USING SPACE EFFICIENTLY

Once acquired, the site must be put to use in a manner that will maxi­mize the return on capital. Space must be assigned to each of the major areas of the business. For example, a retail business such as a garden center usually requires areas for

1. customer sales and product display (indoors and outdoors).

2. inventory storage.

3. plant holding.

4. parking.

5. employee use.

6. climate control.

In addition, production operations such as greenhouses or nurseries require areas for

7. Plant growth.

8. Equipment and supply storage.

9. Plant grading and packaging.

10. Shipping and receiving.

Each area can be further divided into subareas. Examples of these subareas would include:

1. Customer sales and product display

• space for shelves of products

• display cooler for cut flowers

• display greenhouse for foliage plants and potted flowers

• outside sales yard for woody plants, bedding plants, lawn ornaments, and bulk materials

• rest rooms

• check-out area

• landscaped setting for the business

2. Inventory storage.

• warehouse for bulk materials and equipment

• coolers

• storeroom inside the retail centers

3. Plant holding.

• heeling-in/overwintering

• acclimatization

• overwintering, bare-root storage

4. Parking.

• customer parking

• employee parking

• access roads

• space for snow to be piled

5. Employee use.

• offices

• workrooms

• lockers and rest rooms

6. Climate control.

• central heating

• air conditioning

• windbreaks

7. Plant growth.

• greenhouses

• nursery fields

• lath houses

• propagation beds

8. Equipment and supply storage.

• garage

• fuel tanks

• small engine repair shop

• tool shed

9. Plant grading and packaging.

• grading and packaging room

• overwintering, bare-root storage

10. Shipping and receiving.

• maneuvering space for trucks

• loading dock

• access roads

• space for snow to be piled

The use of space in a business must be analyzed at several levels. First, there is the allotment of space to selected subareas. For example, parking lots must be large enough to hold the number of vehicles expected to be there at one time on a busy day at peak season. Assigning too little space to the lot will result in lost sales and annoyed custom­ers. However, assigning too much space to the lot may deprive other areas of the space they need. Similarly, customer sales areas must allow enough room for comfortable browsing through a diversified array of products. Allowing too much space between products will limit the number of items that can be displayed, and crowding too much in will make the shopping area look like a bargain basement. Some florists and landscape design firms assign space to customer consultation areas. Although such areas are nice to have, the space might be used more profitably if the retail area is small.

Use of space must also be analyzed in terms of inventory control. Quantity buying is generally regarded as wise because it results in lower unit costs. However, it also requires more space to store the inventory and ties up capital until the inventory is sold. In small shops where the stor­age area is small, quantity buying can result in limited product offerings.

Space efficiency is also important in the production of plants. Production schedules must be planned so that bench space is available when it is time to expand the spacing of a crop. Planning must also fore­see when a bench will be empty so that another crop can be started as soon as possible. Heating a partially empty greenhouse drives up the grower’s cost of operation. Equally costly and inefficient is a partially harvested nursery field if no new crop is planted. With land as expensive as it is, few growers can afford inefficient use.