Weeds, excessive rainfall, disease, insects, drought and the long, hot days of summer are here. Their arrival this year was a collaborative effort starting in July. While in-store traffic may decline for planting, the intensity and frequency of customers with gardening issues increases almost hourly.
Solution selling is one of the most demanding services we provide for our customers. Today’s consumer has many more avenues of information at their fingertips by using smartphones and other mobile devices, but many still turn to the local professional just to be sure. If we solve issues successfully, we’re usually rewarded by selling a remedy on the spot or making a future sale with the client who, by the way, came to your store for help.
The Art of Conversation
Many store owners (and personnel) will admit that they’re constantly upgrading their product knowledge and training to keep up with the newest chemical technologies and product solutions. If you have a friendly personality, the type that gravitates toward the customer and not away from them, your chances of selling successfully and retaining that customer in the future goes up drastically.
Developing good interrogation practices helps to solve problems accurately and narrow the many choices at the shelf to ensure success. It takes a lot of practice (and courage) to ask simple questions, listen for symptoms and, in some instances, properly examine a sample of the problem. Listening and communicating current issues with staff and ownership helps to identify recurring problems and offer a consistent solution. This can’t be accomplished by ignoring customers even during the hottest of days.
The Answer at the Shelf
Today’s chemistry selections have changed to provide safe and effective ways to treat problems in the home and garden. Gone are the rows and rows of a product with the same ingredient, but in a different bottle label. These selections have been replaced by a more “globalized” effort that mimics a “one product fits all” strategy. Manufacturers have to pay huge sums of money to develop new chemistry and for every label produced, it costs more money. Granted, there are still specific chemicals that do the trick for specific problems, so you’ll need to identify and train accordingly. It takes time to master, and it’s worth sharing your knowledge with associates and customers alike.
Beat the Heat
Just as important as reading the label correctly and following instructions, is the need to stock and sell quality products that can be sold and used when temperatures soar. Many years ago, most chemical solutions had some type of oil-based ingredient that would literally cook a leaf’s surface after application. More issues were created because consumers wouldn’t read the label or apply common sense when using the product. We must offer options. Much of the changes in chemistry have come by the way of organics and water-based technology. Spraying isn’t the only option either; more products now offer a “drench” method for application. If you’re unsure of what you’re stocking, take a look at these labels and note the restrictions they may have in their label directions.
Whenever temperatures are taking a toll on plants, think about the cause and effect of spraying anything, including water, when the hot sun is out. Early morning or early evening are the best times to treat for disease or insects. If home gardeners can offer their plants a drink well in advance of a spray application, it may do wonders in making a solution work better. You may also recommend a garden dust for waterless treatments against insects and disease.
When All Else Fails
Several great mobile apps can offer assistance and make the process easier, too. Bonide makes one of the very best mobile problem solvers our industry has seen. If you don’t have this installed on your phone, I highly recommend you take the time to download and investigate. You won’t be disappointed.
Your local county agriculture service is also one of the best ways to inform you and your team of any local issues. They may also have an auto-generated e-mail service for special bulletins, problems and solutions specific to your region. Our GGSPro team relies on these alerts for updating our recommendations, too! Last but not least, look at the label of the product itself. Many manufacturers provide a toll-free number (and/or website) to contact them directly. Their customer service professionals are available to help you by phone quickly during your business hours.