With so many independent garden centers already buckling under the pressure of low, low prices at megastores like Home Depot and Lowe’s, you know well that offering beautiful color for people’s yards isn’t necessarily enough anymore. Being a successful garden center means going above and beyond with customer service, and offering value beyond flowers bought in bulk.
Those big stores have the benefit of corporate infrastructure behind them, and a pretty constant system of checks in place to ensure that employees are up to snuff, policies being followed, and product well stocked and organized. That can be harder as a small business owner — maybe you need some help watching over all those factors in your store.
That’s where a mystery shopping company comes in. These companies will hire and train shoppers to come into your garden center, armed with a list of things to look for during their shopping experience — which you helped put together — and go through all the motions of an ordinary customer. When they’ve left, they’ll compile a report based on their experience, which will come back to you and give you an idea of what you were doing right…and what could use a little more work.
- Is the parking lot free of errant carts?
- Is the cart area inside organized and easily accessible?
- Are outdoor aisles clean, dry and free of spills?
- Are employees in the garden center knowledgeable, helpful and friendly?
- Do plants look healthy and watered?
- Is the indoor supply area and gift shop organized and well stocked?
- How long does checkout take?
- If you’re particularly busy, are there employees available to help load cars and direct traffic through the parking lot?
Holding your employees to the standards and policies you’ve established — as a big corporate retailer would — is only a small part of it. Much of what you instill in your employees will be interpreted subjectively and could be harder to measure through mystery shopping. But rest assured that correcting issues found in those reports and rewarding positive behavior in your employees will boost morale and inspire them to provide the stellar service necessary to carry you above and beyond in today’s competitive market — and stay in business!