Wholesalers say the key to a successful Petal It Forward lies in solid preparation.
No one knows that better than the Bill Doran Company, a wholesaler with 20 locations nationwide, who has participated in Petal It Forward since 2016. Michelle Friebel, sales and marketing manager, said her management team orchestrates the event each year, planning, contacting the farms, setting prices and then educating their managers and sales force about the October 23 event. After that, they print and send “save the date” cards, create friendly competition among branches, and get the word out to customers. Starting early allows customers to plan ahead, she said.
“We relay the information and provide material to all of our location managers and they do their own promotions with their customers. We also set a goal for each of those locations. We try to make it a fun thing,” said Friebel, who sends a link of SAF’s Petal It Forward video to get sales staff and their customers reinvigorated.
That goal-setting is working. In 2018, 271 of their retailer customers participated, up from 70 participants in 2016.
Bill Doran Company works with local farms and growers to set pricing and communicate with customers. “We offer two different price points on bouquets and also offer a single stem rose price. This allows customers to invest in any level that is comfortable to them,” Friebel said.
Wholesaler Koehler & Dramm in Minneapolis plans to increase its marketing and social media this year to get the word out ahead of time, said Marketing Manager Emily Gorg.
“We make it easy for our retail customers to jump on board and run a successful promotion in their shops,” said Gorg, who includes Petal It Forward promotional media in its weekly specials ad and posts on social media. The company offers one to three of its premade bouquets as options for the event.
Vaughan’s Horticulture, a wholesale horticulture distributor based in Naperville, Illinois, started preparing for the event in June by ordering custom shirts and educating vendors about the effort. They participate by handing out bouquets, working with local growers and vendors.
“As a team we leave our computers behind and gather in the conference room to put together lots of bouquets and then pass out the flowers with no strings attached — the smiles are rewarding enough,” said Ashleigh Newton, a customer service representative with Vaughan’s. Last year was Vaughan’s first year participating, handing out 200 bouquets that were donated by growers and vendors.
Newton created large poster board signs to draw attention as well as inform passersby. She said they would be recycling those signs for this year’s event. She advises to start promoting early via social media and word of mouth.
“Share the event and opportunity in conversation. It’s a great way to get publicity for your product and get your name out there,” she said.
Get ready now to Petal It Forward. SAF provides members with advice on program logistics, as well as easy-to-implement materials and resources at safnow.org/pif.
Renee Houston Zemanski is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.