September/October 2018
Mind Over Matter By Christina Salwitz

Why committing to excellent displays is like trying to lose that last 10 pounds

During the summer months, I found myself doing a lot more of my 2019 planning and daydreaming when things were mellow. I also embarked on a fairly strict new diet plan that’s really a lifestyle change as much as anything, and the more thinking I do on both areas of my life the more it makes me think about all of the excuses, mind games and buffering we do in our lives to avoid committing to the things we know will bring us more life and business satisfaction.

As I’m writing presentations for upcoming industry events on the topic of displays and merchandising, one of the biggest points of resistance I see consistently with garden centers is a lack of true commitment to making it work.

Just like being on a new diet regimen, the experts will tell you that all of it will work short term but none of it will last long term unless you come to terms with the fact that this “diet” now means changing some of the key thought patterns we tell ourselves about our goals and how we go about achieving them.

Let’s compare and contrast.

What drives you to want higher quality merchandising and more powerful displays (or to lose a certain amount of weight)?

  • To achieve more sales that ensures long-term business (to be healthier and live longer)
  • To get more social media exposure (to look great for myself, current or future partner)
  • To create a more favorable opinion of your location (to have more confidence)
  • To promote events (to feel more social and expand my network of friends)

You’re more than likely interested in all of those as an owner or manager of a garden center. But, what’s your true commitment level to achieving that end? And what are the competing factors to those goals?

The Obstacles

There is a ladder of obstacles in front of you that have been keeping you from doing what you say you want to achieve. And each of those rungs on the ladder is a different challenge. Just like the diet, you have to ask yourself: “Do you want health? Or procrastination?” If you really think about it, each of those rungs really equals your “To-Do list,” right?

If one of your goals is to lose weight, then one of your obstacles is to figure out how not to overeat. The desire for food may be one of the obstacles. What I want
you to think about is mind over matter here. All of the reasons for not having what you want are not reasons not to do it. They’re simply things you need to work out before you can work on that next rung on the ladder.

Do you have 100 percent commitment?

  • “But, we don’t have the money for GREAT displays.” • “We can’t afford the personnel to make displays a bigger priority.”
  • “We’re too far out in the middle of nowhere to bother; no one will see it anyway.”
  • “We tried, and it didn’t make a difference for us.”

Let me put it this way: If you feel like your absolute compelling reason for wanting to create excellent displays is to make more money, that’s fabulous. But, if I were to say to you, “Will you give me $10,000 at the end of 2019 if you DON’T create five positively show stopping displays?” You might very well say, “No way!”

But wait, I thought you were totally committed? You’re not even $10,000 committed?

What if I said you would have to give ME $50,000 if you don’t make those displays? Then you might likely say “OK, I’m in, sign me up, we’ll make that goal. I can’t afford not to make that happen!” Or, are you going to spend three months calculating the costs, time, effort etc., and say, “Hmm, we’ll do a few and see if it works out.”

What if I said I would give YOU $50,000 to reverse that challenge? I’d say that out of the 100 people who sat around making excuses for WHY they can’t take that bet, they would be nearly run over by the five heading to the door to get started who say to themselves, “That money is pretty darn compelling for me to make that commitment for a year; let’s do this!”

The people in the 95 percent see obstacles and they think “stop;” the people in the 5 percent see obstacles and they see the raw materials for success. You get to decide. It’s a huge privilege to get to choose that path for our life and our business. It’s mind over matter.

Losing the last 10 pounds is always the hardest and takes the most amount of specific intent and concentration, but once we lost it and made that goal, do we just coast? No way!

Now we’ve invested in change. We’ve made a ton of mistakes, we know what works, we know what doesn’t work. Is this goal really any different?

This diet I’m on is not inexpensive. But the results are priceless if I can get off all kinds of medications, have healthier joints and feel great about myself in nice clothes.

Expecting to start a display and merchandising plan on the cheap for photo-worthy displays that people tag on social media won’t be inexpensive either initially.

But, you’ve been there before when you upgraded your watering system or when you invested in better carts and radios, and it’s paid off. I am forever mystified how garden centers believe they can wait until it’s slow, create a marginally effective endcap, call it done and then wonder why they don’t get the kind of results they think they have earned in sales and customer feedback.

The Different Approaches

I used to work with one garden center owner who insisted on cramming his endcaps so full that it was next to impossible to water them without
things rotting. Plants would die, and money was lost consistently. But, he never tracked his losses due to this style of endcap display.

He would simply re-do the display, mark the sad plants down, or worse, toss them and move on to the next crammed endcap. He never learned to look critically at what he did and what he could do better to move up that ladder to making sales rather than losing them.

On the flip side, I’ve worked with owners and managers who witnessed the magic of what a great display (even a small one) can do for sales in one day, and it’s like chocolate; they’re hooked on finding that next creative idea that will be the silent sales driver for them.

They love the challenge of tracking what sold well and why, brainstorming new and creative ideas to make displays even less expensive, be bold and effective and moving up those rungs on the experience ladder fast! They have achieved that resilience from not getting the results they thought they were earning at first, they analyzed what can be done better, checked for results and they are the ones who bring this idea full circle; they keep that last ten pounds off long term.

Are you someone that complains about problems or someone who takes actions toward solutions? Those obstacles to creating excellent displays are supposed to be there. They are what make your business more resilient and aligned with the goals that you subscribe to long term.

Here’s a question you can ask yourself when you feel like those obstacles are too much to overcome: “What’s the next best action?”

To keep your momentum moving after a stall where you don’t think that display panned out, you want to have that mindset. Otherwise our primitive brain just wants us to go get in bed, eat snacks and watch Netflix. It’s way easier, right?

Another cool tip is to envision that you already won that $50,000 bet, you made five amazing displays, and you sold more because of those than you ever thought you would. How did you do it? Reverse engineer the whole set of tasks. How did you make your goal weight?

If you’re still on the fence about diving in and committing to really going for it with your goals for displays and merchandising, then ask yourself this: “What’s one small thing we can change?” Another great question is: “How do we keep moving forward?”

“Matter” is always where we are on this journey; it’s always neutral. “Mind over matter” is what makes us literally change the amount of weight on our body, the amount of money in our cash register and the number of customers we have. We need to move beyond and get past the matter to think differently than the way we have before to solve problems and obstacles to our success. We must keep moving forward with the fuel of motivation and determination. It’s courage, endurance, follow- through, lots of practice, optimism, confidence and creativity that moves us up the ladder.

Your level of commitment before you even start will determine your level of success before you finish.

Christina Salwitz

Christina Salwitz, the Personal Garden Coach, is a container designer, public speaker, horticultural guidance counselor, service provider for The Garden Center Group and photojournalist based in Renton, Washington. She can be reached at: [email protected]


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