The wholesale nursery industry is going to see a transition in the next decade as an entire generation of growers and owners retire from the business. This change is a hot topic with a lot of family-run operations fearing that selling the business might be in their future. With every passing generation, there is less interest in careers in the horticultural industry, and the children of nursery owners are leaving to pursue other careers. This leaves owners with the un-appealing option of selling, however, the unfortunate truth is that finding the right buyer will be just as challenging. There are very few people with the capital and work ethic required to purchase and run a wholesale nursery.Add to this, the emotions surrounding a multi-generational business moving outside of the family and you can imagine how disheartening the premise can be.
So how do you circumvent the extinction of the family-run nursery or greenhouse? You need to adopt technology and modern business practices to keep the business enticing to the next generation.
Think Speed of the Internet, not Speed of a Tractor
The next generation of nursery growers and owners will not be interested in maintaining the same business process from the previous century. Maintaining the status quo of business operations is the very reason why the next generation has no interest in operating a traditional nursery business.The business processes of the past are labor intensive, inefficient and unfamiliar. The next generation of owners are millennials, which means technology is an integral part of their lives. So when a nursery operates with a fax machine rather than a computer, they won’t be enticed to take over.
To set up the next generation for success and keep the business in the family, the internal business processes of the nursery have to be updated. The nursery industry has been slow to adopt new technology into business processes, which not only make it un-appealing to millennials, but hinder the next generation's potential for success. Technology is integral to refining and improving business processes and in turn, remaining competitive.
Here are three areas to focus on when adopting technology into the business.
Counting plants in the yard by jotting them on paper and then entering them into an excel sheet once a week is archaic and unproductive. Look at implementing an inventory management system that will reduce the labor associated with physical inventory counting and data entry. Inventory management software will manage your existing stock in between counts. When plants grow into the next container size, you can simply update that plant to another SKU in your system. Let the software do the heavy lifting when it comes to your inventory. Tracking and managing inventory provides insight on how to reduce waste, increase sales and forecast for future planting. The next generation doesn’t have 40 years of experience to rely on, so all this information will be paramount for transitioning the nursery successfully.
Sales and Customer Relations
The next generation doesn’t have the same relationships with your customers so establishing a client relations management system is essential. A CRM will assist with providing a personalized customer experience while increasing sales and nurturing leads through technology. A CRM allows your sales reps to track communications and sales for each client providing insight on each customer. Mobile sales apps can also offer exceptional customer service at tradeshows or on-site with customers. These apps allow your sales rep to place customer orders directly from their mobile device, eliminating paper order forms and making the ordering experience more efficient. Continuing to provide the exceptional customer service your customers have come to expect is essential for retaining business when the company changes hands.
Receiving orders over the phone, email and by fax is a lot to manage, results in errors and inefficiencies that can harm your bottom line. Online ordering has become a integral part of the business world because it offers a more efficient and attractive alternative to a new generation of business owners. Establishing a single order management process that works with your inventory and sales system will eliminate fulfillment errors resulting from manual entry and labour-intensive administration duties. An order management solution will provide total transparency over the entire ordering process and become an integral part of managing the business.
Technology is a win-win, since it is customizable and completely scalable, based on your specific business needs. You can integrate your inventory system directly into your online ordering and sales process, making one seamless business solution. This solution is exactly what LinkGreen’s Software as a Service (SaaS) solution offers wholesale nurseries. So get out there and explore what technology is available to your business and have the kids work with you to transition the nursery into the future.