OFA Bulletin Nov/Dec 2009 : Page 1

November/December 2009 • Number 918 start to express themselves exponentially. Problems that are minor during periods of economic prosperity can quickly change to tsunamis in a crisis. In addition, there are many decisions that demand your hourly attention in a greenhouse business; thus it is all too easy to overlook the signs that would indicate the company may be at risk of being insolvent. However, this situation can be avoided if you have a timely benchmarking system in place that regularly analyzes financial metrics regarding specific key areas of your business. I would suggest that during these difficult economic times, senior managers should make special efforts to ask themselves the Are You One Bad Spring Away From Bankruptcy? I by Charles R. Hall n times of economic downturn, the financial weaknesses of any greenhouse business become more acute, and these weaknesses following “red flag” questions to determine if their business might face trouble in the future: 1. Are you having difficulty meeting your bills in a timely manner, indicating cash flow problems? 2. Are you experiencing a shrinking market for your product? (Figure 1 page 7) 3. Are you frequently losing customer sales? 4. Is there an increase in customer complaints, revealing that your business is failing to meet their needs? 5. Do you find that inventory levels are climbing faster than sales, and you are building up more inventory than sales warrant? Continued on page 7 Perennial Problem: Clearance or Carry-Over F by Kate Terrell all is here and the mums are flying out the door along with pumpkins, corn stalks, and all the other harvest-time trimmings. While brightly colored mums may now be the stars of the show, summer’s perennial crop is going out of bloom and looking more tired every day. Customers are expecting it to go on sale and growers start to struggle with the idea of discounting product or getting it ready to go to bed for the winter and then bringing it back in the spring. There are several approaches that can help maximize profitability without wasting labor and resources. I spoke with several area grower/retailers to learn how they handle the problem. Inside this Edition... Are You One Bad Spring Away From Bankruptcy? Perennial Problem: Clearance or Carry-Over Life After Health Care? Grower Merchandising – Why It Works And How To Do It 1 1 2 4 Hardiness of Herbaceous Perennials What Gardeners Want From Their Independent Garden Centers If You’ve Seen It Once...A Dangerous Metaphor for Accurate Diagnosis 11 14 18 Marketing Sustainable Bedding Plants Western Flower Thrips Management: Have We Reached An Impasse? OFA News 22 24 30 Making Sales Work One approach is to have sales throughout the whole season instead of one big clearance at the end. This approach can encourage customers to come back throughout the season to see what is on sale now (Figure 1 page 9). Charlie Cole from Cole Gardens in Concord, New Hampshire, likes to get rid of his product. “We like to put perennials on sale after the plant begins to go out of season,” he said. “For example, we sell ground or creeping phlox once it begins to go out of color, not in the fall when they look awful and no once cares about them.” Continued on page 9

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