Two-thirds of American households are living paycheck to paycheck, according to data from Pymnts.com. As consumers’ savings dwindle and budgets tighten, small business owners like florists may be wondering how to maintain revenue. But it’s possible to thrive no matter the economic climate.
George’s Flowers in Roanoke, Virginia, is proof positive. “During our 40-plus years, many presidents and economic issues have made the headlines,” says owner George Clements. “The 2008 housing market financial meltdown erased 25 percent of our revenue overnight. We worked hard to rebound and recaptured that 25 percent and more.”
Co-owner Doug Lindamood agrees. “We’ve never watched the news and said, ‘Oh, I need to rework my entire product offering,’ We’ve always offered a variety of price points to appeal to a broad selection of buyers.” The shop has recently noticed a slight increase in the number of $50 and under items ordered from the website. “This has only decreased our average order 32 cents, so it’s a very minor difference,” he adds.
Instead of reacting to market fluctuations, the florist continues to work on its business and move forward. George’s Flowers cites several factors that have contributed to their lasting success.
“Advancement and growth in our industry is dependent on evolving, learning and relearning constantly,” Clements says. “That’s been one of our enduring strengths in our local market — something we realized from day 1.”
The shop has never hesitated to embrace technology. “We were the first shop in our area to computerize and have a website. We’re the first to use the See What You Send (SWYS) mobile app,” Lindamood says. “This app integrates with our order entry system, making it fast and easy to send a photo of the floral design or plant to the sender as soon as it’s complete. The sender receives a text or email prior to delivery. Our client can review immediately and give feedback if needed.”
The process takes an extra 30 to 40 seconds, but saves much more time in assuring customer satisfaction. Another benefit of using the app is that it helps generate additional Google and Facebook reviews. “This has boosted our reviews to over 1,850 on Google and counting,” Lindamood adds. “No other florist in our area has more than 128. This has definitely helped us maintain our 5-star rating.”
Petal It Forward
Clements relishes his role as Petal It Forward Shop Papa. The annual flower giveaway is an initiative of the Society of American Florists, slated for Oct. 18. “The event creates so much excitement for so many in our community,” he says. Last October, more than 40 volunteers from MKB Realty, their corporate partner, participated in the event. “Our staff gave out 5,000 bouquets from 14 different locations throughout our city and the surrounding towns,” Lindamood says.
The floral-sharing event helps local people feel “connected to us,” says Grace Winters, one of the shop’s designers, who is featured in the latest issue of Floral Management. One of my favorite things is when I tell someone I work for George’s and they say, ‘Oh! I got one of your bouquets on Petal It Forward. It was so special!’”
George’s actively cultivates a strong presence in the local community through several programs and sponsorships. “Customers have propelled our growth and longevity,” Clements says. “Supporting the community is one way we can say thanks.”
- Cultural Events —“During the pandemic, we seized the opportunity to sponsor the Touring Broadway series when a large corporate sponsor dropped out,” Lindamood explains. In exchange, the shop receives top billing during the promotion of upcoming shows and branding throughout the Berglund Center complex.The florist also supports The Jefferson Center Performance Hall, which brings renowned performers in fields of jazz, opera and bluegrass to the city. That venue is the renovated high school Clements’ mother graduated from, so that community connection is quite personal. More recently, the shop is working with the Southwest Virginia Ballet, providing bouquets to sell as a scholarship fundraiser.
- Animal Shelters — George’s Logan Legacy Project supports local no-kill animal shelters. “We donate $5 from every pet-themed arrangement on our website to one of three local shelters,” Lindamood explains. The shop distributes checks quarterly to each shelter.
- The Children’s Shop — George’s created a mini version of the shop in The Kids Square Children’s Museum, located in the downtown city market area. “Many local businesses and organizations have kid-sized and kid-friendly mini-representations for the children to play and learn in,” Clements explains. “My hope is that our tiny George’s Flowers shop will spark kids’ imaginations and may help produce future florists and horticulturists.”
Julie Martens Forney is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.