Experimental – Change Everything

Today is a great day for change. Changing the way you work. Changing the way think about your profession. Changing the way the green industry is perceived. The days of thinking or running your business like your predecessor is exactly that- a thing of the past and its about time to Change.

Today get out our list of goals, limitations, customers, products/services and how we are at a competitive advantage from my last article and its time to change everything.

Class Starts Now

( get out your notes and get ready to add a few more)

-Change your goals-

In your list of goals, do you include become a virtual garden center?     Did you list- become an online resource for gardening in mycommunity?

Or was your list more like this.

  1. Be the best garden center in town,USA
  2. Build a newshed
  3. Hired a manager- so I can take more timeoff.

Those are all goals that have there place on a list but in order to find your place in the future maybe follow the list below.

Change your list to something more like this

  1. Create local awareness of myproduct/service
  2. Contribute to my community withoutfail
  3. Become the resource for gardeningknowledge
  4. Build my brand to compete against all that stand in mypath
  5. Change the way I dobusiness

-Change your limitations

If your list contained items like lack of resources, knowledge or skills make sure to scratch those right out. Your list should contain little to nothing by now. You have committed to building a better business and your commitment has all but erased your limitations. When you are committed to change- nothing stands in your way.  Yes-lack of funds, skills or knowledge makes things changeling but thatʼs what makes ustick…

-Change your customer

Today your customer might engage with you at the counter during checkout, in the isle while selecting merchandise or on the phone. Today- change the way customers  interact with your business. Blogging, Social Media, Youtube  and such interaction are  at your finger tips and they reach several customers at the same time. Usetechnology

to the fullest. Iphones make customer communication effortless with mms, email and web capabilities at your finger tips. The future of your customer base use technology every minute of everyday- so should you.

-Change your Product /Service

A pansy will always be a pansy but your own Smartphone App about what pansies you have in stock might not be to far fetched 5 years from today. The moral of the story is change the way you think about your products and services. Jot down what would make you stand out and then get to googling because with a few clicks of the mouse you may just stumble upon the next great thing.

-Change your competitive advantage

Since you can not compete on price( nor should you) develop a program or service that is unique to your business. Make your standards are unobtainable by your competitors and make it your niche. Make your product or service about quality not quantity/price.

Make sure that is has marketability in the future rather than a onehitwonder.     It is very rewarding to have a long lasting product/service that is profitable because in the end, this is about earningprofits.

Change is difficult but it is necessary in our industry to survive. As technology continues to develop and people are all consumed with the chaos of life, changing your businesses mentality is essential to future success.

For more information about this article, contact Chad E. Harris

follow him @ www.twitter.com/chadeharris

friend him @ www.facebook.com/ceverettharris

read about him @ chadeverettharris.com

Jackson Square Tour

Jackson Square in New Orleans in located along the Mississippi river banks in the French Quarter. It was the birthplace of Louisiana in 1803, a National Historic Park, and the American Planning Association designated Jackson Square as one of America’s Great Public Spaces.

Jackson Square is surrounded by history dating back to early 1700 when the St. Louis Cathedral was built, is flanked by the oldest continuous rental apartments in the United States, and home of the French Quarter Festival.

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YouTube https://goo.gl/hlHFXZ

Music from Epidemic Sound https://goo.gl/0nUo2V

Plugging in Your Mojo with Soul

The question is how do you covert all this work from the past year to create actually profit in the business for years to come? Do I really need to do all these things to compete in the green industry? The Short answer- yes.

The more complicated answer begins here.

Whether you sell petunias or whip up amazing landscapes, technology is the best tool in your shed. We have talked about using your imagination with marketing, going virtual with social media and building an online “ virtual potting shed”. Then we examined branding your business or lets just say, “ Getting your Mojo Back” and by now you should have either learned or thought about the importance of all these things.

The real question is, how do I manage my virtual world because in the real world the only thing that counts is money the bank. Managing the day to day of any business is tough and takes time and now I have to manage a virtual one too.

  • Branding- a continuous effort to create brand awareness can be done through all platforms. Branding is everything from business cards, apparel, vehicle branding and just about anything that has your name on it. Everyday you need to examine your brand and make sure its up current with the ever changing market. Company Logo refreshes are great ways to keep things current and freshlooking.
  • Social- pick your platform and spend a little time everyday communicating with your customers, friends and potential customers. Often the time you take to engage with people in a social environment is for the future not for the immediateresults.
  • Website- you built your first site. Are you updating it? Does it have current photoʼs that are relevant to the topics and or category. Consider updating the informationon a regular basis. Add a blog component that features projects, store specials and news.
  • Customer Interaction- now that you have built multiple channels for customer interaction, use them to engage customer and loyalty.Show them why you are the expert in your field and why they should do business with yourcompany.

Now that the question has been answer, how do I turn this into profit? Am I targeting the right customer? Do I need to worry about discounting my product or service?

Profit- are you creating a value to your customer, employees and your company, if you are, then the profits will fall right in line.

Targeting- are you analyzing your ideal customer that drives your revenue rather than chasing unpromising dreams. Understanding the right customer for your company will drive endless business everyday.

Never Sell a Sale- we are not in the business of selling a sale. Selling a quality product or service will never require a sale. Yet understanding that sometimes you have to put things on sale to move goods or services that donʼt “ fly off the shelf”

Running a business today is about using new tools and technologies to build a better business for the future. Taking the opportunity to learn new skills and explore how they can improve your business should be the most important part of Plugging in Your Mojo with Soul.

I Can See The Future

The article below as written in 2010 for a garden center magazine column that I had the pleasure of writing during a year long journey. I was inspired to search and challenge my ideas and my beliefs in the green industry. In 2015, I closed The Garden Gates retail store after not being able to negotiating a lease extension. It was a sad day in my career, it followed with four years of hard work, and my determination to stay the course. Today, my ideas remain true in concept, but I would never return to the garden center industry as it is currently designed. Enjoy- Chad Everett Harris, June 2019.

Year 2010

Sometime ago it became apparent that the Garden Center Industry was becoming increasing difficult to attract new customer when the retail landscape is changing at a pace that the Retail Giants were modeling.      I decided that in order to compete, I would have to devise a plan to take the Giants in Retail on single handedly. I studied the companies growth strategies, read everything about the CEOʼs and followed any & all news on a daily basis. I learned a life time of knowledge in just a few months. I concluded that the best way to compete with the Giants was to perform miracles for all to witness. We would give more than we took, service greater than expect and do it all with quality products andservices.

5 instrumental components to our plan

(how we got where we are today)

  1. Become a Virtual Pioneer in the GreenIndustry
  2. Create a 5 part marketingPlan
    1. TV
    1. Web
    1. Social
    1. Community
    1. Gorilla
  • Design
  • Vision
  • Belief


The green industry has not embraced the web and I believe itʼs because our industry is comprised of generational businesses. Why change the way we have done it for years, itʼs not broken. In order to compete in the future, maybe 10 years from today, we need to be creating business enterprises that operate based on how our future customers will embrace retailing. Take a sneak peak into a 12 year olds world today and consider them as a customer. How do they use the internet, mobile devices and the technology which will transform the future of retailing. Is the web the answer for your business, maybe not but local customer today search the internet before they climb in their cars to make their purchases today. How can you catch the wave without breaking thebank

  1. If you donʼt have a website, consider building one. If this doesnʼt fit within your budget, take a few minutes and complete the local sections of all the web search companies. For instance, Google Places, which you can create store hours, upload pictures and give a quick note about your business which will come up in search engines when people are search for your productslocally.
  2. Social Media- Facebook, Youtube Channels, Linkedin are all free services that help you interact withcustomers.
  3. Build a website that represents your company and make sure you have a plan to provide updates to the site. Search the web and you can find 1000ʼs of site that are just horrible, donʼt be one ofthose.


TV- consider creating TV ads and run them on local cable stations during popular shows like Real Housewives or Top Chef on Bravo, they are affordable and market to your customer. Find a up and coming film student that needs to work on their portfolio and may do work at a discount. Sometimes TV stations have production to get you to buy long term contracts. TV is not for everyone and results are not measured overnight but long term and take a commitment to be successful.

Web- Use Google Places and create coupons( for free) that customers can print and use in store.

Social- If you have a website, post links to in on FB for coupons etc. If not, use FB as your company website and post coupons for your customers to print and use in store

Community- Actively get involved in your community. Give to everyone that asks for donations, giving small gift cards speaks volumes. Devise a plan that puts a value on the group, meaning a group of 50=$25 card( .50 per participate) this will allow you to fairly afford every event.

Gorilla- One of the most effective tools in marketing is gorilla marketing. Consider printing 3 fold flyers ( hole punch and loop rubber bands around them) canvas the neighborhoods of customer every 7 days for 3 weeks.  Make sure to change to message in each flyer but maintain the same format ( so they figure out its you) Hang each one on the door knobs( we find the rubber bands give us better attaching to different doors rather than the normal door hangers) Make sure to create a couponcode or special offer so you can track the results( once you have done it a few times, you will figure out what works best then focus on your bestmethod)


Consider designing your own special products. Its a monstrous undertaking that takes time to develop but you have the opportunity to fix all the problems with the products you sell that are not right in your eyes. Plan to spend 18 months before seeing real results, this is something great to keep you focused on your future rather than the present.


Whether you are in a generational business or you are the entrepreneur, the future you your business is reliant on the vision or plan you have in place for future growth. Make sure to work on your vision each day and guide the business into the future. Donʼt just show up and turn the light on and off each day thatʼs what a store keepers does not leaders of the future


This is the #1 ingredient to the future success of your business. The belief that you hold the keys to the future of this industry.  The belief that your product is superior.  The belief that you have something to share of importance. Understand that the measure of success should be viewed in both short term as well as long term Best of all believe in yourself, that is truly all it takes to besuccessful.

The Future of The Garden Gates

I believe the future of this industry hasnʼt even surfaced and the garden center landscape will evolve with smaller operators becoming instinctively creative to fight off the Retail Giants.

Our plan for the future is simple and is only 3 parts

  1. Brick & Mortar

Continue to operate a our store ( only 1) using itʼs involvement with customers to test products, marketing ideas and building our brand

  • Virtual

Continue to build our virtual storefront and product selection

  • Catalog

Continue to create unique catalogs that offer products not readily available

My belief is that we are the future if the garden center industry. We have created a lifestyle store that is special. We donʼt intended to ruin its character through a store expansion but through virtual and coffee tables around the country.

I have been to the future( in my mind) and I see the path. Itʼs my responsibility to share my knowledge and model the future of our industry.

Screaming to 50

Today, I start my six month adventure to 50. See my birthday is coming up in November and I told myself long ago that when I reach 50, I had to start taking things serious. Well, those days are coming like a run away freight train.

Chad Everett Harris
Remembering those 20’s,

I have decided it’s time for a bucket list. The issue, I have never been a person that has gone without something I wanted. The problem, I wanted a lot of things that I truly did not need. I have also come to realize that with maturity comes sensibility. When I was in my twenties, I wanted to accomplish everything I could, in my thirties, I wanted to leverage my accomplishments. In my forties, I wanted to fix all of the things I completely screwed up and now, as I head to my fifties, I want to accomplish difficult things and I just might fail. Best part, I am ok with all of it.


  • Had Children
  • Started Business at 11
  • Did an Ironman
  • Ran a Marathon
  • Raised Children
  • Started Business with My Son
  • Traveled
  • Got Fat
  • Got Skinny
  • Got Medium
  • Encourage Entrepenuership to others
  • Had a Convertible
  • Raced Ferraris w/ my Wife
  • Learned to Manage Disaster
  • Learned to Manage Failure
  • Learned to Manage Success
  • Rescued a Rescue
  • Let the Rescue in turn Rescue Me
  • Experienced my sons paying off their college debt
  • Experienced the value of Education
  • Learned the true value of friendship

I have always said, “On my worst possible day and I have had some devastating ones, I am better off than most.” My mother ingrained the value of work ethic, my relentless pursuit of success does not allow me to give in to defeat, and I learned that most things work themselves out in forty eight hours.

The Start of my Bucket List

  1. ….. I have no idea where or what to start with –

Chad Harris Metairie

Chad Harris has been part of the Metairie community since 1986 when he and his mother Judy Harris moved from Birmingham, Michigan to the old Metairie neighborhood of De Limon Place.

Chad Harris Metairie

Shortly after living in Old Metairie for a few months, they moved to the quiet neighborhood of Lakeview in New Orleans.

Chad Harris New Orleans

Today, Chad Harris and his wife Beth Harris live at 7925 Plum Street located in the Carrolton Neighborhood on New Orleans.

Chad Harris 7925 Plum Street New Orleans 70118

They have lived New Orleans since 1990 and raised their two sons Aiden and Ashton. Today, the Harris family lives and works in the New Orleans and Metairie area. Beth Harris owns a retail store located on Old Metairie call Relish.

Beth Harris Metairie

My Entrepreneurial Drive

1998- The landscape business was not doing well.  I was unable to pay myself for nearly 6 months. During that time I decided that I needed something else to focus on- It was making myself crazy. 

I began training for the Ironman Triathlon in Montreal, Canada. I had been there before,(1994) in the closing miles of the marathon, I tore a muscle in my leg that left me sitting on the side of the road- unable to finish.  A few months later, I received a letter from someone that I never met but was competing in the same race. He told me not to give up, the 1st time he did it, he failed but returned that year and was able to finish- he told me that I needed to finish this race so that I could clear this chapter in my life.  A few years passed and I need to finish this chapter in my life- 

I began training 

I trained like a professional athlete.  My wife was 100% behind my plan. My children were 1 and 3.  My mother( who worked with us) was behind my plan. I was in the last 3 months of training with incredible results. My longs runs were 20 miles just floating along at a 7 min pace.  My weekly 120-mile ride was never slower than 22 mph. I was already swimming sub hour 2.4-mile training sessions. Then one Friday afternoon, I was on a 100-mile ride heading to Mississippi and was hit from behind by a car( and the driver took off- I was out of it, a motorist stopped and call 911) and broke my tibia in the left leg and ruptured the muscle.  

I woke up the next day- cut my cast off my leg and began training again.  I water jogged for 4-6 hours a day. Convinced a doctor to get me on dope, just like Armstrong.  I did whatever I had to do so I could compete and finish. 

What’s the point in my telling you this- I will suffer, I will work hard and I will do what I need to do to get to the next level.  

Oh yeah- I came in 4th place out of the water, 3rd off the bike and finished 3rd in my age group( which at the time was the toughest age group- 25-29) 

The Life Lesson I Learned that day- Don’t Quit……

Divine Footstool by Cane-Line

Divine Footstool by Cane-Line

The divine footstool is a hand-made product with a unique fabric in selected polypropylene suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. The covering fabric is created by crochet technique. Crochet is performed by one crochet hook and takes one person many days of concentrated work. The pattern on top of the Divine footstool is an experience in itself and add an extra dimension to this footstool, whether or not it is used indoor or outside in your garden.

Divine Footstool by Cane-Line Details:

  • Fabric: Hand crocheted 100% selected polypropylene
  • Suitable for outdoor use/ Resistant to UV rays
  • Made In Indonesia 
  • Dimensions: Width 22″, Height 14″, Depth 22″

Chad Harris Metairie & New Orleans Resident

Chad Harris has been a Metairie & New Orleans Resident since 1986 when he and his mother, Judith Lynne Harris moved from Birmingham, Michigan to the town of Old Metairie. Old Metairie is a large suburb of New Orleans and surrounds the main thoroughfare Metairie Road.

Chad Harris Birmingham, Michigan

When Chad moved to Metairie in 1986, he and his mother moved into the Delimon Place neighborhood that was under construction. They lived in the rear of the property called  Lower Pontalba and at the time we’re apartments. Today,  Lower Pontalba are condominiums that offer a beautiful landscape property.

Chad Harris Metairie

He and his mother later relocated to Lakeview in New Orleans where they lived for several years. Lakeview is a community near the lake ponchatrain. Lakeview was just a normal neighborhood that in 2005 was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Chad Everett Harris, lake pontchartrain New Orleans

In 1990, Chad meet Beth Kendall during a night out in New Orleans. As the months past, their friendship turning into dating and in 1993, Chad asked Beth to marry him. Beth said yes that that is when the crazy adventure began.

Chad Everett Harris

They were married in the Spring of 1994 at Southern Oaks Planation in New Orleans. After the wedding, they partied with friends at Chad’s mothers night club, City Lights.

Beth Kendall Harris and Chad Everett Harris - New Orleans

Beth & Chad have two sons, Aiden Everett Harris and Ashton Kendall Harris. The young family called 7925 Plum Street home. Their sons have grown up and moved out of the house but Beth & Chad still live at their home in the Carrolton Neighborhood.

Chad Everett Harris 7925 Plum Street New Orlenas LA 70118

Chad Harris continues to work and play in Metairie & New Orleans. To learn more about Chad, visit here.

Dynamite Garden in New Orleans

+ A Quick Lesson on Flower Planting

New Orleans is such a unique place and is full of lush gardens. Today, I give you a mini tour of my personal garden at home. We live in Uptown New Orleans on Plum Street, and I love my garden between the street and sidewalk because it is always blooming.

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