Debra Prinzing

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SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: ASCFG #1 Getting Florists Onboard with Lisa Mason Ziegler (Episode 165)

October 29th, 2014

The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers 2015 conference theme: "Growing GROWERS"

The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers 2015 conference theme: “Growing GROWERS”

Last week, more than 300 American and Canadian flower farmers and floral designers gathered at the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers national conference in Wilmington, Delaware. “Growing GROWERS” was a fabulous event and a privilege to attend.

Slow Flowers (that would be me) attended as a media sponsor. In the coming weeks, you will hear several episodes from expert panels and presentations recorded during the conference. I know you’ll be inspired and informed to hear them — it will be almost as good as having been there!

I want to congratulate the ASCFG conference committee and program co-chairs, Jennie Love of Love ‘N Fresh Flowers and Becky Devlin of Roots Flowers and Designs, who developed an extensive lineup of workshops and speakers – making this the best ASCFG Conference ever! 

Kudos also goes to ASCFG staff Judy Lauschman and Linda Twining, as well as committee members Lynn Rapp of Cultivating Joy and Marsha Swezey of Suburban Blooms for all your efforts to make the event a huge success.

The Gardener's Workshop Cut Flower Farm: Lisa Ziegler and her family and crew.

The Gardener’s Workshop Cut Flower Farm: Lisa Ziegler (front left) and her family and crew.

Gardeners_Workshop_Logo It was only a few weeks ago that I hosted flower farmer Lisa Mason Ziegler of The Gardener’s Workshop Cut Flower Farm to talk about her new book Cool Flowers.

But today you’ll have a chance to hear her excellent presentation: “Getting Florists Onboard and Keeping Their Business.” Lisa is nothing but 100 percent forthcoming about how she developed close ties with florists in the Newport News, Virginia, marketplace. Perhaps her story and business insights will prompt you to adopt some of her savvy marketing and sales practices.

Here is the outline for her presentation:

Getting Florist Onboard and Keeping their Business! 

The beautiful bounty, just picked, local and fresh - from The Gardener's Workshop Cut Flower Farm.

The beautiful bounty, just picked, local and fresh – from The Gardener’s Workshop Cut Flower Farm.

  1. Break the image of farmers gone by! Be professional from the get go.
    1. Consistence pays.
    2. Drop-off generous samples and a business information packet.
    3. Packet contents: your contact information, website, what you plan to grow, how they order, delivery schedule, how they will pay you.
    4. Follow-up, again and again.
    5. Words about social media—keep it all professional.

      Babs, the farm dog, is Lisa's secret weapon on social media.

      Babs, the farm dog, is Lisa’s secret weapon on her farm’s social media pages.

  2. Grow for standing orders.
    1. What is a standing order?
    2. Build trust with consistence high quality supplies of staple flowers.
    3. Make your flowers their staple flowers, example: zinnias in place of gerberas for summer.
    4. Sunflowers each week will not only float a bouquet business but your florist will love them.
    5. Then one day it will happen—you realize that your flowers are filling their daily orders.

      When florists see and smell these tuberoses -- they want a standing order during harvest time.

      When florists see and smell these tuberoses — they want a standing order during harvest time.

  3. Sell on the phone once customers established.
    1. Email / fax list and follow-up with a call
    2. This allows the customer to see exactly what you have, how many bunches and the price.
    3. Early morning contact works well for busy shops.
    4. I send lists one at a time: first customer sees all, then after their order, I update list, and send to next customer until all sold—about 2 hours of phone work.
    5. This allows us to pack the truck in the order of deliveries for speedier deliveries.
    6. Swap plastic flower boxes for the easiest deliveries. Pick up empty boxes on each deliver for the next week. This also allows us to wash their grimy boxes and fill with conditioned water (#2 holding tea bags.)
      Gorgeous rudbeckia = sales at the flower shop.

      Gorgeous rudbeckia = sales at the flower shop.

      Quantity and Quality is expressed in these snapdragons!

      Quantity and Quality is expressed in these snapdragons!

  4. Getting paid
    1. In your initial drop-off business information you should make it clear about payment.
    2. C.O.D. always for the first year.
    3. Then consider 30 day terms if they ask for those customers buying weekly with increasing orders.
    4. Attend to late payments immediately—its business not personal—don’t avoid it.
    5. If you take credit cards remember you are paying a fee—some folks have a cc handling fee which is complete fair.
      Stocked for deliveries.

      Stocked for weekly deliveries.

      The Gardener's Workshop Supermarket Bunches.

      The Gardener’s Workshop Supermarket Bunches.

      Premium flowers: Hellebores that florists gobble up!

      Premium flowers: Hellebores that florists gobble up!

  5. Grow your business
    1. Invite your commercial customers over once a year in season. Have a little food and listen. I normally learn about some flower or shrub or a stage of growth of something here on the farm that I have undervalued. You will learn something and they will appreciate you!
    2. Other customers: cruise lines, resorts, government agencies, event planners, garden share program, subscription drop-offs. Think outside the box.

HERE’S THE AWESOME VIDEO LISA REFERS TO: The Bed Layer attachment 

I hope you gained as much value from Lisa’s incredibly detailed presentation as I did. And be sure to follow her adventures by liking  the Cool Flowers Facebook page.

Listeners like you have downloaded the Slow Flowers Podcast nearly 25,000 times. If you like what you hear, please consider logging onto Itunes and posting a listener review.

My personal goal is to put more American grown flowers on the table, one vase at a time. I promise that when you tune in next week, you’ll hear another insightful and educational episode of the Slow Flowers Podcast.

The Slow Flowers Podcast is engineered and edited by Andrew Wheatley and Hannah Holtgeerts. Learn more about their work at hhcreates.net.

All photos provided, courtesy (c) The Gardener’s Workshop/Lisa Mason Ziegler

2 Responses to “SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: ASCFG #1 Getting Florists Onboard with Lisa Mason Ziegler (Episode 165)”

  1. anonymous Says:

    Hi Debra,

    I have been listening to your podcast every week for the past 8 months or so. I have never commented before but had to after hearing this week’s podcast. It’s phenomenal! Absolutely packed with savvy, no-holds-barred information. I can’t wait to hear more talks from the national conference. Thank you so much for sharing these!

    Wow, THANK YOU~~ It means so much to learn that you find the Slow Flowers Podcast helpful! Thanks for listening, Debra

  2. Debra Prinzing » Post » ASCFG #3: Pamela Arnosky on Selling Your Flowers to Groceries (Episode 169) Says:

    […] — about selling to supermarkets — was paired with Lisa Mason Ziegler’s session on selling to florists, which you heard several weeks ago. Head’s up – like all the ASCFG sessions and panels, this is a one-hour presentation, […]

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