As I was gearing up for our annual Selling to Landscapers Virtual Conference last month, I realized that even after spending four years covering the lawn and landscape market, I had never once heard a landscaper talk about their greenhouse supplier. I couldn’t remember a single complaint or compliment. It was almost as if landscapers had a completely silent partner in their plant material suppliers.

Occasionally I’d run into a landscaper that was growing some of their own plant material, just as some greenhouse growers and garden centers also operate a landscaping division, but it wasn’t terribly often. It almost seemed as though plant material was a bit of an afterthought, eclipsed by the issues of hiring, scheduling, routing, invoicing, marketing, accounting and the hundreds of other tasks that landscape company owners face each day.

And when I talked to some of the landscapers I had met over the years about their relationships with their plant suppliers, many of them didn’t really have much to say one way or the other. On the one hand, it seems no news is good news. If there aren’t complaints coming, growers are definitely doing their jobs well.

But it seems like the lines of communication aren’t always as open as they could be. And that’s a valuable resource that isn’t being put to work — on either end. There’s a lot of great information to be shared on both sides.

Landscapers are out there on the front line, talking to commercial and residential customers that buy your plants every day. They’re designing the landscapes new plants will live in and listening to the likes and dislikes of the average customer. So whether their customers are getting new plants in their landscapes or looking to spruce up their front porches with a flowering basket or new container, they know what’s on trend.

And growers can recommend all kinds of native plants, drought-tolerant plants, plants good for that one shady spot where nothing seems to grow. It seems like both sides have insights the other needs.

So maybe it’s time to pick those customer conversations up (whether your clients are landscapers or not). You never know what strengths your clients have, and which one you can use to your advantage.

Kate Spirgen, Editor | kspirgen@gie.net | 216-393-0277