Bring on Spring! By David Edenfield

I'm not sure about you, but I'm ready to get spring 2009 under way. Enough of the bad news; enough of the guessing about what will happen. At the beginning of each spring season, I'm refreshed, rejuvenated and excited to see the racks loaded, carts delivered and customers waiting to purchase our products. But before that, here are a few things to consider.

Think Simpler and Easier

We spend a lot of time watching how and what consumers are influenced to buy when they make a decision to purchase. Consumers this year are already slowing down to "smell the roses." They do not seem to be in as much of a rush to buy; the pace is a little slower, and they look like they are actually reading the tags, signs and POP material in an effort to make better buying decisions. In our early interviews of consumers, we hear comments like, "I have made my garden a priority this year" and "It's cheaper to fix my yard up than to go on vacation — and better for me."

I hope that is music to your ears. It will certainly mean opportunities for our industry, but will we capitalize on them? Our customers are clearly turning toward a slightly more conservative lifestyle. They are looking for an escape and a simpler, easier place to enjoy.

Provide Extreme Customer Service

The other day, I got a personal phone call from a customer service representative at Horizon Airlines. She began by introducing herself and then asked, "How was our customer service during the recent snowstorms and bad weather in December and January?" They cared enough to have a real person call me.

It made me stop and think about the quality of customer service that each of us provides. Now more than ever, we have the opportunity to impress our customers with service like they've never experienced. Now more than ever consumers are going to vote with their purchases — but will they vote for you? I am reminded of the Cheers theme song: "Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name."

Walk the Talk

This is a technique and that's not discussed much by today's business gurus. But in tough times, we have a tendency to get away from some of the tried-and-true basics, and what better way to see what your customers are going to receive than by walking the loading dock, walking the delivery carts or watching the trailers coming out of the greenhouse? And what a great way to reach out and touch your most important asset: your employees.

I'm ready. Bring on the warm weather, and let's make it a great spring season.

David Edenfield

David Edenfield is president of Visions Group LLC, a solutions group providing marketing, management and production assistance to the green industry. He can be reached at (440) 319-2458 or dave@visionsgroupllc.com.



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