Hundreds of independent garden center retailers attended the IGC Show’s second day keynote address on Wednesday, Aug. 19 to learn how to better their businesses, but many got more than they expected when the speech began to include the audience.
Marcus Lemonis, business consultant and host of NBC's 'The Profit,' delivered a keynote address to attendees of the second day of the IGC Show at Navy Pier in Chicago.
Leveraging years of experience investing in and transforming failing businesses, corporate consultant and television personality Marcus Lemonis, host of NBC’s “The Profit,” brought his expertise to the horticulture field with a keynote presentation during the second day of the IGC Show in Chicago.
Lemonis shared details of his background in retail, entrepreneurship and administration and urged attendees to forge personal connections with customers, suppliers and other important business contacts.
To drive his point home, Lemonis had several members of the audience, most of them IGC owners, stand before the crowd and share their own stories, including personal fears and regrets. One woman, a second-generation owner of a garden center, said she was afraid of the coming years that would make or break her family business.
Lemonis said that when allowing themselves to be vulnerable, business owners foster trust and create lasting, valuable connections.
“It’s important for people to be vulnerable,” Lemonis said. “Vulnerability will create a level of connection that no education can create. The point I wanted to make with that is your level of connection to those people changed in a second. In business, all things being equal … that’s how you win the game.”
During his remarks, Lemonis also encouraged attendees to reinvent both their own lives and their businesses as needed, while staying true to themselves.
“It’s hard to open a business,” Lemonis said. “It’s hard to take the risk. It’s hard to accept the fact that you, possibly, are going to fail. In that process, between the time that you started and today, you’ve reinvented your business philosophy, your story, your store layout, your employees, the way your deal with your customers. You’ve constantly reinvented yourself trying to find that sweet spot. At the end of the day, it really comes down to being comfortable with yourself.”
As central points of his presentation, Lemonis focused on three core components of any successful business: people, product and process. He told the crowd that people, or employees, should come first, even before customers. Lemonis said that staff should know that their employer is always in their corner.
“My business philosophy in life, not just in business, is really centered around people,” Lemonis said. “You can move people in a way that is shocking because they’re willing to follow someone that feels just like them, not someone who feels like they’re up in their office, looking through the glass down at them.”
When it comes to an IGC’s product, Lemonis recommends comprehensive knowledge of what is being marketed and sold.
“Your competition is fierce and they will beat you on data, so you have to know your product,” Lemonis said.
Process, or the way a product is designed, procured and handled, is also a crucial step in Lemonis’ business approach. During the presentation, he encouraged attendees to get familiar with their company’s balance sheet and monitor their daily activity to know what products and processes are or are not working for them.
As he closed his time in front of the keynote audience, Lemonis stressed the importance of investing in beneficial systems, such as inventory management software, that drive gross income. Smart distribution of revenues, maintenance of cash reserves and constant preparation for worst-case scenarios were regular themes throughout the address.
To emphasize the importance of inventory tracking, Lemonis asked for audience members to raise their hands if they did not have one for their business. He asked one man who managed a garden stand to call his father, the garden stand’s owner, when the man said he didn’t know his inventory count.
While on the phone with the man’s father, Lemonis asked for an inventory count and offered to install an inventory management system when the owner also said he didn’t know.
“More often than not, we have businesses that don’t have systems in place because they don’t want to spend the $4,237 dollars to know that they that they have $432,670 of inventory,” Lemonis said.