Tuesday August 15 9 AM - 10:30 AM Get a taste for IGC Show’s retail education here! Tuesday morning’s workshop is free and open to all - No All-Access Pass Required to Attend. Join Judy Sharpton as she kicks off the industry’s freshest interactive conference format with case studies of real garden centers that have evolved over time in order to remain profitable. No need to RSVP - come as you are, and pull up a seat. Enjoy free coffee and a delicious assortment of donuts - it’s all on us!
IGC Show's IGC Retailer Conference is the world's largest educational program focused exclusively on the success of independent garden centers. Five tracks of all-new interactive retail workshops dig deep into issues of paramount importance to the success of indies today: Cashing In on the 'Shop Local' Movement, Dollars & $ense, Store Makeovers, Using Google to Power Your Market Research and Work-Life Balance. IGC Show - August 15-17, 2017 - Navy Pier, Chicago                  Registration Is Open! Do It Now, Save Time Later.
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Eliz Greene Shattering the Myths of Work-Life Balance: What Really Causes Stress for Garden Center Retailers Wednesday August 16 11 AM - 12 PM Are you seeking the key to balance in your life and your work at your garden center? Do you wonder if work-life balance is even possible? Work and life are both part of your reality. Expecting one to balance out the other is unreasonable. In fact, you might be surprised to learn, job stress research proves work-life balance isn’t the real problem we should be trying to solve. With unique insights into the actual causes of stress for independent garden center owners and employees, this session shatters the myth of work-life balance. You’ll learn to challenge the assumptions about work-life balance issues, confront real-world stress factors and utilize a framework to categorize stress. The Trouble With ‘Busy:’ Get Clear, Focused & Done at Home & On the Job Wednesday August 16 2 PM - 3 PM Built with humorous and engaging stories, and based on unique research, this interactive workshop explores the challenges of “busy” and provides real-world, instantly implementable strategies to reduce stress, improve focus and get more of what is important done at your garden center and in your life. Greene draws on her experience working with high performers as well as research on how men and women manage job stress differently and what can be done to offset high-stress retail environments. You’ll discover the elements of your personal stress ecosystem, learn to differentiate between busy and productive through interactive activities and find out how to practice stress management skills for a more productive life at home and during your time at your garden center. Surviving the Spring Selling Season: Your Emotional Hazmat Suit Wednesday August 16 3:15 PM - 4:15 PM How do you maintain your relationships, health and sanity when you barely have enough time to go to the bathroom during the peak season? As spring approaches, do you begin to dread the toll it will take? Dangers in the environment often require special protective gear to make work possible. Next spring, be ready with your emotional hazmat suit and other tools to not only survive but thrive in the highly stressful environment of your garden center. During this workshop, you’ll learn to deconstruct the impact of the peak season physically and mentally, develop protective methods to cope during high-stress sales periods and practice simple strategies to reset and restore so you can do your best work. Real-World Stress-Reduction Strategies for Your Independent Garden Center Thursday August 17 10:15 AM - 11:15 AM An ice pack can’t fix a broken leg. Similarly, a lunchtime yoga class during the peak selling season won’t reduce stress if everyone at your garden center is too busy to attend. Millions of dollars each year are spent on work-life balance workshops to reduce employee stress, but none of it is successful without addressing the underlying causes of stress. In this interactive workshop, you’ll discover key areas for stress reduction, explore the potential barriers to implementing stress-reduction strategies and develop a real-world framework for the implementation of a stress-reduction program at your garden center. Do it now before the next busy season hits. Growing the Right Culture at Your Store: Lessons from Other Independent Retailers Thursday August 17 11:25 AM - 12:25 PM Now is the time to move beyond catchphrases and worn-out strategies. Greene's research on culture in independent and family-owned businesses reveals five key strategies used by the best to reduce stress, increase productivity and keep their employees engaged. Get them here. Her recent research with independent garden centers owners, managers and employees pinpoints problem areas, especially those that present the biggest challenges during the busy season. She'll share her research findings and help you uncover implementable strategies for your store’s unique work culture. During this interactive session, the group will discuss the viability of strategies to reduce stress for owners, managers and employees, explore the nexus between family and business, and brainstorm solutions for work culture challenges. Eliz Greene, is an award-winning health and wellness speaker and author of several books, including her new release this year, The Trouble with Busy. She presents real-world strategies for managing stress in the workplace. As a passionate advocate for public health, she led the charge for the smoking ban in Wisconsin. Living the lessons from her books and her Top 50 Health & Wellness blog, she is a recipient of the Heart Hero Award and continues to serve as a national spokesperson for the American Heart Association. Greene has appeared in hundreds of media interviews, sharing her life- balance strategies on ABC, NBC, CNN, Today and more. Her down-to-earth presentation style encourages collaboration, interaction and participation.

Cashing In On the ‘Shop Local’ Movement

trner, master training specialist, special warfare, diving supervisor and survival

dividualized transition services, executive-level mentoring and family

stabilization support for Special Operations heroes and their loved ones. He is also a

contributor to Fox News.

Jeff Milchen Strength In Numbers: How ‘Shop Local & Independent’ Campaigns Shift Culture and Spending Wednesday August 16 11 AM - 12 PM Independent businesses like your garden center in communities with long-term campaigns that promote the benefits of doing business locally report higher revenue growth than indies not served by such efforts - nearly double the sales growth in the latest study. But while the potential profits are huge, far too many campaigns fizzle due to mistakes that are easily avoidable. In this visual workshop, you'll learn how to dodge the common pitfalls and gain pointers for building a successful local initiative. You'll see examples of the best materials, events and ads from independent business alliances across the country. Learn the keys to effective message crafting and delivery, storytelling, audience targeting, funding and other essential elements to help you spark action at home. ‘Independent’ as a Brand: How to Turn Your Garden Center’s Community Roots Into Customer Loyalty Wednesday August 16 2 PM - 3 PM Big boxes, chains and online giants have advantages in national name recognition and buying power, but yours has a huge asset they never will. Smaller businesses like your garden center are leveraging their community footing to gain new customers and build loyalty. Classes, garden tours and local contests can encourage customers to form more personal connections with your store. Building partnerships with other businesses and local non-profit organizations will yield new visitors, newsletter subscribers and stronger loyalty. We'll discuss these and other initiatives that foster personal relationships and differentiate your store, and how these actions can connect to community-wide education and branding by a local business coalition. Attendees are encouraged to share their own success stories in this interactive session. How to Initiate an Independent Business Alliance - Without Taking On the Demanding Role of Director Wednesday August 16 3:15 PM - 4:15 PM So you've learned what independent business alliances can do to shift culture and spending in your community, and you're inspired to act, but you have a garden center to run. What now? This relentlessly practical workshop will give you step-by-step guidance and an action plan to help you lay a solid foundation for success by engaging others and effectively dispersing responsibility without shouldering the load yourself. We will cover organization fundamentals like non-profit incorporation, building a board of directors, establishing your media presence and building a diverse and stable revenue stream with the goal of becoming a staffed organization. You'll come away with a clear, sequential outline and a guide to relevant resources for each step in the process. Building Your Garden Center’s Base Through Community Partnerships Thursday August 17 10:15 AM - 11:15 AM Local civic groups, non-profit organizations, schools, museums and others are potential partners to increase your customer base and raise your garden center’s local profile. You can also gain customers by collaborating with other independent businesses - even your direct competitors. Learn how to determine which businesses and organizations in your community offer the strongest potential for partnering. We'll review successful examples across multiple business sectors and the role local business coalitions can play in facilitating these relationships. We'll also discuss how to turn such collaboration into positive media coverage in your community through your local business group. Memes, Messengers & Media: Spreading the Pro-Local Message in Your Garden Center’s Community  Thursday August 17 11:25 AM - 12:25 PM Mark Twain is known for saying the difference between the “almost right” word and the “right” word is like the difference between a lightning bug and lightning. Choosing the most effective framing and language is essential for any local communications campaign aiming to shift people's thinking and spending habits. This session brings you key lessons we've learned from 18 years of working with local independent business campaigns for you to use in your garden center business and local business alliance. We'll discuss the most effective messaging, the best people to deliver it and the most impactful communication channels for local organizations. We’ll also explore best practices in persuasive writing, in-person presentations, editorial board meetings, talk radio and letters-to-the-editor campaigns to maximize the impact of your garden center’s local business alliance strategy. Jeff Milchen is the Co-founder and Co-director of the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), dedicated to helping communities and independent businesses launch and successfully operate local business alliances, working together at the community level to compete successfully. Milchen pioneered this organizing model in Boulder, CO, creating the basis for AMIBA in 2001. Since then, AMIBA has helped more than 120 local coalitions form in communities of all sizes and circumstances. Milchen’s prior work includes launching and operating a lawn and landscape service for six years in Vermont. He authored Building Buy Local Campaigns that Shift Culture and Spending, and his commentaries have appeared in dozens of publications, including Businessweek, Chicago Tribune and The Washington Post.

Dollars & $ense: Putting Profits First

trner, master training specialist, special warfare, diving supervisor and survival

dividualized transition services, executive-level mentoring and family

stabilization support for Special Operations heroes and their loved ones. He is also a

contributor to Fox News.

Steve Bailey Dead Inventory Is Dead Weight: How to Budget & Buy the Right Amount, Every Time Wednesday August 16 11 AM - 12 PM The key to IGC financial success is buying and selling product while achieving profitability in doing so - in other words, the right stuff for the right time. Many garden centers have inventory that is slow-moving, or worse yet, dead. Dead inventory is often the result of overbuying, usually not due to bad intuition but a lack of buying guidelines. Bring your store’s numbers to this workshop for the 12-month period ended June 30, 2017, and we’ll do a quick analysis of your situation. You will need total cost of sales for your garden center, as well as average inventory on hand for the same period - two simple numbers from your POS system that will get you on the road to profitability. Shrinking Shrink: How to Spot & Stop Retail Theft at Your Store Wednesday August 16 2 PM - 3 PM Shrink falls under two categories: known and unknown. Known shrink is the bag of fertilizer punctured by a floor jack, spilling the contents all over the floor, or the spruce that dies in the outdoor display yard. Unknown shrink is the items that “disappear” from your store or outdoor yard day and night. Shrink is a major factor in the lack of profitability. Think about it: If you reduce shrink, your inventory value won’t decline as much. And when your inventory value stays stable, you have more opportunity to sell more of your product at full margin, and more margin should equal greater profitability. Bring your garden center’s inventory variance for the 12-month period ended June 30, 2017, and let’s discuss. Tapping Your Store’s Line of Credit? Proceed with Caution Wednesday August 16 3:15 PM - 4:15 PM Many garden center owners and managers have an aversion to lines of credit. But when handled correctly, they can be a lifeline for seasonal businesses such as ours. Problem is, many IGC retailers don’t know how lines of credit should be used or in what amount. This lack of knowledge on the part of borrowers has led to lines of credit going away at a time when garden centers need them most. Couple this with lenders who are unfamiliar with the seasonality of our business, and the situation can quickly escalate into an unmanageable one. Don’t let this happen to you! Bring your own line of credit challenges to this workshop, and we’ll sort through the issues and explore the solutions to your problems. Rent, Lease or Own: Getting the Most from Your Retail Store Property Thursday August 17 10:15 AM - 11:15 AM Did you know your store’s profit goal may not be the same as the garden center down the street? Or better yet, your potential profit may be different. Are you an IGC retailer who grows your own? Do you operate a landscape division from the same property? Differing modes of operation mean different profit goals. What is the best option for your property? Do you own, rent or lease? Again, different expectations of profit. Differing modes of operation, combined with differing methods of ownership, present a challenge when it comes to profit or lack thereof. There are opportunities in all situations, but you have to know what they are and how to take advantage of them for your garden center’s success. Are You Playing It Too Safe? Know When It’s Time to Shake Up Your Product Mix Thursday August 17 11:25 AM - 12:25 PM The opportunities for profit are greater in some categories than others. The so-called safe categories tend to be the more commoditized products that are destined to be low- margin. The categories that are a little more volatile tend to be less commoditized and thus more in demand while commanding a higher margin. What is the best product mix for your garden center? Is it time to take a risk and try more profitable categories in order to move your store “up the ladder?” Bring your category and total store revenues to this session, and you’ll have the opportunity to analyze your store’s position in the marketplace. Begin using your time, effort and money on the mix that will yield the profitability you deserve. Steve Bailey began his career working at a garden center while attaining a Bachelor of Science in Plant and Soil Science with a specialization in Business. With more than 40 years in the garden center industry, 18 as a garden center owner, he currently serves as the Financial Analysis Consultant for The Garden Center Group. His focus is on retail margin management, inventory control and profitability.
Using Google to Power Your Garden Center’s Market Research
Mary Ellen Bates What Do Your Customers Really Want from Your Garden Center? Google Market Intel Will Tell You Wednesday August 16 11 AM - 12 PM Anyone can Google a question and get thousands of results. Often, the best answer isn’t among the ones that show up on the first page of a search result. To get real insights on what garden products consumers are looking for today and how to market effectively to them requires using Google search techniques and strategies only professional online researchers know. In this workshop, learn about the hidden corners of Google you never knew about. You’ll discover the search tricks and tips that will enable you to get a better understanding of your local garden market and the concerns and priorities of your customers by using all the “other parts” of Google. Mining the ‘Deep Web’ for Garden Market Trend Info Wednesday August 16 2 PM - 3 PM There are vast areas of the web completely hidden from search engines - in databases, archives and other repositories of business and marketing resources no search engine can enter. Not to be confused with the “dark web,” where hackers and other miscreants lurk, the “deep web” holds demographic data, market projections, interviews with business analysts and marketshare information critical for the good business decisions that will help your garden center succeed. Many of these resources offer priceless nuggets of information to you at no charge. You’ll be able to access government studies and reports you’ve never heard about. Hidden Databases: Accessing Priceless Market Research - Without Spending a Dime Wednesday August 16 3:15 PM - 4:15 PM Some of the best resources for learning about consumer gardening interests are market research reports and industry studies prepared by consulting firms. But these can cost tens of thousands of dollars, placing them beyond the reach of most independent garden center owners. During this workshop, you’ll learn how to get the most strategic use of the hidden online databases available to you, either from your library or one of the “membership libraries” that support the needs of small business owners like you. This session will enable you to tap the market intelligence resources you need to understand your customer’s gardening interests and sell to their needs more effectively.   Tapping Social Media for the Latest Gardening Trends Your Customers Are Buzzing About Thursday August 17 10:15 AM - 11:15 AM Sure, it’s important to be active in Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media platforms - interacting with customers, creating buzz, sharing news and information are all important elements of your garden center’s marketing strategy. But you can also learn a lot from observing trends in social media, including what your customers are saying, what people are sharing and ideas on new approaches to building your independent business. While some social media analysis tools can be expensive, there are free and cost-effective alternatives that will help you identify not only the trending topics and most frequently used hashtags by the gardening public, but also help you identify unmet needs and flag the thumbs-down garden items to avoid in your product mix. Your Garden Center’s Leg Up: Benchmarking Your Website and Social Media Presence Thursday August 17 11:25 AM - 12:25 PM Your garden center has a website and a presence on social media. Now what? Your online presence can be improved and your message sharpened by benchmarking against your competitors as well as your colleagues outside your immediate area. This session will help you find out how other IGC retailers are communicating with their market on the web - what’s working, what isn’t and what you could be doing for your store’s own online presence. You’ll take back a checklist from this workshop of what to look for in a competitor’s web and social media pages, and learn what that information tells you about trends in the marketplace. Mary Ellen Bates, President and Founder of Bates Information Services, is a leading expert in customized information research, or information brokering, and effective, thorough, no- nonsense training for corporate researchers and knowledge workers. She has authored seven books, hundreds of articles and white papers; conducted hundreds of speaking engagements related to business research; and has voiced expert comments on research topics to many media outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Businessweek, Forbes, National Public Radio and WIRED. Bates also conducts workshops and training programs on various aspects of entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship and the information industry.
IGC Retailer Conference: Connect, Collaborate & Create Your Own Success Story
Trying To Find The Work-Life Balance:  Managing Garden Center Stress

Garden Center Makeovers: Seasonal

Resets & Store Development Solutions

trner, master training specialist, special warfare, diving supervisor and survival

dividualized transition services, executive-level mentoring and family

stabilization support for Special Operations heroes and their loved ones. He is also a

contributor to Fox News.

Judy Sharpton Starting Over: What If You Did Use a Bulldozer? Tuesday August 15 9 AM - 10:30 AM Free and open to all - No All-Access Pass Required to Attend. Many garden centers tell me, “If I had only known how big we would get, I would have done things differently.” You can’t really “start over” at an existing location - and you don't have to. In fact, your customers don’t want you to - they have equity in your location as well. I have prided myself in offering IGCs solutions that don’t require a bulldozer. But what if you reimagined your site as a blank slate? In this workshop, we’ll use case studies of real garden centers that have evolved over time (and generations) in order to remain profitable by upgrading facilities and product mix. Bring your own story to the group. We’ll practice “beginner’s mind” by starting with nothing but “What if?” Bulldozer optional. It’s Time for a Summer Reset: The Season Isn’t Over, It’s Just Different Wednesday August 16 11 AM - 12 PM Spring isn’t enough anymore. In this program, we’ll look at a complete summer reset. We’ll evaluate techniques and products that can reset your staff and your store for those days of fewer customers but potentially higher average sales. What product sizes do you change and on what specific dates? How do you repurpose inventory to create new containers? What does your staff need to be doing instead of dragging a hose? Benchmark your customer count and average sale for May through August for the past three years. You can do this with your POS or your register tapes. With that data in hand, you’ll learn in this workshop when to schedule your summer reset and what to focus on to increase average sale. Community Supported Agriculture: Opportunities Abound for IGCs Wednesday August 16 2 PM - 3 PM Fresh food isn’t a fad. Many garden centers have found that tapping Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs improves cash flow early in the season and increases customer count throughout the summer and fall. We’ll study Greensgrow Farms in Philadelphia, a multifaceted non-profit organization with two locations that supports its community by building programs through a garden center, urban farm and a Community Supported Agriculture program. We’ll provide print information on management, facilities and safety - plus a field trip opportunity to join me at Greensgrow Farms during the summer selling season. Join me and the folks from Greensgrow Farms to learn about this thriving community organization, and how their CSA acts as both a marketing and PR tool. Owning Your Corner: How Continuous Streetside Development Drives the Competition Crazy Wednesday August 16 3:15 PM - 4:15 PM Ten years ago, I advised Angel’s Garden Center in Hopkinton, MA, to “own their corner.” They had a competitor across the intersection that played “me too” and kept the store management distracted. Since that first advice to Angel’s, I’ve worked with many garden centers to “own” their frontage and corners. Maybe the competition on your street is another IGC or a box store - or urban sprawl that makes you invisible among the visual clutter, or the speed limit on your street. Maybe your streetside just looks like it did last year - or worse. No matter who or what makes you crazy, the decision to own your frontage and continually invite those who drive by to stop and shop provides a basis for improved facilities, product development and staff enthusiasm. The Five Biggest Opportunities for Your Store, No Matter the Demographic Thursday August 17 10:15 AM - 11:15 AM What to focus on is often the most difficult part of store development, especially for single-store IGC retailers in limited markets. There are so many things you’d like to do. In this program, I’ll describe the top five store development opportunities that I believe you should focus on for 2018, and then in the next session, compare them to the top five as identified by garden centers attending the IGC Retailer Conference. In this first session, you’ll see examples of how stores have implemented each of these five points and how much they spent. As an added value, all Thursday workshop attendees will be offered a follow-up phone consultation at a time of the store’s choosing to bring the entire staff and management into the discussion and make concrete plans for the 2018 season. The Five Biggest Store Development Challenges & Solutions to Bring Back to Your Store Thursday August 17 11:25 AM - 12:25 PM During each of the my programs on Tuesday and Wednesday, I’ll provide a questionnaire to participants to identify their top store development challenges. Then I’ll select five stores that best represent the needs of small-market stores operating on limited development budgets. In this interactive small group setting, we’ll focus on the five stores selected from the questionnaires, tackling the in-store issues common to so many small stores exemplified by this group. As an added value, all Thursday workshop attendees will be offered a follow-up phone consultation at a time of the store’s choosing to bring the entire staff and management into the discussion and make concrete plans for the 2018 season. Judy Sharpton, Owner of Growing Places Marketing, specializes in on-site consultations on store design, renovation, branding, and product selection and placement exclusively for IGC retailers in the United States and Canada. Much of her work has been concentrated in small markets for stores with limited resources but unlimited energy and commitment. Her program focuses on real solutions that deliver results without a bulldozer or bank loan. Sharpton earned LEED Green Associate accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Thanks to American Express for helping make this track possible.
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