Well, that was wicked fun. (Sorry. Can’t help ourselves!) On Sunday, 168 floral industry members from 20 states plus Washington, D.C., and Canada gathered in Boston for the Society of American Florists’ 1-Day Profit Blast.
On the day’s agenda: design inspiration (and new tools to help designers work more efficiently and more profitably); financial tips and best practices from a longtime accountant; practical customer service advice and pointers on staff training; social media trends and insight on how to pick and choose the best platforms, posts and strategies for maximum ROI; plus a supplier showcase and plenty of time to network with industry peers.
“I came today feeling a little tired and uninspired,” said Teresa Cabral of Ray’s Flower Shop in Falls River, Massachusetts. “I’m leaving with new ideas and energy. I can’t wait to get back to work.”
The turnout represented the highest attendance yet for SAF’s popular 1-Day Profit Blast events, a series that delivers educational programming and time to connect with local vendors to regional locations.
“The popularity of the event really speaks to the need for opportunities in our industry to learn and network,” said Nick Fronduto, chief operating officer of Jacobson in Boston, which sponsored the event. “The timing — after Valentine’s Day, before Easter and Mother’s Day — and the fact that it was on a Sunday helped, too. I think it’s inspiring and a little humbling to realize how many people came out on what is probably their only day off for the week to take advantage of this programming and to learn new things and meet new people.”
The Boston event also featured a networking lunch, sponsored by Hortica.
Joel Houston of Flowers Plus traveled from Charlotte, North Carolina. It was his third SAF Profit Blast.
“It’s a great way to network with other industry professionals about things that work and don’t work in your shop,” he said. “The presenters are always informative and there are takeaways that I can implement right away in my shop. The strength of the knowledge and ability to network in the room is pretty amazing and being able to see products and talk in person [with vendors] is invaluable.”
Maria Battista of Kingston Florist in Kingston, Massachusetts, said Sunday represented “a great team-building” opportunity for her staff to “learn, engage and spend time with fellow colleagues in an educational setting.”
That’s a sentiment shared by Nicole Palazzo of City Line Florist in Trumbull, Connecticut, who attended the Boston event with her mother, Sue. Back at her family’s business on Monday, Palazzo said she was “bursting with inspiration.”
“I am a huge fan of SAF’s conventions, but something is special about the Profit Blasts,” said Palazzo, also the president of the Connecticut Florists Association and an active member of SAF’s Next Gen Floral Pros Group. “It’s one day of education, meeting like-minded florists and suppliers in my area. Education is everything in this ever-changing industry and Profit Blasts really makes it easy to stay updated.”
Some highlights from the day:
During “Design Hacks and Smart Services to Delight Customers,” sponsored by Syndicate Sales, Jody McLeod, AIFD, NCCPF, of Annie V’s Floral Design Studio in Clayton, North Carolina, shared tips with attendees about how to make the most of new industry tools, including Syndicate’s Pillow and Egg construction tools, created in collaboration with Holly Heider Chapple. Both innovations allow designers to more quickly and profitably create the “bohemian looks that are so popular right now,” McLeod said. “The placement of the honeycombs in each [bouquet holder] naturally create that negative space, which allows for the movement you see as brides walk down the aisle.” (It also helps ensure the designs photograph beautifully.)
McLeod also talked about the importance of a productive and positive working relationship between shop owners and designers. “Shop owners have to invest in new things that motivate their designers,” he said. “Designers are the artists, and they need those new things to play with, but they’re also the ones in charge of profitability. That happens in the design room and it’s a big responsibility.”
Derrick Myers, CPA, CFP, PFCI, of Crockett, Myers & Associates — and a longtime contributor to SAF’s Floral Management magazine — talked about black holes that can suck your shop’s profitability during “Lost in Space: Where are Your Profits?” He also shared insight on time management and the need for business owners to step away from the daily grind, so that they can “work on the business and not just in it.”
“Spend one day a week being the visionary for your company,” Myers urged. “Block off time and use that time to figure out where your business is going and, even more important, where you want it to go.” Another tip from Myers? Write down your top 10 goals once a day every day for the next month. “You’ll be amazed by how many you achieve, just from writing them down,” he promised.
During “Extraordinary Service in Your Shop Every Day,” Sam Bowles, FSC, of FloralStrategies LLC and the manager of Allen’s Flowers in San Diego, talked about training your staff to deliver outstanding
flower-buying experiences online, in-store and over the phone. One quick tip you can implement right away: Train your staff to be “warm and welcoming” before taking an order.
“Everyone thinks they are doing this, but trust me, way too often even generally pleasant people go straight to the order information without first acknowledging the major life event that the person is calling about,” Bowles said. Language he likes when a customer calls in for — as an example — a birthday order: “Great! My name is Sam. You’ve chosen the right place. We’re going to take good care of you.”
Bowles also suggested training staff and setting your website up to “turn two.” In other words, “At the end of a birthday order, say, ‘Mother’s Day is coming up! If you want to take care of that now, we can help you.” At Allen’s, Bowles also embeds a graphic on his order confirmation screen and in the footer of his wire service invoices alerting customers that the shop can deliver to “moms, grandmas or anyone in the country.” Doing so last year helped increase Mother’s Day orders. “You have to remind customers of the services you offer and all the ways you can make them look good and make their lives easier,” he said.
Social media marketing pro Crystal Vilkaitis, of Crystal Media group encouraged attendees to “pick one new thing to do in social media this week” during her presentation, “Six Steps to a Profitable Social Media Strategy.” “Social media marketing is changing all the time, and if we don’t evolve and change our approaches, we’ll lose out.”
One of her top practical tips: Have a consistent brand across platforms, meaning the same logo, font and colors. (“Canva.com is a fabulous design tool and one that ensures consistency,” she promised.) Another piece of advice: If you are a small shop with relatively little time to invest in social media marketing, train your energy on Facebook and Instagram and leave the other platforms alone. Generally speaking, that’s where you have the most luck connecting with customers, and that’s always the goal. “Bottom line,” Vilkaitis said, “go where your customers are.”
Look for more tips from Profit Blast in upcoming issues of SAF’s Sales Wake Up newsletter. Don’t receive that newsletter? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mary Westbrook is the editor in chief of Floral Management.