Too Busy to Talk? By Roger C. Styer
Legacy ID:14091

May is the busiest month of the year for most growers in theUnited States, as well as most garden centers. In fact, the spring season isepitomized by the long hours growers put in during May trying to get all of thecrops ready for shipping and sales. For growers, shipping seems to be going onaround the clock, seven days a week during May, and for garden centers, Maybrings in the most customers shopping for their dreams.

But for May to be a good month, the weather has tocooperate. The traditional selling weekends of Mother’s Day and Memorial Dayare very big for both growers and retailers. Rainy weekends during May meanless sales and more reliance on June to make money. With all of this going on,it is no wonder that May brings out the most conflicts between staff members.Whether in the greenhouse, the garden center or the front office, tempers run quickas patience wears out and exhaustion sets in.

Tips for Coping

When working with my clients during May, I try to keepthings simple. The three areas I emphasize are: 1) keep the plants watered andfed if needed, 2) get the growth regulator drenches on in time and 3) keepplants clean of insects and diseases. May is not the time to try to optimizeculture for many different crops. Just staying up with watering, drenching andspraying is almost too much.

Many growers have difficulty trying to schedule time forspraying when shipping is going on all the time. Learn how to drench withA-Rest, Bonzi or Sumagic to hold crops where you want them until shipped orsold. And don’t believe it when sales says that all of that crop will ship outtomorrow. Drench it with a growth regulator anyway! Keeping up with the demandsof customers, along with training staff and keeping fresh plants stocked, willdrive many growers to the back greenhouses where they don’t have to havecontact with anyone; the last thing you want to have to worry about is stretch!

Now is the Time

Even though May is so busy, it is an excellent time to talkwith your customers. Whoever your customer is — garden centers at thewholesale level or consumers at the retail level — schedule some time in thefield. How else are you going to get such timely feedback or input?

Ask your customers what is selling. What is not selling?What are they specifically looking for, especially if they have that lost lookon their faces when they come into the garden center? And finally, what can youdo better? You might be surprised at the comments, and how even tiny things canmake a big difference. Implement any small changes you can right away, andwrite down the larger things to discuss with your staff after the season isover.

The most important thing to do is make sure employees withinan operation talk with each other. Day-to-day issues can become majormisunderstandings when people do not make time to talk and understand what isgoing on. Just a little slip of the tongue in passing can be turned into apersonal calamity by the end of the day.

Help each other out if you have a little extra time.Remember, everyone is rowing the same boat, so learn how to row together. Keepyour sense of humor, and help others to laugh at least once a day.

If you are the owner or manager, try providing some kind ofunexpected treats for your staff members about once a week. Keep them guessing!Donuts, bagels, pizza, cupcakes or any other food treat would be great. Giveout little trinkets or other on-the-spot rewards for performance above andbeyond the call of duty. Encourage others to cheer their own staff when thegoing gets the toughest. Remember, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.You just might have to get to June or July to see it, but it is there!

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