Written by: Nerida Hills, Nerida’s Interior Plantscaping
We collaborate all the time in business when we outsource tasks that we don’t have the time for or are not our area of expertise. But the type of collaboration I’m going to talk about is when we take the idea a step further and create strategic alliances. This happens when like-minded businesses work together on a single project or when they share their knowledge and bring complementary skills together to create additional opportunities.
One example of this is the relationship I’ve formed with a local business owner & photographer April Pyle who runs Factory One, an Art Gallery/Cafe/Home Wares/Photography store. It all began when I got a call from April to discuss the addition of some indoor plants to the store which would be available for customers to purchase. It made sense with indoor plants being such a popular way to decorate and since the store already sold a range of beautiful containers and homewares. I decided to give it a go; after all, I thought this may help to promote what I do to an already captive audience who frequent the store.
Vicinity Greenwall Demo kit on display in the Factory One showroom
At first, I thought of this arrangement as part of my marketing budget but fast forward to 2 years later and not only am I selling enough plants to make it a viable venture, it has increased the customer traffic to the store, now known as being the place to go for quality plants and containers. A win/win for us both! In addition to this, when customers enquire or comment on the beautiful greenery, they are educated by the Factory One sales staff about the other services I offer, resulting in many enquiries for long-term hire & maintenance services for their workplaces or casual hire for sales campaigns or events. I have come to think of the space as my showroom and have even displayed examples of our Vicinity Greenwall in store.
As our alliance grew, and since I have always struggled to get professional looking images of my work to use for promotions we decided to work together with the main container supplier to the store, On The Side who was also looking for images they could use on their website. The three of us worked to create a photoshoot showcasing plants, containers and photography, resulting in some beautiful images that we could all use – the reach of these images being far wider than if I had simply hired a photographer to do this work and posted the images to social media or my own website. For your work to attract attention these days you need a great image and I think we created some unique ones including one of my favourites below.
The photogenic fiddle leaf fig
The advantages of this alliance continue to grow and for our next collaboration, we are planning to run a plant care workshop at the store aimed mainly at the local domestic market, an idea that I simply would not have considered myself.
The possibilities are endless and I believe that not being afraid to try something new can keep a business fresh and relevant. That said it’s important not to become complacent with your customary offerings with a proven return!
Sharing knowledge within the interior plantscape industry can be considered another form of collaboration and could be as simple as passing on the details of a supplier of quality containers or plants, right through to sharing experiences of what you’ve found to work and what did not. Passing on work that is outside your geographical area or not your area of expertise can not only result in the favour being returned someday but you demonstrate to the client that your priority is to find them a solution, great for your reputation!
I have found interior plantscapers and the related industries who work with plants are a friendly bunch, who like to see their colleges doing well and even though being generous in business can sound counter-intuitive I believe we all benefit if a client has a good experience with one of our competitors since it reflects on our industry as a whole.
I can’t speak highly enough of collaboration in business but I’ve learnt that these alliances may not pay off immediately with patience and a long-term view needed rather than expecting a quick payoff. Being strategic with those I choose to work with can have many benefits so why not think outside the square and consider what can be achieved with a strategic alliance to benefit both the businesses involved and most importantly, the reason you are in business, your clients.