July/August 2011 • Volume 29 • Number 4
Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association • Serving Colorado, New Mexico, & Wyoming
Connect Reaching Out to Stakeholders 8 Knowing Your Customers Creates Long-Lasting, Profitable Connections 12 Making Connections through the Internet 14 The Benefits of Community Outreach 22 Member Profile: Santa Fe Greenhouses & High Country Gardens
In the nursery world, change is a constant. And with change comes possibilities. Join us at the 2011 Farwest Show, where we are tackling the evolving wholesale and retail environment head-on with new ideas and innovative
solutions. With hundreds of exhibitors, mind-opening seminars and networking opportunities, youâ€™ll return home inspired and ready for action. Save the dates!
Our Mission Professionals growing for a better tomorrow... your growing resource. Cover Photo Courtesy of High Country Gardens, all rights reserved
In This Issue 5
Calendar, New Members, & Advertisers
Message from the Board: Reaching Out
Knowing your Customers Makes Long-Lasting, Profitable Connections
Requesting Comments Strengthens Connection to Customers Customer Appreciation – Two Views on Expressing Thanks
20 CSU Update: Impact of Irrigation on Shrubs
10 12 14
Connecting – Building Relationships through Targeted Communications
22 Member Profile: Santa Fe Greenhouses and High Country Gardens
Making Connections through the Internet Community Outreach – it’s Better to Give than to Receive
Board Of Directors Kent Broome, President Bailey Nurseries, Inc. 303.823.5093 Dan Gerace, Vice President Welby Gardens Company, Inc. 303.288.3398 Bill Kluth, Secretary/Treasurer Tagawa Greenhouse Enterprises, LLC 303.659.1260 x205
21 Safety Corner: Report Injuries within 24 Hours and Save
24 N.M. Chapter News: Meet us at the Albuquerque BBQ
Matt Edmundson Arbor Valley Nursery 303.654.1682
Davey Rock Picadilly Nursery 303.659.2382
Tom Halverstadt Country Lane Wholesale Nursery 303.688.2442
Terry Shaw Harding Nursery, Inc. 719.596.6281
Bob Heath RRH, Inc. 303.904.3330
Dr. James Klett, Ex-Officio Member CSU Dept. of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture 970.491.7179
Warren Jordan Jordan’s Greenhouse 970.482.4471
Les Ratekin, Past President Ratekin Enterprises 303.670.1499
Bob Lefevre Advanced Green Solutions 303.916.0609
Stan Brown Alameda Wholesale Nursery 303.761.6131
Monica Phelan Phelan Gardens 719.574.8058
Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association 959 S. Kipling Pkwy., Ste 200 Lakewood, CO 80226 303.758.6672 or 888.758.6672 Fax: 303.758.6805 email@example.com www.coloradonga.org The LooseLeaf is produced by CNGA and Millbrook Printing Company 3540 West Jefferson Hwy Grand Ledge, MI 48837-9750 Fax: 517.627.4201 www.millbrookprinting.com www.colorado nga.org
Sharon R. Harris Executive Director Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association 303.758.6672 firstname.lastname@example.org The LooseLeaf feature writer and editor is Tanya Ishikawa of Buffalo Trails Multimedia Communications www.coloradonga.org/editor-tanya-ishikawa Visit www.coloradonga.org for classified advertisements, plant publications, upcoming events, a member directory, and much more!
N.M. Chapter Senator, Mike Erickson 877.905.6432 email@example.com Wyo. Chapter Senator, Griff Sprout 307.332.3572 firstname.lastname@example.org Sharon R. Harris, Executive Director Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association 303.758.6672
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Kent Broome
Sharon R. Harris
Dr. Jim Klett
ADVERTISING INFO Rick Haverdink 3540 West Jefferson Hwy Grand Ledge, MI 48837-9750 Fax: 517.627.4201 email@example.com
The market has changed...our trees haven’t Quality specimen trees evergreen | Flowering shade
Flowering Shrubs • Junipers Ornamental Grasses • Vines • Perennials Container-Grown Shade & Fruit Trees since 1957
Represented by Les Ratekin 303-670-1499 • 303-670-1133 fax firstname.lastname@example.org
888-777-8199 Emmett, Idaho | baxternursery.com
fcally for mulated fo i c e r Sp P l a o n d t a s r & o l Soil r Co s. u o
2224 North Shields Street Fort Collins, Colorado 80524 970-484-1289 | fax 970-484-1386
ftcollinswholesalenursery.com availability password: hotwings
Our quality is your success LooseLeaf July/August 2011
Outreach and Member BBQs
Commercial Pesticide Applicators Seminars
Friday, July 29, 5 to 7 p.m., Fort Collins Wholesale Nursery, Colo. Thursday, Aug. 11, 5 to 7 p.m., Colorado Springs, Colo. Friday, Aug. 19, 5 to 7 p.m., Osage Gardens, New Castle, Colo. Thursday, Aug. 25, 5 to 7 p.m., Kiwanis Reservation Area, Elena Gallegos Picnic Area, Albuquerque, N.M.
Tuesdays and Thursdays, October 4, 6, 11, 13 and 18
We are still working on details for the Denver location. Look for information in an upcoming E-Leaf. Thank you to our sponsors: Wells Fargo Insurance Services, Pinnacol Assurance, and Richards, Seeley & Schaefer.
Colorado Certified Nursery Professional (CCNP) Seminars
Exam Prep Seminars taught by Assefa Gebre-Amlak, CSU extension agent. These exam prep seminars are designed to help you prepare for and pass the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Commercial Pesticide Applicators Licensing Exam. Class space is limited; sign up early. Owners and Managers Meeting Friday and Saturday, November 4 and 5, Vail Marriott Resort & Spa, Vail, Colo. $99 room rates. $55 to register for program. Thank you to our sponsors: Pinnacol Assurance, Wells Fargo Insurance Services, and Plant Select.
Tuesdays, Fort Collins, Colo. Perennials: July 19, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Gulley Greenhouse; Trees: July 26, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Fort Collins Nursery; Shrubs: Aug. 2, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Fossil Creek Nursery; Landscape Design: Aug. 9, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., CSU Greenhouse Room 114; Exam: Aug. 30, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., CSU Greenhouse Room 114.
Photo ©High Country Gardens, all rights reserved
Plant Walk Wednesday, Sept. 7, 3 p.m., Northern Water’s Conservation Gardens, Berthoud, Colo.
Thank you to our sponsor, Plant Select.
Register for Calendar events with CNGA unless otherwise noted.
Women in Horticulture Luncheon
Tel: 303.758.6672 or 888.758.6672 Fax: 303.758.6805 E-mail: email@example.com
Thursday, Sept. 15, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Lakewood Country Club, Lakewood, Colo. Enjoy a guest speaker, lunch, wine, and dessert. The fee is $25 per person. Thank you to our sponsors: Pinnacol Assurance, Richards, Seeley & Schaefer, and Wells Fargo Insurance Services!
CNGA is the host of Calendar events unless otherwise noted. For more information, registration forms, and directions to programs, go to the Industry Professional site on www.coloradonga.org and open the Calendar under the Events tab.
new MEMBERS CNREF & CFF Golf Tournament Monday, Sept. 26, Noon Shotgun Start, Red Hawk Ridge at Castle Rock, Castle Rock, Colo. Early bird deadline is Sept. 2. Sponsorships available; sign up now to get the most marketing for your sponsorship dollars.
classified ADS CNGA offers free posts and searches of our online classified ads, including items for sale or lease and job openings. For more information and to see current postings, visit the Industry Professional side of www.coloradonga. org and click on Classifieds under the Resources tab.
HELP WANTED: Spray Technician Seeking experienced pesticide applicator for landscape/tree farm/ maintenance company. Call 303-7615639 or apply at 2301 W. Oxford Ave., Englewood, Colo., or send resume to fax: 303-781-4525 or e-mail: SteveKnLandscape@aol.com. (see more details on the Industry Professional side of www.coloradonga. org by clicking on Classifieds under the Resources tab).
Fisher Farms, LLC 9650 SW Hardebeck Road Gaston, OR 97119 Tel: 503.985.7561 Fax: 503.985.3518 Jeremy Burress, Sales Manager www.fisherfarms.com Jeremy@fisherfarms.com Founded 1981
Royce Lahman Student 752 W. 10th Street Loveland, CO 80537 Tel: 970.218.0029 Gameser89@comcast.net
advertisers Alpha One Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 American Clay Works & Supply Company . . . . . . . 23 Baxter Wholesale Nursery, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Clayton Tree Farm LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Fort Collins Wholesale Nursery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Harding Nursery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Hash Tree Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Jayker Wholesale Nursery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Ken Becker Nursery Sales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 McKay Nursery Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Oregon Association of Nurseries . Inside Front Cover RatekinEnterprises/Hollandia Nursery . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Richards, Seeley & Schaefer, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
THIN IS IN!
Ken Becker Nursery Sales LLC
Specimen Quality Trees Available! Bringing you the best from the Northwest... • Nursery Management Services • Nursery Plant Brokering • Shipping throughout the USA and Canada
RichaRds, seeley & schaefeR, inc.
Insurance by Greenhouse Specialists WestminsteR, coloRado
303-429-3561 castle Rock
Workers’ Compensation Dividend Plan Member Discounts Safety Plans Competitive Pricing
Greenhouse Packages Garden Center Packages Boiler/Crop Insurance Commercial Automobile Home & Auto
EndorsEd by thE Colorado nursEry & GrEEnhousE assoCiation
“Professional Insurance Service with a Personal Touch” 6
LooseLeaf July/August 2011
Reaching out, listening to & thanking the community
MESSAGE FROM THE BOARD
By Monica Phelan, CCNP CNGA Board Member
Imagine if your company added LOVE to its mission statement or overall business practices. What does it mean to have love underlying everything your business does? Proposing this business philosophy is a book called “Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose.” The authors of this manager’s guidebook recognize these changing times as a cultural and thinking revolution. As the population ages, we’re witnessing a transition from material wants to a desire for meaning in one’s life. This awareness has brought a resurgence to the backyard garden and support for organic and locally grown movements. Surviving and capitalizing on this time of transition, companies have an opportunity to join passion with purpose, while embodying a loving relationship with all stakeholders. Stakeholders of your company are not just stockholders, but rather employees, customers, vendors, and your community. By creating an emotional contract with stakeholders and by striving for a share of the heart, a company can grow exponentially. Are you a “firm of endearment”? If you answer yes to the questions below about key stakeholder relationships, you are. Customers: Do your customers perceive your business as having a soul? Is the environment fun, fresh, and responsive? Is there integrity with your product, service, facility, and staff? Do you offer opportunities to grow and enlighten your customer? Does your customer feel loved? Employees: Do your employees feel recognized and appreciated? Do you promote positive emotions in your employees? Are they empowered to make decisions? Do they have a voice? Is there an opportunity for professional growth? Do they feel they are fairly compensated for their efforts? Do they feel the love? Vendors/Suppliers: Do you collaborate with vendors? Do you make your suppliers’ life easier through communication and organization? Do you listen to suppliers’ suggestions that may improve your business practices? Can you look to your suppliers for help and support? Is there a mutual feeling of partnership and love? www.colorado nga.org
Community: Is your business good for society? Does your company possess sustainable business practices? Does your business cooperate with government entities to help achieve social and environmental change? Does your business make your community a better place to live?
CNGA Board President Kent Broome
Through their words and actions, firms of endearment demonstrate a caring commitment toward their stakeholders. By creating emotional, social, and experiential value, companies nurturing these relationships grow both in support and endearment with this family of valued partners.
Postscript from Board President Kent Broome Monica is on the CNGA outreach committee and was active with member outreach prior to becoming a board member. As board members, we are often asked ‘How do I become a board member?’ Of course there is the election process, but before that you need to get involved. Monica chose to put her passion for the industry to work and did get involved. We do need to get connected more than ever with the different stakeholders that Monica mentions. Customers as we all know can get plants at a better price anytime they want. But can gardeners get their desired level of service, knowledge, and emotional connection at the bargain stores? Monica mentions vendor relationships. At times on sales calls or even just a phone call, I really want to know what exactly does this customer need. My best customers tell me what they really need, where I or my company is lacking, and what would make a better relationship. Those companies that tell their vendors what they need, get more from their vendors and are more successful. I always say ‘When you have a question, call your 10 top sales reps and ask their opinion.’ Usually you will get at least one helpful idea that might work for you. But then again, from sales reps you might just get a lot of ...
Do what Monica did: volunteer, get active, and feel the love.
Community is interesting, I can not think of a leading company that is not reaching out to their community. Get involved in some segment of your community. At CNGA, owners and employees are all welcome to get involved. Come to the BBQs and network while enjoying a great (free) meal. Call the CNGA office or find a board member and ask about getting involved. Help make CNGA your “association of endearment”; as board members, that is our goal. Do what Monica did: volunteer, get active, and feel the love.
Con Gary Eastman, CCNP, Retired Owner of Fort Collins Nursery
Understanding your customers and what motivates them will help you get them into your store. This understanding puts you in the position of knowing what merchandise to carry Fort Collins Nursery
and how to present it to
Knowing your Customers
your customers. Your
be regarded as a source
Makes Long-Lasting, 8
displays will “speak” to your customers and you and your company will
LooseLeaf July/August 2011
nnections How can a company better know its customers and make this socioeconomic tie stronger? Try this model. Your store is a social place where the public – including your future, present, and past customers – meet with each other and discuss among other things how your store is merchandised, what the displays say to them, and how much or little they enjoy shopping at your garden center. In this model you are the host or hostess and the customers are the guests. The social interaction happens in the store on a daily basis, heated up periodically by an organized event such as an open house, ladies night, or a preferred customer occasion. Events like these ask for social interaction and are excellent in themselves as customer knowledge builders.
Show up in your neighborhood. Be noticed! Marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, setting up a booth for the local farmers’ market, and giving away caps with your logo on them will all help make you a well-known fixture in your neighborhood. Take care of your customers’ basic creature comforts. Shade, water, inviting benches, clean restrooms, and ice cream are all greatly appreciated Study your customers. Conduct interviews. Collect comment cards. Map customer shopping patterns. Find out from which part of your community your customers come. Subscribe to a “secret shopper” service. But most important, communicate with your customers when they appear, unannounced in your doorway. They are
there because you have worked at understanding who they are and what they value. They have learned that they can trust you. Understanding and trust are the glue of social interaction and it takes time and hard work to earn these valuable assets. The most efficient method you can use to relate to your customers, in ways like those offered here, is with the right staff. It takes dedicated, energetic, positive, and outgoing people to achieve these ends. If you expect to be able to communicate with the large, somewhat amorphous group that is your customers, you will need people with welldeveloped communication skills. Keep this at the top of your list when interviewing to hire.
Connecting â€” Building Relationships through Targeted Communications
LooseLeaf July/August 2011
, Dear Budget-Minded Colleague
t r company. The saying: ‘You can’ Marketing is an investment in you . true be to out ey,’ really does turn make money unless you spend mon to g tryin ’re you who all depends on But, how you spend your money target. are, what they’re doing, and you You listen to your clients: who they g re they are at. It’s all about knowin work towards meeting them whe . tion rma info r thei they are getting who you are looking for and how ts, I still do marketing come from referrals from other clien ts clien new my of ent perc 95 While I would say of my customer contact is on the h with old and new clients. A lot touc in p call kee and cate edu to ons communicati gs to do. Otherwise, customers will ner is probably one of the best thin man ly time a in calls g rnin Retu phone. d to be prompt. so busy and unavailable. You nee someone else, because you seem They were either a many times throughout the years. ads er spap new tried I ng, keti ’t receive any response. As far as traditional mar p up with the response, or they didn kee ld’t cou I re whe ess succ t really, really grea ther they are clientele who read the I will be trying to attract and whe who on s end dep n agai it do I Whether local paper or not. into regularly checking e-mail. I send who aren’t on the Internet or not we are doing now.’ I never I mail postcards to remind clients r spring cleanup,’ or ‘This is what you ut abo call to et forg ’t don , messages like ‘Hey onal. each address to make it more pers use a bulk mail program. I write out , I do all that through my website though I did in the early days. Now ers, slett new site on er pap or yers ﬂ send I never . I also created an inexpensive web ct e-mails to clients is really effective g, dire atin ding upd e Sen som ng. keti use ld mar cou ail e-m and c and hic designer. It’s very stati grap or on pers web a not am I yahoo by myself, and it. but I still get lots of responses from people on what should be eight weeks, year-round to educate to six y es ever er, slett new ail e-m I send an rmative messages. If business com trends in the industry, and other info , t time wha that on at lic en pub gard the g the in catin ing edu happen my business mission of g alon e tinu con to just it g doin from it, that’s great, but I’m proper gardening is. s, with an e-mail marketing n me their addresses over the year give e hav who ple peo to er slett fairly minimal amount of people I send the new dly look, and it is affordable for the frien girlthe d like I m. a.co mm mye service at I am targeting. ude them a heads up. My messages incl before they need service and give y,’ or pan com n atio irrig r you call to I’m usually trying to get to people time now,’ or ‘It’s a good sign rede a ut abo k thin to t wan ht ideas like ‘You mig ‘Now’s the time for replanting.’ are You can track how many people ther, and 15 minutes to send out. toge a put to for rs d hou goo is two told ut n abo s bee It take rate, which I’ve ally have a 25 to 30 percent open will usu ple ers peo e slett mor new , my free for and it ng ethi ning ope ng in a contest or get som ethi som win ht mig you say you gardening company. If something pertinent or amusing. open it. People also like when it’s res, plus it’s a place for gardeners omers. I post tips, quotes, and pictu cust my cate edu about help to k boo Face I’m also on inent to what’s blooming and tips ts are the ones that are more pert pos ular get lots pop also t I s.’ mos My rose me. with with now t to talk are supposed to do righ you t wha is s ‘Thi as such ly, gardening that are very time want education, at least mine do. friends want philosophy and they of responses on quotes. Facebook in the morning, and again at night. Facebook. I try to do it first thing on t mos at day a utes min 15 be I spend may weeks. People started to “like” the and the site had just been up five fans 430 had I , ut a May of ng inni beg As of the an ad on Facebook to get fans abo and more people are on it. I put e mor y ad’s yda The ever ) and get. y, bud awa set t a righ page seeing it and ad’s cost is based on the population e, week after my page was up. (The k to learn how many new fans I hav wee y ever it on rts repo get I d. roun year e enc pres a up important to keep tion. . I’m how many views, and other informa up on any one at this point in time keting. I don’t think I would give mar in e plac a e hav s hod met e All thes d on where I know my clients are. just trying to have a presence base my BlackBerry and can and direct e-mails. I’m always on calls een betw up toss a It’s l? Which is more powerfu y. answer calls and e-mails right awa
owner/landscape designer Best wishes, Tess Scanlon-Phillips, o. Gardening By Tess, Edgewater, Col
Making Connections through the Internet The last year has seen an explosion in the promotion and use of online coupons, heavily discounted gift certificates advertised through e-mail campaigns by a variety of Internet start-ups. From Mamapedia Sweet Deals to Living Social Daily, this new form of advertising is mostly seen as a way to bring new customers in the door. Groupon is probably the most well-known of these companies, with 16 million subscribers in the United States and 270,000 in the Denver area alone, according to statistics from November. This size of readership, who view the Groupon ads daily if they check their e-mail, is much larger than any other type of localized advertising. With Groupons, an offer for a gift certificate at a 50 percent or higher discount is sent to all subscribers in a predetermined area (as well as posted on the Groupon site). Companies can set many different limits on
the offer, such as whether it runs one to three days, after how many months the certificate expires, whether each person can buy more than one offer, and the total number of offers sold. A minimum number of offers must be sold or the coupon is cancelled. To pay for the service, Groupon charges 50 percent of the purchase price (so with a $40 certificate sold for $20, Groupon and the advertiser would each get $10). A few CNGA members have tried their luck with Groupons in the past year, and though results are still coming in on their Groupon campaigns, two members shared their experiences so far. Kelly Grummons of Timberline Gardens and Jesse Eastman, CCNP, of Fort Collins Nursery, who both considered other similar services before going with Groupon, expressed general satisfaction with the outcomes. Read what they had to say on the next page.
Dear Fellow E-Marketing Skep
a observed the e-marketing trend from For the past number of years I’ve at two or inar journals and attending a sem distance, reading about it in trade ted exci too n’t was guy, I was skeptical. I ProGreen. As a not-so-tech-savvy a ld neither grasp nor evaluate from cou I that ng about pursuing somethi our in ers own s ines bus ll many sma cost-benefit standpoint. Also, like le couldn’t muster the energy to tack I and , tired I’m y, bus I’m , industry e som nd fi did r) eral manager (my siste another project. However, our gen 21st century. Here’s a snapshot of the into – self t ctan relu my and y– pan com the hing energy and began pus r our foray into e-marketing. customers the opportunity to orde early order sale, where we provide an e is hav that we yer ’s ﬂ a don Lan with at y and ruar ads, Each Feb via radio and print tial savings. We promote the sale stan sub a from at l es eria ress mat add t ail plan e-m dy g woo an collectin rs. During the sale in 2010, we beg omers mailed to more than 500 custome took our sale online, allowing cust we , 2010 in Also . tion rma info that us print give and to o ed radi sent customers who con r own schedules. Our the comfort of their homes, on thei from d 130 ess ecte proc r coll We orde y site. earl web the to traverse ors to go to our online ordering and encouraged visit the oted prom year that ing ertis adv t online orders for that year. e-mail addresses and received eigh t Contact, promoting sales ing with e-mail blasts using Constan play an beg r siste my , 2010 of During the summer cautious about overwhelming our likes getting junk e-mail, we were one no e Sinc ager, e. stor our at ts and other even ived. Also in 2010, our store man few we sent out seemed well rece rst fi The . ds. tion frien rma 200 info r ove with d ents ecte constitu rt time, we coll k page for our company. In a sho Jessica Mommsen, built a Faceboo tact e-mail blast using our Constant Con order sale, we decided to send an the sale of r inde rem a was ail e-m As we approached our 2011 early The . had provided us their electronic info had I been on top of this trend experience to the 130 customers who It was tremendously successful, and ne. onli us visit an to get to ent gem oura and an enc as well as a bunch of labor. I beg $100 in mailer and postage costs, r ove totaling 42 us d ly tual save e even hav ld up, ed cou ier, pick earl r sale, the online orders orde y earl the ugh thro ed attention. ress my E-marketing got interested…... As we prog , and 17 percent of our total sales. 2010 from ease incr plus entperc for the year, a 400 al and fun seminars to draw s, we host educational/information ines bus this in ant es eagu coll our of Like many ts just before the sessions. Particip oted the seminars with e-mail blas prom ting. we arke year e-m This the e. of lt stor resu our a to traffic s size nearly doubled as clas that ate estim I and ng, spri ail from both the e-m blasts response was impressive this Facebook, and she got participants on ions sess ’ Club ’s ‘Kid her al store sales as customers exiting Jessica also promoted increased class size came addition the With . ents cem oun ann k boo and the Face the classes left with purchases. to the country, Sheridan doesn’t seem ther way. Unlike other regions in a ll fi to ng ggli stru n bee had Our Facebook page paid off in ano work. We quality folks looking for seasonal on our have a huge supply of enthusiastic ica decided to post the openings Jess ess. succ out with th, mon a r ove for s ition. ition add pos staff e t -tim llen to be an exce couple of key part idates responded. One has proven cand two k wee a in with and e, pag Facebook hso far are promising. This non-tec n slow but positive, and the returns bee has ting arke e-m into y fora Our my phone…. I could just learn how to text on savvy skeptic is reformed. Now if
Sincer ely, Wayne Gray, co-owner , Sheridan, Wyo. Landon’s Greenhouse and Nursery 12
LooseLeaf July/August 2011
Two Experiences with Groupon – the Popular Internet Coupon Service Jesse Eastman, CCNP, Fort Collins Nursery, Fort Collins, Colo.
Kelly Grummons, Timberline Gardens, Arvada, Colo.
When and What was Advertised Eastman: We have placed two offers: a $35 certificate for $17 in early December to boost sales during the holiday season, and a $40 certificate for $17 in early April to kickstart sales in the spring season. We did not put a limit to how many sold because we made our offer available for only 24 hours, and figured we could handle the amount that came in during that time. Grummons: We placed an offer as we were coming into our busiest season, when we are maxed out with inventory. On April 15, we offered a $40 certificate for $20, and limited the number sold to 1,500. We hadn’t done it before and didn’t want to be so overwhelmed with the buyers that we wouldn’t give good customer service. We were mostly worried about redemption, but by early May, there have been no long waits for customers redeeming them. We put an expiration date on the certificates of August 18, which is about six months after purchase and at the end of our season.
How Well it Sold Eastman: We sold about 140 of the December offers, and ended up selling almost 2,000 of the April offers. Grummons: The offer was posted at about 5 a.m. on April 15, and by 10 a.m., we sold out of all 1,500 certificates.
How Much Work it Created Eastman: We entered the Groupon sales through our POS system, and the data entry was difficult because Groupon did not have it set up in a good format for loading into our system. We had technical issues with our bar codes that our Groupon representative couldn’t solve for us, and it took time to get to a technical assistant. It was frustrating because we wasted a couple hours, before we were able to get quick help from the technical person. Groupon helps you track sales and the results of the offer, but another frustrating part is that they don’t have a way of keeping data from our first and second offers separate, so we have to separate that data ourselves. Grummons: Our sales rep was very helpful in guiding us. They have very easy tracking, and we can use an app on iPhone so we www.colorado nga.org
can scan each Groupon. The tracking code is a very short eight-digit number to type in, and we have made an extra tab in our point of sales system that we open to enter it.
Cost vs. Benefit Eastman: With the December offer, there were so few sold that it is hard to pass judgment. One of the strategies to gain more benefit from each offer is to set it at your average customer sales amount, with the expectation that most people will spend more than the coupon amount. People with our $35 December coupon spent about $40 on average. With our $40 April coupon, our average sale has been $58, as of late April. It’s nice when you know who the Groupon customers are when they come in the door, which you can when they are carrying the printed out coupon. We know they have a tendency to shop up to the certificate amount and stop, so knowing they have a Groupon gives us incentive to watch how they are shopping and suggest complementary products to raise the total sales amount. In retrospect, I would have limited the number of offers sold, because the amount of the discount was so high in April that we made too many sales with small profit margins. One of our goals was to bring in new customers with the offers. We did attract a lot of new people, because more than half of the Groupon customers were not already in our system. They may have shopped here previously but they were not yet members in our garden club loyalty program. We had hoped it would attract younger people who make up more of the Groupon demographics, but most buyers were in their 50s or older. The best part was the coverage: the buzz the day the deal ran. I was running into people for days afterwards who said they had heard about it from a friend of a friend. It generated good word of mouth, buzz that’s more valuable than typical advertising. One of the worst parts was though we set a limit of one coupon per customer, a woman set up accounts under all her family members and bought six. That really makes it a lot less appealing when you realize people are taking advantage of it that way. Grummons: So far, in early May, a couple hundred coupons have been redeemed, and we expect most to come in May. It has
been reaching our expectations, and has been a good experience. The average ticket sale has been well over double the certificate amount. Some customers get just as close to the face dollar amount as possible, but we had one sale that was $800. Anytime there’s a coupon, there’s going to be someone trying to get a deal. That’s the idea, right? Ultimately, if we get five to10 good customers from it, it was worth it. The buyers have been a great mix of current and new customers. A lot of names we recognized, but there have also been a lot of new folks, who have heard of us but never been in. We sent out an e-mail the night before, telling people to watch for it. People said they really appreciated that. It seemed like there were more people who came in to shop because they missed the coupon than actually had the coupon. Though we sold out early, we put up an e-mail subscription link to a note on our Home page about the Groupon selling out, so those who missed it could get future deals through our e-mails.
Whether to use it again Eastman: We’ve talked about giving another company a try; there’s a daily deal that is more local to Fort Collins. If we were to set up a regular schedule of offers, they would be in April, late August or early September, and December. I would encourage any company considering Groupon to pay careful attention to what you want to get out of it. Pay attention to how you formulate the offer based on your purpose, and whether it is to get new people in the door or just to increase sales during a slow time. The people who are buying it are fairly thrifty, and trying not to spend a whole lot, so you have to be strategic. Grummons: We would very possibly do it again. Only time will tell. We try to do advertising when we can tell what the results are. There’s no better away to tell results than when a customer comes in with proof (the ad or coupon). Groupon’s not cheap but I looked at the difference between a regular sale and the Groupon sale as an advertising expense. An ad in the newspaper could easily cost just as much and I would have no idea what effect it has.
The BeneďŹ ts of Community Outreach Prove itâ€™s Better to Give than to Receive Lynn Dwyer and Dywer Greens received this photo of students and teachers thanking the business for helping with tree planting day at Carbondale Middle School and Crystal River Elementary. Dwyer Greens provided a planting crew and 10 trees for the project.
LooseLeaf July/August 2011
Supporting community events and organizations is not just a nice gesture; it’s a way to build relationships that strengthen your business and support your bottom line. Greenhouses and nurseries can reach out a helping hand to their communities in a variety of ways, from hosting fundraisers to donating goods and services to public spaces. “Community outreach is very significant to our success. It’s similar to doing a small favor for your neighbor: they won’t forget it, and they pass the word on to friends and other organizations that Bath is able to help in small ways that mean a lot,” said Carly Firme, the marketing manager at Bath, Inc. in Fort Collins, Colo. Bath’s community outreach philosophy is “to fill in the holes” for as many organizations as possible with small donations like silent auction gifts, instead of granting large donations to one or two organizations. This allows them to help more organizations and stretches the reach of their charitable donation budget, which helps create more personal relationships with inﬂuential community members. Two of Bath’s largest events are Bird Day in January and the Dirty Dog Wash in June. Bird Day benefits the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program and other birding organizations by increasing exposure and letting the public meet with avian experts. Bird lovers are invited to the garden center for a fun, educational day where people bring pet birds and learn about how to protect them. The Dirty Dog Wash is a fundraiser for The Animal House, a no-kill shelter for animals. Their staff comes to Bath, clips nails and washes dogs for a fundraiser. Employees of the garden center also volunteer their time to help create the donations for community organizations. They stay late in the winter after they are clocked out and decorate wreaths for the Fort Collins Opera fundraiser. They also make ﬂoral arrangements for silent auctions. Bath also contributes its expertise in gardening and horticulture in various ways, as a free community service. Staff members write weekly tips in the newspaper that are not sales or product advertisements, and contribute gardening articles to local media. They also invite children, students, and adults to tour the facilities and learn about the nursery industry. Dwyer Greens & Flowers in New Castle, Colo. also offers free educational opportunities as part of its community outreach efforts. Its website has educational content such as fact sheets, and President www.colorado nga.org
Lynn Dwyer speaks for free at workshops held by the community college and other local organizations. She said she also spends a good amount of time answering horticultural questions by phone.
community, the more successful I am, the more the phone rings. When people need help with landscaping, I’m the first one they ask, because I’m with them,” she said.
Dwyer Greens participates in community events such as Dandelion Days in Carbondale, hosts its own open house each spring and sometimes in the fall, and donates thousands of dollars worth of plants and gift certificates to several fundraisers and projects throughout the year. Every spring, the retail/wholesale business gives ﬂowers to a senior center to plant in its window boxes.
She admits there are times when she is “out of her mind” with her workload and just can’t offer help. She also has to decline to assist when a project’s leaders aren’t on the same page with her as far as what plants will work for a specific environment or their values don’t match hers, so she doesn’t believe in it.
When donating plants or equipment to community gardens or schools, Dwyer Greens often sends its employees while they are on the clock to do the installation work for free. In an interesting twist to community outreach, locals also go to the nursery and greenhouse to volunteer during busy times. In trade for their work, they are given a few ﬂowers, but most seem to “come just for the fun atmosphere” and beautiful surroundings.
Still, as she noted, “The word is out and people know I’ll try to help,” and she’ll always try when it’s possible because “I believe in karma. You reap what you sow. I’m a firm believer in that.”
“I really believe in giving back to the community. We’ve been very lucky. Even though the economy has been miserable, we’ve done really well,” said Dwyer, a self-described community outreach advocate and member of her local chamber and better business bureau, as well as a committee chair for the Rotary Club and board member of the Southside Conservation District and the local electrical coop. “I just figured it was fine to do all that work for the community when business was slow. I think it is something really critical when you are in business: you need to always be willing to participate and be an active member of the community, and I think it’s served us well.” Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, she said her father told her she needed to join the Rotary and be involved in the community, but when she started her business 13 years ago, she had two young daughters in school. So, she waited until they were in college before joining the Rotary.
Above: Bath Inc. in Fort Collins, Colo. hosts regular educational opportunities for the community to learn more about plants and gardening. Below: Bath Inc. received this Thank You card from students after the business hosted a tour for the Heritage Christian Academy Kindergarten.
“I realized, in hindsight, I wish I had joined five years ago. It’s such a supportive club,” said Dwyer, adding that her father always worked really hard, long days and hours, but still made time for community service. “Being a business owner, I just realized the more involved I am in the
Requesting Comments Strengthens Connection to Customers Surveying customers regularly, whether by questionnaires or through asking questions, can lead to greater customer loyalty and improved sales. Customers appreciate that you care about their opinions and feelings, and are given a better experience when you are able to make improvements to communications and operations based on their comments.
“Customer feedback is one of the most important parts of business. It helps a businesses understand how and what they are doing to help their customers. And it also helps a business understand what they can do better for the customers’ benefit,” said Joe Haskett, the sales and general manager at James Nursery Company in Denver, Colo. “The only way to try and stay ahead of the competition is to continually make sure our customers are satisfied. However, if we ever implement new things here at the nursery, we make sure to follow up with a questionnaire to see how the customers are responding.” 16
©High Country Gardens, all rights reserved
LooseLeaf July/August 2011
Companies can also discover unknown issues, that if not uncovered, could lead to lost customers and lower sales. Theresa Rumery, the general manager at Osage Gardens in New Castle, Colo., explained, “Customer feedback is important, because if there is a problem, we need to know about. We can’t fix it if we don’t know about it.” Haskett and Rumery agree that every staff member in their companies is responsible for soliciting customer comments in person and by phone. Sales people and all who communicate with customers take the opportunity to ask them about how their buying experience was and what they think about their products and services.
“I am normally trying to gain information that’s helps me make decisions on what we need to do in order to stay ahead of the competition,” said Haskett. “Sometimes we’ll bring up an issue, or we’ll notice they haven’t purchased something in a while and we’ll ask them about it,” said Rumery. She said responses have definitely helped them understand why some customers don’t shop more or stop shopping with them. “Whenever we receive feedback about an issue, we always thank the customer for it, always try to follow up and make sure it was taken care of,” she added, noting “we always want customers to feel like it’s their farm.”
Both companies also send out surveys by e-mail or give printed ones to regular customers at least once a year, but usually more frequently. Haskett commented that James Nursery usually limits the number of questions to two or three.
Haskett has also gotten feedback as to why some customers don’t shop at his company, but he said, “We have found that in some cases, the answers you get from a customer on a survey, aren’t always the same as in verbal form.”
Rumery said Osage Gardens gives customers the option of filling in their names if they want direct responses, so the staff can follow up on specific issues.
Sometimes a customer tells him that quality and customer service is more important than price, but then he observes them buying strictly by the
SAMPLE SURVEY QUESTIONS How is the quality of our plants? How is the variety of our plants? Was your customer service representative friendly? Was your customer service representative helpful? How could our pickup times and locations be improved? How was your delivery experience? Please list the top three most important factors of how you (or your company for wholesale buyers) choose where to buy from? Why will or why won’t you be returning to shop with us? Would you recommend our business to your friends? Did you read the newsletter? Was the newsletter content valuable to you? Which of the following media and information sources do you use? (List newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, Internet sites, or any media which you might use to promote your company.) Do you have suggestions for improving your experience with us that you’d like to share?
lowest price or rating quality and service number 2 and 3 on surveys. “We always try and inform the customers of everything that takes place here that would be advantageous to them. It is another selling point when you’re trying to gain either loyalty from a customer or gain new business,” he said. “More times than not, a customer is very appreciative when you let them know that the company cares. It builds a sense of trust with them. And knowing that not only did you listen to what they suggested, you took it one step further and actually implemented changes, goes a very long way to give the customer a sense of loyalty.”
How to Benefit from Online Customer Reviews Another – much more public way — to get feedback from your customers is through reviews and ratings on Internet directories and other sites that allow web visitors to comment and even rate companies. Besides being another place to find your business information, many of these sites offer companies ways to track who and how many people are viewing your listing. While many of these listings are free and easy to get, there can be some obvious pitfalls to letting your customers (or really anybody who may or may not have actually purchased from you) share their thoughts about your business with the web-surfing world. However, several CNGA members agree the extra exposure and opportunity to address customer concerns on these websites is worth it, especially for businesses focused on customer satisfaction and confident about their staff, services and products. Bad reviews can not be removed by the listed companies (unless it is obvious spam), but the listing can be taken down. A better option for companies is to head off bad reviews by ensuring the best services and products possible. They can also monitor the reviews and either respond by offering help or ways to improve the reviewers impression of them. Companies can also be proactive by asking their most loyal and satisfied customers to post positive ratings and reviews, to ensure the overall ratings are higher. Now that you’ve learned a bit about this type of feedback, check out a few of these sites to see if they are a good fit for your company: Yelp.com, Google Places, Yahoo Local, 5280 magazine’s Top of the Town, and Channel 7’s A-List. There are many more, including those by phone directory companies. Like any new marketing tool, be sure to check out the rules, costs, and reputation of the service before signing up. Thank you to Jesse Eastman of Fort Collins Nursery, Tess Scanlon-Phillips of Gardening By Tess, and Jill Richardson of Timberline Gardens for their insights about online customer reviews.
Two Views on Expressing Thanks A Wholesale Perspective from Debi Borden-Miller, CCNP, Salesperson and Marketing Coordinator, Welby Gardens, Denver, Colo. Why? I think it’s very important to show your appreciation to your customers and thank them for their business, because it’s always great for customers to know you appreciate their business. It’s important to build the relationships. Everybody likes to feel appreciated.
In the summer, we have a trial day where we look at all the new varieties, and we treat some of our customers to dinner or wine and cheese. For our customers who bring multiple people, we give them one or two free tickets, but have to ask the rest to pay.
Who? Thanking wholesale customers is the responsibility of our sales staff. We are a family-owned company, so sometimes ideas ﬂow from other people as well. There’s a constant inﬂow of ideas and comments that our marketing staff can work on. Half of the sales staff also develops marketing and advertising for our appreciation events and promotion.
Sometimes we do random acts of appreciation. On a day when it’s kind of busy, our sales people will randomly take a bucket of cold drinks and snacks to a retail location that buys from us. Sometimes, when we are just going by a customer’s store for a sales call or even a small delivery, we will take them something.
How? Our methods of thanking our customers are more event-oriented. We have our “what’s new” open house night for the wholesale customers in the spring to introduce them to new plants, and get them informed as to our advertising program for the year. We serve dinner, and we don’t charge anything.
In our advertising program, we list retailers who want to participate in our ads at no charge. We have always listed our retail stores on our website, so the public could find where our products are sold. Now we also list our landscaper customers as a free service for them. It’s good for them and shows we appreciate the work they do.
Welby Gardens, Denver, Colo.
LooseLeaf July/August 2011
A Retail Perspective from Tom Briggs, Co-Owner, Garden Center at Flying Horse, Colorado Springs, Colo.
We don’t just let them check out and hit the road. We walk them all the way to their cars, and even carry just one ﬂat of ﬂowers. People seem to really like that. We get involved in a lot of community events, and we open up the garden center to neighborhood events. We do a lot of donating to educational programs, schools, sports teams, and organizations in our extended neighborhood. Garden Center at Flying Horse, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Why? Customer appreciation is very important, without a doubt, because they’ve chosen your place of business to walk into. They deserve a great deal of respect and customer service just for that. For varying reasons, they’ve decided to visit our establishment, so we need to show appreciation, and it needs to start at the front door with the people we hire. We don’t hire anybody that doesn’t like to smile. We make sure we hire very friendly people. Everybody is greeted at the front door with a smile and an appreciative attitude.
It’s nothing fancy, what we do to show our appreciation. It’s really basic. It’s the kind of service you would like to have, the way you would like to be treated, not just a lot of big bells and whistles. How well we treat people when they walk in the door is the best thing we can do; the repeat business is the verification that what we’re doing is working.
Who? Customer appreciation is not the responsibility of just one person. Everyone should have that attitude. All our staff are very in touch with what’s going on. We like the garden center to be a happy and comfortable place. How? We have a reward program for our customers that we call garden bucks. We give them a little garden buck equal to 5 percent of their total purchase, they can use anytime during the year. It’s not like a discount coupon; we don’t do a lot of those. We give the garden bucks to them right away at the register, which gives them immediate feedback that we appreciate how they’ve come in and spent time with us. They can spend it right then if they want to, and people seem to enjoy it. We are very customer-oriented. Many of the people who come in are really not sure what they want and our job is to make them feel comfortable and figure what’s going to work best for them. We want them to be happy with their selections. We realize when they buy something from our store, it becomes a part of their home. It’s not like buying hamburgers, which will be gone soon. They are buying something that becomes part of their living space. We have to treat it a little different than many other consumer items. We have made our garden center a comfortable place for them to be. We even designed the front of the building to look like the homes in the community. We know a lot of people on a first name basis, and they like that familiarity. www.colorado nga.org
Impact of Limited Irrigation on Four Common Shrub Species By James E. Klett, Professor & Extension Landscape Horticulture Specialist, and Jason Smith, Graduate Student, Colorado State University
Dr. James E. Klett and student Jason Smith
The Kentucky bluegrass responded as expected when irrigation amounts decreased, but the shrubs did not follow such a predictable pattern.
A shrub water use study was conducted during the 2010 growing season at the W.D. Holly Plant Environmental Research Center at the Colorado State University Fort Collins campus. The purpose of the study was to determine the growth response of four shrub species that are commonly marketed throughout Colorado nurseries and garden centers for planting in Colorado landscapes. The shrubs were subjected to progressively decreased amounts of irrigation based on the evapotranspiration (ET) of a short reference crop, and the resulting responses were assessed. The species that were tested were: Cornus sericea (redosier dogwood), Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ (Annabelle hydrangea), Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Monlo’ (Diablo® ninebark), and Salix pupurea (arctic blue willow); one coolseason grass was used as a control: Poa pratensis (Kentucky bluegrass.) The experiment consisted of two separate components: an in-field component in which the shrubs and turf were planted in the ground, and a lysimeter component in which redosier dogwood and Annabelle hydrangea were grown in a pot-in-pot system. The in-field component tested four species of shrubs and the turf using four separate treatments (0%, 25%, 50%, and 100% of ET of a short reference crop). The lysimeter component received treatments at 25%, 50%, or 100% of ET. The Kentucky bluegrass in the in-field component responded as expected when irrigation amounts decreased; however, the shrubs did not follow such a predictable pattern. As irrigation amounts decreased for the Kentucky bluegrass, surface temperatures of the turf increased and overall visual appeal decreased. Interestingly the tested shrubs responded much differently than the turf. All tested shrubs had good survival rates regardless of irrigation amounts received, and some species looked just as good visually in the lower watered treatments as they did in the higher watered treatments. All in-field plant species had a good survival rate. The ninebark, willow, and dogwood all looked acceptable for landscape use when receiving 0% ET after one year of establishment. The hydrangeas in the 0% treatment had an 80%
survivability rate. If water becomes limited, all species should be able to survive and look quite acceptable for landscape use with the exception of the hydrangea. The watering amounts in the lysimeter component not only affected the speed at which both plants broke dormancy, but it also affected their growth habits as well. The more water given to both potted redosier dogwoods and Annabelle hydrangeas resulted in larger plants. As a result of the plants having a similar relationship with overall size and water use, data collected during dry down periods (periods where the plants were not watered and purposefully stressed to monitor the result) resulted that the plants in the 100% treatment used water at a faster rate than the 50%, and the 50% used water at a faster rate than the 25%. Additionally, by the end of each dry down period, in general, the 100% redosier dogwoods had greater pressure chamber readings (more stressed) than their counterparts in the 25%, and the 100% hydrangeas were equally stressed to the hydrangeas in the 25%. Since the plants increased in size as watering amounts increased, more water was needed to maintain those larger plant sizes. Both species in each of the three treatments grew at a rate they could support themselves with the water supply provided to them. The in-field study results showed that the more water given to dogwoods, ninebarks, and willows may affect some plant characteristics, but after two years of establishment, these three species appeared acceptable for landscape use with little to no additional water during normal precipitation years. Hydrangeas planted in the ground get larger with more water, and as they get larger their demand for water also increases. However, hydrangeas may be able to survive a short period with no water and rebound when water becomes more available. In the lysimeter study, the potted dogwoods and hydrangeas displayed that they adjusted their growing habits to account for the water amounts provided to them. If more water is available, the plants will come out of dormancy at a faster rate and more seasonal growth will result.
LooseLeaf July/August 2011
Report Injuries within 24 Hours and Save
From Pinnacol Assurance
As soon as an injury is reported to Pinnacol Assurance, the claims management process begins. Reporting within 24 hours can reduce costs significantly. Early reporting can: • Beneﬁt the employee through prompt, quality medical care • Help the employee return to work sooner • Reduce the number of lost-time claims • Reduce attorney involvement • Lower overall costs • Ensure a timely accident investigation to prevent future injuries Employers and employees have to work together to make 24-hour reporting happen. Employers can only report a claim within 24 hours if workers inform them of the accident. Employers need to be proactive in reminding workers of the importance of timely reporting.
• Conduct regular safety meetings that discuss the importance of reporting all accidents and near misses immediately. Today’s near miss is tomorrow’s injury. • Use posters and employee paycheck stuffers. Pinnacol Assurance provides these to our policyholders, free of charge. • Ensure your employees know who to report claims to. Sometimes an employee will wait to report an injury because it may not seem obviously work-related. For example, an employee could have symptoms of a repetitive motion injury for weeks before seeking medical attention. In this situation, the date of injury would be the day the worker informed the employer of the workrelated repetitive motion injury. Report claims to Pinnacol Assurance within 24 hours at 303-361-4000 or 800-873-7242 or pinnacol.com. If you have any questions about reporting injuries, contact your Pinnacol marketing representative.
Employers and employees have to work together to make 24-hour reporting happen.
HASH TREE COMPANY WHOLESALE CONIFER NURSERY
Growers of Quality Specimen Conifers Selected Seed Sources of Pine, Fir & Spruce
877--875--8733 1199 Bear Creek Road Princeton, ID 83857
Fax: 208--875--0731 E--Mail: Sales@hashtree.com Web: www.hashtree.com www.colorado nga.org
Santa Fe Greenhouses & High Country Gardens —
Connecting Customers to Quality Plants David Salman, chief horticulturist and founder. Photo ©High Country Gardens, all rights reserved
An interview with Andy Carrabus, V.P. of Operations
What is the history of the development of your business? A native New Mexican, David Salman opened Santa Fe Greenhouses in 1984. It was his first retail store and he set out to transform western gardening by cultivating and growing beautiful blooming perennials, native, and ornamental grasses and unique cacti and succulents. As his retail operation grew, the demand for his plants extended to customers far beyond northern New Mexico. So, in 1993, David started High Country Gardens, the mail-order division of Santa Fe Greenhouses. A few years later his wife Ava joined the company. David focused on product development and Ava spearheaded the catalog marketing and e-commerce operations. In 2006, David and Ava entered the Albuquerque, N.M. market with a High Country Gardens retail store. A second Albuquerque location was added in 2008, and by 2010, they decided to consolidate the two small stores into a larger facility with a full-service nursery and garden center.
Today, the company employs a total of 85 to 120 people at its two retail locations and catalog offices, depending on the season.
Tell us about your products. Santa Fe Greenhouses specializes in developing water-wise, drought-tolerant plants that are exclusive to the company. David’s great joy is developing new colors of plant products that work well for the western gardener. The company’s real emphasis is on water-thrifty, native perennials that come back year after year as well as cacti and succulents. The retail locations and catalog offer a variety of unique products and plant combinations, from preplanned gardens for various soil and sun conditions to wildlife habitat gardens and several lawn options from ground covers to no-mow grass. Other products include trees, vegetable plants, custom soil products, tools, patio and garden furniture, and decorations with southwestern and oriental tastes in mind. While the percentage of business split between the stores and the catalog varies from year to year, customers at the stores usually make up 55 percent of the sales with 45 percent of sales coming from the catalogs. High Country Gardens ships products across the U.S. year-round, with 280,000 plants typically shipped each spring. With custom shipping materials and schedules, as well as optimal watering before shipping, the plants are guaranteed to arrive healthy and in great shape.
What are your most effective customer communication tools? Obviously for retail customers, the most effective communication method is when customers are on site and the staff can actually talk to them about what their needs are, their concerns, and what types of gardening issues they have. Photos ©High Country Gardens, all rights reserved
LooseLeaf July/August 2011
MEMBER PROFILE We have an advertising program to get them in the door, but once they’re on site, face-to-face communication needs to be done well. We are always out in the yard, talking to customers, and finding out out what their needs are. We discuss this type of customer communication at weekly meetings. For online business, where customers are ordering through the website, customer service reps can talk to customers through online chats. The reps are busy on phones all day, every day, answering questions. We do quite a bit of e-mail marketing, not just about sales but about what to do in yards and gardens at different times of year. Facebook and blogs have become a big part of that communication process, and staff is frequently answering questions on those sites. We have more than 14,000 fans (as of early May) between our three Facebook pages, and a couple staff members check that fairly regularly, but it only takes a few moments here and there.
We are always looking for how we can better communicate and better answer people’s questions. David has already presented some talks online and speaks regularly at garden club events. He also writes for blogs and e-zines and regularly contributes to other publications.
How do you collect customer feedback?
What type of community events are you most involved with? We have hour-long seminars every Saturday, January through early March, that routinely sell out to 180 people. Some seminars will probably be offered online soon, because they are already being filmed. We also have “mini” seminars that we schedule later in the year. The Santa Fe and Albuquerque Master Gardeners work with Santa Fe Greenhouses quite closely as well. They will set up booths at the stores in the spring and summer to answer questions. The Rose Society also sets up a booth. Both organizations benefit as well; they recruit members while here.
It’s a lot easier to get customer feedback online than in retail. We have online surveys for our mail-order customers. We solicit feedback from customers in very specific areas. Our landscape consultants always ask for feedback in a written survey. We want to make sure our people are doing their jobs well. We are developing a program where we will have a survey that comes out on the register receipt. Staff also tracks online news feeds and garden blogs that mention High Country Gardens, and responds to those comments or stories when they can help a customer.
We actively engage in cause marketing for animal shelters, food banks, and other organizations. We recently had an event with one of our pottery suppliers, Guy Wolff, who did a pottery throwing demo, and then auctioned the pots off to raise money for the Susan B. Komen breast cancer cure nonprofit.
Clayton Tree Farm Specimen Trees for Color and Comfort
Shade and Ornamental B&B and Container Trees Growing Grounds Nampa and Wilder, Idaho Office 208.482.6600 firstname.lastname@example.org www.claytontreefarm.com www.colorado nga.org
Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association 959 S. Kipling Pky, #200 Lakewood, CO 80226
CHAPTER NEWS NEW MEXICO
Photo Courtesy of City of Albuquerque Open Space Division
Meet Us in Albuquerque Aug. 25 for the CNGA BBQ The New Mexico Chapter of the Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association invites members to an end-of-summer BBQ on Thursday, August 25 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Kiwanis Reservation Area in the Elena Gallegos Picnic Area in Albuquerque, N.M. This CNGA BBQ will be a great chance for everyone – young and old – to connect with your peers while enjoying dinner and a nice evening outdoors below Sandia Mountain. Visitors to Elena Gallegos Picnic Area can enjoy a relaxing time or an energetic hike on multi-use trails below the backdrop of the Sandia Mountains, which get their Spanish name, “sandia” meaning watermelon, for their pink colors at sunset. The 640-acre park is considered a gem in the city’s open space system. At an elevation of
about 6,500 feet, visitors can view Mt. Taylor to the west, the Jemez Mountains to the north, and the vast Tijeras Arroyo to the south. The landscape supports a piñon-juniper habitat that includes chamisa, Apache plume, scrub oak, cane cholla cactus, blue grama grass, bear grass, and soapweed yucca. Accessible from the barbecue area are hiking trails to the Sandia Mountain Wilderness area. On the north boundary of the picnic area is the Cottonwood Springs Trail, leading to a pond and wildlife blind and featuring shaded rest stops with original art work by Margie O’Brien, interpreting the surrounding environment. Join us for a memorable evening, and a unique opportunity to be heard by the association and share your ideas for future programming and resources. The view of Sandia Peak from the Kiwanis Reservation Area. Photo Credit: Bill Pentler. Courtesy of City of Albuquerque Open Space Division.