Written by Mark Bolin
A growing problem in our industry is managing a website when it needs to be managed. We’ve shifted from newspaper ads and other forms of media to website marketing. It’s happened so quickly, that most people don’t even understand the dynamics of how drastically things have changed.
While doing trade shows and speaking to people in the nursery industry, I noticed that many of them didn’t see the value of an online presence. It’s similar to selling life insurance to a 20-year-old. They just don’t see the value in it and they don’t get very excited about the concept. For them, it’s intangible, and since most of them don’t use websites very much, they simply cannot fathom others wanting to visit their site.
In a way, we’re kind of ahead our time in trying to get people to understand something they currently don’t feel is important. This probably won’t be a problem fifty years from now, but right now, we’re in an awkward stage with a mixture of Internet savvy business people and the old timers who think the Internet is phooey.
People will sometimes spend thousands of dollars with Yellow Pages, thinking nothing of it, but when it comes to a website and good placement on Google, they don’t understand why it should cost so much and how much time it takes to keep it updated.
Often times, no one is a garden center or landscape company have even two minutes to look at their website, much less update it, and this can go on for 6-8 weeks or longer.
Consider this scenario: Take a person in a garden center who is in a truck. They’re hard-working and know nothing about websites, let alone Facebook. Now, put that person in charge and take a look at what they’re doing. They’ve likely been doing everything, but putting things on Facebook. There aren’t any signs of coupons online during the busiest time of year, which ironically, is the time when you get the most traffic on your website.
Many larger stores are taking care of these things, but what they’re doing might be overkill. How are they doing it? They’re hiring a full-time IT person. The best thing you can do to combat this competition is to hire a company as a subcontractor that understands the industry. Unfortunately, most of the time, this is not an easy task. That’s where a company like The Site Gardener becomes valuable to you.
The Site Gardener is the process of putting together a package that is not outrageously expensive, but it does get the job done. Posting daily is as easy as 1-2-3. Changing out blog entries and coupons is also simple and it can make all the difference in the world with traffic and Google. You really don’t need a full-time IT person to keep up on these things, which could be done in an hour a day. Instead, hire a company, like The Site Gardener to take care of it for you.
When you have a full-time person working for you, you are delegating the management of your website. I’ve observed this with three separate garden centers. Each person in the store is being pulled in a different direction due to the business of spring. They’re unloading trucks, helping customers, loading cars, doing the watering and a thousand other things that need to be done. At the end of their working day, those people are not going to take the time to login to their website to post entries in Facebook.
I cannot stress enough how important this information is. The average site can be managed for $200-300 a month and by purchasing a website maintenance plan, you’ll be getting professional entries, along with monitoring, so that you can see if traffic is really coming to your site. You’ll also be able to find out what your visitors want when they do visit your site.
It can be difficult to see a tangible dollar value sometimes, but a well-managed site should bring a tremendous amount of new and old business. The biggest issue is finding someone that understands your business and what you do, because they can really get off track if they are not as knowledgeable as you are.
Getting garden center and landscape company owners to understand that traffic to their website means traffic to their garden center and money in their cash registers is an uphill battle.
You can try to do this on your own or you can try to hire a full-time IT person, but what it comes down to is that hiring a website and social media management service is going to be the most cost-effective and smart choice and it should bring you the best value.
About the Author
In 1990, M.D. Bolin & Associates, a plant brokerage business selling plants from Oregon, Virginia, and other states into Ohio and Michigan, was born. It’s been responsible for more than $50,000,000.00 in nursery stock that’s been sold in the Midwest.
When it comes to technology, Mark has always tried to stay ahead of the curve. He was one of the first landscapers in New Jersey to use low voltage lighting and drip irrigation back in the early 80s. His first computer was a dinosaur of a desktop with a 40 MB hard drive, which he bought in New York City for $2,000.00 in 1982. Today, most programs are bigger than 40 megs, but with this computer, he ran one of the first estimating programs in the nursery industry.