The secrets of a successful garden centre

Company: George Bullivant

Peter Burks delivered an experts guide to running a successful garden centre when announcing the winners of the Christmas display competition at the GCA conference.

His tips referred to Christmas displays but are appropriate to any season: -

  • Try to be famous for something – be brilliant, be different
  • Avoid supplier displays, customers get bored if they see the same thing at each garden centre they visit
  • Recognise the power of social media. Create photo opportunities. Christmas customers are younger and regularly post photos on social media, particularly Snapchat and Instagram. Create a WOW and they will take photos – that’s free advertising
  • Be comprehensive. If a garden centre is going to commit to a section it should do it well.
  • Entertain. Promote things with a bit of fun. Customers will remember them
  • Be informative. Customers find it hard to see what can be achieved. They need to be shown how – making wreathes for example or selecting vegetables to plant in the autumn
  • Be the experts. It gives customers confidence and adds credibility. There are customers who only visit a garden centre for Christmas shopping. If they are inspired they will return when shopping for the garden
  • Make it easy for people to buy. Show them the dream then show them the product
  • Don’t forget plants. There are always plants that will look good outside. Gardeners will still look at the plant area, even if shopping for Christmas.

Peter Burks has just relinquished his chain of office as chairman of the Garden Centre Association. Until Christmas he was area manager with the Garden Centre Group, based at Sanders Garden World in Somerset. He is now General Manager for Trelawney Garden Leisure.

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