In order to offer a competitive edge over nurseries they want to introduce a relationship approach with their customers, aiming to use high quality products and superior prices with close customer relationships to increase customer loyalty and retention for the company.
The owners made it clear that they did not have a particular approach they wanted to follow, but indicated they did not want to expand products or distribution channels too much in order to create relationships, instead they would favour a cost effective relationship approach (the company has a small budget for marketing) where the customer will really be benefited by increased satisfaction with the service.
When asking why the wanted a relationship strategy the owners referred to the increasingly difficult market financial situation and increasingly competitive competition in the area, and in horticulture as a whole, although the companies profit and sales are increasing they are aware they cannot sit and wait whilst competitors act, and themselves must attack a new direction and they believe a relational approach is the most attractive solution.
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See appendix two for the complete SWOT analysis of Greenheart Plants
From my observations, talks and notes I was able to compile an analysis of the strengths of the company. A main observation was made with product quality; all the plants which were sold were of Class A quality, I heard comments from customers confirming this and from personal knowledge I could see all plants were healthy and of apparent high quality.
A simple infrastructure means all orders are processed exceptionally quickly.
Currently the only loyalty schemes apply to bulk buying, the more that a wholesale customer buys, the more discount they will receive. Bulk buying for retail is also present, but not in a sufficient form, however bulk buying is encouraged increasing usage rates.
Intangible strengths were apparent on observation, the owners showed knowledge and care about products and customers, time and time again they went out their way to offer a customer with a product which was not on display and spent 10 minutes walking around with the customer showing them plants which would suit their needs. This strength was apparent and if put across correctly would provide Greenheart will a clear competitive advantage over quick sale motivated competitors. Staff was motivated to help customers with all aspects such as taking the sale to the car and providing information on soil requirements etc when needed.
The owners feel that face to face contact is the best way to build customer relationships. A strong bond with customers was apparent with certain clients, familiarity and friendship was apparent, a clear respect was shown by both parties, as literature stated trust and commitment is a valuable tool for relationship success