Tips For Continuing Business When Your Customers Stay at Home

After weeks of confusing and varied COVID-19 information and new guidelines governing how we do business, many of us find ourselves working remotely. Ours is a hands-on industry, so adapting to this new world requires far more than a shift to a home office. Fortunately, we're a creative bunch finding innovative solutions. Here are some tips and ideas on how to continue business from home. 
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Online Ordering, Curbside Pickup and Delivery

With so many families confined to their homes, the yard and garden are both an escape and a focal point. The demand for plants is there, but many customers are uncomfortable with the idea of entering retail spaces. Online ordering systems have been a lifesaver for garden centers and nurseries. Curbside pickup and delivery also keep contact to a minimum and keep staff employed.

Shifting Services

When the rules governing how we do business change overnight, it's time to make changes to the business model. Some wholesale nurseries have shifted to allow some retail sales through online ordering. Others have added residential delivery services. While this requires a shift in staff duties and workflow, it can have a positive effect on sales. The higher price point for retail sales may not add up to big profits, but it can offset some of the losses of a tough season.

Increase Online Engagement

People are spending more time than usual at home and online. Providing them with valuable educational content accomplishes many objectives. Offering short videos explaining seasonal plant care and other gardening tips is an excellent way to engage with your audience. Not only do they help guide customers with their current home garden projects, but they can also drive sales later in the year.

You can create informative videos on attracting pollinators, the best native trees for your area, or a walk through the nursery showcasing standout flowers to plant in the spring. Don’t be afraid of being on camera. Be funny, be real, be helpful; your customers will be grateful.

Host Online Classes

Many gardeners look forward to the classes and events their local garden centers offer in the spring. Consider shifting some classes to an interactive, online setting. Explore platforms that allow you to live-stream classes and events and save them for replay. You don’t need any fancy equipment to produce a high-quality online class. Just make sure you do a few practice runs to test the connections, video and audio quality before launching the real thing. Open up class sessions for question and answer periods.

Stay in Touch

Regardless of how you shift your focus and services during this time, keep your customers informed. If they don’t know what you're offering, they won’t be able to take advantage of it! Send emails and newsletters to keep folks in the loop. Take the time to word your dispatches carefully. Remember, people have had their inboxes overwhelmed with business emails over the past month. Reach out with humor, kindness, and genuine concern, and your customers will thank you for it.

While no one knows how this will end, we are all doing the best we can to adapt to the changing landscape. Even after things return to normal, they may be a “new normal” that includes increased caution in public and social distancing measures. The changes your business makes now may play a role in how you conduct business in the future.

We welcome your experiences with no-contact sales and helping your stay-at-home customers do business with you.  See below to add comments.

About the Author: Amy Okafor loves a good landscape and seeks inspiration for the one in her backyard by visiting every one she can in her travels. She writes about gardening and landscaping for a variety of local and national publications.


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