Ian Boardman: developing your business and moving forward

Ian Boardman, garden centre growth specialist and director of his own company, IBBIS (UK) Limited discusses how to develop your business.

Who was it who once said ?If your business is not going forwards, then you are in fact going backwards?? This is probably truer today than ever.

The pace of change in garden retail is massive. There are opportunities to be taken (or lost) approach taken by owners and directors.

Who are the current customers, what do they want and what will the next generation want? These are all key questions which need key answers. What to do about the changing weather patterns, and how to sell more when it?s raining? How does the internet affect sales?

My company?s aims are to help businesses improve and grow. Precisely what to improve depends on the clients and what their aims are. Sometimes they have a clear view of this ? sometimes they don?t and need help.

If I can help people improve their management skills ? then they can see the benefits. The people side of running a garden centre is far trickier than the technical side. Many garden retailers have cut back on staff ? more than once. This means that the ones who remain have to work smarter.

Tips to Develop Your Business

Learn to lead

The more you improve your leadership skills ? the better.

Work on your long term planning

For example, 10 years. Set objectives to get there. Amend them if needed as things change.

Review and plan for your exit routes

Work on succession planning for what happens when you retire.

Delegate as much as you can

Many owners work themselves to a frazzle when there are often people in the business who can do some things better than you, let them. Let people make mistakes ? but only once, and then learn from them.

If you invest heavily in the place, then invest in your people

Make sure they can cope with growth of the business.

Have a robust budgeting and reporting structure

You need to make sure you know exactly how your business is doing.

Stand back from the day to day

What is the bigger picture? What is happening in retail? How does that affect garden centre retailing? What are the numbers saying about what is going on? Where is most money being made?

One thing I am working on now is a Mastermind Group. Likeminded people who meet monthly to set goals and review results. It?s used in many industries and across industries. I think that there is a need in the garden centre world and I am looking to set one up.

There is no one size fits all. The management principles are the same ? but it?s about finding the right approach for the right business. The first step is to ask questions, then listen. Really listen, to the answers and what lies behind the answers.

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