Mom’s The Word!

May 5, 2014 11 Comments

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!)

Team Members

–          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!


  1. John Crook
    May 5, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Great tips, Ian. I’m forwarding this to my managers as I speak. (And keeping it on file for advance training for next year.)

    1. Ian Baldwin
      May 5, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      John, thanks for your quick response again, hope this helps your team have a great Mother’s Day week! (you’re looking forward to next year already…? 🙂 )

  2. Ron Vanderhoff
    May 5, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    As you said, in CA this is the tail end of our busy Spring season, but nonetheless it’s still a very big week. One thing we’ve been working on for three or four years is to establish a visit to Roger’s Gardens as a Mother’s Day tradition in our area. Roger’s Gardens is well suited to mom’s, with all of our flowers, decor and beautiful displays.

    We do a couple of things, but one is that we have a couple of greeters just a bit inside the entrance/exit. They welcome all the mom’s with a big smile and then ask if we can take a photo of them, along with their families who are with them. We have a little area all decorated just for this. Then we give them a free nicely wrapped florists’ rose and a big HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY. They love it!

    Basically, we just make the mom’s (and their families and friends) feel extra special.

    Good luck to all on Mother’s Day!

    Roger’s Gardens
    Newport Beach, CA

    1. Maureen Murphy
      May 11, 2014 at 6:42 am

      I’m very impressed to hear about how you promote mother’s day, especially the photos…that’s awesome!
      Congratulations on implementing such a good idea.

  3. Ian Baldwin
    May 5, 2014 at 5:16 pm


    Roger’s is showing leadership in making a visit to a gorgeous facility like yours a treat for Mom. Instead of a long wait for lunch in a busy restaurant, why not take Mom to somewhere that pleases all the senses and let her pick out her gift. Differentiation by the shopping experience. Playing to your strengths, I love it! Thanks

  4. Art Vanden Enden
    May 6, 2014 at 4:32 am

    Thanks for stoking the fires Ian. The anticipation of an excellent weekend followed by several weeks of strong sales are here. (finally) Annuals, perennials, nursery, patio, garden supply and gift are all going to explode at the same time. It’s play off season, and we can’t afford to make mistaakes or miss opportunities!!!

  5. Julie Ruf
    May 7, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Thank you for the excellant reminders. We had a mandatory meeting last Saturday morning for all those details to be refreshed for the employees, and every morning our hudles have been whats relevant. It has been paying off.
    We are looking ready and have a happy staff. Go Team.

  6. Keith Farrand
    May 7, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Thank you for that great reminder! This has been the most difficult start for us in many seasons and
    we are not yet 100% set up for Mom. Our staff is doing an awesome job Great and dedicated to our
    success, I am ashamed to admit that I have been pushing for more detail as we prepare. Tunnel
    vision is not at all a good thing. I’m taking your advice, on Sat and Sunday I’m going to be the best cheerleader
    I can be. I’ll let them do what they always do best-their jobs. My goal will absolutely be to encourage and offer only positive comments and recognize the good. I’ll see what can I do for them to make their day easier. For once, I will been hands off and spend my time looking for the good. My goal is to wander about
    constantly and to speak to each member of our team at least 4 times each throughout the day.

    Thanks dad, I needed that kick in the pants!

    Thank you Ian.
    Keith Farrand

  7. Ian Baldwin
    May 7, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Thanks everyone for taking the time to share your thoughts in this your busiest week. I saw a very busy GC in MA today, consumers are so excited this year to get gardening and Landscape enquiries are off the charts – always a good sign! Have a great weekend everyone, Moms too!!

  8. Maureen Murphy
    May 11, 2014 at 6:38 am

    Great article and thanks for the clear, realistic and practical reminders. I did call a staff meeting last week to orient everyone and pump them up for mother’s day and I’m so glad I did. However, I wish I’d read your article before that. I’ll be printing it out as it is a good reference for other busy weekends. Yesterday (Saturday), we met our record for sales, which surprised me because it didn’t seem that busy.
    Thanks again, Ian!


    1. Ian Baldwin
      May 12, 2014 at 7:57 am


      I am very glad to hear your good news on sales, spring seems to have been a long time coming this year and I know some of your peers back east are still waiting. The consumer seems to be much more open to spending this year, landscaper’s phones are ringing off the hook (always a good sign) and the media is heavy with gardening ads and features.

      So, everyone, how was your Mom’s Day weekend business?

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