Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Home News Retail rules

Retail rules

Irrigation

Running a garden center isn’t as easy as it seems.

Lindsey Getz | May 16, 2013

In 1986 the Mickman brothers of Mickman Brothers, headquartered in Ham Lake, Minn., opened a Garden Center to complement their already-existing landscape and irrigation divisions. While many landscape and irrigation companies have tried their hand at garden centers and nurseries, it often proves to be a difficult venture.
Particularly since the recession, many garden centers have not only closed their doors but brought bankruptcy or hard times on the overall business. But Mickman Brothers has found continued success and we recently spoke to the company’s general manager, Jeff Sutter, about what makes their center work.

Know what you’re getting into. A lot of landscape contractors assume that because they know a lot about plants that they could easily run a garden center. But there’s so much more to it. “It certainly helps to know a lot about plants but the retail business is just so different from contracting that I would assume that’s the main reason many get over their heads,” Sutter surmises. “It takes an entirely different set of management skills. We’ve had some bumps in the road along the way but we’ve learned how to be a good retailer and how to run that part of the business differently. To succeed, you really have to understand retailing.”

Blend skills. What makes a garden center successful is the perfect combination of retail savvy and horticultural expertise, Sutter says. Unfortunately, as Sutter said previously, many contractors come into the business with just the horticultural background. Still, that’s not to say it’s not an important component. “The horticulture expertise and technical knowledge is what’s going to set you apart from the box stores,” Sutter says. “Being able to answer questions and use that horticulture background is a value-added service and very important. The key is to also blend that with retailing.”

Cross-market at all times. With five divisions, Mickman Brothers, is constantly cross-marketing their services. The irrigation division may drive business to the landscape division and vice versa. Of course, having a garden center is a prime opportunity to cross-market. Adds Sutter: “It’s a great opportunity to talk face-to-face with a customer about our other divisions and the variety services we can offer them.”
 

Top news

Scotts acquires structural pest control company

This is the first time Scotts has purchased a home pest control business.

Kubota enters skid-steer market

The two models, introduced at its national dealer day, will be available in May of 2015. The company also announced three new zero-turn models.

Shake your eight ball

We look at seven of the top concerns and trends facing landscapers as they face 2015.

Everyone makes mistakes

Watch this Harvester video to see industry leaders admit some of their mistakes.

New landscape irrigation sprinkler standard

ICC and ASABE announced the first ANSI standard to establish uniform testing procedures.

x