Neville On The Level

Who’s Gonna Take Care of My Baby?!

David and I have never had children, but we have always had a cat or two, so we know the stress of trusting someone to care for our precious baby while we’re off gallivanting about. Do they know she hates to have her belly rubbed? Did we remember to tell them she can only go outside as far as the bird feeder? Will they recognize the warning murmur she emits mere moments before she destroys whatever you are touching her with when she’s had enough? A purring cat isn’t always a happy cat…

Leaving behind a pet (or a child, obviously) is a lot like leaving your floral shop the first few times. You imagine everything that could go wrong. The first time I went away for more than a night, I made so many arrangements in advance, had every petal ordered and then some, and saw that the store was well-stocked with every possible knick and knack we might have needed. Now, years later, I gleefully chirp, “Text if you need me!” as I skip off to the car as fast as my fat legs can carry me. Times have certainly changed, that’s for sure.

I tend to think of it this way: We all have to be good to go if someone calls in sick unexpectedly, so why not always be ready? I mean, we work in an industry that celebrates occasions from the womb to the tomb, meaning there are a lot of last minute surprises, so we kinda already have to be on our toes, right?

It is, of course, stressful leaving the business you developed, grew and love. We have to have the best people in each position who are trained and ready to step up. This can be a challenge. As managers and owners, we often keep much of the nitty gritty details to ourselves. This can be a BIG problem if you have to leave the store. I travel a lot and am thankful I have the team in place that I do when I go away. I do, however, make sure as much is done as can be before I leave. That’s not because I don’t think they can handle it, but because it’s the right thing to do. Think of the times you’ve come to work to see everything good to go for the morning rush. You appreciate it, right? Well, by doing all that you can before you go away for an extended time shows your staff respect.

Believe me, I hear about everything that goes on in the store while I am away—sometimes I hear several versions of events—and thanks to smartphones, I often SEE what goes on too. I remember getting a call in England from a customer who thought I should know that she was just in the store and saw two of my employees eating lunch in the store. Scandalous! I nearly hired a private jet right then and there. Boy, people really do like to “fill you in” when you’ve been away. I have been told so much dirt I could have planted an acre by now, but for the most part, I let things slide off me like ice cream off a spoon. You know the saying… “Don’t pet the sweaty…” oh wait, it’s “Don’t sweat the petty stuff!”

If you have well-trained co-workers, you will have no problem, or not nearly as many as you may think you will. If you don’t have good employees, well, I suggest getting one or two core people who start taking a little responsibility for some of your specific “me only” jobs, so they can see how to do what miracles only you can do. Understanding how much product and what flowers to order is a trainable skill and an important part of our business, as are design work, customer service, etc. It’s OK to test folks as you go along. I do it all the time, believe me, and much of the time it is simply for my own peace of mind. The next time employees come to you and ask what to do about some silly thing or another, ask them what they think should be done. If they are right, super! If they are not, this is a good time to explain a better option. This not only gets employees more involved in the shop, but it gets people thinking on their feet.

Look, certain things float, so remember you’ll always be the one getting the credit or the blame, regardless if you’re there or not. If you allow those in your employment to grow and show they care, things will go smoothly, with only the occasional bump or two!

Neville MacKay, CAFA, PFCI, WFC is the owner of My Mother’s Bloomers in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a design director with Smithers-Oasis North America. He designed flowers for the 1988 Winter Olympics, as well as a long list of celebrities including Glen Close, Sir Elton John, and members of the British Royal Family. MacKay appears regularly on Canadian TV and travels internationally giving presentations about the impact of flowers.

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Neville MacKay
Neville MacKay, CAFA, PFCI, WFC is the owner of My Mother's Bloomers in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a design director with Smithers-Oasis North America. He designed flowers for the 1988 Winter Olympics, as well as a long list of celebrities including Glen Close, Sir Elton John, and members of the British Royal Family. MacKay appears regularly on Canadian TV and travels internationally giving presentations about the impact of flowers.
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