Garden Centre Management BHT255

Learn how to successfully manage a Garden Centre

Garden Centres can be large or small, and the range of plants which they sell can be broad or narrow. A garden centre may also sell other products that are relevant to a garden, and complement the plants which they stock.

Designed in conjunction with the state garden department manager of a major retail chain store, this course has been very successful in training both staff and managers of retail nurseries and garden centres worldwide.

“Here we have an incredibly informative course for anyone seeking to improve their ability to run or manage a garden centre. All aspects of indoor and outdoor plant care are discussed as well as stock selection and optimal plant display techniques. Graduates will also enhance their knowledge of typical garden centre products, marketing strategies, and how to get the most out of their staff.” - Gavin Cole B.Sc., Psych.Cert., Cert.Garden Design, MACA, ACS Tutor.


1. Introduction: Plant classification, plant cultural requirements, soil and nutrition, watering requirements, drainage, temperature, light, humidity.

2.  Plant Health: How to diagnose a problem, pests, diseases, nutrient deficiencies, frost, sunburn, chemical damage, insufficient light, overwatering.

3.  Stock Maintenance: Quality standards, buying new stock, inspecting stock, extending stock life, disposing of below-standard stock, watering techniques, fertilising, pest and disease control.

4.  Display and Display Techniques: Display units, product location, sales area layout.

5.  Garden Product Knowledge I: Plant containers, tags, soil mixes, equipment, tools.

6.  Garden Product Knowledge II: Chemicals, fertilisers, baskets, terrariums, cut flowers.

7.  Indoor Plants: Major groups, common problems, plants for specific situations, customer attitudes.

8.  Container Stock: Trees and Shrubs. 

9.  Seedlings, Bulbs, Herbs and Perennials.

10. A: Deciduous Trees, Fruit, Nuts, Berries. 

B. Seed.

11. Marketing: Pricing strategy, advertising, promotions.

12. Management: Staff control, staff productivity, work scheduling.


Course Duration - 100 hours


Learn How to Make Sales; and a Lot More

For a garden centre to be successful it needs to sell. Selling starts with having good products and ensuring sales staff have good product knowledge; but knowing the product and selling it are two different things.

Opening a Sale
Conditions have to be suitable before a sale can take place. Recognising an opening and creating the right conditions can give most salespersons a great advantage.
Remember time is money for you and the customer. People have a limited attention span. If you want someone to know something, get straight to the point! Good marketing involves getting information across to the customer/client clearly and in as short a period of time as possible. This might be done in many different ways: 

  • By talking
  • Literature   writing, pictures, diagrams
  • Video, internet presentation, practical demonstration, etc. 
  • Signage

Advising a Customer what to Purchase

First determine the customer’s needs without prejudice. Do this by asking questions. Most people appreciate if you take the time to help them focus on their real needs. 

Sales staff in any nursery, retail or wholesale, must know the range of plants, products and services being offered for sale. This is one of the most important skills for a nursery sales person. Products/services can be described in terms of the following criteria:

  • Quality
  • Cost
  • Durabilty/lifespan
  • Supply
  • Back up service   ongoing advice/training/maintenance etc. 
  • Flexibility and diversity of use or application

Obviously, it can sometimes be unproductive, spending an hour advising someone on the sale of one plant; but such situations are rare; and even then, the happy customer will return and perhaps bring friends with them.

Convincing the Customer

What makes a buyer nervous of a salesperson? When he knows that an attempt is being made to make him take a line of action. But, a first-class salesperson never betrays this type of determination. A buyer likes to feel that he is making his own decisions. Obviously, this all takes place through the use of verbal or written communication.

Anything you try to sell has its good points and its bad points. You have the job of convincing the client/customer that the good points outweigh the bad points. To do this, you must believe in what you are selling.

Bad products and services can be sold, by salesmen who exaggerate the good points and hide the bad points. This isn't good marketing though, because it can cause problems in the after sales stage of marketing. If the product or service is not good, the salesperson is advised to seek product improvement. 

Add-on Sales

A big push in the nursery industry is add-on sales. This refers to additional products that can be sold with a primary product. For example, the primary product is a pot plant and the add-on sales opportunities are fertiliser, pest control, new pot, watering can, etc. 

This can help increase the sale per customer however some customers may reject the sales pitch and refuse the initial primary product. For example, if your customer only has a certain amount of money to spend, he may hesitate about favouring one product at the expense of another. It can cause a "I'll need to think about it" put-off. It is best to identify your client's priority and to meet that need. Once that need is met and the 'product' is in the trolley (and guaranteed to be sold), you may then identify the next priority and help to sell that. Do this again and again in terms of your customer's needs.

Closing a Sale

In the car trade when a salesperson has reached a stage where the sale is about to be completed, it is called the "crunch". In other words, it is the crucial moment when the sale is about to be "closed". Closing a sale is not a skill easily learnt. It follows a few simple rules but as times change and competition for the 'almighty dollar' alters, it becomes ever more important for any retail person to learn.

In the nursery industry the closing of a sale (COS) is the culmination of the whole act of selling (from first introduction of yourself, introducing your products and 'preaching' the attributes of the products). It is the payoff for all the work and planning you have done so far. 

For every customer you approach in the nursery you should have only one objective - to achieve COS. The best way to achieve this goal is to ask a question. It should be followed by a silence to force the client to break the silence and make a decision. Eye contact and body language are important at this point - look alert and attentive. If you attempt a closed question, it may end up as a flat "no" - end of sale. A good closing question should be open-ended such as:

  • "Where shall we deliver this to?"
  • "How far are you parked from the entry?"
  • "When shall we organise the delivery?"
  • "How do you want to handle payment?"

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Fee Information (S3)
Prices in Australian Dollars

PlanAust. PriceOverseas Price
A 1 x $834.96  1 x $759.05
B 2 x $451.44  2 x $410.40

Note: Australian prices include GST. 

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