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Learn to Communicate Like a Pro

Corrine Heck, PFCI, CEO and founder of Details Flowers Software and Adam Havrilla, AIFD, PFCI, ICPF, of Havrilla Designs, will share their best communications tips at SAF’s Next Gen LIVE! event in Miami June 11-13.

The most sought-after skill set in business, according to a Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive poll of top executives and recruiters, is communication. Year after year the annual poll ranks communication ahead of “hard skills” like problem-solving and organizational skills. In an industry that sells a perishable product for time-sensitive events, communication is especially key.

Two seasoned floral industry communicators will be giving a mini “master’s class” on communications at the Society of American Florists’ Next Gen LIVE! event June 11-13 in Miami. In “Communicate Like a Pro,” Corrine Heck, PFCI, and fellow member of the Professional Floral Communicators-International Adam Havrilla, AIFD, PFCI, ICPF, will share practical steps anyone can take to enhance their communications skills and effectiveness with co-workers, bosses, vendors and clients.

Next Gen LIVE!, designed for floral professionals 45 and under, features a robust schedule of educational sessions focused on leadership, sales and marketing and the inner workings of the floral industry — as well as two tour options. It also includes time to connect with suppliers and peers from all sectors of the industry, and a ‘Chopped’ style design competition. (See a full schedule and register here).

Communication = Productivity

The importance of strong communication skills in the workplace cannot be overstated: In fact, the majority of workers view effective communication as the most important skill that leaders can possess, and when the quality of communication improves among employees, a team’s productivity can get a 25% boost.

One way floral professionals can enjoy this type of productivity increase is by combining their time management and communication skills to effectively convey project schedules to employees.

“Time management — and being able to communicate those timelines — is critical in the floral industry,” says Heck, founder of Details Flowers Software. “Everyone on the team must devote a reasonable amount of time to make just one bouquet or centerpiece, and to satisfy all of those deadlines, the event day must be well-prepared and organized. Being able to communicate that throughout your entire team so everyone’s on the same page is important.”

Speak to the Occasion

From weddings to funerals and every occasion in between, florists work with people during some of the most stressful times of their lives—which means florists must understand how to effectively communicate during all of those events.

“Floral sales are an emotional purchase,” says Havrilla, of Havrilla Designs in Chicago. “As a floral professional, you should have the skills to adapt your language to fit the occasion. For example, discussions with a family member of the deceased are different than the discussions with a couple for a wedding.” During the session, Havrilla will detail the appropriate words and emotions to use in different situations.

One customer communication misstep Heck often sees new florists make is miscommunicating—or not communicating at all—their terms and conditions. This can easily be corrected with a good set of business terms and policies that have the right tone. “You want the client to understand your meaning without creating any type of negativity about entering into your agreements,” she says.

Get the Team in Sync

Florists often work in teams to create floral arrangements for weddings and special events—and if team members don’t communicate clearly, the overall look and feel of the event may be missed. Heck says having design plans, recipe calculations, and dividing tasks clearly will help with the overall success of the event and customer satisfaction—but it all comes down to effective, clear communication.

An important part of the team’s success is integrating suppliers into the clear communication chain. “We see conflict with florists and their vendors when, for example, they have misnamed variety-specific products,” she says.

Effective communication with suppliers is critical to ensure that orders are delivered on time, in the requested quantity, and with the highest quality. Quality communication can also help florists negotiate better prices and build stronger partnerships with suppliers, she says.

Communicate to Lead

“Active listening is essential because as a leader, you must fully understand your clients’ and team’s needs,” Heck says. “So listening to clients’ preferences about their events, or ideas from your team to improve operations, are all things that leaders must hear.”

One of last year’s Next Gen LIVE! attendees credits one of the leadership sessions with improving her communications with her team. Helena Polites of Polites Florist in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, attended last year’s “What’s Your Leadership Style?” presentation and says she’s been able to grow as a leader and better communicate with the staff as a result.

“Coming to this understanding really broke down a lot of barriers on how communicates,” Polites says. “My leadership style became more effective in a short period of time.”

Heck agrees that valuable time can be wasted if leaders can’t clearly explain what they need. “Once employees joined our team, I had to be more effective in communicating daily tasks and objectives quickly and clearly,” she says. “Hours can be lost if a clear direction of implementation isn’t nailed down.”

Want to take your communications skills to the next level? Join Havrilla and Heck at in Miami—and don’t miss early-bird pricing for Next Gen LIVE! which ends May 19. Register here.

Kenya McCullum is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.

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