When Are You Going To Quit Watering?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked that question.  Invariably every year despite our best efforts we end up with something left in the greenhouse that we were not able to sell for whatever reason.  Wrong color.  New variety that tanked.  Sold half as well as last year.  Too optimistic on our sales goals.  Whatever.

So at the end of every season when the weather gets hot we all argue about when we need to just pull the plug and quit watering.  And every year at the end of the season the bargain hunters catch the scent of a potential sale like a circling vulture catches the scent of a dead woodchuck. 

“I’ll take all of these off your hands if you’ll cut me a deal on them.”

I tell them a price that is 1/2 of the regular price for the plants that have been the focus of my life for the last eight months and will even deliver them.

“Oh . . . . well, give me a call when you really want to deal.”  Click.

For some reason the economic theory of supply and demand goes right out the window when it comes to plants at the end of spring.  Even when I am the only one that has what a customer needs, a inordinately large number still expect a discount because it’s June 17 or it’s Friday.  Supply and demand says that if I am the only one who has the item that a customer needs then I am able to command a higher price for that item, but all I ask for is my regular price which to some is not worth paying after a certain day in late May or early June.

I suspect the reason that this happens is our own fault.  Not necessary mine individually but ours as an industry of greenhouse operators.  For years, when the season wound down and there was still plants in the houses and we were tired of watering it, we cut our prices to get rid of it so that we could go to the lake for a couple of weeks and relax.  Back then it worked.  Customers would jump on the last minute deals and buy every thing you had left and run a huge sale.  For the last decade or so, that doesn’t really seem to be the case.

Nowadays, there are a lot of greenhouses still doing these big end of season sales.  It may work for them, but I think that they just hurt themselves and the industry by over producing then discounting.  We quit doing large end of season sales about 10 years ago.  What we noticed that led to that decision was that customers wouldn’t buy anymore than they would at regular price.  They only bought what they though they could sell.

So if customers (mine, yours, the competition’s) are only going to buy what they need i.e. what they think they can sell or use, are we not hurting ourselves and leaving money on the table by discounting everything but not selling any more product than we normally would have.

A friend of mine posted this video about vendor client relations.  She was referencing what her dad goes through when he sells one of his paintings.  I’m sure that we have all heard these at some point or another.  I think that sometimes we feel that we are the only ones who have to deal with consumers undervaluing our product that we have spent months and months caring for, but we are not the only ones.  It just feels that way sometime.


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