Major floral holidays come with myriad challenges for retail florists: Higher volume means more potential sales, of course, but also more costs. Delivery is one area that, when not handled properly, can reduce your profit margins — around the holidays and year-round.
One delivery-related question I often field this time of year? Where do I find drivers? No wonder. Finding reliable team members in this category feel like a time-consuming task.
There are two categories you need to cover: everyday and holiday drivers. Both present unique challenges.
Many florists make the mistake of hiring only full-time drivers. To keep your driver costs as low as possible, it is necessary to vary the amount of driver’s hours based on your delivery activity.
For the next three weeks that are nonholiday, track how many deliveries you make each day. Calculate the average number of deliveries for each day of the week.
A full-time driver can make 20 to 25 deliveries in an eight-hour day. This translates to about three deliveries per hour. Calculate the number of hours you need for each day. Hopefully, you can schedule for that number of hours and no more.
How do you find drivers who are so flexible for everyday deliveries? One proven source is to hire retired people as drivers. Most retired people do not want full-time work. They will come in and work as needed and then go home when the work is done.
In addition, they are normally experienced and capable drivers as opposed to a younger person who might want to race out of every stoplight.
For everyday drivers, make sure you get your vehicle insurance company to pull MVRs (Motor Vehicle Report) on each driver to see what ticket and accident history they have. In addition, you might want to do routine drug testing, which normally you can have done at a local medical lab.
Getting holiday drivers is no easy task. In addition to the usual sources — off-duty police, firefighters and delivery service drivers — here’s an idea that has paid off for many retail florists.
Find a local group that needs to raise funds, like the school band or a church group going on a mission project. Offer them a fixed amount per delivery. You’ll get people out to help with deliveries that you would otherwise never be able to hire.
And that brings up the issue of what to pay for deliveries. Most florists prefer a fixed amount per delivery. You will be safe paying the same amount that is your average cost for delivery or even a little more.
You’ll still make a nice profit on your deliveries, and your drivers should be happy. The fee will cover the cost of operating their vehicles and give them a nice hourly wage. Most volunteers from an organization will volunteer their time and give the entire fee to the project.
Paul Goodman, MBA, CPA, PFCI, is the founder of Floral Finance Business Services based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, editor of Floral Finance and author of The Profit-Minded Florist.