While you and your team have been diligently prepping for Valentine’s Day for weeks — or longer — you know last-minute customers are inevitable come Feb. 13 and Feb. 14. What can you do to prep for these procrastinators?
Use sales data to staff properly, plan your inventory strategically and — never forget this one —load up on snacks, water and praise for your hard-charging staff. That’s according to Vonda LaFever, AIFD, PFCI, and Lori Wilson of TeamFloral, who recently co-moderated a Society of American Florists’ WebBlast on Valentine’s prep and how to navigate the rush, including those last-minute orders. The session, free for SAF members, included a Q&A portion and is available online.
The key to not going crazy with those procrastinating orders is organization long before Feb. 14, said LaFever and Wilson. Here are three tips from the SAF WebBlast that you can put into action today at your store, for a more profitable and streamlined holiday:
Staff wisely. Staffing is key to a strong holiday, particularly in those final days. “If you don’t have enough staff, you’ll go insane,” LaFever said. “But you also don’t want people standing around.” Her advice: “Go to your POS and generate a sales-by-product report from last year.” That way, you know what to get ready beforehand. Review your sales data to see which days generated the highest number of transactions. From there, forecast your staffing needs.
Use sales scripts/design descriptions. Valentine’s Day customers expect your staff — anyone on your staff — to be able to paint a visual picture of the flowers they’re ordering. That’s not an easy task to do on the fly. Prep your staff with written descriptions of each featured design. Encourage your staff to practice describing the designs ahead of time (pssst…that means now!). “Practicing can feel awkward but it pays off when that customer calls in and hears that confidence in your voice and sees that visual picture in their head,” LaFever said. She and Wilson also suggest laminating those descriptions, so that your staff can pass them to waiting in-store customers in those final days, to help any line flow faster. (Use a dry erase marker to cross out sold-out items.) A final tip from Wilson: Post the scripts, um, everywhere to encourage staff to memorize them. “I know some florists who actually post their sales scripts in the bathroom, because they want employees to be constantly rehearsing and practicing.”
Communicate with your team — and pamper them. “Team training is everything,” Wilson said. “Think about football. Everyone has a position and the coach gives a pep talk before the game, to make sure everyone knows their place. It’s just like that for florists at Valentine’s Day. Everyone needs to know their role.” If you haven’t already, make time for a staff meeting that discusses holiday procedures, including which product is available for the holiday and how your offerings change for the crunch period (hint: you should be reducing the number of designs you offer online and in-store, to improve your service, profitability and efficiency). Everyone on your team should be in the know, Wilson emphasized. “Everyone should know exactly what’s being offered on your site, what’s in your cooler and what you are really pushing.” Don’t forget to check in through the holiday period to ensure staff is hydrated and feeling supported—snacks and meals can go a long way, but so can encouraging word. “It’s so important to check in with employees,” Wilson said. “If you aren’t a natural encourager, that’s fine. Find someone on staff who can take on that role.”
Mary Westbrook is the editor in chief of Floral Management.