The nursery was "Nursery Of The Week" in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday. As a consequence, the phone has been ringing off the hook and we’ve received a small deluge of mail.
By its nature, our industry tends to attract a lot of older and retired people as customers. These people seem to have a lot of time on their hands, and this is reflected in the way they transact with us. Whether in person, by post or by telephone (and occasionally by email), they often ramble for some time, when in reality they could complete the transaction quite quickly.
I’ve just had a good example of this. A telephone conversation that went something like this:
- Croftway Nursery. Good morning.
- Hello, this is Mrs Austin from the Isle of Sheppey. (I’ve never spoken to this person before in my life, and I’d also wager that there is more than one Mrs Austin on that Kentish isle)
- Good morning. How can I help?
- Well, I’ve been reading the newspaper. It was Saturday’s newspaper I think. I think it was the Telegraph. Let’s see now… yes, it was the Telegraph. And there is an advert in there. Or an article. A blurb about your nursery.
- Yes, that’s right.
- I’m interested in your plants, you see, for my garden. (As if she’d want them to decorate her lavatory cistern). I was wondering if you could send me a price list of your plants. Does it include all that you offer?
- Yes, it does.
- Ah, well I’m particularly interested in your range of hardy Geraniums. Does it include those?
- Yes, it includes everything.
- So, can you send me a copy?
- Yes, may I take your name and address?
- Oh yes, you’ll need that. It’s Mrs Austin. That’s Austin as in Ford. (umm?)
Equally, some can be the exact opposite:
- Croftway Nursery, good morning
- Catalogue please! The name is Smith! Initial J!
…and then they give you the address in rapid fire staccato sentences, each line with an exclamation on the end. It’s quite exhausting.
Then you get the vagues. There is one in the shop at the moment. I can hear her asking mum for "a tall thing, with green leaves and white flowers. It’s called something." With 70,000 different types of plant available in the UK, that description is not very helpful.
And here’s a lovely example of the sort of mail we get (their punctuation):
To be brief to save your time I wonder if you can help me trace an Iris variety. I left Cheam, Surrey 18 years ago and regret that I did not bring that particular variety here. Its main feature was the most exotic scent, reminiscent of the Spice Islands one might say. From my limited knowledge I also found the colour unusual – a sort of brownish maroon I would say from memory. Does that description fit with a variety in your catalogue please?? If so I will certainly buy a few. The soil here is free draining, limey brash and I have a hunch it would do well here.
Yours in hope………………
I’ve never been to the Spice Islands, so have no idea what they smell of.
And people wonder why we never have any spare time!