One of the major ways to control costs is to control your inventory. It is essential to your bottom line to have the right product and the right amount of product. It is inevitable that there is going to be some waste with perishable product but with careful planning it can be kept to a minimum. Ending the week with an almost empty cooler and starting the next week with fresh, exciting assortments of new product keeps my designers and my customers happy.
Stocking certain varieties can be expensive if you don’t know your market. I watch my cooler like a hawk and my standing order covers the basics. That doesn’t mean all I carry are daisies and gyp, I am known to experiment. I fill in week to week with color and style. I love stock, I admit it, the fragrance is intoxicating and the colors can’t be beat. K-paws in the fall, flowering branches in the spring, a few different things each week go a long way and get you out of a rut. Mix it up!!
Good design is ART after all and being different and unique is going to set you apart. Balance is the key. Keeping up on new design trends, being able to step out of your comfort zone and offering arrangements that aren’t what you would normally stock as cooler fill or on your website will catch people’s attention. I love when my customers say, “Just make something different, you always make something they love”. If they want what everyone else is making, why should they call your shop?
The one thing a successful shop wants to be is known for is the quality of their product. I can offer outstanding customer service but in the end, if my flowers don’t last, I am not going to stay in business very long. It is not uncommon at all for my customers to gush, yes gush, that they can’t believe how long the flowers from my shop last. That, my friends, is why they come back. My wholesalers know not to waste my time or my money because I have been clear, don’t clean out your cooler and send me garbage. I had a few that I don’t order from anymore because I was tired of problems with every delivery.
I have to laugh when I hear a certain company claim that their flowers aren’t kept in refrigeration but flown in from the field. Well they may be cut fresh from the fields but after 7 days in a warehouse, they aren’t going to look like mine when they are delivered (in a box, vase included, some assembly required). Storing fresh flowers at the proper temperature increases their shelf life.
We all know that occasionally things go wrong and flowers die… If something isn’t right, FIX IT. Don’t grill the customer, just fix it, you are better off, trust me, in the long run. Thinking in terms of your lifetime relationship with that sender AND recipient will reward you in the end. If all you are thinking about is THAT transaction, that’s not service, that’s just a sale.
Keeping records at holidays is absolutely essential. I put my orders on a spread sheet and every stem left is counted the day after every holiday so I know what sold and what I need to order for next year. Based on sales numbers I can tweak the order in either direction. The good news is, lately that is usually up! Weather, staffing, product condition, containers, feature items (yours, not theirs) are all important factors to track.
Do you have balloons? Chocolate? Remind your staff to add on, this one isn’t new, take advantage of the traffic and increase your average transaction. Make notes of anything unusual, did someone come in for something out of the ordinary? Can that be anticipated next year? Sometimes it doesn’t matter how well I try to plan a holiday, a request will come in for something that I don’t have, and I will try my best to look for it. One of the most important things florists do for their customers is to make it personal. We facilitate the emotion and the experience, that’s why I love what I do.
- Elizabeth Crisp: Real Florist!
Part 4 of a 6 Part Guest Blog from Elizabeth Crisp owner of Apple Creek Flowers. Stay tuned for Part Four of this REAL Life Flower Success Story!