About Me

My name is Kaitlin Tyler. I am a Junior Horticulture major from Sachse, TX, but more importantly, I am a loud and proud member of the Fighting Texas Aggie Class of 2016! This summer I earned the opportunity to be an intern for one of the most prominent retail nurseries in the Dallas/ Ft. Wort area: Calloway's Nursery. This is a 10 week internship where I will have the chance to gain valuable experience in each of the areas important to the operation of a retail nursery. This blog is all about my intern experiences this summer.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

It's Over

I am officially through with my internship at Calloway's. It has been an amazing journey that has taught me so much. I enjoyed every minute of it.
On Thursday, I started off working on the weekly specials email, making corrections or changes to the designs on the panels. I put together the one page printable for the specials. While each of those were going through the approval process, I was working on the final pieces of my presentation. I created the last of my ads. I began trying to make a poster for my berry program. The other two interns and I decided to go out to lunch together and talk about the different programs we were working on. It was interesting to hear about the different experiences we had even though we were all interns. We worked at different stores so we each did things a little bit differently. We were riding with the GM during different weeks, so different things were going on in the stores each week. We were each working with different buyers on different projects. In marketing, we worked in different areas in the department where different actives were going on. When I got back from lunch, I got back to work on my posters. Eventually, I decided to draw a design out on paper instead of trying to make something work in Photoshop without a basic idea of what I wanted to do. I went to present to  the Vice President of Merchandising and my buyer again. This time we ran through the entire presentation and found any mistakes and they asked me questions that my audience would likely ask to make sure I was as prepared as possible. I really appreciated the tips and advice because it helped me feel prepared and know what I needed to do to be ready for my final presentation. When that was completed, I went back to marketing to make the final corrections on the email and schedule the send to all of the garden club. I also uploaded the one page printables to the website. The next morning everything was set up to be uploaded to the website and sent to the garden club.
On Friday, I made the final corrections and finished my poster for my presentation. I arrived at work at 9 and was ready for my 2 o'clock presentation by 10:30. I uploaded the weekly specials to the website. My supervisor then had me work with one of the other interns to create a new template for the printable to match the new website. It was my opportunity to leave my mark on the new website. Once we had a good rough draft created, we printed it out to present to the Director of Marketing. I started setting up for my presentation. After some technical difficulties, I was set up and ready to present. At 2, I started my presentation for right around 20 people. I have done presentations to larger groups of people, but this one, I knew that everyone in that room was going to be able to tell if I didn't know my programs like the back of my hand. It was nerve wracking at the beginning, but as I kept going and saw just how much I knew, I got more confident. I presented for just under an hour and was able to answer every question. At the end, everyone thought it went very well and that I had been very thorough. I had even managed to get a couple laughs into my presentation.
Saying goodbye to all of the people I worked with was hard. I loved every second I worked with this company. Each person I worked with was more than happy to help me with anything I needed. I met some amazing people at this company and I hope that when I get out of school that I have the opportunity to come back for them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The End is in Sight

Its been another 2 days in marketing, and this department is finally slowing down. We have been in the final stages of building the new Calloway's website. Everyone in the department is proofing some part of the website. It appears to be very close to being complete. When it is up for the public, it is going to look absolutely amazing!
On Tuesday, my big focus was building some ads for newspapers and email for my berries and ferns. I also worked on making some posters for my berries, but I couldn't make anything that really sang for me. I decided to take a break from posters and focus more on my actual presentation. I made some edits to make the content more understandable and started thinking of the commentary I will use for each slide. As I work through, I make sure I know my facts and figures inside and out and that I can answer any questions about how the figures were derived. I also try to think of what questions my audience will have as I go through; things like: how did we increase the profit margin, what did you figure in to make the projected margin more realistic, where will we buy the plants, how much will it cost us, how will we do compared to last year, why will we do that well, how much will marketing cost. I am basically ensuring I am an expert on my programs. My slides describing my general experiences in each stage of the internship are also coming along very well. I think this presentation will go very well if I can keep my nerves down.
Today, I began working on the weekly email ad for Friday. Since it is my second time, it is going a little bit easier and faster. I just need upper management to approve them and I will be set to work on uploading the specials to the website. This afternoon, I met with the interior plants buyer to go over that part of the presentation again and make some adjustments to make the data more understandable. He gave me some tips on improving that part of my presentation and we made plans to run through that part on Friday before the real presentation. When I returned from that meeting, one of the other interns reached a stopping point in her project and asked some questions about what I was working on. We started working together to build the Cornelius email. We built some of the ads and I showed her how to navigate the software we use to create and send the emails. It was amazing to realize how much I have actually learned and been able to explain in such a short time. By the time the day was over, I had completed the emails and printables for both Calloway's and Cornelius.
Tomorrow, I will get approval on the emails, upload the specials to the website and finish up my presentation. I will also hopefully have the chance to meet with the Director of Marketing to go over my presentation and get her thoughts. My adventure is almost over, but I am still learning so much!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Marketing: Telling You Why You Want to Buy Stuff

Today, I start my final week at Calloway's. I do my final presentation on Friday and I am so excited and ridiculously nervous, but I will talk about that more when it gets closer. I finished one week in Marketing. This department has been extremely busy this week. On Monday and Tuesday, I set to work trying to decide how I wanted to advertise the products I worked on in Merchandising. I worked on some ads for email and newspapers. I am putting together a clinic for my berry program to teach people about growing berries and help them be more comfortable with growing them. I am also trying to put together some berry recipes to entice people to attend the clinic. I am planning on including ideas for how to display them and where to ideally place them in the stores. I've done a lot more with the berry program than the fern program because the ferns almost sell themselves. I have put together some of the wording for my ads but I haven't constructed the actual Ads yet. On Wednesday, I started pulling together ads for the Weekly Specials Email. This emails is the big one we send out every Friday with the sales for the week. It is sent to every member of the Garden Clubs of Calloway's and Cornelius. To build the email, I used Photoshop to create a banner. The banner in made of a Title that ties into a majority of the items on sale, a picture that elicits an emotional response like a serene garden, a couple planting together, or kids playing in a colorful yard, a couple of vibrant picture of the sale plants and the Store Logo. Underneath that, we list the sale plants by category (annuals, perennials, tropicals, trees & shrubs). When we have listed the products on sale, we let people know of the upcoming events we have. Usually it is clinics or garden book signings. After all of that we list the store hours, a link to a printable ad, a button to forward it and the dates the sales are good.  On Thursday, once the email was constructed, I made the one page printable ads where we summarize the sales. We just list the products and their sale prices. After the printable, we set up the web ad. It follows the exact same format on as the email except it is on our website. The ad is constructed on a private webpage the day before and the following morning, is uploaded to the actual page customers will click on. During this whole process, I got extremely familliar with the approval process. First, I made it, then my supervisor looks at it and makes recommendations, then I take it to another marketing employee who proofs it and will either send it back to me for corrections or send it on to the Director of Marketing or the Vice President of Merchandising, whichever one is available or hasn't seen it. When they proof it, they check grammar, syntax, that all the information is correct, and then look at the overall appeal of the ad. They may ask for the wording of an ad to be change or for some formatting to fixed. Then they might ask for a different emotional photo in the banner because the current one was used 2 weeks ago or it doesn't reflect the season very well. It is a long process, but it ensures the best possible ad gets sent out. On Friday, uploaded the web ad to the website. Then I was asked to help put together the binders for the Calloway's Vendor Partnership program. Each vendor in the program gets their own binder that contains every newspaper, email or web ad that mentions one of their products. These binders are then packed up in binders with a letter from the Vice President of Merchandising and shipped to each vendor.

This week, I will put the finishing touches on my presentation and continue learning about Marketing. I can not believe this internship is almost over. These past 9 weeks have flown by and I have learned so much.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Cube Life: Making Educated Guesses to How much and what the Public Wants

The past 2 weeks I have been working in the Merchandising Department at Calloway's. Last week I was working on projections for the Top 5 Indoor Ferns. I put together data for how much we are going to sell compared to last year, how much it is going to cost to buy, how much it will cost to ship, how much the Dallas stores will get, how much the Houston stores will get, where we will get the ferns, when will we have a sale and how much will we mark them down. I was able to put together charts and graphs that clearly showed what we expect to do next year. I also pulled together information for how to grow the ferns and what makes people want to buy them. I also learned about why we "book" some plants but not others. Some, you book because you can't just find a whole lot of them anywhere, so if we don't "Book" with a vendor, we won't have them in the quantities we need. Others, you can find good ones anywhere, so if you book them with a vendor, it makes it hard to take advantage of any specials a wholesaler might have. 

This week I have been working on introducing some new blueberry varieties to our stores. These varieties are supposed to pleasing to the eye and the stomach. It is interesting to see the differences between projecting a tried and true plant and a variety we have never had before. To project the introduction of new plants you need to look into sales data for other comparable varieties to see how the public responds to them. It is also helpful to see how all the varieties of that plant you carry do. So if we were introducing an abelia, we would look at how well we sold all our varieties of abelia. I have also been able to have more contact with vendors this week. It is sort of like starting from scratch for introducing new products. I have to find  vendors, think about how we can market them, how much to sell them for and when to put them on sale. I will say after working on this program, I have a serious blueberry craving. It is not easy to look at so many pictures of blueberries and not want the sweet, tang of fresh blueberries.

Today, I showed the director of merchandising my presentation thus far. He had a couple of pointers, but thought it was pretty good. I am now working on putting the final touches on my presentation. I will do my final presentation on July 25th, after I have completed all parts of the internship.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Merchandising: Buying What The Public Wants

Today was my second day in the Merchandising Department. For this week, I am working with the buyer in charge of interiors, holiday merchandise, and pottery. Yesterday, I went over a few reports that showed how many items we have at each store and total and how much the inventory is worth. My buyer explained that his job required looking at many reports. The inventory going on this week will help true up the numbers for their reports. I also put together replenish orders for the interior plants. We look at the amount of each plant at the stores to see if we need to order more in or put in a Special Order (when a customer specifically asks the manager to put an order in). We also look at the projections for product for the previous and current week. We make adjustments based on what we sold the previous week and what other circumstances could affect sales. We try to make sure we have at least 3 weeks of product on hand each week. As we ordered, we had to keep in mind the actual size of the store. If a store is small, you can't just order product because they are running low. You try to get them enough product, but ordering too much will cause problems at the store.  After, I completed putting together the orders, I emailed them to each of the vendors. The stores should see the product I ordered next week. Another important aspect of being a buyer, is being willing to try new product because doing the same thing will get stale and boring after a while. My buyer's office is full of samples from vendors. Sometimes, you are successful when you try new things, like with the Kimberly Queen Ferns; other times you are not as successful as you hoped, like with the Rabbit Foot Ferns. Some products do better in our Houston market (the Cornelius Nurseries). Houston sells interior plants and home decor much better than the DFW stores.

Today, I worked on projections for next year's Indoor Fern project. Projections are based on previous year's sales data. The buyers then figure how they hope to improve the previous year's data. These projections are important for the company, but they are also important to our vendors. We send them our projections, so our growers can make sure they can produce it all for us. This is called "booking". I also worked on the inventory for the South Arlington store. Calloway's pays a company to come inventory our products. Everything is counted. I helped as an auditor where I would pick random sections to check the counts made by the counters. It is EXTREMELY important that we get the counts as accurate as possible. This will directly affect the profit of the company. It will also help the buyers know that the inventory numbers in the system are correct, so they can order the appropriate amount of product.

The merchandising department is very interesting, and I am learning a lot. I am also putting my Microsoft Excel skills to the test with all of the data I am organizing and analyzing. This is going to be a fun week.

Monday, June 30, 2014

My Quest to EVERY Calloway's in Dallas/Fort Worth

This past week, I rode all over the Dallas/Fort Worth area with the General Manager of Calloway's to ALL of the 17 stores. It was eye-opening to see how each store catered to communities in which they are located. I also had the opportunity to do the safety inspection for 13 of the stores under the supervision of the GM, as well as help the store figure out what they need to do to prepare for inventory that starts on Monday.

I visited the newest store in Little Elm. This location was opened a little less than a year ago, and Calloway's see great potential for it. The GM likes to visit this location first each week to ensure that they are ready for the next coming week.  Little Elm is growing fast, with lots of housing developments going in around the store location. This city is just getting established and this store will have been there since the which I believe will definitely boost customer loyalty. From Little Elm, we went to the Corporate Office in Fort Worth to take care the paper work for the upcoming week. The people at the corporate office and many of the store managers threw a surprise party for my GM to celebrate 25 years working with the company. He absolutely loves what he does with the company and loves the company. My adventures around Dallas/Fort Worth, showed me that a lot of people that work with Calloway's love working there. Every manager I talked to, was excited that I was interested in this part of the industry. When the party was over, the GM and I got started on the paper work. I learned how corporate sets the labor budget and the sales objectives for each store. The GM explained how stores can get a little extra money for the labor budget, and informed me that until fall the labor budget for stores slowly declines starting at the beginning of summer. We looked at sales for each store, and he showed what data to really look at to get the best picture of how a store was doing that day, that month, or this year. We went over approving Purchase Orders and Personal Change Requests (We got a lot of those in due to the termination of seasonal workers or changing temporary employees to full or part time employees).

We saw 4 stores on Tuesday. We started at the Duncanville location. It was an excellent example of how the surrounding stores can help or hurt a business. This started off as a great location and was very successful, but when the big retailers left, business took a big hit. A new Winco Foods is going in nearby which may breathe new life into the area. Duncanville still does okay with what it has and the staff, while small, is dedicated to customer service. The next store, was South Arlington. My GM started there 25 years as a delivery/carryout worker. The area around this location has really taken off, so this location does quite well. It has a larger staff than Duncanville, so it was an interesting contrast. A larger staff can make a huge difference because if you have more employees, you can assist more customers. The next stop was Stonegate. The layout is a bit different from the other Calloway's in that it strays away from the classic building for allied with 4-5 greenhouses beside it and a nursery yard in the back for a pergola, a glass house for interiors and allied, the nursery yard in the middle, and a gift shop like building in the back. This store gears some of their lawn ornaments to TCU fans as it is located close to that campus. The last stop that day was North Arlington. You can see AT&T Stadium from the nursery. This store has a reputation for being literally one of the hottest of the Calloway's locations. The greenhouses now have 2 layers of shade cloth. The top layer is white and the bottom is black. According to the employees, the addition of the white shade cloth has helped tremendously.

We stopped by 5 stores on Wednesday. The first was Plano. Plano was the 5th store built. It is a pretty good location. Because it is one of the oldest stores, it needs repairs a bit more frequently than the others, but it still looks very nice. The biggest problem it has is that more than once people have accidentally driven through the wall of the greenhouse from the parking lot. The next stop was the Preston Rd Location. This location is huge! It is one of the largest of the stores. It has a large staff and is one of the most successful of the stores. The Richarson location came next and was one of my favorites, mostly because it was the original. It has the standard Calloway's design with the exception of one wall in the middle of the building. The other stores don't need it because it wasn't load bearing. I really enjoyed my time at the Richardson store. The next one was Mesquite. This was the 3rd store built. Like Plano, it needs repairs a bit more often than the newer ones, but it is still a beautiful store. the staff is excellent. The last one was McKinney. This store is unique because it is made entirely of glass. As you may imagine, this is a hot store as well. During the summer, shade cloth hangs from the roof and fans are going all through store hours. When it gets real bad, they turn on fans with misters attached. This store is little, compared to the amount of material and customers they serve, so in the spring, when they have all of the busy season plants in, the place is packed. It is a gorgeous store though.

Little Elm was the first of our 4 stops on Thursday. We came back to make sure they we ready for inventory  and do the safety inspection. They made great strides in preparation for inventory while we were gone and it was amazing to see the changes in such a short time. Denton was our next stop. It is a very small store, but it has plans in the works to expand it. It is set up quite a bit different than the other stores. It still has a building for allied, greenhouses for bedding plants, and a nursery yard along the back. There are plants on every available space. Flower Mound was the next store. This store is also different from the rest. It has a more open design. The nursery yard is in the middle, the bedding plants and interiors are under 2 pergolas, and a building for allied. The front of building has a fountain. and the floor outside the garden is made of permeable pave stone. The stone is pretty but poses some maintenance issues. The last stop was Lewisville. This store is undergoing some repairs do to a storm that blew through. The roof needs to be fix up (nothing serious), the shade cloth had a couple holes, and the awnings needed to be replaced and repaired. When this store is finished with the minor cosmetic repairs, it will be gorgeous.

My first stop was Southlake. This store was set up very similar to Flower Mound. I met one of my fellow interns here and he will be joining me at corporate soon. It is one of the biggest stores and does very well. Then we went to Hurst. This store is very large. It also houses the warehouse for the company. All of the flocking machines and other seasonal items are stored here. The final store I visited was Greenville. The amount of money made by this store does not make sense for the size and location of this store. It does exceptionally well. The staff is very knowledgeable. It has the standard layout of most Calloway's stores. From there, we returned to the Richardson store, to make a delivery and go over the Profit and Loss statement. The P&L is essentially the company's checkbook. It shows how much we spent on what when. It starts with everything summarized and gradually breaks it down into individual transactions. It was an interesting thing to learn.

I learned so much in my week with the GM. By the time Friday ended, I had not realized how many hours I had actually put in. It was a fun week but I am looking forward to my next weeks at corporate. I'm  even going to get to help with the actual inventory this week that I have been working on with my North Plano store and the GM. This week I have started in the Merchandising Department. This week should be a lot of fun.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

My LAST Week at North Plano

Today I completed the first half of my internship. It was my last day working in the stores. I will spend the next 5 weeks exploring the corporate world of Calloway's. In these past 5 weeks I have learned quite a bit, but the most important thing I have learned is that there are no small jobs. When you enter the North Plano Calloway's in the morning, you will see brightly colored plants everywhere, you will see plants lined up neatly in rows, all the shelves are full, the floor is clean and almost dry; there is little indication that we just watered or that there was a big sale the day before. Everyday the employees work to make everything look amazing and beautiful, all while helping every customer. Plants are constantly being moved around the store. Blooming plants are moved up towards the front of the store, plants in dwindling supply are consolidated to make room for new plants, people pick up plants and put them back down after changing their mind. Every morning employees scheduled to water show up 3 hours before opening and water everything. Every task these employees perform helps make the customers' experience pleasant. Each one will drop what they are working on to help a customer find what they are looking for. The managers are some of the most knowledgeable people I have ever met. They have so much experience that after only a few questions and looking at a sample or a picture, can tell exactly what is wrong and how to fix it.

The 2 pictures above have been my home away from home for the past 5 weeks. The people I had the privilege of working with have been absolutely amazing. Each week, my internship supervisor would drop by and ask me if I was having fun and learning a lot. Each time I replied without hesitation, "Yes, Sir!" The boys working back in the nursery taught me so much about the trees and shrubs we carried and could always make me laugh while we worked through the day. The girls up front at the registers could answer almost every question I had about how to run a register, what product will take care of what pest, or who to transfer a call. The people working in the bedding department, never ceased to amaze me with their knowledge of almost every plant that sat on our benches. The management team at this Calloway's is phenomenal. They are among the first to arrive each morning and the last to leave each night. They somehow find time to do all the paperwork required for the store to run day-to-day and take care of the customers and employees. Everyday at a retail nursery presents a new challenge. Sometimes a shipment will come in unexpectedly, other times we lose all water pressure as we try to get everything watered in the heat of the afternoon. They handle each situation like pros. From my experiences at this location and with this staff, I completely understand why this location is so successful.
To each of the staff members I worked with this summer: Thank you for everything. I have learned so much, and everyday when I drove home, I had a smile on my face because of y'all. I have every intention of coming back to see y'all when I get the chance. I will miss all of y'all and know that y'all are the best. 
Thanks and Gig'Em!!!

Here are some pretty flowers, for y'all to enjoy!