We’ve Always Done It That Way

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How many times have you heard that? How many times have you heard it come out of your own mouth, only to cringe and realize it’s everything you’re against?

It happens all the time–mainly because it’s the easiest way to be. Change is difficult, and introspection–along with finding the time for introspection–is even more difficult. I’ve said it. It escapes before I even know what I’m saying. And sometimes it’s not that bad of a thing, as long as right after you say “because we’ve always done it that way” you immediately shift gears and give that alternative option its fair shake.

The reason this is on my mind is in August we conducted an Art-Editorial Summit here at Meister Media, the parent company to Today’s Garden Center. TGC isn’t the only publication we have, as many of you know. We also have Greenhouse Grower, properties in the farm chemical world, fruit and vegetable markets and even cotton markets. This is the second year for the summit, which brings our graphic artists and editorial staffs together for two days to discuss everything from 30,000-feet ideas (the big picture) to ground-level training sessions.

Sometimes meetings like this can be overwhelming, but it also can be an opportunity to find out what others are doing and “borrow” ideas from them. We can share the best and worst of what we’ve done and brainstorm new ways to bring our markets the information they need in the way they need it. I rarely heard “because that’s the way we’ve always done it”–and when I did it was followed up by “and that isn’t a good thing.”

These types of events, though time-consuming, are a great way to tap into the best resources you have–your employees. They typically account for about 70 percent of your expenses, so why not listen to what they have to say? You’d be surprised what kind of ideas come out of simple discussions.

It’s also a great time to talk about the future and where you’d like to see the company go. Another thing I like about Meister is the annual “state of the company” address given by our CEO. It gives us an idea of what’s coming down the pike and how we can be involved and take ownership. Ownership is key when it comes to getting employees to buy into the company culture and work hard toward a common goal.

These are all ideas that can be implemented in any retail business–even ones as busy as yours. If you don’t take the time to get your employees to buy in, they’ll be more apt to take off at a moments notice. The retail operations that have had employees for years and years are the ones that treat them like family, and respect their opinions.

Coming Attractions

If I’ve been talking your ear off about the 100 Revolutionary Garden Centers, it’s because I’m super excited about our next list, coming out in January. Yes, I know it’s only October, but we’ll be compiling our list this month in preparation for the January issue and on the Web. If you haven’t already, take the opportunity now to check out the 2006 100 Revolutionary Garden Centers on www.todaysgardencenter.com. In January it will be replaced with the new 100 Club, complete with profiles of each garden center, slide shows, video and audio clips and more. Also, look to the Web for updated content, including staff coverage of GCA’s Fashion In Bloom, and the GCA Holiday Tour, as well as original stories, news and blogs from yours truly. 

Jennifer Polanz is a freelance writer with Grasshopper Freelance. She can be eMailed at jepolanz@gmail.com.

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