Americans’ pocketbooks have been hit hard by inflation, which last June hit a 40-year high. To keep business from drying up, florists have had to find new strategies to add value and deliver elevated customer service. In the March/April issue of Floral Management, five retailers across the country shared some of their tips for managing customers’ expectations and maintaining a loyal following.
Higher prices don’t necessarily mean customers will stop spending. Findings last year by the research firm IPSOS hinted that consumers were nearly two times more empathetic to small businesses raising prices compared to large companies — but only if they received excellent service. Here are some ways to make sure they do.
Bachman’s Floral Home and Gardens, a fifth-generation, full-service florist and garden center with six retail locations in Minnesota and 20 floral stores in a local grocery chain, boosts customers’ confidence with plants and flowers and encourages repeat business by offering a bevy of educational resources. In addition to many how-to videos on its YouTube channel and 200-plus care and handling guides on its website, the business has been hosting an increasing number of free in-store events. Horticulture and design experts lead seminars and workshops on topics ranging from how to put together a container planting to spring décor ideas. (As an added sign of goodwill, the shop gives attendees a $5 coupon toward every $25 purchase.) “We’ve always offered some educational events, but this spring’s calendar is the fullest ever, with three to four events a week,” says Karen Bachman Thull, director of marketing and corporate communications. “I see full rooms for these events and lots of engagement in person and lots of engagement in person and online.”
Promote Products that Do Double Duty
Kelsey Thompson, AIFD, owner of Bloom Floral + Home Studio in Algona, Iowa, adds value by designing in useful, high-end containers. “I’ve been pulling out really nice platters, baking dishes and pitchers and putting fresh flowers in them,” she says. “So, the customer is not only getting flowers, but also this vessel, which they truly might reuse, unlike a cheap glass vase.”
Be Upfront about Costs
Sarah LoBue, AIFD, co-owner of Main Street Florist in Carlinville, Illinois, has regular conversations with customers so they understand what they’ll get for their money. “When a customer comes in, we might have to explain, ‘Last year when you got your wife this arrangement for X dollars, if we use the same price point, the arrangement might look less full and so, would you like to add more?’” With these honest discussions, she learns if the customer craves specific flowers, or if they care mostly about the size or style. This helps her suggest an arrangement that aligns with the customer’s expectations.
For more advice on building customer loyalty in a challenging environment, read “Inflated Expectations” in the March/April issue of Floral Management.
Katie Vincent is the senior contributing editor for the Society of American Florists.