City: Dolores, Colo.
Owners: Vic and Gail Vanik
Size: Retail–27,000 square feet, Growing–3 acres
Years In Business: 27
Number Of Locations: 1
What changes have you made in the last 12 months to increase your garden center’s profitability?
- Changed the store layout to manage traffic flow in a more efficient way.
- Decreased product selection to eliminate slow movers.
- Cut shrink considerably. Now that we have some history, we began heavily using the POS installed in 2008 to increase margins and reporting to assist in making buying decisions, manage customer interaction, use for smarter marketing, etc.
- Eliminated underperforming staff and started sending staff home on slow or inclement weather days.
- Worked with vendors and suppliers to decrease rates we pay on products. This has been particularly effective on things such as our insurance rates, our radio advertising, etc. We even fired an accountant that we’ve worked with for 30 years when we felt his rates got out of hand. Our new accountant’s bill came in at 1/4 of the cost of the old one. Basically, we took a good, hard look at wherever there was room for improvement or to cut costs and went out and did it and it’s paid off.
- One of the biggest things we did was to implement a new perennials signage program whereby every pot was individually labeled with a stick on label with all of the information for that plant, area specific, along with a photo of what it would look like when it bloomed. Perennial sales increased 23% from that effort alone.
What kind of incentives do you offer for positive employee performance? Because we believe that everyone is part of a team at Four Season, we sometimes do things a little differently. There are cash or store gift certificates for staff caught "doing something right," along with a personal note of thanks from me. At Christmas, each staff member gets a personally handwritten note about why we’ve enjoyed having them this year and thanking them for their service. We also try to reward the team as a whole because we believe it builds a better team. For example, we had been offering the 401K but most of the staff were no longer interested after last year’s financial meltdown in the market, so we discontinued that and have substituted other things instead. One of the things we did this year was to treat everyone to a catered steak dinner, as a suprise, at the end of the season. We have a massage therapist come in for the Fall Luncheon, that I cook personally as my way of thanking them for their service. Any time we can find an opportunity to build that team, we’ll take it.
Why is your garden center Revolutionary?