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.
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.
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.
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)
Become a Virtual Pioneer in the GreenIndustry
Create a 5 part marketingPlan
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
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.
Social Media- Facebook, Youtube Channels, Linkedin are all free services that help you interact withcustomers.
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
Brick & Mortar
Continue to operate a our store ( only 1) using itʼs involvement with customers to test products, marketing ideas and building our brand
Continue to build our virtual storefront and product selection
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.
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.
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.
Started Business at 11
Did an Ironman
Ran a Marathon
Started Business with My Son
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.
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.
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 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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Harris continues to work and play in Metairie & New Orleans. To learn more about Chad, visit here.
How did Christmas Trees in New Orleans get started? What started out as a solution for Chad Harris, co-founder of TheGardenGates.com, to never touch a Christmas Tree again, turned into a holiday tradition for many in New Orleans. Chad was working late, one holiday season, and Beth Harris, his wife, called and told him it was time to come home. When he arrived home, he was greeted by a massive Christmas tree tied to the roof of their SUV. His sons, Aiden and Ashton were waiting at the door, begging for him to bring the tree inside. Chad carried the tree inside, put it in a stand, began stringing lights and hanging the ornaments with Beth. As everyone fell fast asleep that evening, there was a crash. Chad thought that someone was breaking in the house. Beth had thought that one of the boys fell out of their bed. It wasn’t until the two of them stood in the foyer of their home, looking at all the broken ornaments on the floor, that they realize the noise was from the Christmas tree which had fallen over. In anger, Chad said to Beth, “ I won’t ever touch a Christmas Tree again.” What Beth didn’t realize was in that exact moment, in the foyer of their home, was when the idea was born. Christmas Trees Delivered.
The 1st 1000 Christmas Trees
Beth & Chad sold 100 trees their first year, then the following it was 300 trees, then 500 trees the next, then 700 trees the following, and on their 5th year, 1000 trees. Then it was like a light bulb going off in his head, although it was the box of lights in his hand that triggered this. Chad’s idea was to deliver Christmas Trees with lights. Beth was convinced it couldn’t be done, yet Chad believed it was his greatest single idea ever. Today, Beth talks about how great the service is and how adding the lights is both challenging and wondering. Chad just smiles knowing that deep down inside, he was right.
The Ultimate Christmas Tree Delivery Service
The Christmas tree service was born out of frustration. At first, some people thought it was foolish, others stated it was expensive, but the few that got it knew that the service was a dream come true, saving hours of tedious light stringing. TheGardenGates.com offers a premium Christmas Tree. Delivered with a leakproof stand, removal bag and tree preservative product to your home or office. It’s simple, but you have to be on our Christmas Tree list.
What Type of Christmas Tree does TheGardenGates.com sell?
The weather during the holiday season in New Orleans is typically warm with the average temperature being 68-73 degrees Fahrenheit during November and December. Because these conditions exist, the best Christmas Tree for this location is the Fraser Fir Christmas tree. The Fraser Fir was named by botanist John Fraser during his explorations of the Appalachians in the 1700s. The Fraser Fir is a native southern fir and that is best grown at 5,000 feet of elevation. The Fraser Fir has excellent needle retention, along with its dark green needles is the ideal Christmas tree in New Orleans.
How to Get on the Christmas Tree Order List
Sign up for TheGardenGates.com email list
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube
Create an Account at TheGardenGates.com (not a guest account, a registered account)
Make sure all mailing and shipping addresses are correct
Where do I order my Christmas Tree?
TheGardenGates.com Christmas trees are sold exclusively online for delivery. In years past, trees were staged at 2918 Metairie road for customers to select. Starting in 2015, trees will no longer be staged at 2918 Metairie road. All trees will be staged at TheGardenGates.com shipping and receiving warehouse located at 4304 Firestone, Metairie, LA, on the same road as the UPS Store and Warehouse. This is just off Central Ave underneath Earhart Expressway.
When can I order my Christmas Tree?
TheGardenGates.com does not begin taking orders for Christmas trees until September 20th and the trees are sold on a first come, first served basis. Christmas trees are only sold online and once the trees are sold out, we are out.
Can I order a Christmas Tree with lights?
TheGardenGates.com offers Christmas trees hand strung with lights and delivered. Each tree is strung with 100 bright white lights per vertical foot. Example: An 8-foot tree with light will have a minimum of 800 lights. It is important to take into consideration that trees with lights require a power strip surge protector (not included). The surge protectors make sure the fuses in each set of lights do not blow and short the lights out, on the tree.
Can I pick out my Christmas Tree?
Many customers have enjoyed selecting their Christmas tree for their home. We don’t want to take that fun away, but we can select your tree. If you’d like to select your tree, you may do so by visiting the production warehouse located at 4304 Firestone Rd, Metairie, LA.
Ordering Tree Process
Customer Shops Online at TheGardenGates.com
Selects with lights or without lights
Selects tree size in feet, i.e. 5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15
Selects a delivery date
Completes Online Order Form
Inputs payment information and clicks complete order
Email Notification is sent confirming order
Christmas Tree Delivery Process
Customer is notified 4 days prior to a scheduled delivery date for confirmation
The tree is routed and delivered during the delivery window
The tree is brought into the house and set up
Team Members fill water and add tree preservative
TheGardenGates.com takes all the stress out of find and bring home a Christmas Tree. We need the following ready for a successful delivery.
Move all Obstacles, Furniture, etc
Provide Surge Protector
Cover Floor with Towels where the tree is going to be located
TheGardenGates.com has been delivering Christmas Trees in the New Orleans metropolitan area for 15 years. They hand-select each tree, prune and shape them for the best results, and bring them to your home for the entire family to enjoy. Remember, that there is a limited number of Christmas Trees delivered each year, don’t wait.
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.