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Are our days numbered ?……..

August 8, 2014

Most of you know that I’ve written 2 books on marketing for small business and flared towards the flower industry. Recently while attending a think-tank of other marketers and YP people they brought something to my attention that could effect us down the road. After hearing their explanation, they told me, “your days are numbered as you know it for SEO”. I was puzzled at first then began to look at the data and other business’ where SEO has taken a hit. While we all know that organic growth through the web is ideal, but some of it can be manufactured to get better results. Google is pretty smart and usually comes back around with a fix for loophole that is found. But this question that is being asked on me leads me to believe that we are in trouble in the times ahead for SEO. 

The best example that was used was for searching for hotel rooms. You used to go to Google and type in “hotels in Miami, Fl”…..then based on SEO the hotels would pull up usually in numbered 1 or A to the bottom of the list. You could also search for rooms that were by important sites, etc.. Now, the entire first page and usually the 2nd are filled with companies (like wire services to us) that are not in the hotel business, just a fulfillment site. So, you have to click on Hotwire, Kayak, Travelocity, and so on and then do your search through one of them. The only exception is if you know the exact web address of where you want to go. One major company has realized this and is trying to “re-learn” on how we search. Trip Advisor has spent millions teaching us to make it a “San Francisco – Trip Advisor” all keywords used together, now they have you and the others are left out. Good marketing for them.  

You probably asking, “how does this effect us”?…..Well with Bloomnation, Community Bloom and others they might be able to take the front pages of many searches for flowers. So we as florists have to think and see how we can outsmart yet another “wedge” in front of us. Some of the DOGS have had “false” listings, but never amounted to much. Is a push coming around the corner and have their sights been set on “us”, not sure. If we all think together a solution will always be in front of us. 

 

How’s your climate change……

April 25, 2014

We’ve heard the term climate change for years and konw that it deals with weather. In Florida we watch for hurriance season every year and breath a sigh of relief when it’s over. I would like to you to look at your business with climate change in mind  with regards to marketing. is your is your store a tornado, hurricane, nor’easter or a clam sunny day? Have you ever put yourself in the shoes of a buyer, then walk yourself through the whole process of the sale. Recently while speaking at the Allied Florists of Houston, we spoke about this issue. Very rarely does someone get in the car and just drive to your store and make a  purchase. The impulse buyers for flowers is less than 10%, unlike other industries that can have triple that number. In many of the shops that I tour or help, one of the first things I look at is, would I want to shop there and if I would, hows the climate outside and inside the store. Is merchandise positioned just right, prices able to be clearly read, up to date styles and is technology current or even present. If your answer is yes to many of these, then your days as a floral retailer might be numbered. Today’s florist must be savvy with climate change and provide a great experience that will be remembered. Your storefront either stand alone or plaza setting should be clean and fresh looking all the time. Free of any thing(s) that would make a customer focus their attention on that instead of your windows or the entry process to the store. Every holiday we spend money having our windows painted/themed for the holiday. We re-plnat or mulch our area so we look fresh and inviting. Our ad-words in our point of sale from Floristware have one word called, drive by. Last year at Valentines Day, over 35 people used our painted signs as the reason they saw our store and decided to use us. Those 35 order totaled over $1600 in sales, so our $75 we spent on the windows paid for itself. That’s at 95% return on investment . We have a free standing building so we make sure that when the holidays come (our Superbowls) we are ready in the appearance department. You’ve heard me say before, that marketing MUST start at the curb. When someone walks in, what’s their first impression. Is it loud music, smell of cigarette smoke (yes, some stores still smoke inside), perhaps a sloppy layout,  dirty floor or space or just not real inviting. Once inside the best results for sales is a soft easy music or waterfall type setting. When people feel “at ease” they get into the spending mode faster and will spend more money. If they are looking over their shoulder with distractions, then the process can be slowed dramatically. The workers of each store also play a huge roll into climate change. If it’s loud or any tension in the room, it will be felt. You want the customer to feel an experience from the store, staff and what to return. Your cooler should be clean, fresh and always up to date. It pains me to walk into stores and go into the cooler and put my finger into the bouquet’s finding that they are bone dry and appeared to have no care in the last few days. Customers think of flowers from the heart but buy flowers with their eyes, so your product display can be the difference of a return sale or not. After the sale is made, packaging play a huge role in the experience. If someone buys a vase, they can’t properly get that vase to the person or event without packaging. A rose box and one sheet of tissue will cost you about .40 cents. That .40 cents could be the reason for a return purchase or the roses/vase spilling over and the customer getting frustrated at the product itself. We offer boxes and care and handling tips to all who walk out with a bouquet. The LCV (lifetime client value) for a florists is about 15 years, so if they don;t come back for a second sale, your missing out on years of sales from them. On checkout, look the customer in the eyes and tell them thank you. We tell all customers that we know that you have a choice where you can buy flowers and we appreciate that you thought of us. If the customer is elderly, offer to carry the bouquet to the car and load it for them, you would supirsed at how many people appreciate that. Our drivers are trained to help people that are getting ready to walk out and assist them.

The Floral Revolution Blog: Does design control your costs?

October 31, 2011

I have never posted about the design table in any blog or newsletter before now. Last week while doing some phone consulting with a shop, she asked me to look over the cost of design. Her ratio was at 38% for COGS and she thought that was high. I said, “way to high”. I asked her to describe a week of design, to walk me through the steps of flowers, paying of flowers and the paying for flowers. She must have thought I thought she was stupid, because she said, “I know my flowers and where to buy them”. I apologized to her and told here I was trying to see if design controlled costs or if costs controlled design. There are two ways to view the flower business. I changed my buying process about 4 years ago and it made a huge difference in the bottom line. What made me change was seeing that my COGS were at 36%! I knew we could do better, so I began to look at the numbers very closely and put some safeguards and a plan into place.

Design table controlling costs: This happens when no planning goes into the purchase of flowers. Shops take orders and then call their local wholesaler and order flowers that will fit the orders in hand. They design those orders, then pay the flower bill long after the purchase. This creates a problem that I call, “where’s the money”. Money in flower shops disappears very fast, so you have to have cash flow. You had a few busy days, need bunches and bunches of flowers and during the next month the bill comes due, the checkbook is a little shy of funds. The money has not cycled through at the same time or at the same rate/amounts has your big purchase from last month. That makes it hard to pay, so you get behind. This can be very dangerous and can lead to 5% – 10% added costs on COGS. Your fresh flowers and hard goods, if on a billing cycle should be sold to keep cash flowing when the due date has matured.    

Costs controlling design table: Most, if not all wholesalers put out fliers prior a week ahead what they have coming in and what the specials will be. They detail for you what your costs will be and the discounts that can be had for bulk buying. About 4 years ago I started to put a lot of effort into the purchasing of flowers. I now plan out what I’m going to buy. I need enough to last 3 – 4 days, to allow time for opening/maturing, etc. As the orders began to flow in at the beginning of the week, we sell what color tones/flowers we have and our designs “mirror” the website, so no one’s seeing a picture of an item that we might not have or can’t get. There is a slight downside to this version, sometimes I* hear designers say that another flower in stock might have worked better with the design or color combination. We have been able to limit our “impulse buying or emergency buying” by 75%. Yes, we do have those customers that we will  buy one or two bunches of something for, but we only do this for 100% paying customers. We cherry pick the all of the WS orders and make them fit what we have and not the other way around. I was at the wholesaler last week and a florists was there buying 5 bunches of flowers for 1 WS order. She’s new and I showed her on paper, how she was losing and she finally got it. Our flowers invoices are now on net 14. When my CPA, who does only flowers shops, first saw my outstanding balances, he advised me against owing so much and we gave us a plan to pare that down. A rule of thumb is your invoices can’t be more that your receivables list in the 30 day column. My wholesalers, in exchange for net 14 usually give very good pricing (5% – 10%) better, because they know that their invoice will be paid within 14 days. I’ve heard many on flowerchat and facebook say that they have their payables down to this or even COD. What a great way to do business, when you get paid, the money is yours. Now, we didn’t get there overnight, it took several years to “whittle” this down to where we are today, it took discipline and determination. So before the holidays get here, stop and take a look at your costs and see if you have the proper plan in place to buy at the right price. Remember, buying right will put the savings into your pocket and not someone else’s.    

 You’ve hard me say that we have been able to triple our profits in the last several years and over ½  of that profit is from the change in buying practices. Even our hardgoods, we revamped and are now buying those in 30 day case bulk (notice I said 30 day case bulk) when the bill is bill my shelve should be empty.  

Be blessed, Rick

How authentic are you?

August 13, 2011

The Floral Revolution Blog: How Authentic are you?

I have to give credit on this month’s blog post to Helen of the Concord Flower Shop in Concord, Mass. Several months ago I was reading a post on Flower Chat from her about videos and a light bulb in my head got brighter and brighter. I asked myself, “why aren’t (florists) using embedded videos or videos of any kind to promote business”? I began to research the use of embedded videos, short videos and the companies who use them. After months of research I found that only a handful of florists were using them for other purposes, not marketing. I also discovered that several OG’s had videos for the purpose of education on how to put flowers from a box into a vase or other container, not for marketing. It probably came after an outpouring from customers who ask, “What they hell do I do with these”; they called me asking the same thing all the time. One lady brought in a box a few months ago, she had been out all day, only to come home and find a box standing on end (label clearly says do not stand on end) full of dead flowers, thanks to our 95 degree heat. She asked if any of them could be saved and could I help. I looked at them, but they were cooked, I threw the box into the trash can. I went to the cooler and came out with a beautiful vase arrangement, then I took her cared off the box and placed it into the arrangement. She looked at me with surprise and smiled. I asked if I could have her husband’s email address so that I might educate him for future purchases. She said, “I think when he walks in tonight and see’s these on the table, you will have accomplished that”. This could have worked in my favor in a marketing short video of “how not to buy or receive flowers”. Some of the educational videos really lean more towards the side of marketing rather than education, but they don’t know it.

One company that does use them a lot is Zappo’s. We all know Zappo’s is an Amazon company and Amazon does things right. But the real shocker is Zappo’s turns out hundreds of short videos a day with a staff of 11 in 5 studios. Wow! The team searches their plant and finds the right person to star in a short film, they get the products and shoot 10 – 30 second videos and do some quick editing and then they start using them that day! They really push the resources of their employees. They look for people who will connect with the customer and then allow them to talk to the customer about themselves and the product they are selling. This is called selling, 2011. A great heartfelt message will trump any paid ad of any kind, anytime.

The definition of authentic is: To be genuine, trustworthiness and with authoritative. The marketing definition of it is: Do I offer the level of service, confidence and pricing strategies that I would want as a customer? The use of video’s is no stranger to the internet as we see with (you tube). Young singers and actors can be catapulted to stardom with just one short video. I know we don’t sell handbags, makeup, shoes, etc. but we do sell a product that is wanted by many people and we are the only ones that can truly say what someone’s heart is feeling. Our industry has changed so much in the last 10 years and will change again in the next 10 years. If florists don’t pick up the pace a little, I think many will be left behind and that will be sad. I see and talk to so many florists who are staring into the headlights like a deer. They know they need to do something, they just don’t know what. Each month I try to write about something that you won’t find in the publications of the normal mainstay of the flower industry. Some of our industry publications still have the same people writing the same articles for the last 20 years, that won’t work anymore. We need new and fresh ideas and we need to copy what our competitors do and adapt it to our industry, put our stamp on it and claim it. Once we do that then we can do so many other things that will help us stay the course and survive this economy.

We target every sale that comes into the flower shop and have determined that authenticity is very valid. People have a burning desire to belong and to spend their money with like minded people. They want to know that we’re just not some sales person sitting in an office with no personal or vested interest in the “action of the sale”. Here’s another term you might read about in 5 years or so. I think that is the secret how we will one day prevail over the OG, they will never go away but florists are about to put a hurt ‘in on them. The “action of the sale” means that every person who places an order wants to know the level of connection that very sales person has to the sale. That’s why most people search “flowers in name of city” or any other keywords that will help them connect with a vendor that has ties to the person, community and the sale, thus “action of the sale”. Before you can successfully make any money or spend any money to attract sales, you must first understand where the sales come from and how they stay with you. Sales must cycle over and over, not just once. That’s the number one reason business people go out of business, the sale did not recycle, it went somewhere else. Once you know that, then you can make decision on how to market your product to those people.   

I encourage my fellow florists to look at the “action of the sale” and see if what you’re doing supports that. Do your sales recycle; do you know where your sales are coming from? When was the last time you asked a customer placing an order, “how did you hear about us” and then told him or her thank you.

Short videos can help our busines

The Floral Revolution Blog: Where, What and Why

May 2, 2011

Last month I spoke to you about the “Mass Casual” business strategy. It is defined as offering easy and fast solutions to people who want to buy your product(s). Many florists have not yet bought into this business strategy.  My favorite restaurant, Chipotle, is a great example of a restaurant that utilizes the mass casual business strategy. Service is fast, they offer limited menu choices and affordable prices. Many florist make is so difficult to buy anything from them. They have high minimums, want only the simplest of orders and throw the art of salesmanship out the window.  Our industry will continue on a downward spiral if we don’t look at what and how the “big guys” do business and then take their ideas and use it against them. My goal is to help florists take it to the next level.

This month’s blog is Where, What and Why.  

Where: Every retail flower shop in any country that celebrates Mother’s Day should have a great week. We’ve all known for 11 months that this week was coming, but yet many have ignored the planning aspect of it.  Most florists spend more time planning their yearly vacation then they do for a major holiday that can provide them with thousand of dollars and of profits. Over 70% of our orders come to us on the Friday and Saturday before Mother’s day. We plan for it, because our many years of notes indicate year after year that this will happen.  On the chat this week several florists were a little uneasy about the approaching holiday. Probably because of the reports that growers were under water and now of have nothing left for the holiday. While you need to be educated on problems that can affect your business, you can’t let them run your business. You know what you have to do, so do it………

What: Profit is the what. Our job is not to just launder money through a business bank account and then hope some money will be left over. My wife and I write a check to our selves the day after a holiday and we take a set percentage. That percentage is built into the “equation” of the holiday. Profit is not a dirty word; it’s a necessary part of business operations and the long term stabilization of your business. So many florists that I talk to don’t even consider the fact that they need to get paid. Some take lunch or dinner money out of the till, some get weekly paychecks and others just say, “it will be self-sufficient one day”. But for most, that day never comes. Two thirds of florists are either breaking even or losing money. So, that means 1 in 3 will make some money for the summer. Take a look at all the aspects of your business before you get slammed and make sure profit is built in.

Why: I get this very much. The average florist is overworked trying to wear so many hats in the business. Some think, “I can’t afford people to do some of those jobs”, so they go it alone. My afternoon flower processor does all of my marketing. I write and put it together and then send it to the printer, or some times I do it myself in publisher and then get everything printed. I leave all of the licking and stamping for drivers and clerks. If my mailing is over 250 pieces, then I farm it out to a business that does bulk mailing and usually coasts are  .03 over the cost of the postage.  Drivers are always looking for things to do, here’s a job, lick and stick. Many shop owners have to be the CEO, CMO, CFO, COO and so on. Then at night when they should be having time for themselves, they are doing even more work. I hear the frustrations of the florist on FC and Facebook. Many are very tired and with the industry changing so fast, it can be overwhelming. Good news, don’t give up! Things are changing in favor of the brick and mortar florists. As customers get educated, the retention rate of the order gatherers and dot com florists are slipping and they have to spend more money to get customers back.  That means more people will be either calling a local florist or switching to a different gift giving idea. You know which one I want.

Solutions: Make sure you have many sales paths available for your customers to order from you and for the new people to find you.  Your internet site should be up and running and when Friday comes, cut down your choices to 3 – 5 arrangements in the price points of your demographics and stay firm. When the phone does ring, please think “mass casual”. Say that to your self over and over and soon it will sink in. Treat the masses with respect, give good value and good service and you will have a 75% chance of a return visit.  Remember, when people are calling on Friday and Saturday, all they want to hear is “I will take care of your Mom”. Most don’t even ask about price, flower types, etc. they just want to know that when they place their phone call to Mom, she says “thank you son, daughter, sister, brother, etc.”  So, you are really in the driver’s seat and just don’t know it. The Daytona 500 was just won by 20 year Trevor Bain this year. The biggest race of all (just like ours) and so many people told him, “you can’t win this race; it’s too big for you.”  He has taught us not to listen to those who don’t know you. He listened to himself; he knew what he had to do, just finished the race.  Finally, don’t be afraid to make money. Look at all the orders coming into your shop and have a system in place to filter them.  I personally look at every order before I go home to make sure it fits into one of our “design blocks”. I run this store; others don’t run it for me. If an order doesn’t fit into my “sales guidelines” then I get rid of it.  I also have one girl who monitors the systems and her reject ‘finger” is one of the fastest in the industry. To help with this, make sure what you and your people sell won’t cause a “reject” finger to get back at you. Handling orders twice is more lost money. Give the florist on the other end the money they need to work with for the product you want and then enough money to make a profit. If you give profit, you make profit.

Be blessed, Rick

Great Lakes Floral Expo

March 4, 2011

This weekend we are at the Great Lakes Floral Expo in Grand Rapids, MI.  Come see us and learn how to revolutionize the way you do business! 

http://www.flowershopnetwork.com/blog/great-lakes-floral-expo-11/

Flower Chat

February 11, 2011

Check out Flower Chat to stay up to date with what is happening in the Floral Industry!

http://www.flowerchat.com/forums/forum.php

Time to spend on “marketing”…….

July 24, 2010

The summer time is very slow for the usual flower shop or wholesaler. Last year I decided to spend some of that time working on my marketing campaigns. I did so by targeting business that i would like to have as accounts. I prepared all the pieces and mailed them out, 5 a day for 5 weeks. Over the next 3 months I pick up a few account and then a few more closer to Christmas. I did a followup to the ones not yet received before the holidays, so that reminded them that their account was waiting for them. Yes, this summer is a little better that last (not because of the economy) because I chose to market “my business” to my city. So last week I looked at the overall accounts for the month of July so far, 15 orders came in from those accounts that we’re obtained last year in the “slowest” month of the year for florists……..uhmmmmmm…….what shall you do this summer?

The Floral Revolution…..

April 21, 2010

Today’s florist have been kicked to the curb and it’s time to fight back. Thousands of local customers have been “tricked” into using people who aren’t real florists. So join me in my new blog, The Floral Revolution. Each week I will talk about another subject and will welcome your response. I will also offer guest writers to keep me in check and allow for a different opinion. So go to www.wordpress.com and search for hungryflorists. Together we will grow.

Hello world!

April 21, 2010

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!