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4 Ways Retailers Can Get the Most Out of the Off-Season

Set yourself up for success next season with these 4 ways to get the most out of your off-season. LinkGreen offers retailers a free online ordering service.


As winter slowly arrives, so does off-season for many businesses in the lawn & garden industry. At this time you should be selling the last of your stock and closing things down. Off-season doesn’t mean the work stops. In fact, for a business owner off-season can be very busy. During the few months when the store's doors are shut is the perfect time to get the business in order for spring. So as you begin your off-season transition, keep these steps in mind and you will be in good shape this spring.

Get out the Broom and Toolkit

The store is empty and the greenhouse is bare, so there is no better time to take a good walk around and review what needs to be fixed or cleaned up. Everything needs to be in good working order before spring. That means that your torn greenhouse roof you’ve been putting off now needs to be re-done and those old shelves need to be replaced. Take stock of what needs to be done, then prioritize what is required immediately and what can wait until your cash flow is better. Cleaning the store prior to closing it for winter will save you valuable time in the spring. So make sure you invest some time to clean things up and prepare for spring before you close up.

Evaluate Your Business

The winter gives you a chance to sit down at your desk and carefully review your sales. A good place to start is with your remaining inventory. Take note of what didn’t sell and review potential factors that may have caused that. Maybe those plants that didn't fly off the shelves  weren’t easily visible in the store or maybe the pricing wasn’t competitive. Whatever the reason, now is the time to correct it. In contrast take a look at what did well, Especially if it did better than expected and review what factors may have helped it sell. Was it a part of a special that was marketed well? Is it a trending item? Or was it simply that it was merchandised well. Collecting as much information as possible will help you better prepare for next season

OrderEase offers retailers a free online ordering and records management service. Learn more.

Educate Yourself

Once you have evaluated all your successes and struggles of the previous season, it is the time to take a good look at what you can learn from that information. Take a good look at what worked and try to replicate that into other parts of the business. So, if your Facebook ads really helped you sell more fresh herbs this year, maybe you should allocate more resources to marketing on Facebook and less on new signage throughout the store. It's also a good time to talk to others in the industry and learn from them. Attend the annual association meeting or call up Fred out east and see what worked at his garden center. Your off-season is a critical time for you to learn as much as you can and apply that knowledge to your business for the upcoming season.

Stay competitive next season and read 6 Ways Independent Garden Centers can Compete with Big Business

Make a Game Plan

Take all that knowledge and start planning out your new season. There is a lot more to planning than just your spring inventory and store layout. Make sure you plan out how you are going to take advantage of what you have learned from the previous season. You should have a clear idea of how your plan is going to be implemented. You should know what resources are required, how long it's going to take and who is responsible for its getting it done. For example, if you are planning on executing a new online marketing plan you should have a budget; a content strategy; a schedule; and a designated employee to manage the various campaigns throughout the season. Proper management of each project is important to execute them successfully. Taking the time to plan out each project will help you clearly define your goals and help you properly evaluate them later.

There is plenty to do this off-season. Taking the time to complete this checklist will set you up for an even more successful next season.

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