Are your celebrating, or licking your wounds this morning? The election of our new president certainly proves the point that change is here. Change is neither good or bad. It's just change. As a business owner we look for some constants to base our decisions on. "People will always garden", or "there will always be a place for independent garden centers" are two ideas that we have based our decisions on. Now its seems that those constants may not be so constant. Who know what's going to happen tomorrow? This is our chance to embrace change for the better. It's also a chance for us to provide a sense of place or "roots". Most people find change frightening. Those of us who embrace change are frightened at times, too. Our garden centers can be a place where people can get back in touch with the "constants" that are so important.
It's the little things that count. Listening to the customer. Carrying out the soil to the car. Noticing the new hair cut of one of your customers. Asking how someones parents are doing. Returning phone calls or e-mails. All these things are small, but add up to a better place to shop and connect. I am amazed how many business start up only to fail. We have a drive through coffee shop near here that has been through three or more owners over the last year or two. What's up? The last owner put up a sign that said, "closed due to the economy". Really, or was it the little things? Like not opening before 6:00 am to get the commuter traffic, or the coffee just wasn't that good, or the entrance is poorly designed. Not the BIG thing, the economy, but the little things. Maybe the new owners will improve on that, although the sign in the window did say, "open Nov.1st" and it's not open yet! Little sign, big promise, no action.
Our customers and neighbors will remember how we acted during tough times. That's the measure of a person, and business. Not just smiles and friendly service when times are good, but smiles and friendly service when the economic times are bad. Our customers don't come to our store to hear our laundry list of complaints. They come to have their spirits lifted, and to embrace the outside world where some things are constant. They are counting on a smile, a positive word, friendly advice, and a "yes you can" attitude. Sure, they want quality plants at a fair price, but that's not enough for the independent garden center.Â You can just about get that at the box stores, decent quality at a low price. Our survival as independents depends on the little things, done over and over again.
Smile, have a "yes we can" attitude, and do what you say you will do. Repeat as often as necessary.