By Jesse Eastman, Owner & General Manager
I recently had the opportunity to meet the general manager of a local independent retail store, and this person made a curious revelation. When I mentioned that I’ve been to their store several times and had not seen her, she told me that she likes to hang in the back and keep a low profile. I was shocked. Is this not one of the cardinal sins of small business?
In the world of small independent business, a company will invariably be a reflection of its leadership. I love gardening, and I love helping people become better gardeners. If our customers aren’t able to grow as plant lovers, our business will whither on the vine. A leader’s job is to set the standard for the staff, and I like to think I set a pretty high standard. I love getting to know my customers, their interests, their horticultural trials and tribulations, and I learn a great deal by engaging them in conversation. In fact, I would say that my direct interactions with customers are more responsible for my business decisions than any single other factor.
At Fort Collins Nursery, we take pride in being northern Colorado’s plant experts. It is by listening to our customers and responding to their needs that we lay claim to to the title “expert.” Anyone can read a gardening book, take a plant identification class, or balance a ledger. What sets us apart from other garden centers is the effort we make to truly know and understand our customers. This is an effort that begins at the top and is reinforced throughout the entire company. My father ran this business for over 35 years and has over 35 years of stories from customers that made this company what it is today. That is why you will find me here, smiling and listening, and learning from you what makes a garden center great!
Originally published on May 10th, 2012.