In the fall of 2008, the UC Davis Arboretum upgraded and expanded its teaching nursery. This particular nursery is not aimed at educating students, however. It is designed to make UC Davis expertise available to the public because people want to know how to care for their property and, by extension, the environments they live in. Commercial nurseries can adapt the UC Davis model to serve the needs of their customers and generate sales in the process. Here are a few reasons why offering educational workshops is a great way to improve customer relations and boost sales.
Customer Relationship Management
Customer relationship management (CRM) is just the newest term for what was traditionally called customer satisfaction. CRM is the science of collecting and analyzing customer data to learn how to maximize their satisfaction with a product or service. In the case of nurseries, CRM is about understanding your customers’ needs in areas like
. Native planting versus exotics,
. Landscaping versus hardscaping,
. Drought tolerance,
. DIY versus hiring work out,
- Income restrictions,
. Product preferences,
. Price sensitivity, and
. Seasonal shopping habits.
Running a workshop is a great way to collect data about customer needs so that you can tailor your offerings. Happy customers are not only more likely to return to your business, they are more likely to spread positive word-of-mouth and generate new leads for you. Customer satisfaction fostered through helpful workshops produces five benefits as follows.
. Advocacy – Customers become evangelists for your company in abstract ways, such as by posting on their Facebook page or Tweeting about your service.
. Priceinsensitivity – Customers are willing to pay a little more because they trust you.
. Directreferrals – Customers send people to you any chance they get.
. Lowercustomersupportcosts – Loyal customers have fewer complaints, allowing support teams to focus on specific improvements rather than trying to please people who are generally unhappy.
. Easierplanning – If you know what your customers want, you can plan inventory, capital expenditure, storage costs, and more.
Boost the Local Connection
Workshops are a great way to create a personal connection with customers and give a face to your business. When people feel like they know you, they are more likely to want to give you their business. Shopping local has become a major trend. Let people know who you are so that they can not only support their local nursery, but can support a person they feel a personal connection to.
Direct Sales Boost
Weekend workshops are a great way to boost direct sales, particularly of seasonal or holiday items. By demonstrating to people how to use specific plants and equipment, you increase the likelihood that they will buy those very items.
You can also use workshops to gauge future demand for products and services by announcing upcoming sales or asking customers what they would like to see for a particular season. After a few workshops, you will be able to compare what your customers told you with sales data from the weeks and months that followed. This will give you a good idea of how much you can rely on data you collect from workshops and how you can make it work to your advantage.
Customer Connection Is Key
Workshops are really about making connections with your customers so that you can better understand their needs. Data collection practices have gotten a bad rap lately thanks to underhanded practices used by some technology companies. That is not what you are doing. You are not collecting data so you can put one over on your customers. You are collecting data so that you can better understand their needs. It benefits you, but it benefits them as well. More importantly, you are providing a workshop that shares your expertise with the community. It is a way of giving back and spreading your most important asset – experience.