Study both management and garden centre operations - 900 hour course to train managers or supervisors for a retail nursery business.

Course Code: VBS001
Fee Code: AC
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 900 hours
Qualification Advanced Certificate
Get started!
Advance your opportunities in retail nursery.
This 900 hour course was developed to train business owners, managers or supervisors to manage a retail nursery business.
Throughout the course you will also gain  knowledge in identification, care and handling of plants and other products sold through retail nurseries.  There are 7 units plus a 200 hr workplace project in this course. These are the 4 core units common to all streams of this Advanced Certificate  plus three specialist units of study relating to the management and operation of a retail nursery.

This course is comprised of:

  • Core studies - Four units (400 hours) of compulsory subjects.
  • Elective studies - Three units for the development of knowledge in a chosen industry sector.
  • Industry Based Learning - a workplace project of 200 hrs relevant to your field of study. The project specifically aims to provide the student with the opportunity to apply and integrate skills and knowledge developed through various areas of formal study. Contact the school for more information.

This course is internationally accredited through I.A.R.C.



Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the ADVANCED CERTIFICATE IN RETAIL NURSERY APPLIED MANAGEMENT VBS001.
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 3 of the following 6 modules.

Note that each module in the ADVANCED CERTIFICATE IN RETAIL NURSERY APPLIED MANAGEMENT VBS001 is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

Success Depends on Good Marketing

Marketing has changed a lot over recent years. People buy plants in different ways, and have more choices than ever about where and how to buy them. At one time, marketing would have been done through newspaper advertisements, radio and billboards, then along came television advertising - and now we have the massive potential of the internet. What works on a billboard will not necessarily work in a newspaper or on TV, so however you plan to market your product, you have to be aware of the “rules” of marketing.  
It is not just a matter of working out how to sell plants, then sticking with that approach. Things have not only changed; but are continuing to change; so today's successful approach may need to be reinvented as something else, again tomorrow.

What Do We Mean By Marketing?

Marketing is more than just selling things. Good marketing involves identifying potential customers; raising awareness and connecting with those people; convincing them to buy; closing a sale; and collecting the money. Furthermore, it entails ensuring that the customer remains happy enough about the whole experience that they will want to deal with you again, and that they will wish to tell others about the positive experience they had in dealing with you.
When Marketing Goes Wrong
Marketing can fail in a business when any or many of the components of marketing fail. Consider how your business is performing in each of these areas; and try to identify where you can focus efforts to improve.
Identifying Potential Customers
It is a mistake to “guess” who the customers might be. Only solid market research or “testing the market” can verify who the best potential customers are. A particular demographic may well be inclined to buy something; but if that need is already catered to, these people might not in fact be potential customers for a new version of the same product. Sometimes a business will see that a certain demographic group have a need; but if they don’t also have the means to buy and use something; they may not be potential customers despite the seeming need.
Raising Awareness
Many businesses advertise and promote to the wrong people. If you want to sell something in Australia to Australians, what’s the point of paying for advertisements on a web page that is being viewed mostly by people outside of Australia? Some businesses do this without even realising that their products or services are predominantly being seen by the wrong people.
Likewise, if you’re trying to sell fast food there would be little sense having advertisements for your products pop up when someone is viewing a health food website.
Connecting with Potential Customers
You can make the right people aware of the right product, but there will never be a sale until there is a connection established between the supplier and the customer. Some business owners lack the personal communication skills to connect. If the business owner is shy, or at the other extreme abrupt, then contact may be made but a proper connection may never happen. If a customer does not feel connected with, and have trust with a business, the sale will be lost.

Convincing Them to Buy
After establishing a connection and a degree of trust, the opportunity exists to convince the potential customer. Poor product knowledge, poor communication skills or slow response times can all contribute toward failure at this stage.
Closing a Sale
Some sales people have an excellent capacity to build trust and convince people of the benefits of buying, but they may fail to get a commitment from the customer. This may be because they have a personality aversion to commitment or because they are unprepared to deal with the final closing of the sale.
Consider a real estate agent who keeps getting verbal commitments from people to buy properties. The agent doesn’t like doing the paperwork and is slow to get contracts prepared and delivered to clients. As a result, the customers often cool off and do not end up buying.
Consider a retailer who is excessively considerate towards customers and keeps telling them to go home and think about the purchase first before making a commitment - this type of sales person may be someone who has a tendency to see the sale more through the eyes of the customer instead of through the eyes of the business owner.
If you don't get your marketing right; your nursery may very well fail;
even if you do an excellent job with everything else.


No course will automatically get you a job – however there are a set of parameters that will certainly help you along the way to getting work – this includes more than study:

Firstly the course you undertake has to fit with industry needs. It should also be broad enough to make you an attractive employee (to a range of employers) so the focus should not be too narrow. The same applies if you are going to set up your own nursery; business changes all the time, consumer demand changes too so doing a course that allows you to change your approach, as needed, will help ensure your success.

Secondly the course you undertake should not only develop your knowledge but also your ability to retain and recall that knowledge, now and far into the future. Learning to problem solve (an integral part of all ACS courses) helps you to remember what you are learning. When you learn by rote or by just reading and regurgitating texts you usually do not retain that knowledge for long. ACS’s PBL system (Problem Based Learning) means that in your set tasks and assignments you are solving problems that you will also face when working in industry. It is a known method for knowledge retention too and apart from that employers value employees that show initiative and problem solving skills. This skill stands you apart from others in interviews too.

Although doing a course may not guarantee you a job – it will set you apart from those that have not studied at all and it will improve your personal choices when applying for jobs. Each job listed usually gets a huge amount of response, when employers choose people to interview they will look at a range of factors – what you have studied will be just one of those factors. You need to be able to catch a potential employer’s attention and stand out from the rest.

What can I do to get a job?

Employers look for many skills including:

  • Great communication skills: verbal, written and also the ability to use a computer.
  • Problem solving skills: thinking on your feet and working through problems in an orderly way.
  • Efficiency: doing things in a logical order without compromising accuracy improves efficiency.
  • Knowledge and skills demanded of the job.
  • A passion for the work and willingness to learn.
  • Presentation and grooming - people who present as being well organised and well-groomed will impress.

What Can You do to Improve Your Career Prospects?

Show Your Passion

Employers and customers alike are impressed by a passion for plants. If you want to work in a nursery recognise that showing your passion is a big advantage. Those that are passionate about their work and are also open to learning new things do well.

Always Keep Learning

Doing any course today isn’t the end of the road. The world keeps changing, the products and plants sold in nurseries keep changing; and the retail nurseryman who stays up to date with change is increasingly successful in their job. Do a course that is expansive and covers a range of subjects – this gives you greater flexibility in finding work and getting ahead.

Stay Up to Date

Know what is going on in your chosen industry; employers are always impressed if you can demonstrate current industry knowledge, it also means in business that you can keep up with the latest trends. Networking with others in the industry is just one way of doing this, attending industry meetings, seminars, trade shows etc., is another. Be multi-skilled – people that are multi-skilled will catch the eye of their employer and will also do better in business.

Self Improvement is More than Just Improving Your Horticultural Skills

Recognise where your weaknesses lie and work on improving those. Make sure you have a current and well-written, concise CV (resume).Tutors at this school will help our students with their C.V.'s if you ask -no cost. Resume Writing services can also be used, but they charge.


UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

Accredited ACS Global Partner

Member of the Nursery and Garden Industry Association since 1993

Member of Study Gold Coast

Recognised since 1999 by IARC

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Gavin Cole (Horticulturist)

Gavin started his career studying building and construction in the early 80's. Those experiences have provided a very solid foundation for his later work in landscaping. In 1988 he completed a B.Sc. and a few years later a Certificate in Garden Design. I

John Mason (Horticulturist)

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant.
Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK.
He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and edito

Jan Kelly Dip Hort (Burnley); Cert IV Assessment & Training.

Over 50 years experience in horticulture. More than twenty years as owner/manager of a plant nursery. She worked in both Australia and New Guinea, in many different roles.

Need Help?

Take advantage of our personalised, expert course counselling service to ensure you're making the best course choices for your situation.

I agree for ACS Distance Education to contact me and store my information until I revoke my approval. For more info, view our privacy policy.