This And That

On the Level with Neville: Mommy Dearest

March 17, 2008 – Do you remember when “Mommy” was
the most important person in the world? Mine still is, although there
are a couple of close seconds now as well. To every person buying
flowers at Mother’s Day, their mom IS that person, so regardless of how
busy we are we’d better not forget it!

Do you remember when “Mommy” was the most important person in the world? Mine still is, although there are a couple of close seconds now as well. To every person buying flowers at Mother’s Day, their mom IS that person, so regardless of how busy we are we’d better not forget it! We all have or had a mother, and at some point, some of us were or will be a mother.
I think the thing we all have to do in our industry, especially at holiday times of stress like Mother’s Day, is practise empathic and sympathetic listening! There’s nothing worse than having the person you are entrusting an order with act like they could give a crap whether your Mother likes roses, has allergies, or can’t stand the colour red! (Thank goodness my mother isn’t the fussy type – she’s thankful for any gift!)
We must let our clients know that although we are very busy, we will put our full attention to their order when we do the work. I know, I know, some of you are griping under your breath as you read this and are thinking, “You must be NUTS, Neville!” Well, yes, I am, but that’s for another story. I will tell you that there are ways we can be good listeners and good salespeople and at the same time, stay on top of the day. Developing a good relationship with your client need not take a long time, and by using the right wording, you can make your life a whole lot easier.

Meet your client halfway if you can. By this, I mean simply agreeing with some of what they are telling you, before you grab hold of the sale and keep control. “My mother doesn’t like smelly lilies!” can be met with, “I agree, many folks dislike that strong fragrance! What I find has been really popular this season is a colourful mix of unscented flowers and greenery, like gerbera daisies, iris, etc.”(Or choose flowers that you want to move quickly!) See, you’ve made a friend!  

I know that many of us hire extra staff to answer the phones at Mother’s Day. I have issues with this practice, too, in that oftentimes we get first-time buyers during holidays, and they get one chance to get a good first impression, so it had better be a good one! I called a shop recently asking for amaryllis and not only did the person at the other end not know what I was talking about, but also admitted to not knowing a thing about any of the products, so if I wanted something, she would write it down and let the boss know later. I guess the simple moral to this story is to train your staff to at least a minimal level, and also to let them know that it’s okay to let a client know you are new and will find either a more experienced person or will source the information and call you back ASAP.

Please do not underestimate your customer’s budget! I get a sick feeling in my gut when I hear “Do you want that to include tax and delivery?” instead of “And of course there will be tax and delivery on top.” Most folks also know that there is tax on everything, so if we ask if they’d like it included, they may say yes. Try offering a client three price ranges for an arrangement like $50, $75 and $100. Most often they will go for at least the middle if not the higher price. (Really, who wants to look cheap?) I also see salespeople that can’t (or won’t) work outside their own pocketbook. I had a young lady work here years ago whom I overheard telling a client to go to the dollar store to get a few stones and a glass, and then they can add a bit of greenery and it wouldn’t cost much! I nearly stroked out when I saw she was talking to a multi-millionaire that could have bought the whole store with what fell in the bottom of her purse! (Now you know why I am bald!) There are a lot of things in my store I could never begin to afford for myself, but as a salesperson, I know I can sell them to others.

    When I can, I try to ask questions that will help clients with their choices and decisions. Get the address where mom lives, as that oftentimes will tell a tale of dollars and cents. Also, without blatantly asking (although I’m OK with that too), find out her age, if she travels, colour likes and dislikes. You can do this with simple conversation. Once you know a little about the recipient, then you can go for the sale. Don’t get too nosy though; just get enough information to help you make the sale. I use questions that can guide a person to a certain flower that I need to sell. If I have a lot of roses, I may ask, “Does your Mom have a garden or did she have one? We’ve just gotten in a shipment of roses that are fabulous and would make quite a statement on their own!” This not only will make your life easier by selling some of those roses, but it instils a sense of confidence in you from your client, and strengthens your credibility. Again, let your client know that you do care about this order (that includes orders from other florists, too!) and they will be back for more. 

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    I know we are all crazy at Mother’s Day, and patience is thin. It is a perfect time though to generate a larger client base and to develop emotional bonds with your customers. So, this Mother’s Day remember to smile, use good eye contact, pay attention and say thank you. And for goodness sake, UP THE DOSAGE if you have to! Have a wonderful and Happy Mother’s Day everyone! Oh, and rest up…wedding season has started!

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