KBK Garden Center

KBK Garden Center & Nursery
KBK Garden Center & Nursery

Saline, Michigan

“We are able to help fit the perfect plant with the location, diagnose issues customers are having and help the many new gardeners be successful.”

Year founded:

Kris Krause purchased an existing garden center and renamed it KBK Garden Center in 2018. An already established garden center, Kris was able to take it to the next level and create a destination.

What is your garden center known for?

We have so many team members passionate about gardening and anxious to share their knowledge. We strive to keep on top of trends and potential issues in our area, and encourage customers to make their dream garden grow.

Along with a great team of passionate plant people, we are known for not only your regular landscape, perennial and annual selections, but that we carry some unusual and hard-to-find items that diehard gardeners are looking for.

Having passion for our jobs is well known in the community. This is important because we are able to help fit the perfect plant with the location, diagnose issues customers are having and help the many new gardeners be successful.

How did you build such a successful team?

KBK displayBuilding a strong team takes a lot of “out of the box” thinking. It’s essential that our team has all the tools necessary to do their jobs — from information and training to literally the tools for them to use to keep everything looking amazing.

Communication is also a must. A leader that is open to new ideas is important, but, more importantly, a leader that can take criticism and understand that we all have things to learn and ways we can better communicate with our teams is huge. If your team sees you doing the same jobs you’re asking them to do, no matter how cruddy, they are more likely to respect their leadership when they see them get dirty and yuck and enjoy their job.

Our team actually loves working together. We care how each is doing, are ready to pick up some slack if someone is having a bad day and celebrate each other’s high points as well. Although we all have slightly different tasks, we make sure to have regular check-ins so everyone is on the same page.

Flexibility is also an important part of a successful team. More than half our team is either retirees that want something to do who love gardening — adults ready to leave the stress of an office for a more serene space — and high school kids looking for that first job. Being able to be flexible with things that come up in their schedules keeps them happy so when they are here, they’re here 110%.

Every season, there is that one new employee that doesn’t seem to gel. Just because we’ve got a team that works well together doesn’t mean there are no processes in place. Even the best of employees can make a mistake or have a situation that goes bad.

For situations between employees, we stress the importance of them trying to work it out among themselves. Most times, it’s a miscommunication or a misunderstanding that can be cleared up easily. If it needs to go to management, we have a “three strikes and you’re out” policy. The strike is a written warning; we like to present it to the employee to try to clear up any misunderstandings. It isn’t fair to the other employees to keep someone who is bringing the vibe and energy down; your great team members will see that it is not being addressed, and you will start seeing evidence within the team structure.

Meet the rest of the winners:

Thank you to this year’s Lawn & Garden Retailer Innovator Award sponsors:

2023 Innovator Award Sponsors