In 2006, when I purchased my shop, it was in good shape, the equipment was in working order and well maintained. The previous owner did a great job training the designers, sales people and drivers. They all knew their jobs, watched what was going out the door and were diligent in looking out for the shops’ best interests. They all knew what to do and how to do it. There was a cohesiveness to the shop that gave it a family atmosphere, schedules that worked, personalities that meshed. Very valuable traits to have in employees. The problem was there were too many of them. That had to change and this was not an easy thing to do.
The balance of staffing a shop is really, really hard. The shop traffic is unpredictable, as you all have experienced, I do not hesitate if we are getting “slammed” to call a designer in, or if we are really quiet and the buckets are washed, sending someone home. Holidays, are of course, a different animal altogether. Everyone stays until tomorrows orders are done and just because the hours say one thing one the door, doesn’t mean you have to lock it at 5pm on the dot! I have stayed at the shop until a customer who called, running late, had a chance to get there. This is what will be remembered, the service that was offered. My staff are all empowered to make decisions based on what is best for Apple Creek Flowers and our customers. And they do
Business wasn’t the same in this economy, so when orders are down, the first to go was hours. If I was going to be there, that was one less paycheck I had to sign. It sounds harsh, but the reality is, as the owner, you don’t owe anyone any amount of hours. If the phone isn’t ringing, I send my staff home. Although it may be one of my shops biggest expenses, it is also one of the easiest to adjust. My employees are always willing to be there when they are needed but know, in reality, flexibility is going to keep them employed.
Inheriting key staff with mountains of experience is a dream come true for a new owner. I was not too proud to ask for an opinion or recommendation, and while the final decisions were mine, seeing something through someone else’s eyes always has value. The employees aren’t the only ones required to be flexible, I had to learn to listen and listen to learn.
Part 3 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!