Florabundance News

Tom Bowling 2011

It is hard to believe that the holiday season is coming to a close and we are starting at New Year! But as you are sweeping up the final remain of the pine needles, wiping the glitter from the shelves and collecting the remain of the artificial snow, take a few minutes to review and record this holiday season before it becomes a blur in your memory. Post holiday inventory is one of the most valuable pieces of information you can have along with your buying and selling history for next year’s planning. Having this record of history allows you to prepare for all aspects of your holiday planning for the following year. When we talk about all aspects, it becomes a thorough examination of every level of contribution. Here are a few things to help get you started. You will want to add to and supplement the list with areas of consideration that are specific to your shop operation.
Fresh Inventory: Were there enough fresh materials ordered in a timely fashion to cover all the orders or do you need to add to some areas and reduce others? Did the product maintain a steady turnover so help reduce or eliminate loss which translates to lost profits? Were the orders placed with Florabundance in a timely fashion to allow for the best pricing or were the orders more reactionary to the orders being placed by customers?

Featured Designs: Were the in-house arrangements planned well in advance to allow them to be posted to my website and allow a sufficient amount of time to place the order with your Florabundance sales person? Did I train the sales staff to sell from a ‘menu’ of featured bouquets or was each sale a custom order that took more time, effort and energy to sell and create? Did I choose wisely from the offerings available from the wire services? Could I have added another one or two items from them to potentially expand my incoming order base because of codified items or did we have the right amount and have successful sell through?

Staffing: Were all areas of staffing ( sales, design, delivery, support, office, floral processors, etc.) given equal levels of consideration or where there noticeable gaps and areas that could have used additional staffing? Were there enough hours dedicated to the right areas? IE: Did flowers and plant materials get processed in a timely fashion or did they receive the left over attention at the end of the day? Were flowers and plants rotated accurately to ensure first in, first out rotation? Did the sales floor maintain a fresh abundant look or after the first week of the holiday did it look like it was totally shopped over and the remains were all that was left? Was there someone dedicated to web-site maintenance ensuring that out of stock items were taken down and fast moving items were being promoted? Were there enough hands to package and deliver in a reasonable amount of time? Were the added holiday helpers well trained to assist in whatever departments they were to be in or was it more of a baptism by fire; learn as you go?

Customer Service: You work very hard all year long to attract and maintain your customers. Did every customer receive the high level of customer service you are known for or were there a few black eyes along the holiday road? How many thank you cards were written to let both your established customers and your new customers know how much you appreciated the opportunity to be a part of their holiday experience and that you look forward to serving them in the New Year? Hand written thank you cards make a huge impression on customers! Take the opportunity to make a lasting impression!

These are but a few ideas to get your post holiday actions started. Take the time to make next year even better by using this year’s history to plan next year’s success!

It’s hard to believe this is the last week before Christmas! What an exciting time for everyone as the clock ticks away. Children are counting the days until Santa arrives while retailers count the days until the last candled centerpiece is delivered! Oh to be a child again! But as the clock continues to tick, hurried shoppers are on the last week of choosing those special gifts for family and friends. As the malls become more and more of a frustrating experience be ready for all those last minute shoppers to make sending flowers the best choice for the season. Some people are just a little slow to catch on and could have avoided the traffic jams, disappointed selection and poor customer service often found in retail stores right before the holiday.
Here are a couple of things to do to get ready. First, look at your web site. You will want to eliminate those sold out items, those that are labor intensive and only show your best selections. Don’t be afraid to show your best premium bouquets and upscale flowers. People who shop last minute are willing and able to spend for that WOW floral styling.
Second, make sure you have plenty of inventory on hand for those last minute shoppers. They have had enough disappointments already and you want to be remembered as the hero not the one more retailer who added to their holiday stress. Vases and foam based stylings are good to have for those hurried shoppers who are on their way to parties and other celebrations. Have plenty of hostess gifts on hand that are easy to transport and priced appropriately. No one has time to wait while you have to make and arrangement from scratch.
Thirdly, take a look around at your show room. No one wants to shop in a picked over, messy shop. Grab Santa’s elves (aka the staff) and do a power clean. A quick dusting, remove any tired arrangements and plants and move those slower moving items closer to your high traffic areas. Sometimes just a different location will make a slower mover into a cash cow. It is so worth the time and energy to keep the shop looking brand new and arrangements fresh. Sweeping up the pine needles, glitter and artificial snow will help spruce up the first impression! And, don’t forget to wipe down the cooler doors and counter area often. Remember the KISS theory…Keep It Simply Sparkling!
And lastly, at some point during this hurried week, take time to remember all those friends and family who make your life special and say thank you to them. We are truly blessed in many ways and it is important to take a moment and reflect on just how blessed you are.
Happy holidays to all of you and wish you all the best for a season of happiness, joy and blessings to share.

Customers are all about having choices. If you are not quite sure, just stand and listen at your local Starbucks and listen to the number of choices the customer makes. It takes ordering a cup of coffee to a whole new level! It now becomes an experience. Flower shops can also have the ability to provide this customization for the customer to make their buying an experience.
In the buying world mental of one size fits all, it becomes a pleasant experience for the customer when you take the time to stop, listen to their needs and execute a beautiful floral styling that reflects their personal choices. While many of your customers may be satisfied with a standard presentation, there are those customers that enjoy the added attention and the option of making personal choices. Customization is not a new concept in the retail world. It actually dates back for many decades, however, it has become a lost business model as less and less customer service is available due to budget and operating expenses being reduced. Again, remember it is a service that you do provide and this is one area that you can separate yourself from your competition and the big box stores. You can probably name a few stores such as Nordstrom’s, Starbucks and others that are well known for their high level of customer service. Your goal might be to have your name in that list as well.
Along with customer service is the ability to offer your customers upgrades or add on sales. Upgrades are suggestions to allow the customer to make a stronger or more wow impression. It can be accomplished in several ways. Allowing customers a choice of better containers is one easy way to upgrade the floral presentation. Change from a disposable container to a keepsake contain is an easy way to do so. Adding more blooms to the bouquet is another way of adding to the choices for your customer as well as raising your average ticket price. When adding additional flowers, the customer wants to be able to see a noticeable difference in the presentation so think about what flowers are going to capture the most visual attention. Another consideration when considering upgrades is to be sure to give yourself enough of a budget to make the visual impact. Adding $5.00 to $10.00 dollars does not give you much to work with. Make the upgrade $20.00 to 25.00 to allow you to make it worth the added investment.
Examine the type or mix of foliages being used presently. While pedestrian are acceptable, think about what premium foliages are seasonally available. Check out the options on the Florabundance web site or check with your Account Manager to choose some additional selections to add the wow factor in your presentations. The same holds true for fillers. The more common filler materials might work for a majority of the floral stylings, but having a special selection for those customers with more distinctive taste and budget never hurts to have on hand.
An easy way to let your customers see the impact of upgraded floral stylings is to display 3 different price points using similar flowers next to each other in the cooler. You will be surprised how many customers choose the middle price point. You will want o do the same presentation on your web site so whether people are shopping in person or on your web page, it will work to your advantage.
Allowing customers to choose their options shows that you are willing and able to make their floral gift giving into a more personal experience and keeps them coming back for that special touch called personal service. After all, who doesn’t like to be made to feel more special in this hurry up world we live in.

During most prime time floral buying seasons, offers seem to pop up all over from suppliers, growers, importers and farm direct for shipping products to you. And of course, they do look so tempting, but ask yourself this very important question. Would I gamble my reputation and risk trying a new supplier at such a critical time of the year for the sake of saving a few cents? The answer should be an emphatic NO!

While everyone these days needs to be watching their COG’S (Cost Of Goods Sold), would you be willing to gamble and take a chance with a company whose product you and reputation you are totally unfamiliar with in order to save a few dollars and cents? We all know how expensive it is to gain a new client. Research says the average in 2011 acquiring a new customer costs a small business anywhere from 26.10 to 38.56 to attract a new customer to do business with you. That is a large investment to be possibly wasted because of a poor choice of suppliers.

Here are some excellent reasons to buy from quality wholesalers like Florabundance.

1) Overall Satisfaction – Florists significantly rated wholesale suppliers higher in overall satisfaction that from other suppliers.

2) Reliability – Wholesale florists perform best. They are dependable, they care about you and your business, and stand behind their promises. Your success is their success.

3) Accuracy – Wholesale florists consistently outperform other sources for fresh flowers both in order fulfillment and on-time delivery.

4) Responsiveness – When you need help, your wholesaler is there to assist.

5) Expert Knowledge – Wholesalers have knowledge and expertise about the products they sell. They are not just an order taker selling off a computer screen.

6) Cut Flower Quality – Wholesalers consistently deliver higher quality of flowers and foliages.

7) Relationship – Most retailers have a long-term business relationship with their wholesaler. Your Account Manager knows who you are and what types of products work best for you.

8) Easy to Order – Whether by phone or by web site, Florabundance makes it easy and convenient to place your order day or night.

9) Selection – Florabundance offers a wide selection of product from which to choose. Both traditional products to the most unusual, Florabundance has you well covered.

10) Cost Effective – Florists are not required to ‘buy in bulk’ as with some suppliers. Useable quantities are available for every size operation.

‘Tis the season for flowers to be a major part of your projected sales. Why chance your hard earned reputation with a supplier whose quality is unknown. With products and service from Florabundance, you know it’s going to be right and that is well worth it!

Tom Bowling 2011 > SHOP CHECK UP

November 21st, 2011

Take a quick look around your store…all the displays are fresh, well stocked and ready to greet your customers – check. All the lights are in working order – check. All the sales staff has been properly trained to handle the customer’s needs –check. All the delivery vehicles have been properly serviced; have been cleaned both inside and out – check. Hard goods have been delivered, unpacked and ready to be used – check. It sounds like everything is in good order and ready for your busy holiday season of business. It is good to make your list and check it twice for many reasons, but the best reason is to maintain efficiency during the busy times. Being disorganized makes the experience frustrating for both the customer and the staff. It is important that your customer’s are efficiently guided through the purchasing process and feel that their time was honored and respected during the season when time is our most valuable commodity. The same can be said in regards to the staff persons at the flowers shop. No one wants to spend needless hours working in circles when there is so much to do outside the work environment. Also, shop owners need to be cognizant that inefficiencies cause additional costs and quickly siphon profits.
Since the design room is the heart of your production, let’s start with a quick examination to see if it is beating efficiently. It’s a quick 3 step examination that requires a minimal amount of time to establish 3 points of interest.
First goal is to have design work produced faster. A production line or assembly line is your best business model to increase the shop’s output. During the holiday season, up to 75% of orders can be produced in this efficient manner. Think about how many centerpieces will be sold this season – some with candles, some without, but most have similar characteristics. They can vary in price, small, medium, and large, but still be produced in a design line and by predetermined recipe. Vase work, floral stylings designed in foam, preparing blank backgrounds of greens and dressing blooming potted plants can all be executed in this fashion. It is important to make sure everyone understands their contribution and they have all the components and tools necessary to execute their part of the design. A good quality control person is important to have at the end to evaluate the design work to make sure it is A+ and reflects the integrity of the shops reputation.
Goal #2 is to work smarter. This translates into working from recipes. Recipe designs can be stylish and best made in multiple price points. Small, medium and large with upgraded materials as the price point increases. There should be a distinctive look between the price points, not just more of the same variety of flowers and foliages. Keep in mind all the component selections; container, foliages, flowers and any trims or accents. All need to be cost efficient and time efficient for maximum output. While Bear Grass woven with colored wire may look attractive, it probably would not be the best choice for production work. Save those bells and whistles for your custom designs where you can charge more for your time and creativity. Check to see what the national wire services are featuring as well. Designing a compliment is a good way to use the national advertising dollars they spend to help feature your in house stylings.
Goal #3 is to make more money. Keep an eye on your cost of goods sold (COGS) to make sure they are not over 33%. If you can get them lower; somewhere between 28% and 30%, you will make even more profit. This is another reason to work from recipes. Double check what goes into each styling and make sure that is all that is being put in. When you overstuff an arrangement, you lose valuable profit dollars. Now do that times the amount of production during the holiday and it can really add up to some serious dollar losses for everyone! No guessing allowed when it comes to pricing. Whether product is sold by the stem, bunch or weight, everyone should know exactly how much to charge for the product.
With a smart check up, this season of selling stands to be your most time and cost efficient ever. Now your biggest challenge just may be what to do with the extra free time and extra profits made by being efficient!

Tom Bowling 2011 > MIX IT UP !

November 14th, 2011

During this ‘Trans-Seasonal’ time of year, where it is not quite full blown Christmas but Autumn is but a memory, it can be a challenge for what look you should be making available to your customers. While it may be a bit too early for Christmas evergreens, and a little past time for all fall components, what is the best solution? Why not give your customers a little of both!
Evergreens tend to be associated with Christmas décor even though Evergreens are with us all year long and stay green all year long, ergo the name Evergreen. Many years ago people would decorate their homes with evergreens to remind them of the spring season that was to come. We now have a definite association with the celebration of Christmas, so the time to use them is a bit more confined and restricted. However, using them in proportion and mixing them with other foliages gives us a longer season to enjoy the textures and fragrances.
Several other foliages combine well with traditional evergreens to create a visually pleasing presentation. Some winter foliages such as Salal, Huckleberry, and Boxwood all have rich dark green foliage that adds depth in your design work because of the deep green color that is contrasted by lighter green evergreen foliage. Oregonia is an excellent choice because of its variance in color. Anytime you choose variegated foliage, it too gives dimension to the design work and appears to be more abundant in presence.
While some foliage has the deep green quality to its leaves, others have more gray and blue influences that work well with winter spruces and firs. Rosemary, Eucalyptus and Silver Tree all have the gray influence that combines so well for the trans-seasonal time of year. Gray as we know is a melding color that blends surrounding colors together to make them more harmonious. Like any amount of color, we want to use it in correct proportion. This is especially true when using a neutral color such as gray. We don’t want the floral styling to become too sleepy.
Rosemary has small leaves that appear to resemble needles so therefore mimics many evergreens. It has a delicate fragrance that has a very fall or earthy fragrance to it. Since it grows in a vertical pattern, it makes for a good choice to reinforce line in a design. Scotch Broom also is linear foliage that is quite malleable and can be molded or shaped using your hand or fingers to take on different shaped lines. It is delicate in appearance but gives a great amount of strength to a composition.
Whether you need strength in line, fullness in volume or fragrance added to your floral styling, there are many excellent choices to help make this ‘Trans-Seasonal’ time of year easy to design through. Take advantage of all the wonderful selections available to you during this time of year. Your customers will love you for all the interest and fragrance you are sharing. After all, this is the season for sharing and caring.

Tom Bowling 2011 > MULTIPLICITY

November 6th, 2011

Designing for holiday occasions can be somewhat of a challenge. Often the objection is that the flowers take up too much room on the table leaving little room for dishes, glasses, and the food. One great solution is to design in smaller containers and make them in multiple to allow for space considerations.
One of the hottest looks right now is the vintage bottle ‘collections’. These old bottles are an assemblage of different sizes and shapes that are grouped together to make an impact. While it does take the client some time to assemble their collection, they are the perfect find at tag sales, flea markets and yard sales from around the country. Since the bottles have odd shapes and sizes, the mismatched look works very well for holiday and everyday table decor. Vintage décor has been in and out of vogue for many years. Most people associate the word vintage with ‘Victorian’ so it might be a good idea to rename the collection to ‘Gatherings’. Whatever way you choose to market the concept, be sure to show lots of ideas that have the same concept.
If your customer is more contemporary, try using small 4” cubes on the table in a runner fashion. Small cubes filled with seasonal flowers can be placed on the table and then connected with pieces of Bear Grass, Lily Grass, or even decorative wire. Interface a few votive candles and you have the impact of a centerpiece without taking too much room on the table. This concept can also be staged in a circular fashion for those who have round tables.
The advantage of designing in multiple containers is that the client is not limited to where the flowers must go and only being able to afford to decorate a single location. Small Garden Collection vases sold in multiples allow the client to use some on the table, some in the powder room, maybe a couple on the kitchen window sill, and wherever else is appropriate for decorating. The idea of keeping them low cost allows for multiple sales. Consider offering 3 @ and reasonable price and then 6 at an attractive price that is less than double of the first 3 and don’t forget that some guests can and will purchase 12 if it priced in a cost effective price point.
Consider offering a holiday workshop that teaches table decorating for the holidays. You might even consider doing a DIY workshop to allow the students to make and take the designs they have created. A good idea is to let them make 3 for a fixed price and then purchase the additional products to complete as many stylings as needed. You can offer several choices in vases, sizes, and number of components to complete the projects. Be sure to sign them up while they are excited and successful about repeating the workshop for the Christmas holidays while at your flower shop. It is also a great time to create special buys and discounts for only the class participants. This gives the class added value and makes them feel special.
Think about the possibilities of stores in your area that carry furniture that you could team up with for the holidays to go to them and do ‘how to’s’ for their customers. How to Set a Holiday Table, How to Entertain With Flowers, or How to Decorate With Flowers, are just a few ideas that might catch on. Larger chain department stores often bring in outside resources to share their expertise with their customers. Also, don’t overlook the independent stores that may be smaller, but still have a good customer base to get your shop new exposure and customers. Be ready to share the features and benefits of your shop and have business cards or a special card with your shop information printed on it to pass out during your demonstrations.
Just think of the impact of selling in multiples could have on sales for the next 45 days in your store! It’s the time of year for home entertaining, so make the most out of Multiplicity!

The Harvest Season is in full swing, but as Thanksgiving approaches, more emphasis is place on the importance of texture and color. When we think of this time of year, we often think of the analogous color harmonies that feature reds, oranges and yellows. While this works for many home décor interiors, some may prefer variations on the tried and true traditional fall colors.

By taking the cue from tradition, perhaps it is time to kick it up a notch and feature collections that favor more fashion forward colors of peach and honeysuckle and accented with tans and greens. Peach is a derivative of orange and honeysuckle finds its roots in the red family. Both work well with each other because they are next to each other on the color wheel. Tans, rusts and chocolate brown are very neutral and still compliment the surrounding colors, but often need a punch or boost of a complimentary color to keep the traditional colors from becoming too sleepy or muddy. Chartreuse green adds just the right amount of color impact to make ordinary turn to extraordinary!

Chartreuse can be found in products such as Hypericum, Hydrangea, and Chrysanthemums. Jade and Super Green Roses also add a burst of color to your favorite floral stylings. Hanging green Amaranths, mini Dendrobium Orchids, and Cymbidium Orchids can also provide a fresh, clean expression of color. Green Trick Dianthus is still among the newer flowers for customers to experience and pair well with ornamental grasses and Scabiosa pods for unusual forms.

Cattails have a look and feel of suede so they compliment more modern interiors. Chocolate Cymbidium Orchids and Terra Cotta Roses are always a good choice for an elegant brown influence. Terra Anthurium is an unexpected surprise for brown tones too. Some foliage such as dark Ti leaves lean more to the brown when coupled with these flowers.

If you are in search of a distinctive floral component, try using Ilex berries in the peach and golden yellow colors. While most think of Ilex in only red, this color comes later in the growing season, these early season varieties add a great amount of interest and pop of color at this time of year. Ilex has a very long shelf life and dry well ensuring customer satisfaction.

Whatever color harmony your clients choose to compliment their interior for this trans-seasonal time of year, Florabundance has the perfect choices that will work for you. Check with your account manager to find the best choices for you. Remember, it is not too early to place your floral order for the Thanksgiving season. It will be here before you know it!

Florabundance was the place to be on Sunday! Florabundance was the host to the LACCU of Teleflora this past Sunday. Featuring guest designer Tom Bowling AIFD, PFCI, the guests were treated to designs that showcased product from the magnificent selection from Florabundance.

Herewith is a summary written by Tom Bowling

The first 90 minutes were filled with design work that was inspired with an autumn feel. The designs featured components both familiar and even a few that were so unique direct from Holland that that they had to be looked up on the internet. Beautiful peach amaryllis, blazing yellow sunflowers and glorious lilies married together to give inspiration to the audience. Keepsake containers provided by Teleflora were used to feature the foliages and flowers.

I shared with the audience a unique approach to teach an armature structure used to secure a hand tied bouquet. Made of bark wire from the Smithers Oasis Company, I demonstrated how easy it was to form the armature by folding the wire and weaving the armature to hold the ornamental grasses, natural materials, and fragrant chocolate scented geranium foliage. I then demonstrated a simple and effective binding technique to secure the bouquet. After cutting the stems, he then displayed the collection in a rustic pottery pitcher.

Teleflora’s Bamboo Collection was showcased both in tropical flowers and showing its diversity was also filled with form flowers such as the Pin Cushion Protea, Birds of Paradise, and Cymbidium Orchids. Snapdragons, Cattails, and Sansonia were accented with River Cane to show the audience how many different ways the containers could be used and for numerous occasions.

After a delicious lunch was served, Tom shared a collection of trans-seasonal designs that bridged the two seasons. Trans-seasonal designs work well for those customers who want a bit of Christmas flavor prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. Lots of rich reds, browns and coppers were combined to usher in the season. Christmas design ideas started with the traditional colors of reds and greens. Roses, carnations, Alstroemeria, Bouvardia, Bells of Ireland and Dendrobium Orchids were used to enhance Teleflora’s holiday collection. From tradition the program then featured a collection of black and silver accented with hot pinks, whites, and chartreuse greens. Gerbera Daisies, Hydrangea, Stargazer Lilies, Roses, and Dendrobium Orchids were featured in both aluminum and glass containers. Black accents of sticks and polished black river rocks gave the more generic containers a personal themed feel.

After all was said and done, the guests were treated to 45 arrangements and the most gorgeous flowers and foliages imaginable! Florabundance believes in the future of the floral industry and is always willing to rise to the occasion to assist and support.

Success is measured in many ways depending on the desired outcome. You may want to improve your walk in traffic, so you do a promotion to have more people visit your flower shop. When your walk in traffic improves to a desired level, then you evaluate the process to see if the return on investment was in fact successful. You may want to improve traffic to your web site as a goal. So you may develop a promotion to drive more activity through your site. It could be a blitz or blast campaign or you may decide to increase your frequency of contacts to your customers that offer an opportunity that is featured only for web orders. Again, when you see the desired outcome successfully happen, then once again, you evaluate the return against the investments made. This will help determine whether a campaign should be repeated at another time as executed the first time or whether you want to tweak the variables to see if the second marketing strategy had the same desired outcomes.
Another area to evaluate is the production in the design room. Is your current staff producing at full capacity or are there areas that could be revamped to make improvements. As you will find, most shops perform better at a holiday than they do at non-holiday times. What this means is that the sales staff and design staff are more efficient at selling and producing the required number of designs at the correct price points. The answer lies in the fact that most shops offer a more selective or limited amount of offerings during the busier times so it streamlines the sales and production process. Think about going into your favorite restaurant. When you sit down, the server offers you a menu of items to choose from. The management knows exactly what ingredients go into making each of the menu items. While you as the customer can still make modifications to ‘personalize’ a standard menu item, the bottom line is that the standardization is still fairly much intact. This allows for cost controls and time efficient production.
We are coming up on a time in the floral industry that this concept works well. Take for instance Thanksgiving and Christmas. Looking at past sales records, look to see just how many centerpieces were sold. Did some have no candles? How many single candle centerpieces were sold? How many were sold with double candles? What were the other high demand items that were requested? This history allows you to do more mass production for these items. The next step would be to make a recipe for each composition to be able to determine the number of the components that you are going to need to create the desired number of arrangements in that category. This can be done for as many items that you want to place on your ‘holiday menu’ of holiday offerings.
By doing so now, it allows you to be proactive to be able to make the prototypes, photograph them for your website and to get your customers thinking about the upcoming holiday floral needs. After the prototypes are determined, do the math, extend the numbers and gather your totals to give to your Florabundance Account Manager so they can place their orders in a timely fashion with their suppliers. This process allows everyone to react to the holidays in a timely and orderly fashion versus running around at the last minute trying to find product to satisfy the customer’s requests. What you will find is that production increases dramatically thereby increasing profitability because less production hours will be needed for the 80% of repetitive requests. It will also allow you to give the necessary time to those customers who want those ‘special, one of a kind’ creations that do not fit a menu offering. This way everyone wins! Customers are happy, morale is good because the flower shop is organized, and your supplier has what you need at the best price available.
How do you spell success? Very simple – start your holiday preparedness now to ensure a smooth and profitable season. Invest a few hours now to have a successful return in the future.
Don’t forget to stop by the Teleflora program this Sunday at Florabundance to be inspired for the busy season ahead. I hope to see all of you there!

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