Cutting-edge information on technology, practical tips on bringing out the best in employees and improving sales, big picture perspective on economic and consumer trends, insight on exciting products and varieties and a smartphone filled with new contacts.
Those are just some of the business-friendly souvenirs Society of American Florist members brought home after a packed schedule at SAF Maui 2016, the association’s annual convention, Sept. 21 to 24 in Maui.
More than 400 industry members from across industry segments came together for the event, which featured 38 educational programs and sessions from 39 expert speakers and panelists. Included in the gathering this year were representatives from 41 states and five countries — not to mention 88 first-time attendees (One couple among the crowd was really, really inspired by the event: They decided to get married in Hawaii in the days after convention.)
Ideas in Action
Practical tips — the kind a business owner can soak up, take home and implement —have long been a driving force behind the event schedule, and this year lived up to that history, said Rakini Chinery, AAF, AzMF, of Allan’s Flowers & More in Prescott, Arizona.
“From previous conventions, I have streamlined my holiday ordering and production, taken sales to new levels, and created a culture of excellence with my team of employees,” said Chinery, a judge in this year’s Outstanding Varieties Competition. “This year I am looking forward to [using convention tips to start] creating videos, getting my entire business on the Google for Business platform, and creating destination shopping as we expand our shop in the next few months.”
Justin Watanabe of Honolulu said the Watanabe Floral team already has started implementing many of the lessons learned, particularly tips gleaned during sessions by retail trainer James Dion (“Don’t Get Caught Doing What Worked Yesterday When Customers Are Obsessed with What They Want Tomorrow”), HR expert Glenna Hecht of Humanistic Consulting (“Dealing with Difficult Employees” ) and sales and training guru Tim Huckabee of FloralStrategies (“Motivate Them! Become a Better Sales Coach”). One item high on their to-do list? Implement incentive plans.
“Our sales team and design have incentive plans, but with my operational team, there was no real way I could think of to do an incentive plan,” Watanabe explained. “[Tim] had a really simple suggestion: Identify a behavior that we want to change and use that as a motivator.”
Sally Kobylinski of InBloom Florist in Orlando, a featured presenter during the “How I Did It: Beginnings” panel, said she’s been implementing several ideas from social media pro Crystal Vilkaitis’ session (“ABCs of Social Media Advertising” ).
In the week and a half since she returned home, Kobylinski already has converted her Instagram page to a business profile, imported contacts from her email database into Facebook to match customers and experimented both with Facebook Events and Facebook Live — all practical tips she picked up at convention. The Facebook Live post already is paying off.
“Our engagement was 10 times that of a typical post,” she said.
Shelley Pease of Shelley’s Flowers in Waldoboro, Maine, said she “always gains a wealth of knowledge just by talking to and connecting with my industry peers” at convention.
Like Kobylinski, this year she also left with new insight on social media best practices (transferring those contacts from email to Facebook), along with ideas on how to better leverage Google AdWords campaigns (“AdWords” with Renato
Sogueco of BloomNet) and better serve brides (“Work Smarter, Not Harder, On Events” with Zoë Gallina, Botanica International Design & Decor Studio in Tampa, Florida.)
For Jane Iarussi of Cole Gardens in Concord, New Hampshire, the highlight of the convention’s educational offerings was clear: The 2017 IFD Floral Trends Preview by Michael Skaff, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, of Skaff Floral Creations was “the best [trends session] I have been to — ever,” she said.
“The session was a predictor for 2017 colors and schemes,” she said. “It was a window to the future.”
Rachel Martin of Ballard Blossom Inc., a member of SAF’s Retailers Council, said she picked up tips this year on pay-per-click advertising, along with new ideas for design and pricing. More than specific tips, the event also gave her time away from her business — and that can be invaluable.
“I always get a boost, personally and professionally,
from attending SAF’s events,” she said. “I believe it is imperative that we take time away from our businesses to gather with floral professional to get new ideas, make connections and recharge.”
Look for more coverage of SAF Maui 2016 in future issues. Missed the event? Don’t worry. We’ll be putting lots of that expert advice to good use in upcoming issues of SAF’s Floral Management magazine.
Plus, you can get a small taste of some of the high-quality education and networking opportunities SAF has to offer at the association’s next 1-Day Profit Blast, Oct. 23 in Denver.