Everything Matters To Customers

Jolly Farmer is headquartered in New Brunswick, Canada, and serves nearly 3,000 small- to mid-sized growers throughout North America.

High-quality, clean plants. Shipping plants in small increments. Returning calls. Giving access to an on-call horticulturist. Informing customers of all costs up front. Sending thank-you notes. These are all things Jolly Farmer does that add up to good customer service, which is of utmost importance to the operation headquartered in the Saint John River Valley of New Brunswick, Canada.

One might say the young plant grower has an old-fashioned view of the way customers should be treated, although its operations — and the way it does business — are fully modernized. But when it comes to customer service, everything matters right down to the last detail, and it can make a big difference in an operation’s bottom line, says Jolly Farmer Sales Manager Peter Darrow.

“One of our goals is to make it easy to do business with our company,” Darrow says. “Part of that is being able to answer and return calls promptly. We try to call everyone back within an hour of when they leave a message. That really means something.”

Quality Speaks For Itself
In an industry like floriculture, quality needs to be a given, Darrow says. Jolly Farmer has instilled strict sanitation and insect control standards, so the plants it ships are clean.

“When I get a comment from a customer saying, ‘The state inspector was here and when I told him I get my plants from Jolly Farmer, he said he didn’t need to inspect because your material is always clean,’ that’s a vote of confidence,” Darrow says. “That’s number one, because if we’re sending out something that isn’t clean, the customer is going to have to struggle all the way through.”

Jolly Farmer sells directly to its grower customers, bypassing the broker network. Darrow says that connection gives the operation a direct link to its customers that other producers don’t have. Customer service representatives are assigned to each grower and Jolly Farmer has made it a policy to have someone available to answer telephone calls at all times during business hours.

“People want to feel important,” Darrow says. “They want to feel that you’re listening, that you’re thinking about them. Customer service has so much to do with understanding and relating to them. We train our staff that way and it’s a big part of the criteria for who we hire to work with customers.”

Jolly Farmer’s primary customers are small- to medium-sized growers and grower-retailers throughout North America. Its largest customer spans three acres, yet the operation produces more than 98 million plugs and liners annually, with the majority (83 percent) of its material produced from seed.

Provide Customer-centric Services
Because of the size of its customers, Jolly Farmer offers services that appeal to the smaller grower. This means offering a no-minimum-order policy and providing many of its products in smaller ordering increments — third trays and half trays of different plants. Customers can mix and match any combination of the products it offers in small increments in a shipping box, up to 24 different items.

“This is a key factor to enabling customers to not over-order,” Darrow says. “We tell them we want them to order the product that they can grow and sell at a good margin. If they don’t sell it, no one has benefited.”

Its customers also know up-front what all of their costs are — including the price of plants, royalties and shipping — to elminate any surprises later. The cost of freight is one thing Jolly Farmer has carefully measured for efficiency, using the same size box for all of its shipments via FedEx. The dimensions of the box allow the dimensional weight to be very close to the actual weight. FedEx measures both weights and charges for whichever is higher, Darrow says.

“When our customers are trying to figure out how to price their finished product, they need to know the whole picture,” Darrow says. “They don’t want to know in July that there’s a freight bill coming that they hadn’t counted on.”

The operation also offers discounts for early ordering, early payment and high-volume orders, as well as 60-day credit terms.

“This flexibility lets customers choose, based on their cash flow,” Darrow says. “All of these pieces make a whole package, positioning us as a valuable supplier.”

Connect Customers With Culture
Part of buying young plants from Jolly Farmer also includes access to on-call horticulturist Ron Adams, who contracts with Jolly Farmer to provide its customers with plant culture support. The 30-plus-year veteran is now a private horticultural consultant who formerly worked for Ball Horticultural Co. for many years.

“He’s a third party, which keeps the lines clear between our operation and our customers,” Darrow says. “We have emphasized with Ron that if he sees something we’re doing wrong, we want to know about it, but if the customer needs help, we want him to teach that customer. An honest appraisal of the situation is important and it has worked out well.”

That attention to detail extends to Jolly Farmer’s 200-page, 4-color catalog, which includes cultural information and guides, and how to plan each season. Darrow also attends California Spring Trials, as well as grower trials at C. Raker & Sons in Michigan and Metrolina Greenhouses in North Carolina to advise customers about new varieties and how they are performing.

“We can’t offer everything — selling direct has certain limits,” Darrow says. “But we have a great line-up and we want to make sure we’re offering the best available plants. Viewing field evaluations helps us reinforce what we’re doing and let customers know that we are offering great varieties.”

Don’t Be Indifferent
In the end, all of the services Jolly Farmer provides show its customers that they are valued — and when customers feel valued, they feel loyal, Darrow says.

“Two-thirds of customers who stop buying at a company do so because they were treated with indifference,” Darrow says. “That doesn’t mean the service was poor — it means the customer service representatives were indifferent. They didn’t care.
“We are always looking at how we can make customer service repeatable. Our reps never do canned speeches. We want them to be spontaneous but they work with a process so their service has a friendly flow of information.
“We read the feedback forms and ask customers how we can do better. There’s always something. Most of all, we listen. Listen, listen, listen to your customers. That’s the key to repeat business.”

Topics:

Leave a Reply

More From Business Management...
Workers

July 23, 2016

5 Reasons To Invest In Employee Training

Training and developing your employees is critical to the future success of your organization and the horticulture industry at large. Here are five reasons why your employees are worth the effort.

Read More
BeeSmart

July 21, 2016

How You Can Get Involved In Research

The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) supports scientific research and students for the advancement of the horticultural industry.

Read More
Luxflora Flower Run

July 20, 2016

First-Ever Flower Run Was A Big Success, Luxflora Says

Kicking off Cultivate’16 on Sunday, July 10, Luxflora’s first annual 5K saw nearly 150 participants racing through the picturesque Scioto Audubon Park in Columbus under clear blue skies and perfect conditions. It was a great way to start the week, participants said. Congratulations to the winners of the first-ever Flower Run: First Place: Jacob Griffith Gardner Second Place: Mike Goyette Third Place: Jack Ford The top three winners — and all of the Flower Run participants — were showered with flower petals when they crossed the finish line, making for a colorful and fragrant finish to an invigorating experience. “Personally, I would consider it a grand success,” says Luxflora President Rebecca Lusk. “The overall mood was fantastic, from start to finish. There were many high fives and group hugs, numerous duo phone selfies and postings to social media, while participants enjoyed their bananas and bottled water donated by Experience Columbus. Most […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Workers

July 23, 2016

5 Reasons To Invest In Employee Training

Training and developing your employees is critical to the future success of your organization and the horticulture industry at large. Here are five reasons why your employees are worth the effort.

Read More
BeeSmart

July 21, 2016

How You Can Get Involved In Research

The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) supports scientific research and students for the advancement of the horticultural industry.

Read More
Luxflora Flower Run

July 20, 2016

First-Ever Flower Run Was A Big Success, Luxflora Says

Kicking off Cultivate’16 on Sunday, July 10, Luxflora’s first annual 5K saw nearly 150 participants racing through the picturesque Scioto Audubon Park in Columbus under clear blue skies and perfect conditions. It was a great way to start the week, participants said. Congratulations to the winners of the first-ever Flower Run: First Place: Jacob Griffith Gardner Second Place: Mike Goyette Third Place: Jack Ford The top three winners — and all of the Flower Run participants — were showered with flower petals when they crossed the finish line, making for a colorful and fragrant finish to an invigorating experience. “Personally, I would consider it a grand success,” says Luxflora President Rebecca Lusk. “The overall mood was fantastic, from start to finish. There were many high fives and group hugs, numerous duo phone selfies and postings to social media, while participants enjoyed their bananas and bottled water donated by Experience Columbus. Most […]

Read More

July 19, 2016

Do You Grow Young Plants? Only 4 Days Left To Take Our …

If your operation produces plugs or liners for wholesale growers, please take a few minutes to participate in Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Young Plant Grower Survey. We know you are very busy and we value your time and input. This survey should only take a few minutes. Greenhouse Grower’s Young Plant Grower Survey has played a key role in building our Top 20 Young Plant Growers list over the years. The information helps us zero in on trends taking shape and the challenges you’re facing as young plant growers. If you have any questions about this survey or you are not the right contact for this at your operation, please email me at [email protected], or please forward the survey link to the appropriate person. We would like to wrap up this survey by July 25, so please take it soon! Thank you in advance for your participation. We value your opinion! » […]

Read More

July 9, 2016

Market The Experience Of Gardening, Minus The Fuss

Greenhouse Grower editor Laura Drotleff says the industry should promote plants and gardening in bite-size chunks that help consumers build skills.

Read More
Grower Education

July 7, 2016

Two Industry Veterans Discuss How To Meet The Challenge…

Two industry players have a conversation on how we can deliver the level of grower education needed to address complex issues associated with production practices and pest management strategies.

Read More
Briscoe White, Growers Exchange

July 6, 2016

The Grower’s Exchange Unlocks The Secret to E-Commerce

In the Internet era, Briscoe and Kenan White knew they had to adapt or die and specialize to survive. Here’s how they took The Grower’s Exchange online.

Read More
Brie Arthur

July 6, 2016

5 Can’t-Miss Events To Watch For At Farwest 2016

Whether it’s classes on biocontrols and gardening trends, or networking opportunities in and around the trade show floor, there’s plenty happening at Farwest 2016 in Portland, OR, in August.

Read More
'Violets Pride' from Week's Roses Downton Abbey Garden Rose Collection

July 6, 2016

6 Key Insights From The Generations Of Flowers Study

Being local and offering expert recommendations are hidden opportunities in the floral business. This was one of six insights during a recent webinar analyzing the Generations of Flowers study from the Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment.

Read More
Joe Lamp'l

July 1, 2016

Gardening Personality Joe Lamp’l Will Be Keynote Speake…

Lamp’l, who hosts the PBS series “Growing a Greener World,” will discuss effective ways to build your business and keep your customers.

Read More
Cannabis states 2016

July 1, 2016

Adult Use Of Cannabis On The Ballot In 2016

25 states have legalized cannabis and public opinion is increasingly positive. Here’s where things may be headed as we move toward the fall elections.

Read More
Robert Conrad, Ball Seed Technology Research Manager

June 27, 2016

Ball Premier Lab Wins Medal Of Excellence Award For Its…

Over the past 30 years, the Ball Premier Lab has set the standard for high-quality seed in the industry, earning it Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Medal Of Excellence for Industry Achievement, for its dedication to advancing seed and helping growers improve their margins.

Read More
North Creek Nurseries lower trials

June 24, 2016

North Creek Nurseries Is A Finalist For 2016 Operation …

North Creek Nurseries in Landenberg, PA, is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Operation Of The Year award and winner of the Excellence In Sustainable Production award for 2016.

Read More
Vic Frey, Kurt Weiss Greenhouses Feature

June 23, 2016

Vic Frey Named A Finalist For 2016 Head Grower Of The Y…

Vic Frey, a finalist for the 2016 Head Grower of the Year and recipient of the 2016 Excellence In Production award, was always willing to trial and experiment with the latest technology. He loved the constant change in this industry, and turned every opportunity into a teaching moment.

Read More
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

June 19, 2016

Albert Grimm Named A Finalist For 2016 Head Grower Of T…

Grimm, winner of Greenhouse Grower's Excellence in Outreach and Leadership award, is always willing to listen, continuously learn, and improve. He is a role model and empowers his employees to strive for excellence.

Read More
Practical Software Grower Vertical

June 18, 2016

Practical Software Solutions Increases Accessibility, E…

Practical Software will demonstrate Grower Vertical, its customizable and scalable enterprise management system for the horticulture industry, at Cultivate’16 in July.

Read More
Ornamental kale field at Sunlet Nursery

June 17, 2016

Sunlet Nursery Named As Finalist For 2016 Operation Of …

Sunlet Nursery in Fallbrook, CA, is one of three finalists for Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Operation Of The Year award and winner of the Excellence In Community Leadership award for 2016.

Read More
The-Capitol

June 14, 2016

Fate Of H-2B Program A Hot Topic On Capitol Hill This W…

Following a Senate hearing on the economic impact of the H-2B Program, the House Appropriations Committee was scheduled to take up its own version of a funding bill this week.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]