15th January 2022
Whilst Monday may not be traditionally the best Valentine’s Day, there is still everything to go for!
We’ve got the whole Omicron worry pretty much out of the way and life is really beginning to look a lot more normal, so there is no reason to think there won’t be sales opportunities and with four weeks to go now’s the time to get yourself sorted.
That said, having spent the last few days monitoring the situation and getting the latest intel, there are some really serious things you need to be aware of.
1: Order NOW or pay the price
We’ve seen a lot of florists say pre-ordering is just a sales ploy by wholesalers to get you to order early, lock you in and lose you the chance to buy cheaper near the time.
BUNKUM, PISH POSH AND ABSOLUTE ROLLOCKS!!
Be grateful they are offering you pre-sales because quite frankly and given the state of the global market, they would probably make far more money out of late orders than the early.
We’ve seen some of the numbers. A decent rose ordered in September last year was costing £1.20 … this week it is £1.50 … a massive 25% increase. Per stem not a lot but if you are doing 100 dozen red rose orders (1200 x 30p) that’s £360 you’ve wasted by trying to be clever or not believing when a wholesaler is trying to help you.
Given the average florist will sell a lot more than that it is simply money down the drain.
Order roses – nay all flowers NOW. As you’ll see from our Wholesale Panel interview here, supplies are going to be tight, there are no guarantees that after the pre-orders are shipped there will be any chance of getting more (there simply isn’t the transport capacity) and not one person is thinking there will be any price drops.
2: Do not drop the roses
There’s been a lot of people saying they won’t be offering roses because of the price. In our view that’s very dangerous and given prices actually aren’t that that bad compared to previous years, we don’t really get it.
As such, unless you are really, really sure it’s the right thing to do, you should never drop red roses from your collection and certainly not if you are a traditional bricks and mortar shop.
It can work. We know of a few – and we mean a few - shops who have been successful and we know Bloom & Wild made a real hoo hah of it in 2021 and got oodles of press coverage as a result - but you need to be very, very sure that your customers will understand and not just think you are copping out. It is not for you to decide what they can and can’t spend nor do you have to hold huge stock … you can control how many you offer.
Bottom line is that not only is a florist shop expected to have red roses but you will need to spend a lot of time and energy explaining the rationale; just saying you’re not doing it won’t cut it, if you say it’s because you don’t think customers can afford it you run the risk of insulting them (they may be more than happy – you don’t control their credit card!) and to be blunt it simply may not be worth it in terms of lost revenue.
Given the classic dozen red rose bouquet can be a fabulous money spinner – what the American’s call the ‘bell ringer’ if you get it right - we would urge serious caution against not offering a red rose bouquet, especially if you’ve done it up till now.
By all means limit the order numbers and obviously have alternatives simply because not everyone likes red roses (see #8) but the classic red rose bouquet is a MUST for any self-respecting florist. To see what other florists think click here
3: Roses are not environmentally evil
If you’re worried about the environmental issues around roses please don’t be.
You can read more here but truth is it is far better for the planet and the people who work on the farms to use natural heat and light to grow roses in countries like Africa and South America than in Northern Europe and yes that includes The Netherlands.
What’s more if you buy from a reputable grower – and we know that’s what all self-respecting wholesalers do - you can be sure they will have done everything they need to so they meet the exacting standards of the various bodies who control best practice growing.
People like those in our picture matter as much as the planet and by ditching imports you are impacting on their lives … that has to be taken into consideration as well.
4: Size matters
Make sure customers understand what you are selling ... and what they are buying!!!
Not only do consumers not understand the difference in the various roses but a picture on a website simply doesn’t explain or show the difference between a small sweetheart rose bouquet or a luxury, long length rose unless you put something with it to show the scale – M&S actually put a measure on it.
Use selling text. If you are charging £90 for a dozen Red Naomi or similar then explain they are a ‘large headed, long stemmed, lightly fragranced, velvet petalled 70/80cm ultra special roses’ so people don’t compare it with a £50/60 bouquet of 60cm Freedom or a £40/£50 Sweetheart rose bouquet which is only going to be around 50cm.
5: Set prices in advance
Once you’ve designed your collection, ordered the flowers and know your price, adjust where necessary the prices you’re showing on your website.
However, DO NOT change them until you have really thought it through and make sure you’ve factored in ALL costs plus a contingency amount.
You see you only have one chance at this because you should NEVER adjust your prices upwardly at the last minute as that will just look like you are ripping people off and you could get challenged.
If you want to do early bird deals that is great and can be useful but don’t underestimate the value of a Valentine’s order. Love doesn’t quite come at any price but is not in the same discount arena as some events.
6: Play with your margins
That said and if you are really worried that you can’t charge full mark up, Valentines is the one peak where we reckon you can tweak the margins especially when it comes to the standard red rose bouquet … the “High volume, Low margin and Big cash in the bank” orders.
Yes, you absolutely must cover your purchase costs but given the dozen red rose bouquet is probably one of the easiest and fastest designs to make there is a strong argument for not marking up in the normal way.
We cover it in more detail in our Manage your Margin piece but this is the one time we’re going to say do not get fixated by margin and look carefully at how you can buy a better rose and, with clever pricing, deliver a better experience to create a repeat buyer.
Because Valentine’s is also the perfect marketing opportunity, a chance to engage with a lot of potential regular buyer - be it the order-er or recipient – and that has a long-term value that is worth far more than a few pounds on the day.
7: Go Big
We reckon a bespoke florist should be looking at a range of designs and price points starting at £35 running up to £150 with the bulk between £50 and £70. If that sounds too rich for your area, then tweak your price points down but don’t underestimate the willingness to spend.
This is a special day and people may want to make a grand gesture - or feel they have to repeat the grand gesture they made last year - so don’t deny them the choice!!
Always include one or two fabulously priced options ... well and truly breaking the £150 price point … like 100 roses for £300+ or whatever! You may not sell them, but they’ll make your middle price point lines look a whole lot more reasonable!!
On the other hand, you might sell them given aforementioned desire for grand gestures so on these lines make sure they are called the Exclusive Collection or similar and put a cut-off date to be sure you can service these big orders!
8: Go colourful … go scented
Not everyone wants or likes red. It may be the colour of love but for many people so is white, pink, yellow and yes, even Rainbow.
Actually, not everyone likes roses either so make sure your collection includes the other popular … and, for younger buyers, preferable flowers like tulips, bloom chrysanths and Cymbidium orchids.
Scent matters too. Yes, you want to streamline the collection but if there are scented flowers included in a design – even if it’s Eucalyptus foliage or narcissi in mixed bouquets mention it in the descriptor text so people know it’s there. Scent sells … use it to your advantage.
9: Get your marketing sorted out
This is where your database is so important. First call should be to those who ordered last year and ideally by phone as it’s easier to sell up if you’re actually talking to someone.
HOWEVER only phone from the shop landline so your shop name shows up. If it’s done from a mobile it will just look like a cold call and probably be ignored or received with less confidence.
If you have a person who likes the phone then deploy them even if it’s not officially their job as they’ll be far more natural and successful.
Send out newsletters or emails if you must but please, please personalise them so it shows you care and took notice of them as people, not just a name on a credit card!
If you didn’t do it last year maybe 2022 is the time you do some mindful marketing … basically emailing people to check they want to hear from you and don’t mind you contacting them.
It is a prompt for them to reconnect with you but done in a way that again shows you care – after all they may have got divorced, widowed or split up, and given Mother’s Day is around the corner, lost their Mum, wife, special person.
Next target is your local area so look at handing out flyers, doing link ups with other local traders and restaurants and running competitions with your local press and radio to find the best wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend offering a huge bouquet as a prize.
Because whilst we totally get that social media is important – especially if you have built up a good following of real buyers as against followers who like your pictures – please don’t miss out on the local advertising opportunities. As a local business you can connect with your local area far more effectively than any of the big players … use the power.
10: DO NOT worry about the competition
NEVER EVER compare yourself to supermarkets or online players. You are an independent bespoke florist who does things differently - not a by the mile, stick it in a box merchant. Customers come to you because you are special.
Remember too that for supermarkets and many online players red roses are more often than not a loss leader line, purposely priced low to get the punter in and get them to buy other things with a higher margin.
They also have a HUGE buying power that a small independent can’t possibly match.
And for online players they are ALL pretty much ruled by the size of the box and can ONLY sell a 50cm … possibly 60cm flower.
That’s why we always recommend bespoke florists buy longer stems – think 60cm min for your cheaper range and 70/80cm for your luxury collection. It will cost diddly squit more but means your designs will look sooooooo much bigger and better.
Looking over your shoulder at what other people are doing is a waste of energy … focus on what you can and do do and save yourself unnecessary angst.
11: Plan your working hours
A Monday Valentines may not be the best day but it’s not a disaster either and in some ways is great as you can and should use the Sunday to make up/get early deliveries out so you can get the on-the-day-orders out for delivery first thing and be ready for the on-the-day sales.
Because whilst the world is a bit different these days, looking back at our 2011 survey florists were phenomenally busy on the Monday.
If WFH is still in place never mind the fact you’ve undoubtedly benefited from the whole shop local movement, it could really play into your hands so use the Saturday/Sunday wisely.
If you can pre-prep then do it. You can read our Peak Productivity ideas here but basically its all about batching and speed!
Make sure you have enough care cards, gift tags, logo labels etc … and if in doubt order more now. Mother’s Day is just around the corner too so it will get used.
Check all your sundries stock as well. There are pretty good supplies at the moment but like Christmas chances are wholesalers may not be able to re-stock due to transport issues which are still ongoing so get it now, do not leave it too late.
12: Delivering the goods
Delivery discounts for early ordering don’t really work as well as they should … especially given the normal Valentine’s buyer profile who tends to leave it till the last minute anyway.
Instead charge a premium for both Sunday and ‘on-the-actual-day’ delivery – anything between £9 and £12 to cover the fact you will probably need extra drivers and more time spent on logistics.
Do however make sure that if you are bringing in external drivers, they are experienced with handling flowers and look the part. They don’t have to dress up in tux or any other fancy outfit but they are the ‘face’ of your business on that last important 10 yards so they must be fit for purpose.
If you can, send a confirmation text or picture of the design to the customer. It takes a bit more time but it’s a service many consumers have come to expect and shows you are a professional to the end.
13: Love yourself
It’s not much point doing all this love stuff for everyone else if you don’t love yourself. The world is almost harder two years down the line than it was when this whole Covid thing started and there has been a huge rise in mental and physical pressures.
It is OK to not be OK but you need to be sure you are looking after yourself. There’s a host of really good Wellbeing and care articles in the FTC Resources hub … it’s free to view if you’ve signed up and if you’re a paid member (just £60 a year) you can also access helplines, webinars and all sorts of other good stuff to help you.
14: Keep the Love going
Finally, do not, in all the rush, forget to use the increase in orders as a data collection exercise and a chance to get and keep a regular customer.
We are appalled at how many florists just take the order and forget about the buyer after its delivered … see what our Editor has to say about this here.
You see it doesn’t matter what size business you run, customer relation and retention are crucial, especially given how many people are chasing the floral pound.
It doesn’t have to be complicated … just sending out a nice thank you for your order after the event and including a discount code is fine. If you can do a monthly newsletter that’s brilliant.
But whatever you do don’t just take the money and ignore the buyer till they come back … they may not and you’ll have lost out big time on at least three more purchases (Mother’s/Father’s Day, a birthday and an Anniversary) because you didn’t make that final effort to keep connected.