Here our 4 tips to grow your garden centre. These are some of the things we practice in our business, and we would love to share them with you.
1. Know Your Customer
It’s a simple idea; make things easy for your customers. Here at Diaco’s, we find that keeping things simple is the key. We simplify our language and go that extra mile to explain why a particular potting mix is better than another. If someone is looking for gardening ideas, we create special plant arrangements in-store to show them what his or her garden could look like.
It doesn’t stop there; we get to know our customers. They become our regulars because we remember the plant they bought the year before or can recall small details in their life.
Our tip is to be genuine about it. We feel a great local/independent garden centre is like inviting a guest into your home. How well do you know your customers?
2. Social Media
Facebook, Instagram are our favourites, they are one of the most potent ways of growing awareness and building relationships. We share our stories, family photos, celebrate events, pictures of products, tips, videos and sales updates. We’ve loved the feedback and engagement. The trick here is to make sure it’s your imagery and content.
Keep posting frequently, we publish a photo one a day on Instagram and at least half a dozen a month on Facebook.
Customers want to know the people behind the business. It’s what makes them feel comfortable when they come to see you in-store.
Our garden centre in Geelong is an excellent example of this. Kate, the franchise owner, was stopped at a pharmacy where a friendly local asked if little her daughter was feeling better. It’s an example of how the community not only follows but backs your business and family.
3. Analyse Your Numbers
Analysing your numbers is more than just looking at your sales and costs. It’s important to understand your numbers; what is driving your sales? Which category is most successful and how is it changing over time?
This trend analysis will give you an opportunity to ask the tough questions about products, staff and merchandising.
Remember these facts, as they significantly contribute to what you end up changing when you analyse the performance of your business. We learn a lot, and we act upon this information to prioritise marketing strategies.
For example, we recently identified an underperforming category that was taking up to 15% of our internal retail space. We pulled to team together to rearrange the layout of the area. Sales for that category didn’t improve, and we weren’t expecting them to; the benefit came from providing other products with more retail space. It made all the difference, and as a result, our overall sales picked up.
It’s not an easy task to implement change, especially when you are busy with day to day operations. The tricky thing about our industry is the seasonal nature of it, so planning and implementation must happen in the quiet season.
4. Invest in Technology
Admittedly we were initially not great with technology, but we pushed through our fear of change and made it a priority. There were teething issues with accounting, the point of sale, and establishing a back office. But we got through each of them through our perseverance.
When started our transition about five years ago, and it’s the best thing we have done for our business. Today our point of sale system integrates with our accounting package; our database is categorised, and we track sales based on the performance of products, staff members and locations.
We have saved countless hours of administration across every part of the business, and we can manage our back office with fewer people.
If you are thinking about your technology solution, we suggest mapping out your processes on a piece of paper first. Mapping will give you a way to visualise your weaker areas and figure out where you need to focus your attention. It may mean you should start with your point of sales, or your accounting package.
Whatever it is, focus in on a plan, as without one you won’t be prepared to handle the curveballs along the way. We changed everything including our web hosting service. Our full transformation didn’t happen overnight; it took two years to make the transition. Also, as with most things you improve, we keep on finding more to do as our business grows.
We’re excited, and we know that focusing on the details and implementing actions makes all the difference.
If you would like to grow your garden centre, feel free to get in touch. We love seeing a strong independent garden industry.
We currently have recently launched a new franchise partnership model with a lower investment cost to own a nursery, our garden centre in Keilor is presently available. Find out more by visiting www.diacos.com.au/franchising.