Steal This Idea: Road Trip!

We talk a lot about doing things to get customers into your garden center. But at least one clever retailer out there has figured out a Revolutionary way to create loyal customers by getting them out of the garden center and onto a bus.

Tish Llaneza, owner of Countryside Gardens in Hampton, Va., (one of the 2008 Revolutionary 100), will be loading nearly 100 people on two chartered buses on February 22 and driving them to the 19th Annual Maymont Flower and Garden Show and the Richmond Home Show. It’s the second year Countryside Gardens has hosted the trip, which not only provides a fun experience for its good customers, but also provides an opportunity to both enhance the relationship they have with the business and call attention to some new products the garden center will be offering in the upcoming season.

Tish explains some of the benefits Countryside Gardens sees by hosting the trip:

“I started The Flower Power Fun Bus last year. I was worried that no one would book a seat but it was an idea that took hold immediately and we had to book a second bus. We will have two buses again this year, which is all we can handle since we provide continental breakfast to 98 people in the store at once. The benefit to Countryside Gardens is exposure, sales and we want customers to know that something fun is always going on at Countryside Gardens even in freezing February. Keep that buzz going! 

“We also serve as a ticket agent for the show, so those who want to drive to the show come in for tickets and that is an opportunity for additional sales. We promote it as a stocking stuffer in December or a great Valentines gift. For new guests or those that don’t have a computer, we have a flyer at the counter that keeps changing with upcoming events and every customer gets one.

“Every guest on the bus receives a goodie bag with information from plant vendors and any free products we pick up at the trade shows. Many of the guests are avid gardeners and it is a great way for vendors to show off their plants and products and create buzz. Guests read it during the trip between fun & games. We do a gardening Q & A and a segment on ‘What’s New for 2008’ to get them excited about coming back to Countryside Gardens. We keep a customer call list on each bus where they can sign up to be called when the new intro or their favorite plant arrives. New this year will be a gardening video segment highlighting new products.”

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