November 2, 2009
City: Lothian, Md.
Owner: Ray Greenstreet
Size: Retail - 12 acres, Growing - 5 acres, Other - Farm property and outdoor activity area
Years In Business: 10
Number Of Locations: 1
What changes have you made in the last 12 months to increase your garden center's profitability? We invested in technology, tightened inventory levels, and tried new social media marketing ideas. We controlled overhead and labor costs, implemented purchasing programs to maximize buying power, and added additional events to target a broader range of guests and potential buyers. We hired an operations manager to work closely with our president and sent staff to training to improve our company credentials.
How do you generate feedback about your customer service and employee performance? We use mystery shoppers. Folks can fill out slips at the registers if they want to leave a comment, and the staff e-mail address is on the receipt for them to follow up with later.
What makes your garden center Revolutionary? We are innovative in all facets of business.
As a grower on a 55-acre farm, we can ensure quality products for customers that use safe and ecofriendly practices. We offer extensive product selections in our garden center and gift shop for a year-round destination shopping experience (from plants, to CROCS, jewelry, gourmet food, pet and baby stuff, the list goes on and on). We offer tried-and-true products as well as new ones.
We try to provide year-round experiences for everyone. Families come in the fall for our professionally done corn maze, hayride, pic-a-pumpkin and more activities. We have ladies night. We help scout troops and elementary schools learn agriculture firsthand with prepared programs. We have contests for adults and kids to win prizes. We also host an annual Holiday Open House with Santa that provides a magical time for families to start the holiday season off (churches come and sing in exchange for poinsettias to beautify their altars).
We love to try different events. We have a dog Howloween costume party and work with the nearby pet resort for judging, prizes and promotion of their business. We are the first in the area to host Tomatomania to encourage folks to grow their own, and even host a bus trip for customers to attend garden show in a different state.
We are one of the largest employers in the South County Area where we are located. We invest in our staff and encourage continual education. We treat employees as extended family and empower them to be the best that they can be. We hire and retain employees with fair compensation packages, incentivise employees with cash awards, and host employee celebrations on site that recognize employee achievements and foster team building through having fun. We even offered an in-house early morning yoga class for employees to start their day.
Our community support sets us apart. High school art students face paint each weekend in October during our fall festivals and we make a donation to them. We host a wine social where wineries and caterers showcase their products and services and the admission cost goes to a non-profit organization. Our staff modeled a local boutique's clothes during one ladies night. We are planning a blood drive and flu clinic this fall to promote wellness. We also host Chamber of Commerce events and are active in the organization.
We buy locally when we can, whether that be office supplies or pottery made by disabled adults. We contract with local groups as food vendors during events for them as their fundraiser and awareness for their group.
We invest in how the location looks with an attractive front entrance, unusual decor, and a dress code for employees so customers know who works here. We implement customer suggestions when it makes sense, have a photo contest of people’s gardens and landscapes, and a potting shed for employees and customers.
Finally, one of my favorites is that we had a contest for the employees to submit why they think we are a revolutionary garden center with a great prize for winner.