You don’t just go to a garden centre to buy a plant, do you? I suppose occasionally you do but mainly you go to have an experience, and a leisurely one at that. You go to look at the lovely products and displays, to see lifestyles, to imagine yourself in those lifestyles. You go for a coffee and a nice lunch or snack. You go to chill out, meet friends and escape from any stress and pressure. And wandering round the plants and trees calms you and lifts your spirit. In fact, I think there are a lot of pent-up expectations when you visit.
There are some functional things that you probably need such as good parking, good quality and healthy plants, reasonable prices, tempting offers, nice, helpful staff who know about plants, and a cosy café with good coffee and food. Some people will want the centres to be dog friendly too.
Then there are the extra things, the wow factors that you kind of expect but don’t want to assume. And part of this is that you want the staff to complement the experience. You want them to be there if you have a question, a problem or you want to buy something. You don’t want their absence to detract from your lovely calm day out.
And when you do interact with staff, you want them to be really welcoming, friendly, warm, and empathetic. You want to feel valued by them. You want the interaction to simply add to the good vibes you are feeling and to echo the great atmosphere and beautiful products and plants.
Is this what is happening in your garden centre?
Are your staff giving the best possible service? Are staff available when you need them? Are they welcoming, friendly, and knowledgeable? Are your customers satisfied with their experience? Do they leave with no frustrations, just a vague feeling that they’d like to come back soon?
If you're unsure, you might want to consider mystery shopping, a powerful tool that helps garden centres to optimize and improve their customer service, and as a result, increase their business. Mystery shopping can help generate that 'wow factor' by providing insights into staff and customer behaviour, showing where there are training gaps, and identifying areas for improvement.
And, by getting this right, not only will your customers be happy, but they are also likely to spend more, come back more often and tell others how great you are.