Corporate business is important to a healthy sales mix for retail florists. When done well, it can generate thousands of dollars monthly from just one client. Include their large holiday orders and special events and — ka-ching! That’s why I’m always surprised to learn that a fellow florist doesn’t go after corporate clients.
Here’s the big “secret” I’ve learned over my many years working successfully with these customers: Corporate clients care most about relationships — your ability to make them look good. That’s even more important to them than the quality of your designs.
Here are two tips on how to score more corporate work.
Embrace the laws of attraction. Businesses are like people: They want to like what they see in the mirror. Try to reflect what a business is about. Your first meeting or order is like a first date. Look good, communicate well, be interested. The corporate manager in charge of the flower decision is busy. They want to choose the right florist, check that box, and move on. Make flowers easy and reliable, and you’ll get their business. Remember, a single business may have several departments with floral needs. Getting a portion of their business first might lead to getting the whole enchilada later.
Show your commitment. Once you’ve earned their confidence, you’re in a B2B relationship. Great! In the honeymoon phase, both partners are excited about the future; everything is fresh and new. Over time, however, even good relationships show strain. Little things bother both parties. In romantic partnerships, it’s leaving the cap off the toothpaste. In B2B relationships, it’s a trail of water after a delivery. Cheerful delivery greetings transform into perfunctory dropoffs (“Where do you want this?”). This is a dangerous period in the relationship. Don’t take your corporate clients for granted, and train your staff to prioritize them as well, with courtesy and professionalism. A particular annoyance for companies? Sloppy invoices. Nothing will lose a client’s confidence faster than incorrect accounting. It screams amateur hour, frustrates for all parties, and will almost always result in you “eating” the invoices in question.
Manny Gonzales is the owner of Tiger Lily Florist in Charleston, South Carolina.