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Christmas 2022 - let the lists commence!

It’s just over 40 days till Christmas Day and you can put your feet up! Till then it’s got to be head down to make sure you do as well as you can.

In the first of our Christmas 2022 lists Caroline Marshall-Foster, Editor of Florist Trade Magazine looks at some of the key things you need to think about and it's not just about the flowers!

1: Check your website is perfect!. We are still seeing old messages about Mother’s Day and – would you believe it – Valentine’s!! Lots of links to the social media channels aren’t working and we’re going to be honest; we think an About Us page without any pics of you or the shop is a real shame. Your website is your digital shop window ... it needs to be as fabulous as any window display.

2: Is your out of office reply still relevant or is it out of date too. Make sure you check what it says and that it has a link to your online ordering page so you never miss an order.

3: Are your social media accounts all working as they should. We see a lot of broken links and missing information ... again check it out and get it right.

4: Talk to your wholesaler and get a feel for supplies. The supply side of things may be trickier this year but good wholesalers are totally on the case and can advise and guide you. Be ready to duck and dive on flower choices and have fun working with different products. As long as you explain to customers that world supply is a bit all over the place and that you are going to choose what is best value and quality they will be OK. Yes you may get the odd fuss pot but in the main they trust you to know best.

5: Do not change wholesalers at this stage however tempting price offers may be – you need to be absolutely sure about supplies this year and if it sounds too good to be true it probably is!!

6: It’s OK to start prepping greens and foliage based items – keep them cool and damp they’ll be fine plus it will save you time when it really does start to kick off. This is also the time to pre-prep ribbons, bows, picks etc ... in fact anything you can to get ahead.

7: Go through the cupboards and see what you have that can be repurposed. Spray colour is a fabulous way to revitalise containers ... being creative with the glue gun and ribbons or covering them with foliage can transform tired looking stock into something new, save money and fun to do!

8: Grab any bargains out there on all things glitz. A few baubles and festive accessories can be cheaper than flowers and will make a design look fabulous.

9: Think about mixing drieds/preserved with fresh to bulk out designs. It’s not only on-trend but again stretches budgets big time, especially if it's flowers and foliages you've dried yourself to avoid binning them!

10: Twigs – glittered or plain - are a fab way to add volume. However if you are going to forage make sure you are abiding by the rules – it is illegal to just go out into the woods and pick. Put a shout out to customers to see if anyone is pruning.

11: If you are holding workshops make sure they are full of call to actions to buy or order other items and that you are collecting everyone’s data for future newsletters.

12: Add any finishing touches you can. Be it chocolate, wine, soft toys or novelty gifts like a festive bauble, they can add valuable revenue.

13: Gift vouchers are an excellent way of forward selling and are perfect gifts for the person who has everything! However make sure you keep this revenue in a separate account.

14: Be prepared for tighter credit controls from your suppliers ... they are wholesalers not a bank! Stash the cash and keep on top of the bills because you don’t want your account stopped at the last moment.

15: Make sure your vehicles are serviced and check the MOT and insurance date – you don’t want them off the road at the last moment either.

16: Check your delivery area and expand/reduce as required. Even if it doesn’t make a profit, delivery must cover the costs and if that means adding £1 or so do it.

17: Have you enough cards, envelopes, order pads etc. Order what you need now ... printers will do their best but even they have limits. However, where possible, go for a simple design that can be used after Christmas too.

18: If there are ways you can create more sustainable options do it ... customers will notice. Better still have a separate Eco range so you can promote it accurately and make a thing of it. Because you must never claim you are doing something if you are not ... greenwashing is a no no. If customer’s think you are pretending that can back fire big time.

19: Source containers and packaging in neutral colours and add the festive look with picks and baubles. It means anything left over is useable straight away rather than sitting in the cupboard for a whole year!

20: If it's not already in think carefully about your window displays. You can have a static frame work or art around the edges but keep the content fresh every few days. One gorgeous design standing proud can have more impact than a cluttered window and is easier to replace. Alternatively make your window a 'destination' ... appealing to the children and inner children nature of adults. If you can tie it in with a competition (spot the characters/letter to Santa etc) and promote it hard then it will get footfall to the shop.

21: Organise your social media so you have a vault of content planned and ready and then intersperse with ‘in real time’ content quickly. Make sure you have all your hashtags in one place so you can copy and paste and always include local ones so you are seen by customers in your area.

22: Recheck your database is clean and ready to use and start sending out newsletters every week with offers/ideas and general chit chat.

23: Work with other vendors in the area on joint promotions. It’s not too late and collaboration will get you all into new customer minds ... and wallets!

24: Think about early ordering discounts or incentives ... people may want to spread the payment this year so now is the time to market. Be careful though you don’t give too much away ... a free gift can sometimes be cheaper than 10% discount or £5 off.

25: NEVER EVER compromise on quality, bloom size of stem length. Customers will notice. As a bespoke florist you need to look luxurious and special to show your point of difference – not be a supermarket copycat. Whether it’s a humungous bouquet or a high style simple vase of two or three flowers make it look special and always buy the longest stems you can ... the price difference is often not that much and again makes you look better.

26: Create a collection that has some low priced items as well as the big ticket items. Not everyone is hard up but not everyone is loaded either plus it shows you can and do cater for everyone. You cannot and must not sell a £35 bouquet for £25 just to try and match the supermarkets or online players ... however you can sell a stunning plant or trio of bottles at a lower price point.

27: Think about changing your style and experiment with the loose, airier style of hand tied. It takes a bit of getting used to but looks fabulous and is deffo not something a supermarket or boxed delivery company can easily do.

28: Always have a BBB (Bally Big Bouquet) on your website ... or better still 2 or 3! You should start at £10 – end at £500 and have all price points in-between. Not only might you sell the BBB’s but it makes the rest of the collection look awesome value.

29: Work out your capacity on each line you are going to promote and stick to it. Use words like Limited Offer, VIP Collection and Exclusive to show customers these are not going to be available forever and certainly not at 4.30 on Christmas Eve!

30: Once you’ve reached your capacity take the product offline or at least put Sold Out in big letters!

31: Make sure the packaging – sustainable of course – looks fabulous. You are the Tiffany and Christian Dior of the flower world ... not the Lidle or Aldi

32: Never underestimate plant power but make sure you have the more unusual varieties not just Phalaenopsis or red poinsettia by the mile. You need those but again keep it special not necessarily expensive.

33: Hold a special Open House for your VIP customers and a general one for everyone else. Invite/entice people to the shop with special offers or give aways and make sure you get everyone’s details for newsletters etc. They may not buy on the night (although they might!!) but data capture now can be used over the coming months ... a database is not just for Christmas.

34: Get out from behind the counter and be seen. If there is time and a place to do it offer a free dem for a local charity or parents group. Again it may not show an instant return but you need to make sure it’s YOUR face and shop name in the headlights!

35: You may hate having your picture taken or talking to the camera on a reel or video but people buy from people so YOU and your team have to be seen as much as the flowers and plants. Use social media to promote yourselves as THE experts.

36: Keep pushing the shop local message. You don’t want to seem ‘beggy’ but you do need to emphasise that buying from you is important and good for your town/village/community.

37: Keep saying thank you as well. Show customers you appreciate their support. Be it a quick text message to the person who ordered or a hand written note to a big corporate client always say thank you – again it makes you stand out from the crowd.

38: Organise staff rotas and make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of expectations. Hold a planning meeting with your team and rethink what happened last year. It was a peculiar one because of Covid so won’t be an exact template but there may be things that could be improved on; be it how you lay out the shop to get best productivity or products you were asked for that you hadn’t thought about. Engage ALL your people because they will often have really brilliant ideas.

39: Think about introducing a commission scheme or bonus package to encourage the team to sell up where possible and always have a decent play list on the go ... music can seriously improve productivity!

40: Keep doing the numbers ... keep monitoring the margins. You can tweak them if you need to but equally make the most you can if prices are good – i.e. don’t automatically drop prices because you got something cheaper. Instead use that increased margin to compensate for when things get more expensive. And always view sales as an all year round affair not just what happens at Christmas. Yes it is important but your business should be a 52 week project not just what happens in December.

41: Never forget you are in business to make a profit. It may not be as big this Christmas but there must be a profit. You are not put on this earth to make other people’s dreams come true at your expense.

42: Make sure you are mentally and physically in a good place. Stress is the biggest risk for a business owner ... you need to look after yourself too. No one knows how this Christmas is going to pan out but it will be a lot easier if you are feeling strong.


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