Growers who sell their plants to the retail public, whether at the farmer’s market, at their nursery, or on the web, need to build trust in order to prosper. It’s not enough to just grow lovely, healthy plants. Imagine a shopper wandering through the stalls at a Saturday market, looking at all the plants for sale. She likely has never met you, and doesn’t know what a fine job of growing plants you do.
If she sees a descriptive tag on each plant with the words “guaranteed to grow” at the top of the tag, you’ve helped remove her unspoken fear that the plant may die. She may kill the plant herself with neglect, or neighborhood deer or rabbits could finish it off. She may even wonder of you are a capable grower, selling only plants bursting with vigor and health.
This unspoken fear is why the big box home improvement stores always offer a guarantee on their plants. If they don’t survive, whatever the reason, just return them for a refund. Do you think they offer this generous guarantee because they like you so much? No, they do it because it results in more sales.
You may have heard of Zappos.com, the internet shoe retailer. Their customers return about one-third of all the shoes they buy. Yet Zappos loves these customers – even paying the cost of return the shoes! Why? Because they have found customers who return shoes spend more and buy more often, , resulting in higher profits. Zappo’s liberal return policy has worked so well that sales recently topped the $1 Billion mark. According to a company VP, “We win customer’s loyalty through great customer service, and not by trying to sell shoes at the lowest prices.”
As a small grower, you can use the Zappo “secret weapon” to win against big-box home improvement stores who can sell plants at rock-bottom prices and guarantee them. What is it? Because your plants are better quality and better cared for, and you can take the time to explain to them how to plant and grow the plants they buy. As a result, your customer’s plant survival rate will be high, as will their satisfaction, so they will tell their friends, who will likely visit and buy your plants as well.
A generous guarantee does not have to be costly either. Most small nurseries and garden centers with a “guaranteed to grow” replacement or refund policy report only about 1% of their customers take advantage of it. Your sales will likely increase by 5-10% if you offer a guarantee, so it’s actually an effective, money-making marketing tool. If you’re concerned about costs, offer a free replacement plant instead of a refund.
Bottom line – a no-questions asked “guaranteed to grow” policy builds trust and can increase sales for your plant nursery. Take the Zappo approach and see your sales soar too.