For dozens of floral industry members, last weekend brought an opportunity to make good on New Year’s resolutions to be more profitable, learn new skills and connect more with their peers from across segments.
Industry members from 18 states gathered in Nashville, Tennessee, on Jan. 13 for the latest installation of the Society of American Florists’ 1-Day Profit Blast, an educational series that brings targeted educational sessions around the country, so that business owners and their team can get a shot of new ideas and inspiration without leaving their shops for long.
For Mary Ann DeBerry of The Florist LTD in Knoxville, the day, which featured four educational sessions, a Supplier Expo and time for networking, was “time and money very well spent.”
“Fantastic speakers and showcase of products,” she said.
Debbie Renner of Tullahoma House of Flowers, about 90 minutes from Nashville, agreed — and wishes even more retail florists would take advantage of such educational opportunities. “If you are serious about your business, wouldn’t you want to use the most cost-effective tools to run it well and profitably?” she asked.
Highlights of the day included:
During “What’s Up (and Coming) with Social Media,” speaker Crystal Vilkaitis, Social Edge talked about the changing landscape of social media, and what that means for business owners trying to stand out and connect with customers on these platforms.
“[Customers] are less likely to like comment and share on business pages than they used to be, because they know they’ll get flooded with these brand posts,” she said, adding that most experts agree that only 1 to 6 percent of customers are now seeing organic, or unpaid posts, regularly.
“That doesn’t mean they’re not stopping and clicking,” she added, but it does mean that small businesses need to rethink their strategies online. For instance, Facebook Live videos remain an excellent way to grab customers’ attention and stay atop the algorithm. (Nervous about being on camera. Don’t be. “It doesn’t have to be perfect,” Vilkaitis said. “Being authentic is good.”)
Other tips from Vilkaitis: Don’t forget those important hashtags on Instagram — especially local tags that are relevant to your brand — and keep Facebook posts short (90 words or less).
During “Extraordinary Service in Your Shop Every Day,” Tim Huckabee of FloralStrategies LLC discussed the importance of positive first impressions—and the need to create experiences for customers.
“You should be less concerned about price — specifically having the lowest — and more about concerned about the shopping experience in your store and on your website,” he said. “Doing that will make the difference between someone coming back — or not.”
Huckabee also encouraged attendees to take a look at some of the verbiage they use regularly in store, and how it might be improved. (One example: “Are you happy just browsing?” a phrase Huckabee heard while shopping England, sounds more hospitable and engaging than, “How can I help you?”
In addition, Huckabee told attendees that there are two powerful phrases “that make for a quicker phone call and larger sale.” Those are “I recommend” and “I suggest.” Why? Because customers are looking to retail florists to be the experts, and they want your team’s guidance and suggestion on their purchases.
Paul Goodman, MBA, CPA, PFCI, of Floral Finance Business Services, tackled delivery challenges in his session, “A Roadmap for Profitable Deliveries.” If you haven’t considered your charges in this area in a while, it’s high time you did, Goodman said, adding that many florists under-charge for the service.
“Raising delivery charges is one of the lowest business risks you’ll make in your shop,” he promised, before detailing a practical plan to get started on more profitable deliveries. “Put a map of your delivery zones on your wall. For the next 100 deliveries, take a Sharpie and mark each delivery. Step back, take a look at the map and see where your deliveries are concentrated. That’s your standard delivery zone. That’s your standard delivery charge.”
During “Design Hacks and Smart Services to Delight Consumers,” Derek C. Woodruff, AIFD, CFD, CF, PFCI, of Floral Underground in Traverse City, Michigan, talked about the allure of in-store workshops and experiences for customers — and he dispelled the idea that teaching customers how to create designs during such events threatens florists’ business.
“You’re cultivating experience for them; it’s not about design mastery,” he said. “Their experience enhances our [reputation as] expert floral designers. It helps them realize that they can’t do their own wedding.”
SAF’s 1-Day Profit Blast in Nashville was sponsored by DWF Wholesale.
Disappointed to have missed this event? Good news: SAF is bringing its 1-Day Profit Blast to Boston on March 31. Find out more about that event, sponsored by Jacobson Floral Supply.
Mary Westbrook is the editor in chief of Floral Management magazine.