Last month, I was lucky enough to spend a few days with some of the best and brightest minds in the industry to talk shop at the second annual Garden Center Executive Summit in New Orleans. It was both humbling and inspiring to see so much brain power in one room.

With all that goes into getting ready for the spring season, it’s tough to carve out time to take stock of where you are and where you want to go as a business. But for a few days, attendees were able to spend some time with peers in the industry who all deal with the problems, opportunities and challenges that come with running an independent garden center.

The energy feeds off itself in a room full of motivated people and it was inspiring to see everyone coming together to work on their businesses instead of in their businesses. Cultivating that sort of mindset with your team can reap all kinds of benefits. Working toward the same goal and problem-solving together can lead to all kinds of ideas and solutions that may otherwise never come up. It’s amazing what one good conversation can do to boost morale and solve problems.

When you’re so caught up in the day-to-day, it’s hard to find time to make things better. But when the garden center gets really hectic, it can be a great opportunity to pinpoint problems and zero in on inefficiencies and see potential for improvement. Getting your staff involved in that process and listening when they identify problems can help make the whole team stay motivated and energized. And tapping into that brain power can inspire new ideas and solutions.

Once this year’s busy season is over, take stock of what you’ve done well and what needs to be improved. Identify your big problem points or bottlenecks in production and write them down. If you don’t have time to address the issues now, you can always look for solutions to streamline operations for next year’s spring rush It’s never too soon to start planning!

Since you can’t be everywhere at once, tap into the people on the floor, in the greenhouse and at the register to tell you what they’re seeing and what suggestions they have. Once the conversation gets started, you never know what brilliant ideas might pop up.

Kate Spirgen
kspirgen@gie.net