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6: Developing Staff

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6 

Developing Staff

People are still the driving force behind any organization. Even if a department does not have direct contact with the purchasing customer, they still have a wide range of ‘internal’ customers within the organization with whom they interact.

The efficiency of all these interactions has a dramatic effect upon the success or failure of the business.

The challenge with any form of staff development within a business is calculating the financial benefits. It is easy to define the costs of staff development, through the collation of invoices and measurement of time spent off the job, whereas the improvements to production are less easy to measure. For organizations where there is a pressure on cash flow, the budget for personal development is an easy target as there are fewer directly measurable gains – the Return on

Investment (ROI; Kaufman and Hotchkiss, 2006).

However, lack of skills can bring a number of inefficiencies into an organization; while these are not easily measured, all combine together to prevent the organization from working at its full effectiveness.

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8: Stock Management

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8 

Stock Management

Stock or inventory management is a vital part of the success of a business; without close control, a business may suffer significant cash-flow problems even though immensely popular and attaining a high gross margin. Despite being so important to the success of a business, it is not a topic that typically gets the average garden centre manager particularly excited, until of course there is an inability to purchase the stock that is needed for a seasonal opportunity because the business has locked up its financial resources in other items.

In addition to the financial implications of effective stock management, there are many other hidden benefits. While it has been estimated that poor stock control systems may mean a loss on sales of 2–3% due to lines being out of stock, there are also effects on staff morale if they are commonly having to address customer frustrations when in-demand products are out of stock.

However, probably the more far-reaching effect is the impact upon the customer.

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1: Position

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1 

Position

1.1  The Evolution of the Garden Centre

Plants have been an essential component of life throughout human history,

­initially as a food source, but increasingly for their ornamental and aesthetic values. The development of home ownership and single household occupancy dwellings helped create the ornamental horticulture market that is seen today.

While plant nurseries are a long established concept, the use of the term

‘garden centre’ is far more recent and ill defined. Stewarts garden centres in

Dorset are amongst a number of businesses who claim to be the first in the UK, having seen the concept of growing hardy plants in containers for sale in Toronto,

Canada, in the mid-1950s (Stewarts Garden Centres, 2014). An embryonic industry using similar techniques was developing in the USA at this time. Regardless of the precise date, the sector has developed rapidly and has changed in all recognition from the earliest examples.

What have been these drivers for change?

1.1.1  Development of technologies for container plant production

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10: Future Responsibilities

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10 

Future Responsibilities

10.1  Introduction

The future influences the present just as much as the past.

Fredrich Neitzsche

Attempting to look ahead within any business is fraught with difficulty as it is truly a trip into the unknown. That said, the manager needs to be trying to interpret trends and fashions in order to stay ahead of competitors and to meet the future demands of their customers. As identified in the very first chapter, McNair’s Wheel of Retailing theory identifies that retailing does not remain constant. Only those businesses that innovate, adapting to changes within the marketplace, will survive. Sometime this means radical overhauls of practices and product offers.

This is not a new phenomenon, even in horticulture. Many of those businesses with a long horticultural pedigree have only been garden centre retailers for a matter of a few decades – their earlier fame founded on the supply of seeds, bulbs or as growers of nursery stock. As highlighted in Chapter 1, the size, style and ambience of garden centres has also changed rapidly, and there is no reason to perceive that in its current format it is indeed the finished article.

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4: Marketing

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4 

Marketing

4.1  Introduction

Whilst everyone uses the word, trying to define what marketing actually is proves to be more complex. Some will cite ‘advertising’, others ‘promotion’ or ‘display’. In many ways it is all these things and far more. The Chartered Institute of Marketing offers this definition:

Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.

In other words, by studying and evaluating the market forces and factors affecting a business, the business is able to put itself into a position whereby it may optimize the benefit of its position.

Without good marketing, it is extremely difficult for a business to understand and meet the needs of its customers; with a potential gap between their needs and what the business has to offer, there is the opportunity for another competing business to meet their needs more closely.

While the focus is often on advertising or selling, marketing is a key process that in effect starts with the development and procurement of goods and services to meet the needs or wants of the customer. Interpretation of this may be very important, as the customer is not always aware of these themselves, and often the development of a product meets a need that thus far has not been recognized.

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