Bulbs

Updated 6th May 2010

Deletions for consideration by manager
Updates
Bulbs Job Description

This job description should be read in conjunction with:
(a) Guidelines for staff in charge of a section
(b) Guidelines for buyers
(c) BAAG’s Environmental weed policy in the policies section of the Job descriptions folder

Introduction
The bulb section is a seasonal component of the nursery that is predominantly at its peak between March and April, when the spring flowering bulbs are available. Autumn and summer flowering bulbs are also stocked during season but it is the spring flowering bulbs that require the largest volumes of stock.

Procedure

An early order is crucial to the success of the section. Order forms normally arrive in late December or early January. Late orders mean late deliveries and lost sales. Allocate time to bulb orders for the first week of January or as soon as order forms arrive. Check with bulb suppliers if the catalogues do not arrive in the 1st week of January. Order numbers may be based on the previous year, however if in doubt, err on the conservative side.

Good planning will make a big difference to the smooth running of your job.
Although it is very hot in January it is worth spending time thinking through and checking the procedure for dealing with the bulbs when they come in. Bulbs normally arrive early February. Organise pricing structure and signage before bulbs arrive. Put up a sign near the registers before the bulbs arrive telling the customers when they are due.

It is very important to get the bulb order into stock as soon as it arrives, before other nurseries. Time to merchandise and set up the section should be set aside. Also allocate night crew time.

Check the ‘BULBS IN STOCK’ sign and ensure it is ready to go out on the advertising trailer as soon as stock arrives and display is up and running.

Display
Check several weeks beforehand that all benches, inserts and boxes are available and in presentable order. Get fixed if not. If you want to use the windmill (kids love it), make sure it is cleaned and repaired before putting on display. Wooden crates that have been supplied for displays in previous years are stored above the SGA office. These are used to display spring-flowering bulbs. Check for quantities and condition well before bulbs come in. The boxes can be painted to brighten them up. Make sure all boxes are thoroughly clean before using, as old bulb debris can harbour bulb mites. When dismantling the display, thoroughly clean the boxes and store neatly above the SGA office. Also check that we have enough paper bags before the bulbs arrive, and if you need to order some more from Penny. These are kept in the bulb box in the information stand.

Mass displays of a range of daffodils etc. should be displayed together in the shop, preferably near to the registers. The display area needs to be clearly seen by register staff to deter theft. Each type of bulb should have a colour pictorial and be price pointed. Trenton Cottage provides good display material. There is a big stock of picture cards in the bulb box in the information stand, so check this first before ordering any more.

Use themes in your displays. There are great opportunities to increase sales significantly by developing themes within your section, eg. Grouping them to colour, fragrance and flowering time. Otherwise group together like bulbs (daffodils together, tulips together, etc). Each year our bulb section is an improvement on that of previous years. The use of artificial flowers in a display ie. Daffodils and tulips can bring colour and inspiration to an otherwise dull display. If a particular theme or layout has worked well in previous years, do it again and make incremental improvements. Some of the props are getting old and a bit tired, so painting and other techniques may need to be utilised to dress up the display.

All related products must be professionally displayed in the same area ie. Bulb potting mix, bulb food, suitable pots, marking labels, etc. Beware of cluttering up the area too much with pots and potting mix, make sure that access is available to the bulbs. Discuss this with the pots and Sundries Manager.

Bulb information is available on the website with other handouts.

Customers are put off purchasing summer bulbs because their hands get dirty fishing through the bulk potting mix. Make sure staff assist customers who are unsure of fishing out bulbs. Customers may wash their hands in the sinks in the toilets.

Pre-packaged bulbs
Pre-packaged bulbs usually make up the more unusual or expensive bulb varieties, as only a few may be stocked at one time. There is little point doubling up on loose and pre-packaged varieties, as loose are cheaper. Therefore, only use the pre packaged bulbs to stretch the range. Pre packaged bulbs only sell if they are displayed with the loose bulbs and not on the seed rack. May need to see Paul about a free standing rack to display pre packaged bulbs on. Order only small quantities of pre-packaged bulbs as they are slow sellers.

Loose bulbs
Loose bulbs are where we have our greatest impact in the shop, and the greatest edge on our competition. Good planning is required before setting up the displays and pricing.

Bulb displays are important to the shop display area and to our reputation as a top nursery, with an emphasis on giving value to the customer. They give an impression of the sort of nursery that we are which differentiates us in the eyes of the customer. In season, the bulb display is one of the first things a customer sees when entering the nursery. This creates an immediate impression of Bulleen Art & Garden. If merchandised professionally with pictures of flowering bulbs, the bulb stand will provide relief from packaged goods and hardware. This gives the impression of entering a plant nursery, not hardware. Therefore, bulbs must be meticulously displayed.

Signage
Stock should only be ordered when a colour pictorial will accompany them. If customers cannot visualize what they are buying bulb sales quickly fall. Trenton Cottage supplies good pictures of bulbs, with bulb orders. If there is no picture available, decent sized pictures in catalogues may be scanned. These pictures are then made up into laminated information signage with a set background. Avoid too many different styles of signage as this gives a visually confusing image.

All signage indicating names, prices etc. must be prepared immediately after you have had confirmation of an order. Stock can then be positioned with their signage on arrival. Large promotional signage should also be exploited when available, as large colour pictures will dress up a potentially dull area.

Maintenance
The bulb display has to be worked thoroughly at least weekly if this section is to look presentable and sell effectively. All bins have to be cleared of loose material. So bins do not look picked over, combine individual coloured bulbs with mixed colours as stock runs out, as long as they are the same price code. Special end of season stock before it is too late to sell it.

A constant supply of paper bags and pens should be provided for the customers.

You could organise bulb maintenance to be a register job, especially spring bulbs because they come in at a slower sales time. Jobs could include de-husking the loose bulbs and tidying the area, making sure there are enough bags, and communicating this to you.

Advertising
When bulb season begins inform person in charge of advertising.
Bulk bulb promotion signs should be put on the roadside stand and an advertisement possibly put in the local papers.
Make sure at least two lines of bulbs are on special at all times during the bulb season. These have been King Alfred and Mixed Daffodils for the last few seasons, but may change in the future.

Buying

Spring Flowering
Trenton are currently our main supplier of spring bulbs. Check their orders off carefully each time, they are not the most reliable. Phone immediately to sort out any issues. At the present time, Trenton Cottage are the cheapest available supplier with a good range and added service for both loose and pre-packaged bulbs. We have not been buying from other suppliers because they have not been competitive in terms of range of product, prices and minimum orders. Obviously we need to look at all possible suppliers each year to ensure that we are providing the best service available to customers at the best prices. If someone new emerges test the waters quickly.

Use the information recorded on the computer as an indication of what has been stocked and what has sold in previous years. Keep copies of all orders placed during the season in the current orders folder in the filing cabinet in the info stand. At the end of each season enter the numbers of bulbs sold into the bulbs order access file on the computer. Store the hard copies of orders in the past orders file and clean out the file so that only the previous three years are kept.

Other possible suppliers are Broersons Bulbs, Tesselars, Goodmans, Blue Dandenong Bulbs, Hancocks, Classic Daffodils, Mr Fothergills and Yates, with the latter mainly only pre-packaged suppliers

Summer flowering
Summer flowering perennials must be ordered by mid May.
Broersen 97379202 have provide loose flowering perennials. They can be slow with their catalogues, so ring them up.
Goodmans provide loose strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus, garlic, shallots, tree onions and potatoes.
Tempo three 59786080 may provide loose iris and daylilies, but they are expensive. I usually refer customers to Tempo Two if they want specific Irises.
Trenton cottage supply some packaged produce, in particular potatoes and shallots. You can also buy loose potatoes and sell them individually. This was done the previous season (2009) and worked quite well.
Records of previous year’s bulk bulb purchases should be kept in a separate suspender file and kept up to date, and the computer records updated.

Check quality and spot check quantities

Methodically check the quality of the bulbs so we can offer very good quality bulbs to our customer. In nearly every other area of our operations we have found that if we do not spot check quantities, sooner of later someone will short us. Phone up immediately to fix up any discrepancies.

Make sure you get your bulb orders in early to ensure we have a top range of stock to offer the customer.

Deliveries

Bulbs are delivered to the sundries store. Bulbs will be destroyed if they are left outside and get wet. Make sure you know roughly when to expect each delivery and regularly check the store for bulbs in boxes. They must be unpacked and dealt with immediately. If an old box of bulbs remains in the store undiscovered until too late, then the profit for the season can easily be lost.

Filing and pricing

A mark up of 75% from pre-GST , plus 10% GST added to this marked up price, has been used in the past on packaged bulbs. Check the prices of competitors and confirm with the nursery manager each year. Although pricing must be competitive, it should be remembered that we have the greatest impact and influence on price perception with our bulk, loose bulbs.

After an individual mark-up of 120% plus 10% GST, the bulbs are grouped together within a price range and then given a mean price point. The amount of price points will vary each season, but there are usually 5 to 8 different price points.

The pricing should be determined as follows:
1. Write down individual bulb price (pre-GST wholesale) for each variety.
2. Mark up by 120% and then add 10% GST.
3. Group a price range together. Use last year’s calculations as a guide. You will need 6 to 8 groups, including a cheap one for specials. Too many price points will lead to confusion. Too few to lost profits.
4. Average each group to find the appropriate price point eg.

Bulb variety
Price ea
Number of bulbs in pack
Total price
Daffodils Geranium
0.46
400
184.00
Daffodils Paper White
0.61
100
61.00
Crocus
0.54
250
135.00
TOTALS

750
380

$380.00
750 bulbs = 50c each…Price point is 50c for bulbs that fall between 46 and 61c.

In past years we have also offered a bulk buy discount for each price point. Last year it was a flop. The only bulk buy that seems to work is the mixed daffodil, ‘fill a bag’ for a ridiculously cheap price!
A 25% bulk discount may then be applied as follows:
If you buy more than 20 bulbs at the lowest price point;
If you buy more than ten bulbs at the next 3 price points;
If you buy more than five at the highest price points.

Make sure at least two bulb varieties are on special each season. The last few seasons have use Mixed Daffodils and King Alfred Daffodils as the two specials. These are marked up as usual and then have 25% taken off the price point. A further bulk buy discount may then be applied, such as fill the bag for a cheaper price.

The individual varieties will need price point signage that is colour coded. Keep these on file as some may be used in the following year. Organise these with the pictorial signage after placing the order, before the bulbs arrive.

Colour coding bulbs into price groups has proved successful using a non-toxic acrylic paint called chromacryl. This can be purchased from Sue at Art on Burgundy, 104 Burgundy St. Heidelberg. 94592364. The smaller cheap bulbs have in the past been left unpainted (SMALL NATURAL) and those larger bulbs that fall in the same price bracket as the king Alfred and mixed daffs (LARGE NATURAL). Make sure colours are easily differentiated by staff. Try to get away with painting as few bulbs as possible as it is time consuming and expensive. Therefore do not have too many price points. Check the storeroom above sundries area first before buying more paint. Colour is squeezed out in plastic boxes and put onto bulbs with a damp sponge. Sponges are normally in the paint room or the trade store. Make sure colours are noticeably different from each other, so that register staff have no difficulty telling prices. Painting and putting away bulbs is a good reg person job. Paint may be watered down marginally. Spraying the bulbs has been trialed but was not successful.

A colour code price list should be positioned at each of the registers and on each bulb bench. Keep one of these as a reference point for pricing each year on file.

Note that bulbs need to be kept dry at all times. Although the weather is generally very hot when bulbs first arrive, weather conditions can change rapidly and become rainy and humid. Care must be taken to ensure that bulbs are kept as dry as possible.
Trenton will credit bulbs that have rotted due to storage or damaged in transit.

Removal of stock from benches

Timing is very important at the end of the bulb season. Judging when to decrease orders and mark down remaining stock has a major influence on the profitability of the section. Check optimum planting times (listed on packaged bulbs) and heavily mark down three weeks before the end of planting time. Seasonal variability will influence sales so earlier discounting may be required in some years. Check with the nursery manager. Record all remaining bulb quantities before discounting as an indication for the following year. Ideally this number should be as low as possible.
n.b. many bulbs starting to shoot early May.
End of Season, great bulb grab, seemed to work well and could be easily advertised

Safety at BAAG is more important than customer service!

Electric tractors
There is a risk of a serious accident with the electric tractors. These tractors can pull five-ton and so could crush a leg or a toddler’s head. BE VERY CAREFUL. Do not let your legs hang out the side, take keys out and switch off when not in use AND NEVER SPEED, A TODDLER COULD COME OUT FROM BEHIND A BENCH.

Lifting and bending
Be sensible with your lifting and bending. It is continuous, so talk to senior nursery staff for techniques for lifting and to minimise bending. Straighten your back regularly and spend the time to get in the best position. Use your free arm to support your body when reaching. Never lift anything that you find too heavy and do not hesitate to ask for assistance. When full of plants the large plant trolleys should be towed into the nursery with an electric tractor. If this is not possible, a heavy trolley should always be pushed by two people. It is too heavy for one person to push.

Personal safety
Be aware of and reduce or communicate (with signs if appropriate) hazards to you and customers associated with handling plants, eg. climbers and other staked plants and deciduous trees in winter- historically every few years someone in industry loses eye.
12.4 Tools and safety
Put your tools away and always roll up your hoses. We have a lot of elderly customers but anyone can break a limb tripping over a hose or rake left carelessly lying around.

Your responsibility and duty
As in all sections of the nursery safety comes first. If you see a hazard it is more important than anything else, including customers, and you must do something about it straight away. The new laws make you now individually responsible and it is surprising how easy it is for a serious accident or a death to occur in the workplace. You must all contribute actively and positively to the health and safety of other staff and our customers.

Materials Handling
If anything in this job description is unclear, appears outdated or requires some training for you to perform, please let your manager or supervisor know.
As you become familiar with this job it is your responsibility to suggest ways that we can make it safer, more efficient and better able to work in with other people’s tasks. Please communicate any suggestions to managers or put them in the suggestion box.

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