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Persevering Through Tragedy

No florists ever want to find themselves having to deal with the loss of their shop, but unfortunately, that’s what happened recently to one Flower Shop Network Member florist. Aut and Connie Fuller, owners of Floral Expressions in Owings, Maryland learned that their storefront burned to the ground after a driver that was under the influence ran off the road.

“It was about 2 a.m. when I received the call from the county emergency system saying there was an accident in the parking lot involving smoke,” Fuller said. “On the way to the shop my wife actually saw a picture of our building burning on Facebook, and that’s when we knew it was going to be bad. By the time we got to the shop everything was gone.”

[Read more…]

Avoid The Scams

 

As a business owner, it’s your job to protect your business in every way–especially toward scams.

Scams come in many different forms, such as phone calls, emails, and even through “snail mail.” Here are a couple of things you should know to protect yourself against scams.

Phone Calls

In a lot of cases, scammers are very sneaky and really make you think they are real. They can say they are from a reputable company like Google or Yahoo, and most of the time they know some information about you and your business, like your full name. So, it’s easy to mistake scammers for the real thing. Here are some ways to weed out those scammers:

  1. Request a signed copy of any promotional materials you allegedly agreed to be faxed to you.
  2. Request a copy of any recording of any phone conversation where you might have agreed to anything.
  3. Request an email with links or further documentation where you would have agreed to anything.

Emails

Scam emails are easier to weed out–especially since your own email provider will have a scam filter. Yet, a couple of these sometimes make it to your main inbox. Here is how to determine if it is a scam:

  1. Broken English- Many of these scams originate outside of the U.S., and the messages can be very choppy. Sometimes, it looks like a fill-in-the-blanks type of text that was copied from a template.
  2. Shipper Agent- This is a tell-tale sign that it is a scam. Why are they paying an outside shipper instead of having you deliver them yourself?

Snail Mail

While paper mail scams may be less common, they do still occur. If you have a website, chances are you have received a solicitation to list your website on search engines. These scams confuse business owners because they come in the form of an invoice. Here are some ways to determine if it is a scam:

  1. Read the fine print. Such scams, like from Web Listings Inc., say in small print that this is not a bill but a solicitation.
  2. Don’t send money to a company you don’t recognize. If you are unsure about the “bill,” give the company a call. Sometimes you will find, like with Web Listings Inc., they don’t have a phone number listed.
  3. Fear of losing visibility on search engines can drive people to pay without questions. Search engines have no problem finding websites new and old, so there is no need to pull out your checkbook without doing some research first.

Information is your best protection against scammers. So stay informed and question everything before you agree to send a check.

Suggest an Article: Chamber of Commerce

Our next Suggest an Article comes from Alan Sherrill of the Conyers Flower Shop in Conyers, Georgia. Alan’s idea involves joining your local Chamber of Commerce, but it doesn’t end there! Here’s a bit of clarification from Alan himself:

“If florists have not joined up with their local Chamber of Commerce … I would strongly suggest [they] join and be involved … as much as possible. [Attend] ribbon cuttings, business open houses, and various committees … offered through the Chamber. The more you are seen and hand out business cards, the more you will be remembered. [Conyers Flower Shop] has a large customer base of repeat Chamber customers. We give Chamber members a 10% discount on flower orders as well. In turn, we get a lot referral customers from our Chamber base as well as the Chamber itself. Hope you will give it a try, but don’t just join and wait, join and get involved!”

Thanks Alan, that sounds like a fantastic idea!

The Importance of Networking

Chamber of CommerceI’m sure I don’t have to tell florists that being successful is all about personal relationships. You rely on word of mouth referrals for the majority of your local business! When you work a wedding or a funeral, you go out of your way to make a connection with the family in the hopes that they will recommend you to their friends. You relish the opportunity to deliver flowers to an office building so that everyone can see your work as you walk through on your way to the recipient.

Getting your business name and the quality of your work out in the community is how you make your living. Alan’s Chamber of Commerce suggestion performs the same function, but on a more targeted scale. He is targeting business leaders in the community, cultivating their business. Having one of these individuals use his services carries immediate weight within the community. After all, if the owner of XYZ Corporation uses Conyers Flower Shop for his daughter’s wedding, it’s a high-profile endorsement!

But more than that, small business owners like to support other small business owners. The Chamber allows you an opportunity to meet other business owners in your community. You can start using their services, and they start using yours. After all, isn’t that what the term ‘business community’ is supposed to mean?

That wraps up this edition of Suggest an Article! I hope everyone takes Alan’s words to heart and begins networking in their own communities toward even more success!

Remember this column relies on you, the reader, to give us input so we can share your ideas with the rest of the floral community. Leave us some of your best thoughts in the comments section below!

Suggest an Article: The Name Game

In our newest installment of Suggest an Article, we highlight this recommendation offered by Sue Kyer of Garden Shop Inc. in Cambridge, NY. Sue wrote in to let us know about a great little marketing tool she likes to call: The Name Game! Take it away, Sue:

“We do the name game in the summer. We put on our sidewalk sign ‘If your name is Sue, come in for a free rose!’ We always have a few roses left from the week before and prices are pretty cheap in the summer. We have gotten a lot of new customers from this [practice]. It’s really fun, and we change the name every few days. It gets people taking and people coming in the shop during the slow season.”

Get Customers Walking in the Door

Sidewalk Name Game What a great idea! Using some of your older blooms to generate traffic and potentially generate new business and new customers is a stroke of genius.

Getting customers to walk in your door is always the hard part. Once you have a chance to WOW them with your stellar customer service, they won’t be able to resist coming back for all their floral needs!

And remember folks, it’s okay if you don’t have a sidewalk sign. You can use chalk on the actual sidewalk, or advertise your promotion on Facebook or Twitter. I know I would make a special trip to my local florist for a free rose!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this installment of Suggest an Article! If you missed last week’s post, you can find it here.

Remember, if you have an idea you’d like to share with other florists, drop it in the comments section below! Who knows, your idea might warrant its own edition of Suggest an Article!

 

 

Florists and Lawmakers Working For A Better Industry

On a recent trip to Washington, D.C., Flower Shop Network’s Brock and Loranne Atwill had the opportunity to visit with other florists as well as lawmakers to discuss issues facing the floral industry. Working with lawmakers to overcome those issues is an endeavor Brock and Loranne feel is important. To learn more about how FSN is working with lawmakers read SAF’s article SAF Members Host Fundraiser for Arkansas Senator.

Small_Photo_Pryor

Suggest an Article: Florists Honoring the Arizona Hotshots

Florists are amazing people, and if any of us ever forget that fact, this story should serve as a powerful reminder. This week’s suggest an article comes from Rakini Chinery of Allan’s Flowers & Prescott Valley Florist!

In order to get to the heart-warming story of local florists banding together to do something selfless and beautiful, we first have to recount a terrible tragedy.

This past June, 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots lost their lives while battling an Arizona wildfire. These brave individuals died serving and protecting their community, keeping it safe from harm.Hotshot Memorial Team

In an overwhelming response to this horrific event, the floral community in Arizona clamored to do their part to honor the noble sacrifice of these fallen heroes. Over 30 Arizona florists donated both their time and their talents to arranging and sculpting flowers provided by contributions from wholesalers for the Hotshot Memorial Service.

These tireless florists worked hard for three full days to do what they do best: provide artistic beauty and love in an effort to provide whatever comfort could be found for the inconsolable family and friends of those who were lost.

I hope you will join me in sending a heartfelt “Thank You” to the Arizona florists who did all they could for those who died so tragically on that fateful June day. It is that giving spirit which does the floral community proud. Good job, folks!

If you have an idea for Suggest an Article, leave it in the comments below.

Suggest an Article: Car Wrapping

HollyHock2Not too long ago, we asked our member florists to submit any ideas they had to use in future blog posts. We intentionally didn’t specify what kind of ideas we were looking for, and as a result, we received suggestions encompassing all aspects of the business. This will be the first in a series of articles wherein I take those tips and present them to you!

Car Wrapping Tastefully

As a business owner, effective and affordable advertising can be difficult to find. For Heather Aleksonis, the owner of HollyHock Flowers in Weare, New Hampshire, one solution came in the form of car wrapping. The process involved taking her vehicle to a local professional and having it covered in stickers advertising her business. This effectively turned her car into a moving billboard.

Heather says that it’s the best thing she’s done as far as advertising:HollyHock Stickers

“Forget the newspapers. You can do your car for the price of 2 ads in the newspaper. When your customers see your car all the time, they think you are busy. And then they want to do business with you also.”

Looking at her beautifully decorated ride, I can see why it works! That looks awesome Heather!

Come back soon for even more Suggest an Article tips! And if you missed the first opportunity to suggest an article, leave some ideas in the comments below. You never know, you might find your idea in the next Suggest an Article!

Friday Florist Recap 12/14 – 12/20: An Influx of Holiday Goodness

Christmas is in the air, and florists across the country are creating some very impressive arrangements to celebrate! We have reindeer, snowmen, a snow-covered village and some creative candy cane work. We also have a collection of some of the most impressive floral arrangements you’re likely to see this week. Scroll down and enjoy this influx of holiday goodness!

Special Occasion Flowers

A tablescape from A Flower A Day in Colchester, VT

A magnificent tablescape from A Flower A Day in Colchester, VT

“We used pieces from around the shop and our home with a mix of artificial and fresh flowers.” 

A magnificent arrangement from Fancy Flowers in Hialeah, FL

A magnificent arrangement from Fancy Flowers in Hialeah, FL [Read more…]

Friday Florist Recap 12/7 – 12/13: A Heaping of Holiday Happiness

This week’s recap is overflowing with unique and creative arrangements! We have a floral re-imagining of the common Christmas Tree, a creative use for basketballs and an amazing woodland memorial. So feel free to scroll down and mosey your way through these beautiful images.

Special Occasion Flowers

Bouquet for a winter wedding by Monday Morniing Flower and Balloon Co. in Princeton, NJ

Bouquet for a winter wedding by Monday Morning Flower and Balloon Co. in Princeton, NJ

Creative and colorful arrangement from Mabel Flowers in Mabel, MN

Creative and colorful arrangement from Mabel Flowers in Mabel, MN [Read more…]

Green Box Floral Visits FSN

Luke and Nathan Harwell, the owners of Greenbox Floral, paid a visit to Flower Shop Network headquarters this week. While they were here, we took the opportunity to learn about their upcoming product release.

Lauren, Brock, and the Brothers

From left to right: Loranne, Brock, Luke and Nathan.

Experience Before Technology

Luke Harwell chose to follow his father in the floral industry in 2002, attending the Benz School of Floral Design at Texas A&M and becoming a Texas Master Florist. He assumed the role of President of Baack’s Florists and Greenhouses in January of 2008. There is no doubt that he understands the floral industry and the challenges that retail florists face.

Greenbox floral believes in the local florist. They believe each local flower shop is unique and their success should be driven by their own creativity and quality. And they believe one of the key elements needed to grow an inarguably shrinking industry is an opportunity for each shop’s artists to showcase their impressive talents to the customer.

The Value of the Cooler

The Greenbox solution begins with your unique designs.

Luke and Nathan believe the cooler is prime marketing real-estate. It showcases your work, giving the customer who walks in your door the opportunity to see current examples of your unique designs. It also allows for immediate upselling.

A customer sees that perfect item in your cooler and knows she wants to make a purchase. And because she’s already seen it, she doesn’t have to wonder if the finished product will live up to her expectations.

Or perhaps she sees multiple examples of talent and creativity expressed in your unique designs. She is impressed, and now when she has need of a talented florist, she knows to come to you.

Making Online In-Person

They place cameras in your store which broadcast an ultra-low frame rate live stream. Using Greenbox’s proprietary software, the live stream is uploaded directly to your website. The result is a live feed, allowing customers who come to your site an opportunity to click on the designs in your live stream and purchase the exact item in real time, already made and ready to go.

With the proprietary software Greenbox has developed, you are able to price each item so customers can mouse over the arrangement and see a price pop up directly on their screen. Each individual arrangement is clickable so that customers can go straight to a purchasing screen for any floral arrangement they want.

Because online shopping is becoming more and more popular, many of your customers will never have a chance to see the inside of your shop. But due to the live, interactive display designed by Greenbox, the value of your cooler is translated to an online medium. The customer can see your creative designs, can be impressed with your individual work and can see exactly what she is purchasing when she purchases it. Brilliant!

We greatly enjoyed having Luke and Nathan stop by our offices this week. They not only gave us an opportunity to learn more about their product, they showed us the passion for the floral industry that fueled them to develop it. Click here if you would like more information on Greenbox Floral, or if you’d like to see the Greenbox Floral solution in action, visit Baack’s Florists and Greenhouses here.