Scoring a Growing Season - What Makes Success?

  Hort Snacks - November 2017
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 When the furious pace and excitement/stress/extreme busy-ness of the growing season dies down, it is important to do an internal debrief to assess the ups and downs, highs and lows of the past growing season. What worked? What didn’t work? What could be done differently? What should stay the same? Essentially, you are evaluating the various aspects of the season, scoring each part.

So, what determines whether a season was successful, versus not successful? For most operations, it probably comes down to whether the business made a profit, or didn’t suffer a loss, financially. Certainly, unless you’ve got a pot of cash somewhere that can offset losses year after year, this would be a critical indicator of success. I’m sure anyone with an economist’s mind or training could go into great detail on what constitutes financial success, but realistically, it is important to not just look at the basic revenues versus expenses (i.e. did you bring in more money than you paid out in bills), but look at the more fixed expenses, paying yourself and putting money back into the business.

Other indicators that you could consider might include:

  • Did your production match up demand?
  • Did you manage to sell all that you produced?
  • Did you have any shortfalls in production?
  • Did one product sell better than another?
  • Was there anything that seemed to shine this year?
Other indicators of success could relate to quality:
  • Where you able to bring in quality product without having to go to great lengths to protect it?
  • Did you have to do a bunch of culling?
  • Did you experience any major pest issues (expected or unexpected)?
If you move beyond the financial and the basics production and supply/demand criteria, there are many subjective indicators that can be used to give positive success points to a season. These might include:
  • Did you see more customers come through the gate?
  • Were there new customers?
  • Were your old customers satisfied and happy?
  • Were you able to connect with your customers (and beyond) through social media, one-on-one or in effective ways?
  • Did you feel more visible this year, as a result of specific targeted activities?
  • Did you introduce a new product, activity or element to your business?
In the end, it really comes down to how you felt about things. If you can answer positively the questions “Do I feel good about continuing this endeavor?” or “Am I still interested in doing all of this again?” or “Is all of this worth it?”, then I suppose that the year was a success, since you are willing to do it again. It’s kind of simple.
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Robert Spencer.
This information published to the web on October 30, 2017.