From the first days of the pandemic, Tim Farrell, AIFD, AAF, PFCI, of Farrell’s Florist in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, has been making vases of surplus flowers to give to essential workers, such as those in the health-care professions. More recently, he came up with an idea for an even better way to honor these heroes: He began inviting customers and community members to nominate frontline workers for a free bouquet.
The idea has drawn a positive and powerful response. “It’s amazing how many phone calls we get from people who receive the bouquets,” Farrell said. “They’ll say things like, ‘You don’t know how much I needed this today; it was a really rough day at work.’ It’s not only that they got the flowers, but that somebody else took the time to nominate them. That means a lot to people as well.”
Once a week, Farrell’s Florist posts an announcement on the shop’s linked Facebook and Instagram feeds. Enlivened with a generic photo of an appealing arrangement, the post invites readers to nominate a frontline worker for a free bouquet, to thank them for their service. It sends them to the shop website and points them to a prominent tab in the upper right corner of the landing page.
The tab links to a nomination form that asks for the nominee’s address and phone number and where they work (hospital, nursing facility, doctor’s office, first responders, teacher, essential store worker, other). It includes space for the nominator to tell why their nominee deserves flowers.
“Those stories are very touching,” said Farrell. “It might be the family of someone in a nursing home, nominating the caregiver that is taking care of their mom. Or a respiratory therapist on a COVID-19 ward, who is stressed and scared, but soldiering on.”
Once filled out and submitted, the nomination forms are automatically emailed to Farrell. “I actually did not know until we started this program that that was something my Teleflora website could do,” he noted. “So that was a plus!”
The announcement promises to “select” a nominee, but in fact, so far, the shop has been able to fulfill almost all requests. “We planned on doing one a day for this,” said Farrell. “Sometimes we’ll get 15 nominations. We’ll send out all 15 if we can.”
Occasionally someone is nominated who is outside the shop’s delivery area. “When that happens, we call the nominators and offer to let them pick it up curbside at the shop,” said Farrell. “Or we will deliver it to them locally and let them take it to the person. About half of the people have taken us up on that.”
Normally, the bouquets are delivered to the nominee, following the usual protocols for no-contact delivery, with a card that says, “You have been nominated by [the nominator’s name] to receive a free bouquet from Farrell’s Florist. Thank you for being an excellent frontline worker and for your wonderful service to our community. From the staff at Farrell’s Florist.” The wording on the card then recognizes the nominator, but it also lets the recipient know it’s Farrell’s Florist that is thanking them and giving the flowers.
After a couple of weeks, the program got a nod from a local news radio station, KYW News Radio, with a story that noted “the power of a beautiful bouquet to brighten someone’s day.”
Which points to how the “Nominate a Frontline Worker” campaign accomplishes many goals at once: While it sends a message of thanks to deserving workers, it also stokes customer loyalty and reminds the community that Farrell’s Florist is open and making deliveries. “We have even established a few new accounts because of this program,” Farrell said.
Bruce Wright is a contributing writer to the Society of American Florists.