Get your Address Sorted

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Is your Address helping you or holding you back?


What does your email address say about you and your Business?

When it comes to physical addresses, we all know the best streets in our towns, and those that are not so good.

.... Anyone had to deliver a bouquet and thought

Oooo, Goody, I get to look down that street......

Or received an address to deliver to and thought  - 

Oh! better lock the car there.....

And then there are all the names and addresses in between..... For them to be easy to deliver to, we want good labelling (numbers in an obvious order, or easy to spot name plates for named houses) and we want the roads to be easy to find by postcode. The address isn't really the important thing here, It's if it tells us what area we can find it in, and who we're delivering to, that's the important thing.

Well it's like that with Email addresses too.

Does your email address say who the email is going to?
Does your email address say what the address of your business is? And does it give the impression of being at the smart end of town, or on the less expensive estate?
Does your email address say what you do as a business?

Email addresses have only been around for the last 25 years or so, - whereas physical addresses have been developing over hundreds of years. 27 years ago, my husband's first email address was Ashley@btinternet.com.
He was working on the first big BT website and web shop, and BT wanted everyone to equate the names of important staff with the site that they were working on. - Good idea but it was such early days of emails that they hadn't worked out there might be more than 1 person with each first name working at a multinational company.

So then they invented Info @ email addresses (e.g. info@btinternet.com), which could be directed to whoever was working on that project at a time, and that meant that if someone left the company, or was on holiday the email still got answered.

But the thing was that they were impersonal, and people didn't know who they were contacting, and people buy from people. So then they invented redirects and autoresponders and tried using first name and initials, My first email address at the RHS was Claireb@rhs.org.uk (in 1998) but even in the 6 years I was working there, we had 2#two more Claire's with a surname beginning B arrive, So now most corporate email addresses are firstname.surname@companyname.co.uk. If someone leaves, the email is taken out of commission and the address bounces back. If someone is on holiday then there is an autoresponder to tell you who you should be contacting instead, and when you can expect a response.  

Now we're small businesses, so i'm not suggesting that we copy the corporates exactly, BUT

  • Having your name in your email address means that your customers know who they are contacting

  • Having your Website address in your email address means that the customer can see which end of town you live at (i.e they can look at your "Real estate" and work out for themselves how good and professional you are likely to be by the state of your website)

  • If your email address starts with "intheshed@" or "smiles@" or "hello@" then you are missing out on a way of getting a customer to connect with you by using your name

  • If your email address ends in "Virgin.net" or "gmail.com" or "hotmail.co.uk" you are telling your customer that you're using a free email address. Does that equate with a professional business?

This is one of the cheapest ways of marketing your business, - you need a website domain that reflects your business address, and an email address attached to it. If you've already got a website, email addresses will almost certainly be part of the package, and you can probably set up redirects, so that you can use your normal email package. Changing to a new improved email address will be FREE if you can follow the online help from your service provider, or the cost of half an hour of your IT support.  

Your first step to being a more professional flower farmer is a method of communication that shows everyone you are a serious business.

 Further information about using Email as an effective method of communication and promotion on the No Cost, Low Cost Marketing masterclass, starting 5th October


Make Ordering Simple

What are your procedures?

Anyone who’s worked in a business may now be groaning at the screen and procedures are one of the things that can make employees the world over groan, but the basic bottom line is

How do you do it, so you can do it again and again?

and more importantly, how do you do it, so someone else could do it for you?

Lets take an example of taking an order for a bouquet that needs to be delivered.

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Things to think about are

  • How are you going to allow people to contact you?

  • How quickly are you going to respond? And will it always be a positive response? (Or will you set up a system to respond for you?)

  • How far in advance can they place an order?

  • Can they place an order for the same day?

  • What information will you need from them, to fulfil the order?

  • How will you remind yourself to fulfil the order?

  • How will you communicate with them what time the order will be fulfilled?

  • What will you do with the information you have from the customer when the bouquet has been delivered?

Unless you can write down the answers to all of these questions, and know exactly what your procedure is and how to explain it to customers, then you won’t look professional in any of your dealings with your customers.


Know your Prices

What price do you sell your flowers at?

If you go into a restaurant, you wouldn’t order without a menu and prices.

If you wanted a beauty treatment, or haircut, you wouldn’t expect to turn up, and only be told the price at the end.

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Without the price list, you don’t know whether the product you are getting is

  • cheap

  • value for money

  • totally worth it

  • luxurious

But all too often customers are expected to guess the price of flowers, or tell you what price point they want to spend. How do they know if they don’t have guidelines of what they’ll get for those prices.?

So to be able to give your customers the confidence that you are professional, you need to know what prices you are going to sell at.

Here are my retail prices

  • £10 for a seasonal bunch

  • £15 for a market bouquet

  • £39 and £49 for gift bouquets

  • and £35 for a flower arrangers bucket.

I know how many stems of flowers of which types I am going to put in each of these. (There’s plenty more information about this in the two Prices and Costings courses coming this Autumn)

But here’s a check sheet for you to download and fill in so you know your prices.


Have Confidence in your Flowers

One of the most popular questions to flower farmers from prospective customers is

I’m getting married/having a party/christening in May/June/July/August, I’d love to have locally grown flowers, what will you have available?

If you can answer confidently and give a list of flowers and foliage they might be able to buy from you at that time of year, you’ll appear calm confident and in control and you’re much more likely to get an order.

So how can you create this magical confidence when the world of flower farming is so uncertain, the weather, pests and diseases might rear up and bite you and you don’t know whether any of your seeds will make it to blooming?

The answer is Record Keeping!

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I have notebooks from seven years of growing flowers. They aren’t fancy as you can see, but they give me information on the weather, what I did when, when seeds and bulbs were planted, any issues with pests and diseases and crucially, what was flowering in the field and tunnels in each week of the year. If I’m asked what I’ll have available I can easily check either my notebooks, or the handy availability list I’ve created using the information I’ve recorded. Yes, the weather might be terrible, too hot, too cold or windy. But that’s part of the record, so if I’ve had anemones in flower for seven years on 20th March despite extremes of temperature, then I’m likely to have them on 20th March in the eighth year too.

For the past five years I’ve taken wholesale orders from florists in January, before the seeds are even out of the packet. I know that if I get them sown when I planned and look after them properly, they’ll bloom, and I’ll be able to cut and sell them.

Yes, there are always going to be times when the best plans go awry, but that’s the case in any industry. If you have good records it will give you the confidence to commit to supply your customers, which in turn will give them the confidence to order from you.

If you don’t already keep records, start NOW!

Record what you can remember from this season, start to build a picture of your growing across the year, and keep it up. There will be times when you miss a week but even if you only manage every fortnight you’ll have enough information to answer that question. The What Ifs can be dealt with by your Terms and Conditions, but that’s a whole other topic…

If you need more help to learn how to keep records

Record Keeping is Module 7 of The Business of Growing Flowers where this topic is covered in more detail

Managing Customers and Suppliers is Module 5 of the Business of Growing Flowers and includes a section on Terms and Conditions

Terms and conditions are also included in the Introduction to pricing and costs

The British flowers book, will help to remind you of the flowers available during each month of the year


Sell only Top Quality Flowers

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When you’re buying something, do you want the best, or are you happy with faulty, substandard or shoddy?

Flowers are usually for a special event, they’re for a gift, a wedding, funeral, celebration, it’s not a time for making do. If you want to stand out as THE flower farmer to buy from, you need to have good quality control and sell only the best.

But what does that mean if you’re a flower grower?

In a commercial flower wholesaler, flowers are graded against recognised criteria and the stock generally looks like this:

  • Stems are bunched in regular numbers

  • Bunches are tied with tape or elastic bands

  • Bunches are cut to a regular size, usually 60cm

  • Bunches are wrapped in plastic, labelled and branded

  • Bunches are the same variety, often the same colour, with straight stems

  • Flowers are at the same stage of development

  • They are not conditioned and usually sold out of water

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Question: So do our flowers need to meet the wholesaler’s criteria to be good quality?

Answer: Only if you’re selling to a wholesaler!

Each customer needs a tailored product and we need to develop our own sense of what quality is. This can be different for each grower so long as it’s consistent, easily explained to your customers and included in terms and conditions.

My criteria for quality flowers for a wedding florist is as follows:

  • Freshly cut in the past 24 hours

  • Colours as requested

  • Robust and vigorous

  • Showing movement and life

  • A variety of shapes and textures

  • Cut to be at their best in 48 hours

  • Will last until the event and at least 24 hours afterwards

  • No mould, disease, browning or droop

  • Conditioned and in water

The most important criteria is that they are what the florist has ordered. If the order is for a bucket of dried brown material (known as #lovelydeadcrap on Instagram), a bucket of fresh and sparkly dahlias won’t pass muster at all.

Create your criteria, understand what you and your customers value about your flowers and do your own grading when you cut your flowers. You’ll quickly begin to recognise blooms that aren’t good enough for sale. Your reputation is the basis of your business, don’t risk damaging it. Only the best are good enough for your customers. Sell top quality flowers and your customers will do your promotion for you!

Where you can find more information

Cutting and Conditioning is Module 9 of The Business of Growing Flowers

Managing Customers and Suppliers is Module 5 of The Business of Growing Flowers

Two buckets of flowers that meet the quality criteria

Two buckets of flowers that meet the quality criteria

Where can you find further information

Rose Growing for Cut Flowers Masterclass