You're only as good as your tools!

By Gabrielle Stannus

Adam Briggs, Hort Innovation, says that the Nursery Industry Data Tool provides a grower interface allowing businesses to see how they are performing against the industry average (base year 2015/2016). The tool allows comparisons between the type of plants sold, and by market segment. It also provides the opportunity to compare business' sales, employees and wages to national averages, as well as enabling you to see how your views of the nursery industry compare to your peers.

Jan Paul Van Moort from Acil Allen was heavily involved in developing the Nursery Industry Data Tool, conducting desktop research and analysing nursery industry data to do so. Jan Paul says that this tool allows for benchmarking by first-timers and also those businesses well-acquainted with monitoring their performance. Nurseries can have confidence that the data contained within the tool is statistically valid and robust, and that it allows them to compare “apples with apples” in Jan Paul’s words.

Adam says that the Nursery Industry Data Tool is pitched so that any nursery can use it. This first iteration of this tool is not over-complicated. Being an Excel spreadsheet, it is in a format that most growers would be familiar with by now.

No matter whether your nursery is large (>$2,000,000), medium ($500,000 - $2,000,000) or small (<$500,000), you will find information to compare your business’ performance against your peers, whether it be along the lines of revenue classes or sales categories.

However, you will need to enter in your business information into the tool first before you can access results allowing you to compare your performance against your peers. This task can take as little as ten minutes to complete.

Jan Paul suggests that as you enter your data into the tool that you may wish to extend the questions asked of you to provide you with a deeper insight into your business and its current and future operations. So how do you feel about the future? Who are you selling to? What is your margin? Are you happy with the answers you gave to these questions? If not, why not? What can you do to change?

Do you stay, grow or go?

When asked why there is a question on how a nursery feels about the future of the industry, Jan Paul said that sentiment is a keen driver of performance and growth. “Understanding the mood of an industry is just as important as understanding the financials”, says Jan Paul. Businesses with a confident outlook on their futures are more likely to take a punt, make things happen and employ staff. If people do not feel confident, they are less likely to invest in the future. Or they may transition away from the industry.

The Nursery Industry Data Tool enables you to look at where your business is at now and can help you to think about where you want it to be in the future. The tool will not tell you how to get ‘there’, wherever that is for you and your business. However, it will provide you with a foundation from which to plan a course of action to get your business to where you want it to be.

Accessing the tool

If you have not already used the Nursery Industry Data Tool to benchmark your business’ performance, now is the time to do it. The tool is available on request, free of charge, to nursery levy payers by sending an email to

STOP PRESS: Data tool extended!

NGIA has been successful in securing a new project for three years, meaning longitudinal data can now be collected and trends then analysed for 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20. There will be an updated Nursery Industry Data Tool released for each year in which information is collected.

Seeking your feedback

As part of the project extension, ACIL Allen is undertaking a review of the current Nursery Industry Data Tool. If you are a user of the current data tool and have any feedback you would like to provide, please contact Jan Paul Van Moort, ACIL Allen, on