Hidden Profits of Prom

Mention prom season to most florists and you’ll hear groans and moans followed by horror stories of Momzillas, hot glue burns, late hours, and the torment of finding the perfect shade of teal for the customer.

But this is the 21st century; stop acting like it’s 1997. There is a better way to get through prom season more smoothly, to make lots more money, and have less stress. Here are two ideas that I have collected over the past 20 years while training at flower shops all over the world.

I have to start with a little tough love: WHO CARES WHAT YOUR COMPETITION IS CHARGING?! If a customer is determined to get the cheapest corsage possible and comments that he can get one at Loblaws for $19, let him! You will never get every sale and, if a customer is so focused on price, it’s best he go elsewhere. You need to protect your standards, your set pricing, and your profit margin.

Last year, I produced a webinar called Profitable Proms and my guest speaker, who did tons of research on the market, shared an astonishing figure. The average amount a young couple spends on prom is $1800! They’re paying for all sorts of things, such as spray tans, manicures and pedicures, updos, tuxedo rentals, and limo services. Every one of those vendors is charging – and getting – 2017 prices, except the florist. That changes, starting now!

Set Up a Corsage Bar

Every florist must set up a corsage bar, regardless of your location or size. The old approach of having some blue silk carnation wristlets stapled to a piece of plywood that you dust off and pull out every May DOES NOT WORK anymore. Your young customers (read: the ones you want to have shopping with you for decades to come) are more savvy and sophisticated than ever. They want options. They want choices. They want to spend! And they definitely don’t want a hot-glued, shiny-ribboned relic from 1997.

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Even if you are tight on space, you can improvise with a card table covered in cloth. There is no definitive way to do this, but you must give your shoppers options. Showcase the ‘bling’ options, the various types of bracelets and ribbons. Completed versions, created with high-quality silk flowers, provide great visuals to help your shoppers choose their design.

A client in Arkansas has a unique take on the corsage bar (pictured below). The shop sells pre-designed ‘set-ups,’ which then can have a fresh flower attached according to the customer’s wishes. Smart, right?

Offer a Price Range, Not a Starting Number

If you let customers spend more, they will. I walked into a shop in the Ontario a few years ago at prom time and asked the owner what they charge for corsages. He did the usual grumbling and said they started at $25. I explained that he was underselling by half and that, starting that day, he would be getting closer to $50 on most designs. He rolled his eyes so hard I thought I would have to call 911!

I explained that rather than following the same old tired line that every florist says, (“Our corsages start at $25…”), his sales people should confidently engage customers with a simple script: “We can create an amazing corsage for you from $25 to $50 and beyond – depending on the flowers we use, the bracelet you select and the bling we add.”

We spoke the next day and, after a slew of very unCanadian expletives, the owner stated how astounded he was that “the kids” spent big money so happily and easily.

Trust me: your customers will too!

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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