Communicating With Growers

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Communicating With Growers

The days of fax machines and availability lists aren’t nearing extinction, but in what has become a world of technology and speed, the relationship between growers and independent retailers must adapt to new ways of communication.

We talked with three proactive growers who are using new modes of communication to save time and ensure an excellent product for retailers, and asked them to share their ideas. If you like what you read, be sure to pass it on to your grower(s) the next time you talk.

Seeing Is Believing

David Wilson, director of marketing for Overdevest Nurseries, understands the power of video. Wilson regularly takes a video camera out and records images of available plants–and more.

“David goes into the grower houses and walks around among the gorgeous perennials and does more than just talk about them,” says Tom Hebel, owner of Revolutionary 100 retailer Bucks Country Gardens. “He doesn’t just say, ‘This perennial looks good today.’ It’s a bit of an education of the variety and an overview of the assets of the plant. And even if you didn’t like it before he started, when he’s done, you’re in love with the darn thing.”

Wilson says these videos help reinforce the confidence retailers can have in Overdevest’s just-in-time shipping. “We want retailers to know they are market-ready for them, so as soon as it comes in it’s going to fly out of their place.”

When Wilson shoots these videos of market-ready products, he says, the idea is to show retailers the plants they’re getting before they come in and explain some of the features of the plant and what they can do with it. “We make this video short–no more than two minutes–and we send it to the retailer ahead of time, attached to an availability list.”

Wilson says these videos are great for salespeople, providing them with quick, valuable information that can be easily passed on to the consumer. Some of the videos can also be used by the retailer in their retail space and marketing efforts. He adds the clips can be linked to e-newsletters, websites and even played on the garden center’s in-store televisions.

To see Wilson’s video, visit GardenSplendor.com and click on “Showcase Plants” along the left-hand side of the homepage.

Worth A Thousand Words

Aaron Pinkus, vice president and general manager of Nortex Wholesale Nursery, knows a trip out to his growing facility isn’t always necessary or convenient for Nortex customers. So he takes pictures.

“We send our retailers a lot of photos,” he says. “Our objective is to provide our customer with a current representation of the actual crop we will ship. We know they know what verbena ‘Homestead Purple’ looks like, but we show them the quality of our ‘Homestead Purple’ as it will look in their stores.”

Virtually Improved

While the phone may be the quickest and most direct way for growers to communicate with their customers, Stephanie Whitehouse, Peace Tree Farm’s sales and marketing manager, says a beefed up e-mail campaign has been an excellent way for Peace Tree to stay top of mind with its customers.

In these e-mails and also on the company’s website, Whitehouse sends along photos of the best-looking crops for that week. “We also add a new photo album on our website,” she adds. “People can see exactly what it looks like and how lush the plant is.”

The growing operation has added a convenient online shopping feature to its website. At PeaceTreeFarm.com, wholesale and retail customers can log in and have special site access to place orders. “It’s like Zappos.com where you’re searching for shoes, but in this case you’re shopping for plants,” Whitehouse says.

E-mails and websites are great ways to provide retailers accessibility to growers’ resources, but Peace Tree Owner Lloyd Traven also encourages retailers to visit their growers and get in some valuable face-to-face interaction. An in-person visit can help retailers connect with a variety they may have missed on the availability list.

Mihalek is a former Meister Media Worldwide editor.

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