Do you like your own coffee?
Do you like your own coffee? Do you go to the same bathroom as your customers? And where do you park your car? Three questions that might seem strange, but to get online attention, there is nothing quite as powerful as a weird pick-up line. However, there is a kernel of truth: good coffee, a clean toilet and the parking area say a lot about your garden centre. Edwin Meijer of Garden Connect explains how this works.
About a year ago, I was visiting a garden centre in the Netherlands. A major, well-known garden centre, but I won't mention any names of course. I had an appointment with the owner of the garden centre but had to wait a few minutes. I was waiting at the coffee corner, and after a few minutes, he appeared. He asked whether I would have liked to have a coffee and of course, I said “Yes”. His reply “then we will go to my office because the coffee is not very nice over here”. I felt honoured to get served nice coffee, but find it remarkable that the owner of this garden centre apparently did not think it was a problem to serve his clients awful coffee. Weird, because those clients are the ones who are paying for his house, food and salary.
Hospitality starts with a smile, greeting someone and good coffee for your visitors. Even if they are customers!
I have heard many weird stories about toilets in garden centres. At three centres, I have been informed that the stools were found where they should not have been located. But you can also attract customers with your toilet!
The Garden Centre Association in the US has an election each year for the “Toilet of the Year”. The garden centre with the most beautiful or creative toilet wins. Hereby a few winners of last year:
It's a small price to pay to have the snazziest toilet in the land, but please let us be honest; are you going to the same toilet as your customers? Hospitality means a clean toilet, and with a little bit of effort, it is possible to create something just as nice as shown above, that your customers will truly appreciate!
Besides this, I have increasingly noticed more and more often that garden centres have adopted a baby changing room; clever!
It is getting more common nowadays to have a spot at the parking area for elderly people and families. These wide parking spaces can be found at the front of the parking area and recognised by the image of a family.
I personally know a garden centre in the South where the owner prefers to park his car very close to the entrance. Probably to show off his fancy car, but here too the client should be your number one priority, not your own personal interests!
The moral of this story
Why do I, as an owner of an online marketing agency Garden Connect, start about coffee, toilets and parking areas?
Easy. When a family with a two household income wants to buy something, there are two options: your store or a web shop. If you are bold enough to give them bad coffee, a disgusting toilet where you don't even want to go to yourself and let them drag three bags of soil, a container to grow a kitchen garden and a shopping cart full of plants to the backend of the parking area, the choice is easy.
Turn it around: do you have nice, fresh coffee, a clean toilet and a parking spot available next to the entrance, it's a lot more attractive to visit your garden centre. You cannot beat the internet in terms of price or supply, but you can beat the internet on many other points, so make sure these are in first-class condition.