There was a time when Sherry Grimes-Jenkins sometimes lost money trying to build beautiful floral arrangements. She would get a $100 order and before she realized it, she had used $75 worth of flowers. Or worse: $120 worth of flowers. And she still hadn’t factored in the cost of the vase or other materials.
“I was moving a lot of product and I was losing a lot of money,” says Grimes-Jenkins, owner of EMY Custom Flowers in Mahopac, New York.
One of the Society of American Florists’ newest courses, “Creating Recipes for Success,” harnesses the knowledge of a seasoned retailer to help Grimes-Jenkins and others avoid one of her early pitfalls. In the 20-minute course, Tony Fiannaca, AAF, of Sparks Florist in Sparks, Nevada, encourages businesses to create detailed recipes for floral arrangements. By creating line items for every stem — as well as raw materials such as ribbons, vases and labor — he says shops can ensure arrangements are designed for uniformity and profitability.
“Balancing artistry with profitability can be a struggle for many florists, especially as the cost of goods has increased,” says Kate Delaney, SAF’s director of career development who ran a flower shop in the Mid-Atlantic for 20 years before joining SAF. “This course is designed to make it easy to achieve that balance and ensure florists are making a profit on everything.”
Patrick Crannell, who recently took the online course, says he sees tremendous value in crafting design recipes. His Wilmington, Delaware shop utilizes recipes to ensure the quality and uniformity of arrangements going out the door. It also ensures the product is priced correctly depending on the cost of materials, a number that fluctuates depending on season, availability, and market changes. Reviewing expenses and adjusting prices is essential to staying profitable, he says, especially the past few years as inflation drove the cost of raw materials higher.
“I’m constantly reviewing the pricing,” says Crannell. “We have maybe 35 select recipes. Having a low number of products lets you evaluate them quicker.”
The course has also encouraged Grimes-Jenkins to review and recalculate her own pricing more frequently. In “Creating Recipes for Success,” Fiannaca advises shops to check their profit margins at least once a month, if not every week.
“I think that’s good advice,” says Grimes-Jenkins. “I’m going to try to implement looking at [pricing] more regularly now because of this class.”
To help assist with the recipe-creation and price-adjustment processes, Fiannaca recommends using spreadsheets or cloud-based software. Crannell likes how the course provides the pros and cons of using either option, enabling shops to choose the best fit based on their needs.
Laurie Herrera is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.