The past two years have seriously challenged event florists — first with mass cancellations and the (often multiple) reschedule shuffle, followed by product shortages and record-high inflation. The latter feels particularly troublesome when creating proposals for weddings that are six or more months away. In the latest issue of Floral Management, contributing writer Julie Martens Forney speaks with veteran event florists to learn the best practices that protect their peace of mind and profit margins.
One of those florists, Vince Butera, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, and his wife Carolyn Butera of Butera the Florist, will talk more about how event florists can protect their bottom line on Tuesday, May 17 at 2:00 ET during a Society of American Florists webinar, “Positioned for Profit: New Event Economics for a Changing Market.” Register here.
Charge for Everything
Think beyond the flowers, vases, and candelabras. Do your recipes include foam? Cages? Moss? Water picks? Build those costs into your prices. And don’t forget delivery and labor!
“Don’t sell yourself short,” says Vince. “You need to be paid for what you’re doing. The way I price out labor, the charge is sometimes greater than the flowers themselves.”
In Sedona, Arizona, Martha Aaron, AIFD, owner of Mountain High Flowers, now charges $25 when delivering to a micro wedding, rather than the $10 she charges for an in-town retail flower delivery. “Sometimes my drivers need to make sure the bride is happy or show her how to hold the bouquet,” she says. “It just made sense with the increase of having so many weddings at one time.”
Corrine Heck, PFCI, a former wedding florist who founded Details Flowers Software, which helps florists manage ordering for events, recommends charging an administrative fee, “a blanket 5 to 10 percent,” to cover the time spent on consultations, proposal writing (and tweaking), phone calls, and even credit card charges.
Heck also suggests rethinking tasks that are usually complimentary, such as boutonniere pinning. “I remember running around resorts trying to locate groomsmen to pin bouts,” she says. “I started charging a fee to pin them. I’d arrange to be at a certain spot at a specific time to help pin bouts. By setting that fee, I set a boundary with my clients.”
Leftover stems add up quickly, especially if you, like the Buteras, don’t have a retail store to resell them. “I look for different ways to lower stem costs,” Vince says. “I’m not committed, for example, to having 12 roses in a bridal bouquet. If I map out my buying list and need 27 roses of one variety, that means I can’t afford to buy 50 roses to get two more.” His solution? Evaluate his designs and find a place (or two) to lose those two extra roses. Sometimes, too, he’s found that it’s cheaper to buy a case of ranunculus rather than the five bunches he needs.
With hard goods, veterans insist that, unless you are a full-service events company, less is more. Storage is onerous and costly. Too many options can stress clients and hurt branding. And the more items you own, the more items you must track down after an event. “Misplacing inventory can be a huge loss for event florists,” Heck says.
Butera shaved his operating costs by drastically limiting rental inventory. “I have a few basics — glass flutes, metal stands — things I’ve used for years in various ways that are pricey for a client to buy,” he says. When clients have their hearts set on something more unusual, he helps them find a functional container online that they can purchase themselves.
Katie Vincent is a senior contributing editor for the Society of American Florists.