In a world gone internet crazy, it is almost blasphemous to speak ill of the web. If a company does not have a web page, it is both unusual and a sign to many people that it is behind the times. In an attempt to convince itself and its customers that it is modern and relevant, many green industry businesses develop web pages. If done well, the website can provide the viewer with a positive first impression of the business, explain its products and services, and offer examples of past accom­plishments, with accompanying endorsements from satisfied former

customers. Some websites will also provide a way for viewers to contact the company via e-mail if interested in obtaining information about services, products, or possible employment...


Using Telephone Technology Properly

Alexander Graham Bell would be amazed at how his invention has evolved. Telephone services are a vital part of every horticulture busi­ness today. They link employees to customers, employees to other employees, and businesses to suppliers. Services are offered by a diver­sity of providers that compete against one another with a wide range of enticements that promise to make a company faster, more efficient, more productive, more cost effective, and so forth. Blind acceptance of these claims by a business can lead to the belief that customers will be better served once the latest techno-wonder system is in place. Often that is not the case. The reality is that answering machines and voice mail systems rank among the most annoying and overused devices to enter the business world in years...


Answering a Business Call

An incoming call is much less predictable than an outgoing call. It may be a customer placing an order, making an inquiry, or registering a complaint; a supplier offering information about an order; or a garden club seeking a guest speaker. Equally unpredictable are the telephone skills of the callers. They may offer their questions or information in a disorganized or emotional manner. Since the telephone provides anyone who is inclined to be abusive with a great opportunity to be so, it requires thick skin and a long fuse to deal professionally with some callers. Dealing professionally with all callers requires the ability to listen and comprehend and a voice that can convey friendliness and concern.

The ability to listen, hear, and understand is not as common as might be assumed...


Personalized Phrasing

It is time to fertilize the lawns of Pittsburgh and we want to help make your Grandview Avenue residence a showplace of your neighborhood. Mr. Jones, please give us a call at 555-1234 so that we can provide you with a free estimate.

While the differences are slight, the second example inserts the reader’s name, city and street, easily lifted from the mailing address. It also provides a local telephone number without an area code. Except in large cities, the area code is not needed for local calls, so the letter sounds less form-like. The point to note is that overreliance on the technology of the word processor can cause business letters to lose their personal touch and become stiff and formal in tone.

TELEPHONE COMMUNICATION_____________________

Use of the telephone for business transac...


Personalizing the Letter

The technology of the word processor permits a quick and easy correc­tion of mistakes and omissions. It also makes it possible to send identical letters to different people with only a change of the inside address and salutation line required. This has resulted in the unfortunate tendency of some companies to prepare generic, sterile letters that can be sent to a wide range of people with little modification. Everyone receives let­ters like these on an all too frequent basis, and we have all learned to recognize them. They have far less impact on the reader than does a let­ter which seems truly directed to the reader and creates the impression that the writer cared enough about the subject and the reader to pre­pare an original communique...


Brevity and Directness

The rambling dissertations that characterize personal correspondence between friends are inappropriate in business letters. Even though friendly and conversational in tone, the letters should never become chatty or deal with topics unrelated to the purpose of the letter. Inquiries about the reader’s health, family members, the weather, or other irrele­vant pleasantries only clutter the letter and divert the reader’s attention from the main topic.

Each paragraph should relate to the purpose described in the open­ing sentences of the letter. If it does not, it is probably unnecessary. For example:

• “I am interested in purchasing a new Ajax Tree Digger, Model R17.

I saw it demonstrated recently at a trade show in Wichita and need additional information about its capabilities.

The T...


Setting the Tone of the Letter

Nearly all correspondence sent by horticulturists goes to suppliers, cus­tomers, potential customers, or members of the profession and requires the same courtesy and concern that would be extended in a face-to-face meeting. Since there is no opportunity for facial expression or voice inflexion to support or explain the words, the letter must be phrased especially carefully.

Courtesy is a quality of every good letter and can be incorporated even when firmness is required, as with a collection letter for an overdue account.

Conversational phrasing will allow the letter to be read easily and with understanding. Business letters need not sound like insurance policies or tax forms, even when legal matters are their subject.

Concern for the reader rather than the writer will encourage a bet­ter...


Writing Business Letters

Unlike conversations, business letters are permanent records. When a request, an offer, or an order is made in writing, it becomes a form of contract. Prepared with care, a letter expresses clearly and correctly the message of the writer. Prepared carelessly, the letter can cause error, allow for omission or misinterpretation, or unintentionally offend.

As a tool of business, a letter must possess the following characteristics:

1. correct mechanics

2. a conventional format

3. a polite and friendly tone

4. thorough coverage of its subject[s]

5. accuracy

6. brevity

Correct Mechanics

All business correspondence should be typed on good quality white or cream colored paper with a printed letterhead...



Business correspondence is done both on paper and electronically. Since both forms can be saved, copied, and forwarded, they have cer­tain features in common. They also have differences in the appropriate­ness of their use.

Using E-Mail

There are few innovations that compare to e-mail in both its popularity as a form of written communication and its convenience. Within sec­onds of sending a message, it appears in the electronic mailbox of its recipient. It enables the sender to avoid the often annoying experiences that accompany voice mail systems and/or protective receptionists who run interference for their employers. However, there are several precau­tions to be remembered when using electronic mail in business...



Today’s horticulture business makes full use of the technology that has swept across the country. Typewriters have been replaced with word processors. Telephones answer themselves and both send and receive messages automatically. They identify callers before being answered. They have escaped the constraints of wires and can now be found in cars and trucks, back pockets, and in the center of conference tables. Their fiber optic lines can be used to send and receive facsimiles of printed documents. Pagers chirp and vibrate on workers belts to advise them of someone attempting to reach them. E-mail enables businesses to contact suppliers and customers as well as to respond to their que­ries...