Essential reading for retailers and suppliers in the home improvement market
Ensure you grab every chance to boost those sales, urges Garden Centre Association chief executive Iain Wylie. The start of a new year is a time for reflection and for making resolutions, and an ideal time to consider
improvements to your retail offer. 2013 was certainly not an easy year, with the disastrous spring hitting garden centres and the horticultural sector particularly hard. The weather, probably the most talked about subject in Britain, certainly kept the conversation going. Or did it?

With hindsight, I'm sure many suppliers and retailers could look back and say they didn't talk enough. No one had planned for the weather conditions and, in particular, the timing of those awful weather conditions, and it is something over which we have absolutely no control. We have to deal with the situation as it arises, there is no alternative; but we can try to make the best of a bad job and endeavour to maximise every opportunity that presents itself and even engineer new ones.

There are many excellent innovators in our industry and, if and when they get together, the results are amazing. The new cross-industry promotion 'It starts with a Pot' is a great example, which with wholehearted support will bring new customers through the door. My first 'retail resolution' is, simply, 'talk'!

When the store or centre is quiet and footfall low, what can you do? In January, retailers turn around their
stores, following Christmas, which thankfully for most garden centres, went some way in compensating for the poor spring. Everyone wants to be ready for when the customers come rushing back. It isn't long before the shop floor is transformed with everything your customers will need in spring displayed and merchandised, readily available. What else can you do but wait? The question you have to ask is, 'is everyone ready?'. Are your staff
and colleagues ready to grasp the opportunity and sell more?

In January 2013, a few pioneering Garden Centre Association (GCA) members were installing the then newly-launched e-learning package, GCA GROW (Garden Retail Online Workshops). When their centres were quiet, they took the opportunity to start getting their teams to use the new system and start learning about a range of horticultural topics, helping to enhance product knowledge and enabling them to sell more!

This year over 5,000 employees of GCA garden centres will be logging on to complete modules on topics
such as planting, grow-your-own garden tools and even health and safety. That's 5,000 employees who will be better equipped to serve customers and sell. My second 'retail resolution' is train your team - there will be a return on the investment when your customers need them.
View User Profile for Iain Wylie Former managing director of Grosvenor Garden Centre, Iain Wylie became chief executive of the GCA in November 2013.

Posted by Iain Wylie | 24 January 2014 | 16:11 | More from: Talking Point


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