Tracking Your Toss

Recently I was talking to another flower shop owner and I asked him if he tracked his toss. "Oh yes, I sure do" he replied. Being curious as I usually am (I know, it's such an annoying trait to those around me) I asked him how he did this. You see, the way we track toss at our shop is anything that gets thrown out gets recorded on a toss sheet tracker that we have created. Pretty much the drill is, if you can't use it and we paid for it, it gets recorded. So, of course, I was wondering if perhaps he had a better way to track his work loss then we did. When I pressed him further as to how he tracked it, he did not have an  answer. Oh boy, that means he thinks he's tracking it but actually he wasn't. Not a good thing. Below is how we track it, what we do with the information and why it's important.

How do we track it?
  • Each designer has a toss bucket at their station. If the flower is not sellable (past it's prime, broken, whatever) it gets tossed in the bucket. By the way, we spot check the designers regularly. If they don't use the toss procedure, they are written up for it. The flip side is that we never get mad at the poor designer who ends up having to record lots of toss items as the coolers get cleaned out.  Designers, by nature, want to use everything but if product is past it's prime, it should not be used and whoever is doing their job by reporting it, is not the person who is responsible for it going bad. It takes a whole design and management team to keep toss to minimum so DON'T shoot the messenger!!
  • Every now and then the designer takes their toss bucket and quickly adds the number of stems by variety on their toss sheet. These are forms that we have created that lists all the types of flowers in alphabetical order. It's easy to use and it's easy to read
  • The toss sheets make their way up to the office for recording into a spreadsheet by variety.
What do you do with the information?
  • The spreadsheet creates a listing of all the flowers that were tossed. It goes from the most tossed flower to the least tossed flower.
  • As the buyer, I use this information to tell me what adjustments to make to my buying. Are the designers tossing a lot of short stem roses? If so, perhaps I'm ordering too many, the wrong color or the quality is not good. The toss information allows me to know that there is a problem and then correct it.
  • Kevin takes this information and tracks it as a percentage of our purchases. In our industry you are always going to have work loss but you do want that loss to be as low as possible. Kevin actually posts not only the percentage of work loss but the total value of the work loss for our staff to see. As a rule, they know we want to keep it below 3% and thankfully, it's usually below 2%. Before tracking the toss this way, that was not always the case!
Why is the information important?
  • Tracking your toss helps you to buy better, rotate your product better (that could be a whole other blog), get your designers to be aware of the quality of their product and also reinforces the idea of flower rotation.
  • It also helps you keep your COGS in  order. Tossing too much product and bad purchasing really affects your COGS. If you toss a certain flower too often, it's probably not a good product for your shop and you should stop or limit buying it.
We started tracking our toss last year and what a difference it's been to our company. For me, as the buyer, I realized that there were certain flowers that I was buying too many off and others that were so delicate and expensive, that we could never sell them quickly enough. It really helped me get my COGS back in line, leaving that money for being spent in a better way than just going into the garbage. As I'm fond of telling my staff, there can't be any new equipment or employee raises if we don't keep needless expenses down and throwing flowers in the garbage is pointless. In the long run, isn't it best to leaving the flower tossing to your brides??


  1. Thanks for the informative article! We do this informally, but should be a little more rigig about it. Lilies, one of my favorites for show & value, were frequently tossed because of their breakage in mis-handling in the coolers. Now we purchase just a few, and have less tossed out.

    Thanks for the great blogs!

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