City: Penfield, N.Y.
Owners: Larry and Frances Grossman
Size: Retail–4 acres, Growing–1 acre, Other–2 acres for our home, which serves as botanical gardens and space for classes.
Years In Business: 26
Number Of Locations: 1
What changes have you made in the last 12 months to increase your garden center’s profitability? We implemented a Point of Sale System. This alone improved inventory management and inventory control systems. We did this manually before; now with the POS we are also able to reduce office labor payroll.
We did more on time ordering and strategically increased prices, thus increasing margins.
As a grower/retailer, our grower made changes in production schedules to increase margins. He was also able to source out less expensive starter materials.
Buyers of finished product were able to purchase at lower costs due to our suppliers having excess inventories. We did not pass on the savings to the consumer. Therefore this increased our margins.
We decreased the number of field trees dug for retail. This decreased labor and materials needs for this project. This eliminated the need to drastically discount trees in retail at end of season. It also allows us to implement a Fall Tag Sale where trees are sold at retail and not on sale.
We did less price discounting overall in the retail, especially during peak seasons and reduced labor costs beginning in June thru the rest of year.
How do you generate feedback about your customer service and employee performance? We use mystery shoppers and Garden Center Group consultants. We continue to ask our customers “How are we doing and what more can we do for you to exceed your expectations?” as they shop the nursery.
What makes your garden center Revolutionary? During the 2008/09 winter, we were very instrumental in becoming a model for others by starting Facebook pages. On our Grossmans Facebook page, we have added in-depth videos, blogs, what’s going on, and photos of events. Everything is relational in nature.
On May 1, we hosted the Victoria and Richard MacKenzie-Childs Event, a high-end event of dinnerware, jewelry, furniture and whimsical garden decor. World reknown artists and founders of the original MacKenzie-Childs were at the nursery in person to promote and sign their designs and creations as Victoria and Richard Emprise. This event garnered over 400 attendees. The chance we took to hold an event where product is ‘high ticket’ put us outside the box, especially during a low economic time period. The event was well received, and gave customers a chance to get away from the day to day. We knew it was a success when customers came up to us and thanked us for holding such an event during these times while spending hundreds of dollars. They were waiting for the right excitement and reason to spend their money.
We donated our land to Community Garden with Food Link to partner growing food for those in need and help them reduce their costs in a year when they drastically needed to. This relationship helped us support those in need (not only Foodlink the organization but also their clients).We were able to use our knowledge and resources to make another organization more successful. The end users are those that need additional food to feed their families.
We partnered with a local school turning a grass walking trail around 5 soccer fields into an educational arboretum trail consisting of (64) 2-5″ diameter trees. This is only 1/3 of the overall project. The remainder will be planted in 2010. Through school student and family activities everyone can learn by becoming active, getting them away from the computer screen and TV, while learning numerous subjects about the environment. This program of replanting perimeter open areas around school grounds is now expanding and modeled for other schools in the area.
Our home is located on the business property. We have always held classes and seminars using the grounds around the house as a teaching facility. This past weekend we decorated the outside of the home with garden vignettes to showcase ‘Frances and Larrys’ home and gardens. The ‘Garden Tour’ event had a huge turnout where customers felt connected to us. The home in general provides an incredible stage by which the staff can walk customers down to show mature plants and what they will do in a similar home setting as opposed to just being in a garden center. This has led us to now organize a ‘Grossmans Garden & Home Holiday Tour’. This event will be two fold, held during the day and then at night when we will welcome our customers as family and turn on the lights. Next May we will introduce our ‘Spring Garden Tour’. The reason this is revolutionary is not the garden tours, but the the relationship they build not only with us as owners but also with the staff and customers too.
We are extending the relational development with our customers; this year we turned back discount and turned on value added services, more so than ever before. Our ‘We will be in your neighborhood’ event is an example. The idea resembles the return of the milk man. We loaded our truck with fall flowers, drove to our customers homes and replanted their spring containers with new fall designs. It brought the ease and convenience of good old-fashioned customer service and beautiful containers right to their front door.
In addition we instituted our ‘Mum Run’ where any customer buying so many mums they can’t all fit into their beautiful cars, we’ll run them right home for them.
We are revolutionary because after identifying where we have come from, who we are, who our customer is and what they want from us, it was time to recognize our name did not reflect just that. Grossman’s Country Nursery started out in an open field where all around was farm land. Where we are today is developed with homes, shopping and businesses where this area has almost become the center of town. We have changed our name to still reflect who we are as Grossmans and Gardening reflects our core, but the everything around gardening has moved inside the home. The defining lines of where one gardens is blurred. Garden and Home reflects inside and out with no distinct delineations. Our business truly reflects our Gardens and our home. Our customers have warmly embraced both, thus the new name Grossmans Garden & Home is very fitting now and into the future.