Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Survey Says...

In July I held a survey for an article I was writing for TNLA Region II on the surviving the slow economy in the nursery industry. Here is the article I wrote:

Last month the Region II Newsletter staff decided to send out a survey asking how companies were doing in the slower economy. Now for the results! 31 people answered the survey, not a huge number, but not too bad either. Hopefully in the future we can get better participation, more responses mean more information! We got responses from the following companies: Kris Bitner Horticultural Consultant, Greenleaf Nursery Company, JenScapes, Inc., Simmons Oak Farms, Dennis Newton, Turf and Landscape Consultant, Living Expression Landscapes, Enchanted Trees of Texas, Pearl Acres Nursery, Joshua’s Native Plants, Home Depot, Clepper’s Landscaping, Bare Spot Solutions Grass & Installation, Orchis Obsession, JNM Technologies, Inc., Southerwest Property Landscaping, Elways Indutries, Inc., Glueck Tree Farm, Sam Houston State University, Magnolia Garden Nursery, Triangle Nursery, Inc., Verdant Tree Farm, Landscape Art and Plants for All Seasons. Thanks to all that participated! Mostly growers answered the survey at 45.2%. See the graph here:


Interesting to us was that the sales being up or down was 50/50. Some companies seem to be cooking along even with the slow economy while others are falling behind. From the responses it looks like companies that are becoming experts in their area such as consulting are doing better this year. Also companies offering the total package, such as irrigation, landscape design and installation together so the homeowner only has to choose one contractor. In the grower area it seems larger material is moving more slowly as consumers are on a tighter budget, also because of slower home sales bread and butter items are moving slower as well. Smaller items such as annual and perennials and specialty items are selling well. Along the specialty item line, organics and edibles are gaining in popularity as people are more aware of what they eat, even growing their own food to save money. Drought tolerant plants still remain popular and will continue to do so as water restrictions pick up. On the landscaping side of things it seems commercial is down, probably due to the slow down in construction but residential is up. Homeowners are putting money into the home, as this will become a vacation spot or “staycation” on tight budgets. Some recommendations to stay ahead of the game during the slowdown were to keep the product fresh, and in particular for retail to spruce up the store with some inexpensive fixes, maybe a new paint job, new signs. Let people know you are in business and make them want to come back, nobody wants to shop at a place that looks tired and done. For everyone the biggest recommendation was good customer service, you have customers now, don’t let them go! Some firms have hired extra staff to provide superior customer service. In this economy you have to work twice as hard to get a customer and even harder to keep a customer.

Several changes have been implemented to help survive the slowdown as seen from the graph below. The most popular were to offer more unique services and products and to look at ways to make processes more efficient. Most people increased the marketing budget, which is recommended during a slowdown, you don’t want to disappear! See the graph here:


These are the results, let me know what you think!

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