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Preparing for Spring Sales

Spring has Sprung

"In the springtime, a young man's fancy turns to love." That may be the old saying, and it may be true. But if the young man, or woman, is a garden center retailer, the fancy should turn to business. And if the young man or woman wants to make the most of spring in their business, they should turn their attention to spring business while the frost is still on the pumpkin.

If you are the merchant that makes a point of listening to all of your competitors' television and radio advertising, as well as keeping copies of their print advertising, then you have a head start. If you do not have this information, an afternoon spent at the local library looking at copies of last spring's newspapers will be a wise investment.

Start this spring preparation assignment by creating a chart to tract the advertised items for each section of your store. Looking at all of your competitors and their ads, note the date, item, price, and quantity limitations for products you stock.

If there are items several of the competitors are promoting but you are not stocking, you should track these also. These are items that you need to consider adding to your inventory.

Tracking the advertised prices on a weekly basis, you may find with some of the competition that their sale prices have fluctuation during the spring selling season.

The fluctuation may be in response to the pricing they are receiving from their vendors, or it may be a part of their design. It will be up to you to track these changes. Often times, you will see prices drop as the season progresses, and the competition intensifies.

Knowing these items, and all of the related data, will go a long way towards developing your pricing strategy. If you are stocking 10 pound bags of diazinon and decide to build a large store display, all of your signage and advertising needs to show you are price competitive.

In addition to the one example of diazinon, there are probably another 50 to 100 items that will need to be on your list. The more departments you have, the larger your list will be. As you compile the information, you can develop your strategy and begin your work with your vendors. Imagine the advantage you will have when you can approach vendors in November with a quantity to order and a retail price point in mind.

If you are growing part or all of your live goods, you may be able to adjust your growing plans. And for those that not only grow their own, but wholesale as well, you can point out the advertising of the competition to your wholesale customers.

At the same time, note the items that are not advertised that you thought were price sensitive. Too often retailers concentrate on the price sensitive items, but fail to note that there are many more non-price sensitive items that can possibly have their price adjusted upward. It often does little for your price image to advertise these items, because the customer does not have a competitive price to compare against.

In addition to the example of purchasing products, you will be able to approach your media for preseason buys. You won't pay for any of the advertising now, but some stations and newspapers will want to get this advertising on their books before year end.

Like the department stores, now is the time to begin to tell your customers that you will be the spring time headquarters. While it may seem odd to promote spring annuals in November, it actually places a thought in the mind of the consumer. Consider the department store that is displaying winter coats in July. They probably sell few, if any.

But now that it is getting cold in November, the consumer remembers the attractive coat display that was seen last summer. The consumer goes into the department store and purchases the coat. The question that we would ask in this example is, "When did the consumer buy the coat?" Was it in November when the coat was needed, or was it "sold" last July when the customer first saw the display of winter coats?

You may never know the complete answer to the question, but isn't the space dedicated to a couple of spring oriented displays an inexpensive way of advertising?

November is not too early to begin planning for, and developing your personnel needs. Expecting that you add seasonal help, and considering the current level of unemployment, you will have to be aggressive in your search for staff.

If you utilize high school students, check with the local schools to see if they have a DECA program. This program requires students to have a part time job as a part of their grades. The local AARP (American Association of Retired People) is another source. Some AARP chapters even have a program where they will pay the expenses of your having to train their members in becoming employees.

Of course, the next two to three months are an excellent time for having your spring training program. And to make sure that your permanent and temporary employees stay with you for the duration of the season, you may want to create a bonus program for employees that are with you throughout the spring season.

"Spring is in the air, I can smell it" will be the thought and comment that you will want from customers in the next few months. Spring will smell wonderfully profitable for the garden center businesses that have prepared for it.

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This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.

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(727) 464-2182
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