I Was Kicked Out of a Facebook Floral Group!

 I was kicked out of a Facebook Floral Group and rightly so, because it was for ACTIVE Flower Shop Owners only. In my defense, I did not realize that. Do I feel bad about it, a little bit but I understand.   Someone asked a question in the group and my answer angered some folks. I had to leave before I could explain my reasoning fully. It made me think this would make a great post! 

Someone asked the question about how people in the group handled substitutions. This was a topic I always felt passionate about. My response was that shops should not substitute anything in a design. I think I actually said "The customer should get the design as pictured". Well, of course, I got the usual... "Really, did you have every single flower in your shop every single day". Truthfully, I got blasted and called out for not still owning a shop. A floral friend tried to defend me but I went to the groups rules and it was there "Must be an ACTIVE flower shop owner" and nope, that's not me. I had 34 years of experience but my comments were not needed. I had to leave the group before elaborating on my response so I thought I'd write a post about it. 

 As this blog keeps in mind that my readers are flower shop owners trying to run their businesses in a way that is profitable and enjoyable, let me explain this further. 

Of course, we had a substitution policy which was when we did not have an exact flower for a design chosen off our website, we kept the design to the look and feel, substituting flowers of the same color and value. The truth is, we rarely had to do that, especially on everyday designs. Funeral designs might have been the most subbed due to the nature and timing of those orders. 

The reason we did not have to substitute our designs very often was because all the designs on our website were custom. Every design was built around flowers and containers that we had in stock during that time. I purchased my flowers, farm direct, about 1 month in advance. I always knew what we would be getting moving forward and my Lead Designer Alanna, Designer Alicia and I worked closely to create arrangements featuring those flowers. 

I also kept our selection of flowers rather small, eliminating expensive flowers in favor of
more durable, more common ones. That brought a lot of heat to me over the years from other florists but once I started eliminating  some of the more unusual flowers from my purchases, I had less complaints from customers and more profits. I had a customer tell me "Don't give me one of those toilet bowl brushes in my design this time". What flower was that? It was an expensive Dutch Eremurus. To her it looked like a Toilet Bowl Brush. I mean, really, once she said that, I was like "Well, that flower was totally lost on her but then again, she lives in a multi-million dollar home and if she didn't want that flower, who was I to tell her that she did or didn't have taste". I found the customer just wanted their designs to look exactly as they did on the website. They could care less about the fancy flowers. They wanted their floral gifts to last longer and they were very interested in unique, reusable containers. 

So here's what we did and I know it worked because we surveyed our customers and our profits went up....

  • I looked for floral containers that were unique and I brought nothing in offered from a wire service. I made sure they were decorative, had a reasonable price point, held lots of water to keep the flowers fresh and were water proof. I wanted any special containers on our website to be unique to my shop and not seen on other flower sites. I also didn't want the customer to see the same container used a million times. I wanted each design to be unique. This worked out very well for us. Once a design in a certain container was sold out, the arrangement was quickly removed from our site. We never substituted a specialty container. 
  • We used a nice selection of more common vases, dressing them up with colorful nuggets and in unique shapes. I tried to stay away from the real typical shapes, you know the ones, the ones you see at the flea market or for sale in thrift shops that everyone has in their home but don't use. 
  • I purchased my flowers farm direct in full cases for the best prices. I stayed away from flowers that had a short vase life. 
  • I limited how many roses I brought in each week by staying away from unusual colors that were hard to explain to the customer. I was tired of explaining that "Yes, that rose is considered purple and is not pink". 
  • We actively managed our website ourselves on a daily basis. Anything we had an abundance of or wanted to highlight went on the Homepage. Things that were profitable and easy to create went on our Best Sellers page. The Homepage and Best Sellers categories were our most popular pages and allowed our customers to find what they needed quickly. Customers often commented on how user friendly our website was. 
  • When creating new designs, we did not fuss over the photos we took of them. They were taken in natural light, often with a blurred background right in the shop, outside the shop or directly on the design bench. Why? Because they looked real. They were not photo shopped, colors were not enhanced but they looked amazing because that's what they looked like in person! If we created a custom design and thought it would be easy to replicate, we took a photo and added it to the website. 
  • I paired gift items with fresh arrangements, especially during holidays. This worked out really well to help upsell on smaller designs like mugs, etc. At the end, I loved adding things like wood flowers. They looked so pretty, never went bad and gave the recipient something they could keep. 
That's it. Is it complicated? Not really. Did it result in a profitable shop and happy customers? Yes it did and I'm proud of that. So if you ask me if a florist should be actively substituting containers and flowers because it's too hard to have every flower in stock at all times, I'm going to tell you that you are not managing your shop correctly and you are doing harm to the industry. The customers deserves to get what is pictured on your website. It's as simple as that.