Here’s an idea that might sound like trouble: Spend a fall Saturday away from your business, talking with friends and meeting new people in a relaxed environment.
But for the 100-plus floral industry members who attended SAF’s 1-Day Profit Blast in Des Moines, Iowa, on Nov. 14, getting away was exactly what they needed to do, to see their business in a new light, find out about trends, and learn shortcuts and best practices for improved profitability.
“Spending a precious Saturday at this event was one of the best choices I’ve made for my business in a while,” said Shelly Sarver of Shelly Sarver Designs in Pella, Iowa.
Sarver, who specializes in weddings and events, said she was hesitant to sign up initially — Would the event deliver a real return on her investment? Would the speakers have tips she could really apply? But the packed program lured her in, and at the end of the day, she left happy.
“I was beyond pleased and excited with what I walked away with,” Sarver said.
The eight-hour conference, sponsored by the Bill Doran Company, featured four speakers who presented insight on business, technology, trends and design, along with a supplier showcase. Hortica Insurance and Employee Benefits sponsored the event’s lunch.
SAF launched its 1-Day Profit Blast two years ago as a way to make the kind of “high quality education” floral industry members enjoy at the organization’s annual convention more accessible to more of its members, both from a cost and time perspective, said SAF CEO Peter Moran.
For many participants, the emphasis on “real-world” advice was a big part of the program’s draw, particularly as florists gear up for Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Speakers presented “information that I could take back to my shop and implement the next day,” said Brenda Veasman, AIFD, of Flowerama in Omaha, Nebraska.
Among the highlights:
- Jacob McCall AAF, AIFD, FSMD, dished out tips on how streamlined designs can actually lead to higher profits. That kind of specific information was important to participants, many of whom wear many (many) different hats back home in their businesses. For her part, Valerie Voigt of Detroit Lakes Floral in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, said she planned to try out new tips soon. “I [can’t] wait to see the difference these will make in our profits,” she said.
- Derrick Myers, CPA, CFP, PFCI, president of Crockett, Myers & Associates Inc. presented practical tips on how to find hidden profits. He touched on tricks for formulas and worksheets and doled out time-tested advice on controlling costs. Far from being a dry presentation on number-crunching, Myers made the information “interesting and understandable for even the most ‘accountant-allergic’ florists,” said Heidi de Silva of Petersen and Tietz Florists and Greenhouses in Waterloo, Iowa.
- Tim Huckabee, president of Floral Strategies, made live calls to flower shops to help attendees hear the good, bad and awful of customer service — and learn how to retrain staff to increase sale sizes. Huckabee’s advice helped Lori Crom of Tabor Floral in Tabor, Iowa, understand how her shop can “increase order size just by answering the phone differently,” she said.
- Marketing guru Art Conforti, PFCI, owner of Beneva Solutions in Sarasota, Florida, shared his advice on how to market like a pro — including how to invest wisely in both print and online campaigns. That kind of granular insight appealed to Kristin Hopkins Denim & Lace Floral Boutique in Albany, Missouri. “I learned so many little but effective tips that I will be implementing into my own shop,” she said. “I guarantee I was losing sales by doing/not doing small things that I hadn’t even considered.” (Earlier this month, Conforti sold his longtime retail flower shop to concentrate on his Beneva Solutions. Read about why he thinks marketing and branding helped him get the full asking price on the business.
Beyond the educational sessions, participants agreed that the gathering of industry members in a centralized location in the Midwest provided real benefits. (“I learned as much from my tablemates as the presenters,” Crom admitted.)
Echoing the sentiments of many participants, Veasman said she appreciated the opportunity to meet with growers at the Suppliers Showcase, to talk about new varieties. Sunny Martinez of Detroit Lakes Floral, who drove eight hours with his boss, Voigt, to attend Profit Blast, had a similar experience and now plans to keep the information-sharing going.
“Meeting our growers especially improved my appreciation for our fresh flower product, and now I get to share that appreciation with my team,” Martinez said. “I was very appreciative the growers were able to attend this conference. It brought a new light to admire each and every stem that enters our shop.”
Like other participants, Linda Waknitz of Irene’s Flowers and Exotic Plants in Des Moines said the compressed timeline appealed to her and made the conference attractive. For her, the risk of stepping away from her business for a day delivered a far bigger reward.
“You give a little of your time, and you gain a lot of knowledge,” she said. With support from sponsor Bill Doran Company and Hortica Insurance and Employee Benefits, which sponsors the lunch, SAF is bringing its next 1-Day Profit Blast to Austin, Texas, on Feb. 27. Find out more and register today. Want to get even more out of the event? Follow the lead of employers such as Valerie Voigt and bring along your manager or another valued employee.