How to buy a garden centre

Buying a garden centre

As we enjoy one of the hottest summers on record, lots of the nation’s gardeners are praying for a little rain. Lawns are scorched, plants are parched and the garden hose has never seen so much use. But sunshine and unwavering warm weather won’t deter us from spending more money on our gardens. In fact, even though the seasons might determine how much time we get to enjoy the outside, most garden centres seem to enjoy consistent trade all year round. So if you’re wondering how to buy a garden centre, you’d better join the queue as this bastion of out-of-town shopping has never had it so good.

For those of you who really do want to know how to buy a garden centre, though, there are a few key factors to consider. We’ll explore these in a little more detail below, but there is one question you’ll need to ask yourself right away and that is: how much are you prepared to spend? Garden centres come in all shapes and sizes, but most take up a decent footprint and many will include the freehold land as part of the sale. So consider how much you’re willing to invest. And if, like most people you’ll need to raise funds, then think about who you’ll approach for a loan and work out how to write a business plan.

The next question to ask is: what brings you here today? Why do you want to know how to buy a garden centre? Are you looking for an investment opportunity, one in which you will oversee the operation and employ staff to deal with customers? Or do you want to be an owner-operator who is actively involved on a day-to-day basis? In each example, you’ll need somebody who knows what they are doing. Discerning customers will want their questions answered, and these can be wide and varied, so you’ll need to do your horticultural homework or employ somebody already in the trade. Like any retail venue, a garden centre needs to feel welcoming, be well organised and have friendly, knowledgeable staff in place.

Garden centres have become the ultimate destination retail sites. They’re rarely in town centres these days, but location is still important and accessibility is key. So you should be thinking about how to buy a garden centre in the right place. Parking and onsite catering will certainly draw in the crowds, whereas somewhere inaccessible, with poor facilities, won’t see the same level of footfall and spend.

Like plants themselves, businesses need plenty of nourishment. Especially if they are to maintain trade. So think about how to buy a garden centre that can be grown and developed; one that can move with the times and tap into what customers demand at any one time. That might mean more than just offering decent coffee and cake. Be creative and considerate towards your customer and they’ll keep coming back for more.

Garden centres are a business that, when run properly, will enjoy plenty of repeat customers. If they don’t, it can be costly to drum up business. So when running through your checklist of how to buy a garden centre, determine how much trade is from returning customers. Does the business have any loyalty reward scheme in place, or keep track of its customer data (being mindful of GDPR of course)? And you should definitely spend time mystery shopping the garden centre, watching the flow of customers and how they engage.

Buying any business will involve a mix of instinct, emotion and calculation. Try to focus as much as you can on the cold hard facts though: the location, its premises and facilities, the trading history and its staff. Engage professionals when you need them, such as a solicitor, an accountant or your bank manager, and be thorough in your due diligence.

If you seriously want to know how to buy a garden centre, though, you really could be on to a winner. For a start the customer demographic is perfect. An ageing population that lives longer, is retired for longer and has spare time and money to spend is the perfect ingredient for a garden centre. Modern garden centres have become meeting places, hubs of activity and leisure, and sell far more these days than just plants and garden furniture. The future looks bright for this type of business, so why not start your search here?

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How to buy a garden centre