How many times have you walked into a store and immediately heard, “Can I help you find something?” Unless you were in a huge hurry, chances are you brushed off the overeager salesperson because you wanted to first take in your surroundings.
While they sound friendly, stock opening lines — especially when they’re issued before the customer has any chance to browse — “generally provoke an almost involuntary ‘I’m just looking, thanks…’ from customers,” said Sam Bowles, FSC, one of the featured experts at the Society of American Florists’ 1-Day Profit Blast in Boston, sponsored by Jacobson, on Sunday, March 31.
During his presentation, “Extraordinary Service in Your Shop Every Day,” sponsored by FloristWare, Bowles, a longtime sales and service coach for FloralStrategies and general manager of Allen’s Flowers in San Diego, will share more successful greetings that put shoppers at ease, along with other ways to improve the customer experience.
For instance, in regard to your opening line, Bowles favors a more specific and personal angle, such as, “’Are you looking for a gift today or something to brighten your own space?”
“Once a conversation is started, associates really have the opportunity to leverage their expertise by making appropriate suggestions,” he explained.
In this scenario, you don’t come off as pushy or pesky, but rather as knowledgeable and helpful — qualities that can lead to higher sales, repeat business and glowing testimonials.
“Online reviews are not only important for web shoppers, but also for those considering visiting our physical stores,” Bowles said. (According to the 2018 Local Consumer Review Study, 86 percent of consumers consult reviews, whether they intend to buy online or in person.) “Strong reviews, in both quality and quantity, increase the likelihood that customers will end their search and give us a chance.”
Profit Blast participants will learn how to nonchalantly nudge customers to write a review. For instance, when happy Allen’s Flowers customers call Bowles to thank him for his help, he seizes the opportunity to say, “You’re so welcome! Thanks for sharing that wonderful feedback. Can we ask a favor? It would mean the world to us if you’d share your experience on Yelp or Google!”
“We have a lot of different ways we subtly encourage reviews that are built into our automatic communications with customers as well,” he said. “And I’ll be sharing more about that in Boston.”
Pat Cannon, of The Beach Plum Flower Shop in Newburyport, Massachusetts, who attended Profit Blast in the fall of 2017, can’t wait for another round of education —particularly on the subject of customer experience — and will bring several members of her staff with her to the March 31 event.
“We have employees who are industry veterans and newbies,” she said. “The veterans need a re-charge and the newbies need inspiration. Even though we teach customer service techniques, sometimes it takes being taught by an outsider to cement ideas.”
Allison Hassard, wedding and function coordinator at The Frugal Flower in Sudbury, Massachusetts, echoed these sentiments.
“I have learned a lot from past presentations on customer service and go back to the shop rejuvenated and ready to share,” she said. “But, I still think hearing it from professionals continues to keep me excited and will help others at my shop experience the power behind education.”
Bowles’s presentation is just one piece of the can’t-miss educational lineup featuring some of the industry’s most sought-after experts, including:
- Jody McLeod, AIFD, CFD, NCCPF, owner of Annie V’s Floral Design Studio in Clayton, North Carolina, will present, “Design Hacks and Smart Services to Delight Consumers,” sponsored by Syndicate Sales
- Derrick Myers, CPA, CFP, PFCI, president of Crockett, Myers & Associates, Inc., will present, “Lost in Space: Where Are Your Profits?”
- Crystal Vilkaitis, owner of Crystal Media, will present, “Six Steps to a Profitable Social Media Strategy”
Additionally, Profit Blast registrations includes breakfast and lunch sponsored by Hortica, plus networking and a Supplier Showcase.
Register today for the SAF 1-Day Profit Blast online. Early bird pricing is available until this Friday, March 22. The discounted rate is $139 for SAF members ($189 for non-members). There are also $99 tickets available for each coworker you register.
Anne Holub is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.