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In operation since 1951, Hillermann Nursery & Florist is a 15-acre gardening destination located just outside of St. Louis, Missouri. Run by second-generation family members, today Hillermann is a company that specializes in everything having to do with gardening including a garden center, nursery, florist and gift shop, landscape and irrigation design and installation, and lawn and garden equipment sales and service. With four greenhouses on the property, the company is known for growing its own annuals, perennials and roses. For more than 20 years, Hillermann has trusted Epicor for running such a diversified business.

Business intelligence for retail management

Success of a lawn and garden business revolves around a well-tracked and efficient inventory management process. Hillermann Nursery & Florist implemented the Epicor Eagle N Series retail business management solution in order to benefit from improvements to inventory management. "We stock some of the most perishable items in the retail industry-unfortunately plants don't live forever," Sandi Hillermann-McDonald, president of Hillermann Nursery & Florist. "The new Epicor Eagle N Series solution will help us streamline the transfer of inventory from one department to another-allowing us to operate more efficiently and improve our margins."

The value of actionable business insight

Hillermann's depends on accurate reports for insight into the business and to help make concrete decisions. "We are very much a diversified business, and being one we wanted to increase our reporting in order to really drill down to get the information we need," said Hillermann-McDonald. "Eagle N Series is a great solution for our business and we don't have to spend hours trying to find information that we need. For example, if I need a report on how many potted plants I sold in the last hour, I can quickly access that report with just the click of a button. The landscape division of Hillermann's is very substantial and with the reports available in the system, we are easily able to keep an eye on percentage of labor per job, cost of labor per job, cost of materials per job, etc.-with the Compass application in Eagle N Series there's no guessing."

"Technology is an important aspect of our business," said Hillermann-McDonald. "We have been an Epicor customer for nearly 20 years. It is essential for our business to utilize intuitive technology found in the Epicor Eagle N Series solution to remain competitive and drive our business forward. We wanted to increase our reporting capabilities-Eagle N Series gives us that functionality and it's very beneficial for us."

Seasonal business requires robust technology solution

Like many garden centers, Hillermann's is a seasonal business earning 60 percent of its revenue within a ten-week period in the spring. This causes two distinct needs for technology. First, it is crucial to have a powerful, yet easy-to-use point of sale system that seasonal employees can quickly learn. "We add 30 to 40 employees during the busy season," said Hillermann-McDonald. "And with Epicor Eagle N Series, the cashiers learn the basic system functions in less than one day. It lowers costs and increases productivity to have our new employees quickly proficient."

The second technology need is especially critical if the busy season underperforms due to weather or other uncontrollable factors. A garden center must be lean and efficient to compensate for revenue lost during a bad spring. "Spring of 2008 set a 130-year record for high rainfall with rain nearly every weekend, and by summer it was too late to plant," said Hillermann-McDonald. "Unable to recover the revenue, we were running 'lean and mean' so that profit would be on track for the year. Data from our Eagle N Series system helps us make better staffing and purchasing decisions that lower our costs".

Automated quotes save time

Landscaping is Hillermann's highest performing profit center. Historically, the quote process had been very manual with landscapers handwriting quotes for a secretary to type. With the Epicor system that process has been automated with great results. "We now do all of our landscaping quotes using Eagle N Series," said Hillermann-McDonald. "It's much more accurate and very easy to update quotes and turn them into orders. I know that we've gained at least a 25 percent productivity improvement since we automated. Our profits have also definitely improved."

Eagle N Series helps improve inventory accuracy

In addition to basic inventory management, Hillermann's uses other Eagle N Series features to improve its performance. Hillermann's operates with perpetual inventory cycle counting instead of annual or semi-annual physical inventories. "Every class in every department is counted every six months," said Hillermann-McDonald. "This is a better process for us and it's more accurate. We also rely on zero quantity reports to identify items that were rung incorrectly. In our retail garden center, our buyer runs suggested order reports to help identify what we need to buy. With our accurate inventory, we trust those figures which save time and helps keep fast-sellers in stock."

"Eagle N Series is a great solution for our business and we don't have to spend hours trying to find information that we need."
Sandi Hillermann-McDonald, President | Hillermann Nursery & Florist

Loyalty card program keeps customers loyal

An impressive 80 percent of Hillermann's retail customers are enrolled in its Epicor-managed garden rewards program. "Customers love our rewards program," said Hillermann-McDonald. "We can look up any of their purchases without the original receipt and can easily find a previously purchased item so they can buy more, or issue a return and refund the correct amount. We also send rewards program participants a ten dollar gift certificate on their birthday. It's great that we can offer our customers benefits, and it's extremely easy for us to manage the program with our Eagle N Series system."

Running the business with information

Every day Hillermann's management looks at sales by department, gross profit percentages, customer counts and sales by the hour, and compares sales to the same period of the previous year. "Our team is looking for discrepancies so we can quickly make corrections," said Hillermann-McDonald. "We use the transaction volume data to help better manage our labor costs and ensure we have enough staff during the busy times. Additionally, our buyers rely on Epicor Business Advisor and with just a few clicks they have an instant picture of our sales and inventory and use that knowledge to ensure we have stock when we need it."

Hillermann's has more than 50 percent of its sales on account due to the sizeable landscape division. Therefore managing receivables is critical to the company's financial health. By using Eagle N Series aging reports within the Compass application, the accounts receivable manager keeps accounts current and minimizes Hillermann's losses.

"We face competition from a nearby Walmart Supercenter, Lowe's, and Home Depot, and with our knowledgeable staff, high-quality products, outstanding service, and our Eagle N Series system, we are not only competitive, but thriving," said Hillermann-McDonald.

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Company Facts

  • Location: Washington, Missouri
  • Industry: Lawn and Garden
  • Number of Stores: 1
  • Number of Employees: 70+
  • Web site:


  • Remaining competitive in the market
  • Continually improving the inventory management process
  • Required efficient system to compensate for revenue loss during slower seasons


  • Reporting improvements thanks to streamlined capabilities
  • Transfer of inventory across department lines now more efficient
  • Implementation was quick and simple, no business downtime
  • Seasonal employees learn system in less than one day
  • Eagle N Series allows for better staffing and purchasing decisions that lower costs
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