During a tour in January of Flamingo Road Nursery, Farmers Market & Garden Center in Davie, Fla., we learned more about the garden center’s pollinator initiatives and related events, its farmers market, the successful bonsai department and how they use structures for wayfinding. (Read more here: bit.ly/2vs4cRM.) However, the garden center is also using strategies to motivate employees to sell and customers to buy products that both groups tend to overlook. Owner Jim Dezell shares specific strategies here.
Q: Tell me about the incentive you offered staff for selling a specific bagged good. How did it work?
A: We offered a SPIFF (Sales Performance Incentive Funding Formula) on Bumper Crop Organic Soil Builder (2 cubic foot bags) because it is a terrific product to amend our nutrient deficient Florida sandy soils. We wanted to provide an incentive for our customers to invest in the product and achieve better results with their planting projects. So my staff received a $1 SPIFF for every bag sold and the customer received a $1 discount off the normal $14.99 price per bag.
Q: How did you advertise this?
A: This was an “unadvertised sale” that was communicated directly from my sales staff to the customer as follows: The sales person would recommend Bumper Crop and tell the customer that they will receive a $1 discount when the customer presents the salesperson’s card to the cashier. The customer is always told to keep the card for future visits to establish a contact in the nursery, but by using the card, the cashier knew who to credit the sale to. We ran this incentive program for 6 months with excellent results and will launch it again in October through year end.
Q: Why did you pick that product?
A: First, it’s a great product, but most customers don’t feel they need soil amendments, so we were not selling a tremendous amount of it. Second, the price point is $14.99, so we could afford to give up $2 and still earn close to a 50 percent profit margin. Third, the only other compost that Bumper Crop cannibalized was our mushroom compost, which [is] $7.99 at retail, so it’s a no-brainer to trade customers up and maximize gross profit dollars.
Q: How well did the employees do?
A. We had several employees [earn] an additional $80-plus per week.
Q: Have you tried to a similar program with other products?
A. We offered a $5 discount and a $2 SPIFF on our most popular all-purpose fertilizer, a 50-pound bag of palm/ornamental fertilizer that normally carries a $39.99 price at retail. Our cost is $18, so we did take a hit on margin, but sales did increase significantly, and the gross profit dollars increased over the sales period.
Q: What do you do to boost morale?
A: I treat all staff to free BBQ at our amazing on-site BBQ Tiki (full menu including ribs, brisket, pulled pork, etc.) on the first Saturday following every month that our sales are up. This can be a $20-plus lunch depending on whatever they want, so it works better than pizza. It also allows everyone to taste our delicious food so they can speak from the heart when describing it to customers.