For those of us that operate ostensibly in the retail channel this is shaping up to be our best spring in many years. This is fantastic and much deserved but spring doesn’t last forever. The peak will undoubtedly be followed by some quieter times after Christmas and a resurgence of gardening activity during autumn before we head back into that post mother’s day lethargy that occurs every year during June and July.
It would seem sensible then that we as an industry exploit these buoyant times to the maximum and “make hay while the sun shines”. Achieving this needs planning, cooperation and a unified approach from all those involved. Green Expo is being held in May 2013. This is an excellent opportunity to discuss how our suppliers, be they growers or allied, can work with the retailers to drive additional sales. We need to establish how they wish to be involved. They may be able to give a presentation, provide tips and tricks for the retailer or assist with a promotion.
We need a structured program of promotions that we can all get behind. For example, I envisage in the week leading up to the October long weekend garden centres across the state will host an array of events culminating in a festival weekend. This would be a fabulous opportunity to launch new products and get some media interest. A sausage sizzle always pulls a crowd and kids love face painting or potting up some plants. If we get everyone involved we may be able to convince suppliers to support us with a major prize.
Many people, mainly women, start their Christmas shopping as early as August, but certainly by November the public become less rational about spending and we need to insure that we get our share of the Christmas spend. We could all do better in chasing the Christmas dollar. Plan your buying so that you have plenty of potential gifts in store for this period. Make sure you offer complimentary gift wrapping as those that are lazy or short of time love it and often buy multiple presents just because they are wrapped. In the UK, garden centres own the market in cut Christmas trees. Why should we be any different here in Australia?
Valentine’s Day is another perfect opportunity that we often ignore. Why do we leave it to the florists? We sell flowers as well and ours have roots and last more than 5 days. We need some of this action for ourselves.
Autumn needs to become the new spring. It’s an ideal time for planting and working in the garden and therefore a great time for us to sell before the winter lull hits. We need to develop some simple but well-constructed messages & devise promotional material that all garden centres can display in order to reinforce the importance of the season & get the public enthused.
I am sure that we all prepare in some way for Mother’s Day but do we do enough? Don’t forget that husbands and sons become our target customers during this period. Make sure you get your mother’s day signage up early. Males will need to read your message multiple times before it registers and they act. They need to make us the first port of call and not the local Westfield.
The concept that I am reinforcing is simple. We as an industry need to work together with the support of our association to maximise the sale of plants and allied products. If we can achieve this then the future is bright.