and cheerfully offer to help out.
  2. Focus on efficiency. While no one rushed me during my Thanksgiving grocery store visit, they made sure I never wasted my time. I was left to browse all I wanted, but if I needed help, they were there in seconds. And they opened up cash registers that weren’t used the rest of the year to ensure customers got through quickly. They obviously hired in extra cashiers and brought every employee in during the most crucial hours. Take a look at what helps make your parking turn over more quickly that doesn’t rush your customers. More car loaders? More cashiers?
  3. Keep displays fully stocked and attractive. I didn’t notice it at the time, but the store had its usual tidiness, and I didn’t see any empty shelves. That was quite a feat, considering how large the parking lot was and how many people were pouring through. Double check your inventory levels leading into this weekend and make sure you have enough to last the weekend. Mother’s Day is not a good weekend for rain checks. If customers don’t find what they’re looking for, they go find another gift to buy mom at another store.
  4. Have plenty of gift-completing items near check out. You know a good portion of your customers are buying a gift this weekend. Move your card displays so that customers pass them on their way to check out. Have decorative pots that fit your most common nursery pot sizes, and an assortment of pot wraps, from inexpensive floral wrap to the more current pot decorations. Perhaps you can cross merchandise floral picks and stakes with your combo pots, with a demo container garden showing how these items transform a planter into a gift. And you’ll definitely want to have plenty of gift cards on hand.

 

Leave a Reply

More From Retailing...
Cordyline Candy Cane (Excelsa Gardens, Inc.)

November 14, 2017

Garden-Retailers Pick Their Favorite Products From The Landscape Show

Grower-retailers have once again named their favorite new products, this time as part of the Cool Product Awards at The Landscape Show 2017 in Orlando, FL. Awards were presented to 12 companies, representing 14 products.

Read More
Ian Baldwin

September 26, 2017

Gardening Industry Not Recovering as Much From Recent Recession as in Past

In his latest blog posting, garden retail industry consultant Ian Baldwin says changing consumer demographics mean that, unlike past indicators, the garden business hasn’t surged after a recession — and it’s not going to under the current model.

Read More
Hydrangea mac. Fire Island (Monrovia Nursery)

September 19, 2017

Grower-Retailers Pick Their Favorites From Farwest 2017

Members of The Garden Center Group once again named their top selections in both live and hard goods for the Retailers’ Choice Awards at Farwest 2017.

Read More
Latest Stories
Cordyline Candy Cane (Excelsa Gardens, Inc.)

November 14, 2017

Garden-Retailers Pick Their Favorite Products From The …

Grower-retailers have once again named their favorite new products, this time as part of the Cool Product Awards at The Landscape Show 2017 in Orlando, FL. Awards were presented to 12 companies, representing 14 products.

Read More
Ian Baldwin

September 26, 2017

Gardening Industry Not Recovering as Much From Recent R…

In his latest blog posting, garden retail industry consultant Ian Baldwin says changing consumer demographics mean that, unlike past indicators, the garden business hasn’t surged after a recession — and it’s not going to under the current model.

Read More
Hydrangea mac. Fire Island (Monrovia Nursery)

September 19, 2017

Grower-Retailers Pick Their Favorites From Farwest 2017

Members of The Garden Center Group once again named their top selections in both live and hard goods for the Retailers’ Choice Awards at Farwest 2017.

Read More
Trends Slide - No Logo

September 12, 2017

Garden Media Group’s 2018 Trends Report Highlights Natu…

This year’s Garden Trends report offers seven trends that you can use to inspire mental wellness. Take a look to see how many trends you’re already using to connect with your customers.

Read More
GCA Bathroom Winner Wingards Market 1

September 8, 2017

Garden Centers of America Announces Best Bathroom Award…

If you’re a grower-retailer, your restroom may end up being the most important part of your customers’ experience. Find out the big winners of this year’s Garden Centers of America’s Best Bathroom Awards.

Read More

August 29, 2017

7 Popular Retail Trends from the 2017 IGC Show

Almost every type of retail garden product imaginable filled the booths on the tradeshow floor at the 2017 IGC Show held in August in Chicago, from pots and containers to garden tools, patio furniture, and decorative items. Here are seven gardening and product trends that stood out at the show.

Read More

August 21, 2017

50 Cool Products on Display at the 2017 IGC Show

Check out these cool products vendors showed off at the 2017 IGC Show on the Navy Pier in Chicago, August 15-17.

Read More
griffin-expo

August 15, 2017

Griffin Becomes Newest Distributor for Master Nursery G…

The agreement allows Griffin to join Master Nursery’s network of more than 150 supplier partners, while giving Master Nursery access to new product and service options for member businesses in the Midwest, Rocky Mountain, and Pacific Northwest regions.

Read More
Decorative Premium Hanging Baskets (Ainong USA)

July 25, 2017

16 Products That Garden Retailers Loved at Cultivate’17

In what has become an annual tradition at Cultivate, a team of garden retailers presented awards for their picks as the best new products (both live goods and hard goods) from Cultivate’17.

Read More

July 11, 2017

Grower-Retailers Invited to Help Pick Their Favorite Pr…

The Garden Center Group is inviting grower-retailers to join them on their quest to highlight the best new retail products on display at Cultivate’17.

Read More
Hort Couture Farm to Table Display

July 7, 2017

New Marketing and Retail Display Ideas to Boost Your P…

Innovative marketing displays and retail concepts at California Spring Trials 2017, inspired by popular consumer trends and the need to encourage consumer success, overflowed with exciting new ways to promote plants.

Read More

June 19, 2017

IGC Show Features Talks on How to Cash in on the Buy Lo…

This year’s event, which takes place Aug. 15-17 in Chicago, also includes a free workshop on what you might do when starting your business over from scratch.

Read More
Robert O'Neill

May 11, 2017

Former SEAL Team Six Leader to Address Attendees at IGC…

Robert O’Neill is a highly decorated combat veterans and the author of the just-published memoir, “The Operator: Firing the Shots That Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior.”

Read More

April 24, 2017

Ian Baldwin Offers Examples From Grower-Retailers on Pr…

In March, Baldwin wrote a blog advising grower-retailers to consider raising their prices this spring. The post inspired a number of creative suggestions.

Read More
Ian Baldwin

March 31, 2017

Ian Baldwin: Aim High With Your Pricing This Spring

In his latest blog posting, the garden retail consultant says consumers are spending more today, which means it’s a good time to consider raising your prices.

Read More
GCA Summer Tour 2017 Andersons Newport Beach

March 23, 2017

Garden Centers of America Unveils Stops on Its Summer T…

Registration for the event, which includes visits to several garden centers each with their own unique highlights, is now open.

Read More
MSU Guide To Attracting Pollinators

March 9, 2017

New Guide on Bee-Friendly Plants Available From Horticu…

The guide is designed to help grower-retailers educate and motivate their customers to purchase and plant pollinator-friendly materials.

Read More
Grapevine Balls, Glass House, and Galvanized Dish Gardens (Flori-Design, Inc.)

March 6, 2017

Cool Product Awards from Garden Retailers Announced at …

This year’s Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE) once again served as a great spot for the Cool Product Awards, an annual collaboration between TPIE, Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association, and The Garden Center Group.

Read More