January 2024 - 12

INNOVATIVE IDEAS
CREATING
By Laura Girbach
a Team Culture
B
KBK Garden Center alleviates staffing
shortages with " out of the box " thinking.
eing in the garden center industry for the better
part of 30 years, it's amazing to look back and see
all of the changes we've been through - how new
varieties have been developed to meet the needs of new
housing developments, the processes of gathering and
disseminating information, and so much more.
Along with all those changes comes the challenge of
staffing. When I first started in this industry, many garden
centers were family owned and operated, with those family
members involved in all aspects of the business. Additional
" filler " positions would be covered primarily by high school
or college students as summer jobs, but as interest in
afterschool programs, summer sports and other activities
grew, fewer students became available.
Adults who might have taken on these jobs are now harder
to find, and many want more permanent, full-time positions
with benefits and higher pay. For areas where the weather
is warmer and the growing season is longer, this may not be
as much of an issue. But for those of us in northern states, it
becomes very difficult to navigate.
Here in Michigan, our season runs from April 1 through
October. Supplementing the garden center season with
Christmas has helped keep us busy through December,
but that doesn't ease the staffing situation. We need to
decrease our number of outside team members by the
middle to end of October - while keeping them happy
enough to want to come back in the spring. Having to
retrain new staff each season is not only a pain, but it
also creates a culture of constant upheaval and stresses
out management, who feel each season could be
compared to Groundhog Day.
So how have we been able to retain the seasonal
employees we have? Creating a team culture has been
integral. Keeping open communication has given them a
sense of skin in the game. Morning meetings are a great
way to keep everyone informed, including management,
as these seasonal employees are the front line. They know
what plants are moving quicker than others, how the stock
looks and what people are asking for. So, including them in
the ordering process or how things are displayed and set
up not only gives us great insights, but also gives them a
sense that their input is important.
12 | LAWN & GARDEN RETAILER | JANUARY 2024
Remembering these team members have a passion for the
business is also important. If they see a cool plant they say
they would like to grow in their garden, we'll give them one
to take home and trial. Providing lunch for those crazy spring
Saturdays when everyone is working nonstop is a nice way to
take care of them as well.
As for hiring seasonal, much-needed staff members, we
have begun looking to the retirement community. People
retiring at 65 are still very much active these days and are
seeking something they enjoy to keep them moving. They
want to be needed and, frankly, they have a tremendous
work ethic. Right now, five of my 11 core team are " retired. "
They are all either previous customers or lifelong gardeners
who want to be part of this type of business.
For our seasonal " filler " staff, we are still able to fill those
roles with students and even some teachers. I reach out to
our local National FFA Organization (formerly Future Farmers
of America) and high schools with some sort of agriculture
courses. Regular customers are also great at recommending
kids they know who want to work.
Staffing takes more " out of the box " thinking now than it
used to. Keeping the hierarchy structure is important. The
team needs to know who to go to in a pinch. But giving the
team a sense of ownership and importance will, ultimately,
give everyone a breather - especially management.
As a manager, it can often feel like everything is on your
shoulders. Being able to share and include team members
in the processes is essential to creating that culture. I
often have to remind myself of that. It is not easy to not
micromanage; you have an idea and you want it done.
I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Marcus
Lemonis: " People will work for recognition and opportunity
more than they'll work for anything else. "
Laura Girbach is general manager of
KBK Garden Center, a 2023 recipient of
the Lawn & Garden Retailer Innovator
Awards. Learn more at lgrmag.com/
article/kbk-garden-center-nursery.
http://www.lgrmag.com/

January 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of January 2024

Editor's Letter
Table of Contents
AmericanHort
Headlines
Calendar
Innovative Ideas: Creating a Team culture
Green Goods: New Varieties for 2024
Showcase: Miniature and Indoor Gardening
Garden Gifts: Prepare Now for Market
Garden Gifts: Gift Market Lookbook
Management: Cultivating Innovation in the Garden Center
Showcase: Garden Accents & Décor
Merchandising: Revamp Your Retail Series Merchandising
Merchandising: Give Your Tool Display a Tune-Up
Consumer Trends: 2024 Gardening Outlook Infographic
Showcase: Apparel & Accessories
Marketplace
Ad Index
5 Minutes With ...: Michael Fiore
January 2024 - 1
January 2024 - 2
January 2024 - 3
January 2024 - Editor's Letter
January 2024 - 5
January 2024 - Table of Contents
January 2024 - 7
January 2024 - AmericanHort
January 2024 - 9
January 2024 - Headlines
January 2024 - Calendar
January 2024 - Innovative Ideas: Creating a Team culture
January 2024 - 13
January 2024 - Green Goods: New Varieties for 2024
January 2024 - 15
January 2024 - 16
January 2024 - 17
January 2024 - 18
January 2024 - 19
January 2024 - 20
January 2024 - 21
January 2024 - 22
January 2024 - 23
January 2024 - Showcase: Miniature and Indoor Gardening
January 2024 - 25
January 2024 - Garden Gifts: Prepare Now for Market
January 2024 - Garden Gifts: Gift Market Lookbook
January 2024 - 28
January 2024 - 29
January 2024 - Management: Cultivating Innovation in the Garden Center
January 2024 - 31
January 2024 - 32
January 2024 - 33
January 2024 - 34
January 2024 - 35
January 2024 - Showcase: Garden Accents & Décor
January 2024 - 37
January 2024 - Merchandising: Revamp Your Retail Series Merchandising
January 2024 - 39
January 2024 - 40
January 2024 - 41
January 2024 - Merchandising: Give Your Tool Display a Tune-Up
January 2024 - 43
January 2024 - 44
January 2024 - 45
January 2024 - 46
January 2024 - 47
January 2024 - Consumer Trends: 2024 Gardening Outlook Infographic
January 2024 - 49
January 2024 - Showcase: Apparel & Accessories
January 2024 - 51
January 2024 - Marketplace
January 2024 - 53
January 2024 - 54
January 2024 - 55
January 2024 - 56
January 2024 - 57
January 2024 - 58
January 2024 - 59
January 2024 - 60
January 2024 - 61
January 2024 - 62
January 2024 - 63
January 2024 - Ad Index
January 2024 - 65
January 2024 - 5 Minutes With ...: Michael Fiore
January 2024 - 67
January 2024 - 68
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https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/LGR/january-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/LGR/thriveguide-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/LGR/november-december-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/LGR/september-october-2020
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