October 15, 2011
By Kristen McIntyre CHT
Conference and event coordinator

The spring was miserable, the summer was too hot, and you’ll have to work overtime this fall just to catch up. So do something to create a renewed sense of spirit — re-energize your staff and celebrate the great world of retailing — plan to attend Expo 2011, Canada’s premier fall show for the floral and garden industry.

Following a decade of success, Expo is launching a host of initiatives, including the move to the stylish new North Building of the Toronto Congress Centre, new show hours and dates (10-6, Wed., Oct. 19, 10-4, Thurs., Oct. 20), and a new format for the conference, which promises to be an outstanding event.

When you walk through the doors, your attention will be drawn to the plants and products. Your senses will be treated to all the delights of a healthy horticultural showcase, and the new enhanced lighting throughout the show will create a unique ambience.

Take away useable ideas

We have spent months ensuring our conference program is relevant and will help you and your staff take away usable ideas to implement in your business after the show.

A popular event, the Garden Centre Symposium is traditionally held the Monday prior to the show. This year it is being revamped to become the opening morning breakfast event for Expo 2011 on Oct. 19, starting at 7:30 a.m. Hosted by Landscape Ontario’s Garden Centre Sector Group, the event will feature a keynote address by Karl Stensson, president of Sheridan Nurseries, entitled Taking a Good Garden Centre and Making it Great.  

Stensson will share what he has learned, using pictures to showcase great entrances and the importance of making a good first impression on your guests. He’ll explore how to display plants and products and how to improve traffic flow through your store, ensuring guests get the most out of a visit. The secrets of exceptional guest services and the benefits of employing environmental practices will be discussed. Through it all, garden centre owners will learn how to sell more products and increase their average sales.

Awards presentations

The ticket price includes breakfast, admission to Expo 2011 and the Awards of Excellence ceremony. Denis Flanagan, Landscape Ontario’s public relations director, will present the awards to the winners in the garden centre and grower categories. Ticket prices start at $65 for Landscape Ontario members and $85 for non-members.

Join us Oct. 19 at 1 p.m. for the Coffee and Cookies Conference. Besides the delicious treats, delegates will be enthralled with food for thought as acclaimed horticulturists Dr. Casey Sclar and Lorrie Baird, from Pennsylvania’s renowned Longwood Gardens, present Living Walls at Longwood Gardens.  

“Planting walls are the newest, latest innovation for indoor planting and interior landscaping,” says Stephen Schell CLT, chair of LO’s Interior Plantscapes Sector Group and owner of The Plant Lady, a Kitchener-based company. “They have a big advantage in that they make an immediate impact. It is natural for people, from a historical point of view, to live with plants. Today we live in artificial rectangular boxes that we have to humanize with plants. We spend a great deal of our time indoors. That makes it even more important that as we spend less time outdoors, we bring nature indoors with us.”

A successful business relies on closing the sale, overcoming objections and building value instead of dropping prices. For breakfast on Oct. 20, at 8 a.m., delegates are invited to attend an interactive presentation that will show how to best achieve that successful recipe in award-winning business coach and author Rory Sheehan’s interactive presentation. The breakfast and networking event will feature Rory Sheehan, of Positive Strategies, as he shares tactics to achieve results in ‘Close More Business and Have Happy Clients,’ hosted by Landscape Designers Group.

“Many designers can have difficulties finishing a sale, and this seminar will help teach how to properly communicate with clients, potential clients and even people who aren’t potential clients,” says Tony Lombardi CLD, CLP, chair of the designers’ sector group and owner of Dr. Landscape. “This will give them additional tools to help them out and get landscape designers the sales they want.”

Principals of sales

Sheehan touches thousands of people every year through his presentations and books. His unique and successful approach to achieving results has been featured on television and radio, and he has had several articles published in newspapers and magazines. “All the principles of sales are the same, whether you are selling heads of lettuce, BMWs or landscape design services,” says Lombardi.

Florists and business owners are invited to join Flowers Canada for a technology seminar entitled Are you Hooked-Up? This session is not for the faint of heart. Ryan Freeman, a fifth generation florist with Martin’s and president of Strider Search Marketing, will lead you through the practicalities of  how to maximize website content,  e-marketing and how to use Twitter and Facebook to build your business, make connections and enhance sales. Entry for this seminar is included with trade show admission. The session will take place on Oct. 19 at 4 p.m. at the main stage.  

Industry professionals in the garden, floral and outdoor living sectors will benefit from the educational programming and the 250-plus vendors spotlighting the latest products and services.

Our exhibitors and sponsors are excited to share the experience at Expo with you. Look for your VIP Pass to the show in the mail. You can also visit www.loexpo.ca and contact one of the exhibitors from the show for your complimentary admission with your VIP Pass, or to register for any of the events mentioned above.