As the preferred supplier to the Horticultural Trades Association, 2 Circles currently serves many garden centres throughout the UK. As such this gives us an intimate understanding of the typical challenges facing Garden Centres in the UK. Reading some of their trade press, I was particularly drawn to this quote from this article explaining “We’re trying to be a destination centre for all the family. For us I think we’re almost more leisure than retail now." It’s an interesting point and the more I thought about it, the more I tended to agree. I have taken my kids to the garden centre to go and see the fish more than once. My mother doesn’t go “for a nice pub lunch” any more, she is always going for a meal at the garden centre. Successful garden centres are sophisticated businesses.

I recently visited a garden centre in my professional capacity and the challenge they face is typical of the market vertical. Garden Centres are not renowned for being surrounded by chimney pots; they tend to be remote destinations. As such they are not served well by Openreach and have a handful of ISDN lines and a very long analogue line which guarantees them a very poor broadband experience (if they are even lucky enough to get it). They tend to rely on DECT infrastructure to enable on site telephony to users who move around the site. Their delivery of WIFI to the coffee shop is haphazard or non-existent.

They also want to be a Leisure opportunity and are hampered by 1990s technology through little fault of their own, other than the progress outside of their premises. Excellent garden centre-centric cloud solutions such as those provided by are hindered by legacy technology.

What a difference a Leased Line makes! All of that ISDN technology can be replaced, causing a cost saving on fixed rentals. A Meraki access point solution will saturate the site with state of the art WIFI coverage and a wonderful customer experience for Silver Surfers to spend that extra 30 minutes in the coffee shop. Meraki WIFI allows data capture on unprecedented levels, so you know when your busy times are, what your demographic is, their interests, their email address etc. There are wondrous opportunities to market this captive market who have volunteered to be contacted via your free WIFI login. Your employees can make use of the WIFI to interact, privately, with your business for both voice and data. It makes no sense to run a DECT network for employee telephony when you can safely and securely run public and private WIFI which will service voice calls, the customer experience and interact with services in real time such as . Furthermore, you can run your Merchant Terminal services over the leased line, making any card transaction as fast as those you see in supermarkets rather than waiting 40 seconds per transaction as if you were sending a fax as the analogue line modem dials up to the bank and screeches like a fax.

So yes it is a leased line. And no it is not expensive when viewed in the round. ISDN costs are eradicated and on site telephony upgraded. WIFI replaces DECT and also delivers tip top speed to the coffee shop. You get to understand your business with empirical data and not just hunch. You get people through the till faster. You can market to them when they are not present with offers you feel they will value. You enter the modern world. You cement your status as a Leisure venue and not just a retail outlet. If every visitor spent just 30 minutes more and had just one more cup of tea or one more scone, just returned one month earlier, just posted their enjoyment to Facebook that bit more freely….. it’s a no-brainer?