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. Lynn Rapp of Cultivating Joy and Marsha Swezey of Suburban Blooms joined ASCFG staff Judy Lauschman and Linda Twining to plan the sold-out conference. Jennie Love of Love ‘N Fresh Flowers and Becky Devlin of Roots Flowers and Designs developed an extensive lineup of workshops and speakers. Kudos to you all!
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!
- Break the image of farmers gone by! Be professional from the get go.
- Consistence pays.
- Drop-off generous samples and a business information packet.
- Packet contents: your contact information, website, what you plan to grow, how they order, delivery schedule, how they will pay you.
- Follow-up, again and again.
- Words about social media—keep it all professional.
- Grow for standing orders.
- What is a standing order?
- Build trust with consistence high quality supplies of staple flowers.
- Make your flowers their staple flowers, example: zinnias in place of gerberas for summer.
- Sunflowers each week will not only float a bouquet business but your florist will love them.
- Then one day it will happen—you realize that your flowers are filling their daily orders.
- Sell on the phone once customers established.
- Email / fax list and follow-up with a call
- This allows the customer to see exactly what you have, how many bunches and the price.
- Early morning contact works well for busy shops.
- 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.
- This allows us to pack the truck in the order of deliveries for speedier deliveries.
- 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.)
- Getting paid
- In your initial drop-off business information you should make it clear about payment.
- C.O.D. always for the first year.
- Then consider 30 day terms if they ask for those customers buying weekly with increasing orders.
- Attend to late payments immediately—its business not personal—don’t avoid it.
- If you take credit cards remember you are paying a fee—some folks have a cc handling fee which is complete fair.
- Grow your business
- 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!
- 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.
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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