The garden centre industry brings in around £5 billion per annum, with two-thirds of Brits visiting a centre at least once a year.
This seasonal business is extremely weather dependant; poor conditions are likely to stop shoppers visiting your store. Here are some tips to help you brave the storms and run a successful all-year-round business:
As a garden centre retailer, you’ll be accustomed to fluctuating sales, as business booms in spring and summer months, and quietens during autumn and winter. To keep your footfall high all year, try to diversify the products and services you offer.
Including homeware, gifts and garden furniture is a great way to attract shoppers to your store. Consider setting up a café and offer lunch to your customers; this will help increase the amount of time people spend at your store and boost your income.
Hosting events, workshops and classes can also be a great way to attract people to your store and create a social environment. Consider inviting a gardener to share their knowledge with customers, or host horticultural classes for green-figured pros.
Some garden centres also include soft play areas for children and leisure facilities such as crazy golf or bowling. Consider how much space and funds you have to invest in new facilities, and the demographics of shoppers that frequent your store.
Build a dynamic team
Train your staff to be passionate and knowledgeable about the plants, flowers and trees you sell. The more your team can advise customers with a purchase, the higher your sales will be. It will also increase your employees' daily job satisfaction.
In order to educate your staff, set aside group training sessions or meetings, and encourage members to come up with new ideas for your garden centre. Try to make all your employees feel part of the business’s success to motivate them to work hard.
It’s important to have a strong managerial team in place who you trust to operate your business when you’re not around. Delegate responsibilities and jobs fairly; knowing your employee’s strengths and weaknesses will help you do this effectively.
Whether you’re hosting an event, have new plants in stock or offering an end-of-season sale, make sure you market your business through different channels. Advertising in local newspapers and trade magazines will help attract an older clientele.
You should also create strong, interesting and visually captivating social media profiles. If this isn’t your forte and you don’t have a budget for a marketing manager, encourage a team member to manage your Instagram and Facebook profiles.
Make sure your garden centre has good signage and a noticeable road presence, as most retailers will be situated on A-roads. Set up signage starting half a mile down the road to notify drivers-by; this could greatly increase your passing footfall traffic.
When you’re marketing and advertising your garden centre, stay true to your brand's image and ethos. For example, if you run a family-owned centre, tell your customers the history of your store to make your business more relatable and personal.
Keep your advertising in keeping with the area that you are located in. If you are in or around London, you may target a different audience to a business located in a rural area.
Manage your stock effectively
The more stock you have the more space you need. Aim to strike a balance between offering a variety of products without overcrowding your garden centre. You should try to include a backhouse nursery where you can grow your own plants and flowers.
Review your orders and sale figures regularly to see what products are selling well and which items are being left on the shelves. This will also give you a better insight into what your customers want, which will help you to grow the business effectively.
Try to include an area of expertise that your garden centre is known for. Whether you offer a large variety of rose plants or specialise in trees and larger shrubs, customers will be more likely to travel the distance to visit your store instead of closer nurseries.