Quality control

Departments - Editor’s Note

December 9, 2021

Portrait by Amber Smith

In the hustle and bustle of busy times like the holidays, it’s easy to let little things slide. Sometimes it seems like it’s a race to the finish line, whether that’s the end of the day, the end of the year or the end of the holiday season.

It’s times like the holiday rush or the busy spring season when the proper processes and fail-safes are so important. It’s so easy for things to fall apart when a longtime employee leaves, someone calls off sick or an important shipment is delayed. In the retail business, so much can go wrong so quickly and there often isn’t time to pivot before at least some damage is done.

While most businesses have a contingency plan for big emergencies like natural disasters, the loss of a key employee or a bad month of sales, many don’t have a clear path to deal with issues like sub-par plant deliveries or a staff member with a bad attitude. Sometimes small problems, when not addressed, can become big problems.

And even if those little problems don’t become big threats to the health of the business, they can keep you and your staff from growing. If you’re always running back and forth, you’ll never have the time to really dig into your business and find new opportunities to serve the community.

In this month’s cover story, we hear from two Top 100 Independent Garden Centers that have taken the time to adapt and grow their pet divisions to meet the growing demand for “pandemic pets.” The opportunity that arose from the boom in pet adoptions during the pandemic was one that no one saw coming two years ago, but with the right focus and resources to expand their pet departments, Homestead Gardens and Chalet are seeing great returns on their investments.

I personally love this quote from Nathan Herman at Chalet: “We were always thinking about, ‘How does this enhance the health and wellness of our customer and the community?’” That kind of focus is a great guiding principle that can extend to all parts of the business. But without the time and energy to focus on that goal, mission statements are just words.

Planning for the little emergencies or disappointments can help your garden center keep on doing what it does right. It's easy, at the end of the year, to look at what went wrong and how you can fix big pain points. But it’s also important to look at what you’re doing right and focus on how you can keep making your customers, and your community, happy.

Kate Spirgen kspirgen@gie.net

I hope you and your staff are able to find a little time for rest and relaxation before your planting season starts and it’s all hands on deck again.