With due respect to those in earlier climates (who might see Mother’s Day as the start of things slowing down), for most of Northern America the fun in garden retail is just starting with Mother’s Day.
Not only is this the busiest weekend of the year for many retailers, it is also the first big weekend, so it is a baptism by fire for many (INCLUDING the customer who may not have been there since last Memorial Day and won’t have a clue where “the annual greenhouse” or even the bathroom is.)
Here are a few winning tips from veterans which might help those newer people who have not been through the crazy season yet:
– This may be the first time some customers have even been to a retail gardening store; deer-in-the-headlights time, so they don’t need equally stressed employees!
– No matter how pressured you feel, you MUST run short meetings focused purely on immediate business, ad specials, rules, reminders, positive cultural re-enforcement. Repeat policies about breaks, cell phones, etc. that staff last heard 5 weeks ago on orientation day.
– Remind staff that although this is the week to be great hosts, they still have to make the sale: no one is going to return next week having had a chance to think about it!
– As there will be little time to think, the “Top Five Common Questions to Expect This Week” reminders need to go out early and be posted everywhere (see my previous post for more details)
– Ensure in advance that each department knows what is looking gorgeous or is the ‘hot product’ in the other departments; Saturday morning is too late.
– Make sure every employee is assigned to their core task. (I once watched a nursery’s main “Plant Expert” spend all Mom’s day on a bobcat as he was the only loader scheduled on-site that day.)
– Practice MBWA (Management By Walking Around) – don’t get stuck selling trees or directing traffic.
– Be ready with the rah-rah, cold drinks, bathroom breaks, checkout-helpers, more rah-rah and lead the team with a smile yourself. (It’s your job to absorb the stress of a poor April, sorry!)
– Don’t expect early lunch! (Remember that this one weekend might bring in more business than the whole month of January!)
– This week will bring a lot of non-gardening customers so be aware of your use of jargon and technical phrases (“Do you want six inch or one gallon?”)
– Identify 4-5 Mom-type gifts in your area for that question “What do you have that’s a bit different for my Mom?”
– Identify the most gorgeous flower, the most fragrant houseplant, the biggest-impact hanging basket and know where they are, their price and the extras or tie-in sales (greetings card, nicer pot, easy basket watering device and so on).
– Don’t expect the department expert or other managers to “come in” when you call them on the radio with a question. They may have 5 customers in front of them or be deep in the warehouse looking for that extra case of product.
– Expect everything and anything! It could be a $50 gift certificate or a complete landscape design. Welcome people, share their excitement and give them what time you can, but also give them a way to ask for it later, online, or by phone. Most customers will recognize how busy you are.
– Compared to bland malls or impersonal on-line shopping, this is THE time to make the annual task of shopping for Mom a delightful, fun experience.
Have fun and the week will fly by: who knows, you may win a customer for a lifetime.
Happy selling, happy Mother’s Day!