Don’t Fall Victim to these Five Plant Replacement Blunders

YOU have high company replacement standards.

You’ve spent hours with your Plant Care Specialists defining those standards. You’ve used pictures and examples of what is and is not acceptable. These standards appear repeatedly in your training and inform an ongoing discussion around plant replacement.

In addition to clear standards, you have implemented a plant replacement log for your staff. The list seems to be growing, and a lot of “replacements” have been noted. When considering replacement, the first step is a visit to the account from a supervisor. Having the account Plant Care Specialist come along would be helpful too, so everyone is on the same page. After conducting an assessment of the plants, you inform your contact at the account as to whether or not there might be some changes to the plant inventory and replacements made. Such communication will reduce confusion and educate your clients outdoor planterson your standards.

Most people outside of the interiorscape industry don’t have the discerning eye that we have. What looks weak, thin, and failing to thrive could be totally misunderstood. Charging in to replace “Henry the Fiddleleaf” who has fit perfectly between the file cabinet and the desk for years, but only has four leaves left and is touching the ceiling could raise some eyebrows, objections, and inquiries.

Because your clients are less informed, your plant replacing system can break down if you’re not careful to avoid these common blunders.

Replacement Blunder #1: Communication Breakdown

Sometimes, the problem is a simple misunderstanding. A simple misunderstanding that has the potential to create a complex problem. So ask yourself, are your inventories up to date? Are your instructions concise and understandable? Does your replacement team, or person, know where to find the plant?

What about the procedure itself? If the decorative container is full of brackish, stinky water, where will you dispose of that? You can even run into problems with parking if you’re unaware of any parking, dock, or visiting vendor restrictions!

Replacement Blunder #2: Wrong Details

A plant replacement log can be a great tool – so long as the information entered is correct! Logging the wrong size plant liner, recording the wrong measurements for a decorative container, or mistaking any of the other details involved in replacing a plant can mean more time, energy, and money. One incorrect entry in the log could possibly prevent the replacement from happening.

Replacement Blunder #3: Misplaced Supplies

We’re human and we have a tendency to forget, especially when we’re under a lot of pressure from indoor green wallpeople, time constraints, and many other things. A common plant replacement blunder is misplacing or forgetting the necessary supplies for the job. With all the equipment involved – saucers, plastic, foam collars, prop, cleaning supplies – it’s no wonder an item sometimes slips our minds.

But not having the necessary supplies on hand can mean making a second trip. Another loss of time, energy, and money. The easiest way to avoid this plant replacement blunder is to plan ahead, create a master supplies list, or just have these items stocked and ready in your van 24/7.

Replacement Blunder #4: Donating Plants

Donating or giving away the old plant for free might seem like the right thing to do. In fact, giving away a plan devalues what we do. Plus, it opens the door to the plant possibly never leaving the building (your main objective!). At the very least, get a few lunch dollars for it, or maybe suggest a raffle within the office so as not to incite a riot because you choose one deserving person over another.

Many clients discourage the practice of giving away plants anyway. I would suggest a company policy on the practice. There are too many repercussions involved. One absolute must regardless of your stance, however, is to NEVER EVER give away a diseased or infected plant.

Replacement Blunder #5: Leaving Too Soon

The plant replacement process has gone smoothly and you’re ready to pack up and leave. But wait! You might be forgetting something: watering the plant in. This simple step may make or break your plant replacement depending on whether or not you do it. Especially if the replacement occurs after the Plant Care Specialist has been to the account, making this last effort to water the plant in can ensure its success in its new environment and your success in replacing the plant.

Lessons Learned

Many of you are preparing for the busy Holidayscape season and will want to ideally finish a good portion of your replacements before you’ll need extra hands for the of the holidays. Planning around the details is always, always important. Don’t forget the basics just because you’re crunched for time. Take the necessary steps to avoid these 5 Plant Replacement Blunders and you’ve set your business up for success in the holiday season. You’ve also equipped your Plant Care Specialists for success year-round. Happy Scaping!

Robbin Voight is a 30 year veteran of the plantscape and horticulture industry. Her horticultural consulting service is based in Georgetown, Texas. She is an active trail guide at several preserves in Austin, and a hobby naturalist. Robbin is a Registered Green Plants for Green Buildings Trainer looking forward to presenting the accredited 'Advanced Living Walls' continuing education course and 'The Economics of Biophilic Design' to architects and interior designers across North America. You can reach her at [email protected]

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