Rising To The Occasion

3 Bad Habits to Ditch This Year

Let’s pick up where we left off in December, continuing our list of tendencies that hold florists back from running more prosperous shops.

1. Relying Too Heavily on Your Wire Service Membership(s)

One word: moderation. Pretend your wire service membership is wine. Medical research suggests that a glass with dinner can help your heart. A bottle of vino every night, however, will undoubtedly have a very different (and detrimental) effect!

I see many florists leaning on incoming orders for too large of a portion of their daily business. Remember, those are heavily discounted orders. If that’s the majority of your sales, you’re losing a huge chunk of your profit.

Additionally, I see some owners turn to their wire service for nearly every aspect of running the shop, from managing the website to supplying fresh flowers, from determining what to offer at holidays to deciding what to charge for what’s in their coolers. It’s great that the wire services provide all these options, but make sure they’re the best choice for your bottom line.

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And, to be clear, I am not taking a stance on whether you should have a wire service membership; that’s a business decision you have to make on your own. I’m simply warning you to not go overboard. Also, bear in mind that wire services need you and what your shop is capable of producing and delivering on their behalf. Like all of us, the wire services are in business to make money. Research alternatives before you buy. Likewise, remember that you are the customer, and make them work for your business. Don’t be afraid to ask for better deals and better rates.

2. Not Updating Products

Have you seen bell-bottoms or parachute pants on the rack at Banana Republic lately? Did your most recent car come with an eight-track player? No, because those aren’t things today’s customers want.

As consumers, we are constantly bombarded by new choices and options everywhere we shop from Tim Horton’s to Target. But what about your product mix? Too often, I visit a flower shop, look in the cooler and want to check my phone to confirm that it is 2018, not 1988!

If you follow FloralStrategies on Facebook, you’ll see that I regularly post photos of exciting new flowers and intriguing designs I discover in my travels. What I don’t show: all those shops afraid of change that are still churning out white wicker baskets filled with Pepto-Bismol pink carnations drowning in baby’s breath!
Yes, I know there are some customers who love that look, and we want to keep them happy. But can’t we offer the traditional favourites and some design innovation? You could be losing customers because they’re fatigued by your options.
Thankfully there is a wealth of design education readily available to every florist.
I suggest taking a grassroots, baby-steps approach. Start by giving your design team time to go through magazines (like this one!) to find new styles and techniques they feel will be a strong addition to your mix. Then discuss those images as a team, and create some samples for your cooler, website, etc.

3. Lowballing Your Designs

Unless you’re blessed with a trust fund, you’re in business to make money, and a huge part of that equation is charging enough to earn a profit. Far too often I see florists underbid for a wedding just to get the sale. What’s the point?

By far the worst habit shared by too many shops is simply underselling everything all the time. I can call nearly any florist in North America and hear my most hated of all phrases, “Our arrangements start at …” Stop that craziness! Ours is the only industry on earth in a race to the bottom, at the cost of profitability.
A poisonous cousin of underselling is overfilling arrangements. We’ve all heard a designer say, “I just added a few more flowers to make it look nice.” Well, there goes your profit margin. Remember point no. 1? If you’re stuffing wire orders, you are doing serious harm to your profit margin. We’re not just creating a monster; we’re feeding it.

Here’s the pep talk I give every group I train: Every item and service that a flower shop sells is pure luxury. Customers really don’t need flowers but, thankfully, they keep coming to buy them from us. You’ll never meet anyone who is going to skip lunch, miss a car payment, or get evicted because they’ve spent their last penny on flowers. Old or young, man or woman, city slicker or country cousin, every person buying flowers is spending discretionary income. And the beauty of the flower business is that if your first suggestion is too much for the customer, you can offer an alternative at a different size or lower price. Again, I promise, you WON’T lose the sale!

Tim Huckabee on Facebook
Tim Huckabee
Tim Huckabee AIFSE was born, raised and educated in Connecticut and moved to New York City in 1993 to start working at a high-end flower shop called Surroundings, where he learned every aspect of the flower business such as handling telephone sales and customer service issues and dealing with walk-in customers. In his frequent conversations with florists, he realized there was a dire lack of sales and service education in the industry. That motivated him, in 1997, to launch FloralStrategies, a company that trains florists in sales, customer service, and how to get the most out of their POS system. He visits 250 shops annually, hosts a monthly webinar series, speaks at floral conventions, and writes a monthly column for the Society of American Florists.

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