Ravin’ Traven: No Cutting Back

Ravin' Traven: No Cutting Back

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, in which he encourages grower-retailers to stock great plants and hope for the best rather than assume customers simply won’t buy in these uncertain times.

November 28

Steely Dan had a GREAT tune called “Black Friday.” Call it up on iTunes–it’ll cheer you and get you jumping. It should be required at 7 a.m. on this day, to get your employees moving and grooving.

So, it is now 2:30 on Friday, well into the day after Turkey Day, and we’re all fully awake after the turkey coma. We hope you are swamped with people spending money. By Monday, no doubt, you WILL need to restock. We’re here to help.

For all the Doubting Thomases, those who STILL persist in saying that “I’m going to see what develops, who comes in and then bring some stuff in,” be assured: That is ALREADY too late!!! As the garden center guru Robert Hendrickson says, “What the customer wants is simple: a PERFECT PLANT every time, on time, all the time.” They won’t come back later to see IF you brought good material in; they demand it RIGHT NOW. There is no later!!

So, why wait? Get great material right now, sell it and get more. If it doesn’t sell, then you don’t need more. BUT, if you don’t have it at all, you KNOW it will NEVER sell!! If you are not optimistic in this industry, perhaps a change of direction is called for, because isn’t that pretty much what all farmers (and we are definitely farmers!!!) do? We plant a crop, work real hard to make it perfect and HOPE that everything works out.

Of course, we would have to be crazy to not expect to be fairly paid for this risk and exposure. Going into a season hoping to do nothing more than break even is NUTS!!! Unfortunately, WE seem to be the worst offenders when it comes to making sure we don’t value our own product very much. You see that clearly when there are poinsettia promotions at Depot for 99 cents, four for $10 at Walmart, etc. Yet, there are customers out there who WILL pay fairly for excellent products (but we have to ASK for a fair price). The consumer WANTS our product, and it gives them great pleasure. Somehow, a plastic poinsettia centerpiece from China doesn’t cut it.
 
When you need a coronary bypass, do we ask which doctor is cheapest? When you take your good customer out for dinner to thank them for all their business and their loyalty, do you ask the sommelier what is the cheapest wine you can “get away with,” or do you impress them with the best? We TEACH our customers to accept lesser quality at dirt-cheap prices and complain when they get used to it and expect superior quality (what they REALLY want) at the same cheapo-cheapo prices.

Get GREAT product, price it so the customer perceives it as a fair value for THEIR purpose (like impressing the mother-in-law or the new squeeze) and close the deal. Let THEM make the decision of what it is worth. Don’t TELL them that you see it as worth chump change. You’ll get chump change that way.

Leave a Reply

6 comments on “Ravin’ Traven: No Cutting Back

  1. Hallelujah! Finally someone who agrees with my point of view. I have a small nursery near Baton Rouge. I have found that the customer is also looking for plants that the Big Boxes don’t have, and are more than willing to pay for “one of a kind”. This has worked greatly to my favor. Keep penning the truth!

  2. You can not sell from an empty cart! We are doing our regular floral production and increasing vegetables and herbs for the horde of new gardeners we expect. We already have 70 types of Tomatoes and Peppers so we can compete with the Big Boxes or anyone else. We found that in our rural area hybrids to heirlooms to ethnic varieties sell well. It took a couple years to develop the market but it really helps single you out. I am also hopeful that the new administration will help out us regular folks after they take office next month.

  3. As usual, Lloyd is so right! (I like to think those of use from Del Val class of ’79 sieze opportunities) There are more than enough customers out there who value quality product. Let’s keep them happy and coming back for more!

  4. Hallelujah! Finally someone who agrees with my point of view. I have a small nursery near Baton Rouge. I have found that the customer is also looking for plants that the Big Boxes don’t have, and are more than willing to pay for “one of a kind”. This has worked greatly to my favor. Keep penning the truth!

  5. You can not sell from an empty cart! We are doing our regular floral production and increasing vegetables and herbs for the horde of new gardeners we expect. We already have 70 types of Tomatoes and Peppers so we can compete with the Big Boxes or anyone else. We found that in our rural area hybrids to heirlooms to ethnic varieties sell well. It took a couple years to develop the market but it really helps single you out. I am also hopeful that the new administration will help out us regular folks after they take office next month.

  6. As usual, Lloyd is so right! (I like to think those of use from Del Val class of ’79 sieze opportunities) There are more than enough customers out there who value quality product. Let’s keep them happy and coming back for more!

More From State of the Industry...
Laura Drotleff

January 19, 2018

Greenhouse Industry’s Positive Momentum Looks Like it Will Carry Into 2018

Results from Greenhouse Grower's 2018 State of the Industry survey show that growers increased profits in 2017 by raising prices and paying more attention to their operational costs.

Read More
Plants-and-Money

January 5, 2018

State of the Greenhouse Industry: Dealing With Your Banks in 2018 Will Take Patience

Financial institutions are still reluctant to part with capital for agricultural and horticultural growth, despite economic indicators. Here’s why banks have raised the bar on lending.

Read More
Capitol-Building

December 28, 2017

State of the Greenhouse Industry: Regulatory Uncertainty Means It’s Time to Get Involved

With election dynamics, a new farm bill, and pending immigration reform in the mix, 2018 looks to be a wait-and-see year for the horticulture industry.

Read More
Latest Stories
Laura Drotleff

January 19, 2018

Greenhouse Industry’s Positive Momentum Looks Like it W…

Results from Greenhouse Grower's 2018 State of the Industry survey show that growers increased profits in 2017 by raising prices and paying more attention to their operational costs.

Read More
Plants-and-Money

January 5, 2018

State of the Greenhouse Industry: Dealing With Your Ban…

Financial institutions are still reluctant to part with capital for agricultural and horticultural growth, despite economic indicators. Here’s why banks have raised the bar on lending.

Read More
Capitol-Building

December 28, 2017

State of the Greenhouse Industry: Regulatory Uncertaint…

With election dynamics, a new farm bill, and pending immigration reform in the mix, 2018 looks to be a wait-and-see year for the horticulture industry.

Read More

December 9, 2017

Southern California Wildfires Narrowly Miss Most Grower…

Here’s an update on horticulture businesses in the areas affected by the California wildfires.

Read More
Biocontrols in a Greenhouse

November 3, 2017

Take Greenhouse Grower’s 2018 State of the Indust…

Growers and others associated with the greenhouse business often ask the Greenhouse Grower editorial staff where we get ideas for stories. The Answer: You! That's why we're asking you to please take some time to answer our annual State of the Industry survey.

Read More

November 1, 2017

Technology Is Changing the Game for Growers

Technology is sexy. There’s a fervor associated with buying the latest go-go-gadget — and a fear of missing out if we don’t. We all want that latest, most advanced smartphone, home assistant, or wearable tech, no matter the cost. And jobs associated with technology? Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter — offer some of the most competitive and coveted positions on the planet. Just look at the stir Amazon made when it announced it would build a $50 billion second headquarters, with cities from all over North America clamoring to be the one chosen, considering the significant economic potential. Technology and tech jobs are it — and it’s no wonder growers don’t feel jobs in horticulture can compete. But what if they can? If tech jobs are the future and the future of horticulture depends on technology, then we have a real opportunity to seize. Millennials who have grown up […]

Read More

May 23, 2017

USDA-APHIS Bulletin on Unauthorized Distribution of Gen…

On May 2, 2017, USDA-APHIS was informed that an orange petunia variety was potentially genetically engineered and had been imported and moved interstate without required authorization by APHIS. This led to testing of numerous petunia varieties, which confirmed this particular variety and several others are genetically engineered, and meet the regulatory definition of a regulated article under APHIS regulations. APHIS continues to work with the industry to ensure unauthorized GE petunias are not distributed in the United States.

Read More

March 2, 2017

Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Whitepaper Avai…

This year’s survey featured a record 975 respondents and tackled topics such as sales trends, technology, major industry challenges and opportunities, and much more.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Webinar

February 27, 2017

State of the Industry Webinar Available for On-Demand V…

The half-hour presentation includes an analysis of Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State of the Industry survey, along with insights from horticulture industry leaders.

Read More

February 11, 2017

Poinsettia Survey Reveals Growers Increased Poinsettia …

On average, growers responding to Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Poinsettia Survey said the poinsettia season was “good,”Here’s a glance at the outlook for poinsettias in the marketplace.

Read More

January 25, 2017

59 New Members of Congress Need to Hear from You, SAF S…

Retailers, wholesalers, suppliers, and growers coming to the Society of American Florists' (SAF) 37th Annual Congressional Action Days, March 13-14 in Washington, DC, have a lot of explaining to do. There are 59 new congressmen and senators on Capitol Hill, and this freshmen class needs a lesson about floriculture.

Read More
bouldin-lawson-pro-sticking-line-at-north-creek-nurseries

January 25, 2017

State of the Industry 2017: Growers are Ready to Invest…

Greenhouse Grower's 2017 State of the Industry Survey revealed that grower investment in technology is imminent due to the cost and availability of labor, to improve efficiency, expand their growing operations, and allow employees to concentrate on higher value jobs that are less labor-intensive.

Read More

January 24, 2017

Growers are an Aging Demographic, 2017 State of the Ind…

Owners and upper management of growing operations in the horticulture industry, not unlike others in agriculture, are aging, according to Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State of the Industry Survey.

Read More
Biocontrols and beneficials absolutely can be used in outdoor production, with the use of banker plant systems

January 24, 2017

Growers Becoming More Sustainable but Most Think Climat…

Greenhouse Grower's 2017 State of the Industry Survey revealed that growers are adopting biocontrols and organic production, yet 58% of growers said they don't believe humans can control climate change.

Read More

January 24, 2017

State of the Industry Survey Says 2017 Will be a Year o…

Growers, suppliers, and researchers who took Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State Of The Industry Survey say they are ready to drive change and profitability in horticultural businesses.

Read More
Moana plant yard

January 4, 2017

Green Industry Poised for Continued Economic Growth in …

Positive economic indicators point to 2017 being a year of modest growth for the green industry, according to economist Charlie Hall.

Read More

January 3, 2017

Growing Optimism for the Horticulture Industry in 2017

With a new administration and a new Congress, AmericanHort's Craig Regelbrugge says the horticulture industry has reason to be cautiously optimistic that regulatory relief could be on the horizon.

Read More
Bees on flowers

October 11, 2016

Bees Endangered? Here’s The Rest Of The Story

Recently, mainstream media reported that certain bee species have been placed on the endangered species list, but the situation isn’t as dire as one might think.

Read More