This is Part 1 of a 2 part series by our Catalog/OnSyte Director Todd Davis.
I have a smart phone in my pocket.
I take that back. I have a ridiculously huge smart phone in my pocket. The screen is larger than the television my wife and I bought when we were married in 1995.
The phone is awesome. I use it to check the weather and sports scores and occasionally use the GPS feature. But in reality, I have no clue of what it’s really capable of. I estimate I use maybe 5% of my phone’s true potential.
Sound familiar? Believe it or not, you may be doing the same thing with your nursery tags. Your thermal-transfer printer (or desktop printer if you’re printing on laser-printable stock) is a tool that can add vast amounts of cash to your bottom line if used to its full potential.
It all depends on what you put on your labels. The following items are easily added to a label template, especially when using software such as NiceLabel. And if you aren’t currently printing labels at all, consider how the following might make a new label printer worth the investment.
Print tags before the trucks arrive
It’s always a best practice to tag plants at the exact moment they’re coming off the vendor’s truck. Take your purchase orders for the next day’s deliveries, and print out those tags so you’ll be ready when the trucks arrive.
Why is that so important? Because counting plants is one of the hardest tasks human beings have ever attempted. Sending a probe to Mars is nothing. Give me 12 NASA scientists and have them count 3-gallon Dwarf Burford hollies coming off of a 53-foot trailer. I guarantee you’ll get 12 different numbers.
But if you tag plants as they come off the truck, you have a safety net. If the truck is empty and you still have tags in your hand, you know you got shorted. You then inform your vendor and you don’t pay for plants you didn’t receive.
It’s a simple practice, but how much money has your label printer saved you already?
Add a vendor code
How many times have you walked your nursery yard and spotted diseased, infested or otherwise sickly specimens amongst your plant blocks? Don’t be ashamed, it happens to everyone.
It’s your job to instantly assess the situation. Step one should always be determining where those plants came from. Without that knowledge, you really have nowhere to start.
But if you can establish that all the sickly plants came from the same vendor, you can take that information and use it.
“Hey, all the crape myrtles we received from you this month have scale. None of the ones from other nurseries have it. Have you gotten complaints from your other customers?”
Armed with this information you’re much more likely to get a credit than if you said, “I think those crape myrtles with scale came from you.”
The easiest way to add a vendor code is to create a two- or three-digit code for each of your vendors. For instance, VanHoodenpyle’s Nursery might be VHN. Put this at the bottom of the tag and your customers will most likely never notice it, or even care if they do.
About the author: Todd Davis is Director of the Catalog/OnSyte division of Horticultural Marketing & Printing. He leads an inside sales staff that services North America with marketing products and solutions for the green industry. Todd has varied experience in horticulture, from managing a wholesale nursery to writing/editing/publishing hort trade publications. He is active in state and national nursery organizations and is a frequent speaker at industry events. You can contact Todd at email@example.com