The American Nursery & Landscape Association's "mini-MBA" for retailers, Garden Center University, is now open for registration for the class of 2012. This program, exclusively designed for garden center owners and managers will begin just before the 2010 Management Clinic, taking place Jan. 30 and 31 in Louisville, Ky. Taught by "professor" Ian Baldwin — whose 25 years' experience in retail nursery consulting has shown many examples of both good and bad management practices — GCU examines garden centers as businesses, from metrics to inventory and staff management to marketing.
The program, consisting of five semesters in all, will improve the profit and market position of large and small garden centers, veteran owners and new managers alike. The program is primarily aimed at retail owners and managers in the sales volume range of $500,000 to $5 million per year who want to double or triple their size. The program is linked throughout by core "threads" of learning essential for profitable garden center operations: fiscal, human resources, and sales and merchandising. "Students" will work in groups to network and solve problems. Participants are asked to bring their own financial statements, promotion pieces, job descriptions and other store materials for an interactive experience.
"As owners of retail garden centers, all too often we work long and hard for relatively little return," said Jere Stauffer of Stauffers of Kissel Hill in Pennsylvania, a member of the inaugural graduating class. "GCU is one way to leverage the hard work, experience, and risk into better returns. It has gone beyond head knowledge to hands-on work in the classes with reports and finding solutions to current problems."