Nursery Sales

Updated 6th June 2012

This job description should be read in conjunction with the Bulleen Art and Garden Environmental Weed Policy

Effective and efficient sales in the greenstock area are critical to the overall impression our customers have of our centre, the cost of sales per dollar sold and the probability of our customers making repeat visits. In the nursery we expect you to give efficient service, carry out general maintenance when you are not serving customers and follow some standard procedures.

Responsibilities of N1

Customer service

If you have been specified N1, you are in charge of coordinating all sales in the nursery.
It is your responsibility to ensure that all customers have some contact and even when you are dealing with a customer you must monitor other customers, particularly at the nursery information stand, and get help when required or inform the customer when they can expect help.

As many sales as is possible should be channelled through you. You are to answer all enquiries at the information stand, or, if already serving another customer and unable to break from them, it is your responsibility to call another nurseryperson to assist them. The aim of having an N1 is to stop all nursery people heading to the info stand at the same time, or worse still, each one assuming another will get it and nobody go to the enquiry. It is now assumed that you as N1 will get all enquiries unless you call for back up.

Efficient service and customer satisfaction in the nursery is going to be largely dependant on you and it is your responsibility, your role as N1 is critical to the overall impression our customers get of Bulleen Art & Garden.

Your responsibility as N1 on a particular day is to the customer before handling stock. If you have problems with your other work discuss it with the manager. It is imperative that you always have the nursery phone when you are designated N1 and answer the phone immediately. Frequently the counter and office staff have several agitated customers waiting when they are trying to switch a call through, check the phone regularly to ensure you have not left it on by mistake.

Check that the service bell/light is turned off at the nursery info stand whenever you attend a call or are passing the area. This ensures that the register staff know that a call has been attended.

YOU MUST REGULARLY MOVE AROUND THE AREA YOU ARE WORKING IN. REMOVE SUNGLASSES WHEN DEALING WITH CUSTOMERS!! We want to make it very clear that Bulleen Art & Garden provides good service.

Service Policy

You must be familiar with our service policy and provide efficient and effective service. N2 must be alert in busy times to back up the N1 and check they have been able to answer the calls. If you see them on the phone when the bell rings etc give them a wave to let them know you will take it.

We expect staff to offer very good quality service but we operate in an area where some purchases are very small and customer expectations are very high. The nursery must make a financial return on your time most of the time. We are concerned that we will end up in the same predicament as the old fashioned grocery store, all service and no sales. Customers will buy elsewhere and then come to us for advice. Giving good efficient service will enable us to stay in business against some very powerful competition and be competitive with prices.

The main aim of your service must be to solve customer’s problems quickly and efficiently by asking the customer questions directed to their problem.

BAAG’s policy is not to encourage unnecessary add on selling. Our policy is to at all times to be totally focussed on solving the customers problems and giving them ideas for their gardens. (This will frequently lead to additional sales.) When giving advice to customers, always qualify it. Eg, “I don’t think it will be a risk to your pipes, but you can never be sure”. If the risks are low, tell them that the benefits of the plant may outweigh the risk involved. Don’t forget about potential legal implications of bad advice.

It is also our policy to consider conservation issues in all the advice you give. Advise customers of correct watering techniques to decrease the chances of fungal attack. Always mention an alternative a certain plant will that requires less water and chemicals if they have chosen something that is high maintenance.

When serving in the nursery you must:

(a) Learn to recognise customers needs quickly. Once you are familiar with these different sorts you can learn to deal with them efficiently, which in busier periods is really important. Categories that you can quickly put people into might be, trade, long answers-big spenders, and possibly first time customers, and the quick answers-Customers who only want to know location of product and can be quickly dealt with. Then there’s the elderly customers who are only here for a chat.
It is N1 who should choose what’s best for the day and perhaps call on N2 early to help for a while, if you see yourself serving the big spender for a longer period.

(b) Not lock into customers and maintain an overview of the nursery as a whole even when serving a particular customer. (Very important)
Giving too many alternatives to the customer can make service time consuming and unprofitable.

(c) Create more of a production line with service, eg. the customer goes to the nursery person, even if there is a customer already with that person, and not vice versa.

(d) Encourage staff to always have team approach to service, eg. when possible, support other staff if the customer complains.

(e) Promote our consultancy services wherever you see a customer need.

We are interested in developing long-term customers by solving their problems quickly and effectively even if it does not involve profit for BAAG at this time.

Nursery sales staff must develop good judgement to enable them to be aware of the overall customer picture all the time ie. Who they are, where they are and what opportunities that they offer, and then help them deal with the situation more effectively. A lot of our selling time can be inappropriately spent. Quarter of an hour is spent identifying a plant when another ten customers have passed through the place without even being recognised.

Refer customers to information boards, e.g. if they’ve got a pruning question which is clearly covered on board. All Nursery sales staff should be up to date all the time with what is covered on info boards and also what factsheets can be used off our website.

Once again we are anxious that staff at least make eye contact with as many customers as possible particularly if they are nominated N1 for the day.

General guidelines for service

(a) Be polite. Customers get a good impression of the place if they are greeted, so greet as many customers as possible, make as many eye contacts as possible.

(b) Go to the customer, do not wait for the customer to come to you (exercise judgement here – don’t harass them).

(c) Assess the potential sale.
Quite a few customers come to the nursery primarily for a chat. If this appears to be the case find an excuse so you can move on to another customer or general maintenance.
If it appears that the customer is embarking on a major project in the garden spend the time with him or her. There will be occasions when it is difficult to spend adequate time with these customers ie on the weekends. This being the case, invite them to make an appointment during the week or when we are quieter, (first thing in the morning). If a customer asks about quantity discounts, they are generally planning to spend a lot of money. Make sure you explain the discount scale available for big purchases. Plus the free email garden club discount of 5% off plants any day, any quantity.

(d) Always focus on giving a customer value with regard to product advice with a view to gaining a long-term customer not just a quick sale.

(e) Sell the garden services (consultancies and trade recommendations) where applicable. There are occasions when potential substantial sales are being missed due to staffs’ focus on the wrong area or to staff just not reading the customer properly. Possible more questions regarding the type of project customer is embarking on and some suggestions regarding how we can help them.

Remember to promote our consultancy services where they are appropriate, they can lead to a far better on site service for the customer and significant sales.

(g) Congestion at the register.
Congestion at the register is made worse when expert staff congregate in this area. Whenever possible encourage customers to go to the Information Stand with their questions. All the nursery staff resources are there and it helps to alleviate the congestion at the front desk.

(h) Potting up section. We need a set of procedures for the potting section. Customers can pot themselves, with the cost clearly stated. Encourage the use of this service as it is a point of difference from our opposition.

(i) Certain standard responses to customers and situations can help staff to become more productive. This is an important step if we are to make progress with efficiency of service.
Nursery sales staff need to develop techniques for dealing with particular customer types as well as situations.
You should develop techniques to deal with some of key customer types, eg.

– The bored or lonely older person,
– The expert,
– The tradesperson in a hurry,
– The customer who has got something big on, (we should then be selling our other products and services not just plants, eg. consultancy, irrigation and soil.)

The situations that occur which need particular attention are:

The customer who will go from staff member to staff member cross checking information, and will drag several staff to their side to solve their problem. Always defer to the other staff member and possibly refer the customer back to that member of staff.

Plant identification should be done by the staff who are in on the day. It is something that gives a professional image if we can I.D, but we are a retail nursery, if our nursery staff cannot recognise something then it is not in common production. You can always refer them to the herbarium by the botanical gardens who do specialise in plant ID. If you wish you can keep the specimen for other staff to look at, but make it clear to the customer that we will only contact them if we can identify it. Basically all ID is dealt with on the day the customer comes in to the nursery.

Handling several customers at a time.

Prioritise the customers fairly, tell the other customers what you are doing to help them.

General maintenance

Nursery staff are expected to be doing general maintenance when not serving customers. If you are N1 your focus should be almost entirely on sales. If there is a lull make sure whilst working that you are clearly visible to customers and work on your area between customers and not the other way around.

Some work must take priority, eg.

(a) Watering. Irrespective of how busy we are it is important that the place is properly watered. The time to start watering on a hot day is early before we get too busy. Be methodical when watering and give each plant adequate water. Do not just wave a hose around an area as this is highly inefficient. An efficient, effective waterer should water each and every pot individually about 10cm above the potting mix and not all over the foliage. You should only take between 5 and 7 minutes to complete a bench. You must always roll up hoses clockwise as soon as you have finished watering.

(b) Trolleys.
Make sure there is always an adequate supply of trolleys in the nursery. Trolleys have to be collected from the car park regularly.

(c) Seedlings.
Seedlings need continual attention particularly in spring. They require constant topping up and are not to look picked over. Top up, work the punnets to the front of the trays, return the empty trays to the reserve, etc.
Keep different varieties as separate as possible and ensure price indicators are correctly positioned. Keep special stock on their own stand, do not mix them in with the good stock.
(d) Impulse displays.
When selling quickly these displays rapidly look tatty and sales are then lost. You must continually rehash these displays so they do not look picked over. Disbud colour impulse stock, rake paths and bench areas. Other highly visible areas are the oriental garden, weeding and tidying the bonsai plants and pots, and removing any broken or damaged pots from the pot section

(e) Monitoring stock, Plants always need attention: remove dead foliage, relabel, and check that plants are priced correctly as a matter of course when you are handling them. If there are mistakes or plants without labels rectify the situation there and then. If there are further problems notify the greenstock manager.

General guidelines

Customer orders
All reasonable customer orders can be entered onto the computer after you have thoroughly checked the benches. Always inform the customer that we will do our best but can definitely not guarantee we are able to source any plant. Customers should be told that although we will try to get the plant or product he/she is after it is frequently not possible. We notify customers by mail and it is essential you enter their postal address and post code. The information you enter is what is printed out so take time to use capitals where necessary etc. Inform the customer that our suppliers generally deliver in two week cycles and we need minimum orders to get deliveries so it can take 2-3 weeks before we reply to their order.

Any plant put aside for a customer must be correctly labelled and written on the customer order board in the reserve. If you retrieve some plants put aside for a customer make sure to wipe it of the board.

Personal friends
Your friends will come in for a chat from time to time and this does put you in a difficult situation. However, you cannot waste time with them, you have customers to serve and work to do. Assist them if they are after a plant or tell them to come back when you are on a break.

Holding Stock
Putting stock aside for pickup at a later date or for delivery.
All plants should be put in the allocated area in the bottom reserve and labelled clearly with customer’s name, phone number and the date. This can save a lot of time when the customer comes to pick them up and saves uncollected plants building up in the reserve.

Staff Meetings
You will be required to attend our monthly staff meetings as posted. You will also be required to attend staff training sessions. It is extremely difficult to get the many small bits of information to staff except in a meeting. Unfortunately it is a sacrifice part-time staff have to make if the wish to work at Bulleen Art & Garden.

Skin Cancer
It is imperative hats be worn all year. Skin cancer does affect a significant percentage of outdoor workers. We do not want you to get skin cancer and we do not want to be sued by you in ten years time. Hats are also an integral part of our uniform and enable customers to identify staff easily and add to the appearance of professionalism.

Safety at BAAG is more important than customer service!

If you see children travelling in hand trolleys warn them and parents of the danger of the trolley overbalancing. Safety at all times is the first priority and if safety issues arise address them straight away. Product in walkways or young staff being irresponsible, the time to act is right now regardless of the customer.

Environmental Policy

Bulleen Art and Garden aims to deliver a service to its customers that recognises the importance of environmental issues, both local and global. In this respect, concentrating on long-term custom, we are prepared to sacrifice individual sales to offer customers a range of environmental gardening options and outcomes.

Bulleen Art & Garden is prepared to sacrifice sales, but not customers on environmental issues. For example, if a customer asks for a more toxic spray than needed, we expect staff to suggest an alternative, even if it means not selling a product at all. However, we do insist that staff do not get into arguments over the environment with the customer, which may lead them to shop elsewhere. Our policy is strong customer education.

Bulleen Art and Garden aims to take the lead in respect of retail nursery practice, to encourage customer interest in an environmentally friendly approach to gardening that encompasses the following issues:

– To foster the concept that our land and gardens, however large or small, are not ours to ‘do with as we wish’, but rather, something we have the responsibility to care for and enjoy, leaving it good health for those who follow us.
– Fewer adherences to strictly formal garden design.
– Increased interest in produce gardening.
– Increased awareness of the environmental benefits of using native and indigenous plant species within the garden.
– A style of garden design and practice that encourages the use of water and soil
conservation principles.

In light of these aims, staff at Bulleen Art and Garden are encouraged to consider the environmental implications of any advice they give to customers. It is hoped that staff will avail themselves of environmental information and literature available at the nursery, so they are able to give informed advice to customers.

Staff members are also encouraged, where possible, to draw to the customers notice environmental initiatives, information handouts and signage throughout the nursery.

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