We reckon this year’s BFA Vision conference was a tremendous success! Over 140 delegates from the flower industry gathered in Leicester on April 17 to to discuss and celebrate our industry, with the room packed full of florists from all over the sector — and the world.
Following the success of Vision 2020 last year, Vision ’16 was again organised by Purple Spotted Media, publishers of theflorist.co.uk on behalf of the BFA, to discuss subjects ranging from managing shop margins to social media, flower passion, economics and the referendum, selling to millennials, and 50 shades of floristry — how sex can spice up sales!
The day was found to be inspirational by many of the attendees’; one florist commented: “When you’re running your own shop, it can feel quite isolating sometimes but Vision reminded me we are part of a fantastic community of florists.”
The conference wouldn’t be possible without its generous sponsors, FleuraMetz, Florismart, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Chrysal, HR4UK, FloristPro, Strelitzia, Country Baskets and I.S. Sundries. Find out more about them here.
Managing Your Margins
Things kicked off on the day with a welcome from BFA chairman, Brian Wills-Pope and then we got down to it with Amanda Canning from Flower & Plant Works to learn about how we, as an industry can reduce costs and manage shop logistics.
Amanda made the point that we need to be thinking about how we manage the costs of our business against the sales of product. Shops should emphasise that people are paying for skills and time, not for more flowers. And that you can and should charge for delivery.
She said: “The internet has actually helped us because customers are now prepared to pay more for delivery so customers’ expectations have changed.”
And everyone should know what your sales figures are like. Vision delegates all shared their own ideas, and a number of florists said they’d be willing to share much more. One florist said: “I’d be very happy to share my sales figures, I think we all should.”
Another added: “I’ve got a special spreadsheet for recording my takings and I’d be very happy to share it with other likeminded florists.”
Social networking and other stories– the pitfalls and the promise
Following Amanda, was Claire Mitchell from The Girls Mean Business, an online business school for women. According to Claire, florists have the perfect product for social media marketing simply by making beautiful arrangements.
She argued that supermarkets are not the enemy, “People who go for supermarket flowers are not your customers. Supermarkets are cheap, quick, and a bit rubbish.
“Your biggest job is making memories.”
Claire said that the best way to make a customer notice you is to engage with them, don’t assume that they know everything you do: “Most people don’t know about flowers, so how about a ‘name this bouquet to win it’ competition?”
She explained that the only thing holding anyone back from being a success on social media is themselves: “Make videos, and get over yourself! It’s not about you, it’s about what you’re talking about.”
Sharing the Passion with wholesalers and growers
After a big entrance on a pedal bike full of flowers, Jan de Boer, wholesaler and exporter at Barendsen, said: “Breeders are having sex all the time! They’re creating crossbreeds of course, but do you really know what they’re doing? Breeders need to know what you want!”
Afterwards, Aad Roosenberg, a rose grower at Rosa Natura in Holland, told us how we need to treat our roses right: “We don’t work with flowers, we work with princesses.
“I don’t want to sell flowers, I want to sell emotions. Some people see a rose, some see a promise.”
One florist commented: “Jan and Aad’s enthusiasm is infectious and I thought they were right, we need to make people love flowers again and connect more with nature.”
Flower Power confronts the Dismal Science
After lunch, economist Russell Jones from Llewellyn Consulting, explained what the future looks like for the flower industry.
He said that consumer spending is expected to grow by about 2–2.5%, and when discussing the possibility of a Brexit he said that there aren’t many indisputable facts where an exit from the EU is concerned.
To the surprise of delegates, Russell also explained how artificial intelligence could impact the industry, according to statistics: “51% of florists are at risk of being replaced by AI.
“If there’s one thing you take from today, it’s be prepared for the unexpected.”
“This is the most factual information on Brexit I’ve received, so thank you,” said one delegate following Russell’s speech.
Another added: “Russell was excellent. Relevant in the UK and brought it back to the florist industry where necessary. It was thought provoking and a spot on topic.”
The Blooming Future – Florists, Consumers and the New Change
After Russell, General Manager of Florint, Mike Bourguignon, gave a speech about how millennials could spell the future for your business and your customers.
“Millennials are the opportunity. They make up a huge proportion of the population and have big buying powers compared to their parents at their age,” he said.
Mike stated that florists need to be authentic and a have a business that reflects them: “We don’t sell flowers. We sell stories. For example, the Florverde certificate for Colombian flowers which builds schools for vulnerable children.
“Consumers aren’t just buying flowers, they’re buying into what’s behind the flowers.”
Fifty Shades of Floristry… How sex can spice up sales!
50 shades of floristry followed, a steamy topic courtesy of Caroline Marshall-Foster.
Caroline’s, at times emotional, at others fairly blunt speech told us how florist shops need to sex up in order to sell flowers, but what’s important to the industry is love.
She asked the crowd to shout out why someone might buy a bunch of flowers, finally saying that no matter what the reason or the occasion: “flowers say it all.”
During question time afterwards one florist commented that Caroline’s speech had inspired them all whilst another delegate said: “Fifty shades of floristry was fab and very inspiring! I also took a lot from the economist’s presentation in terms of making an informed decision on how to vote and the millennials presentation gave food for thought.”
Looking Ahead from the BFA
Brian finished the conference with an update on what the BFA’s been up to the past year, including their consumer facing website launch, higher Facebook reach, and the introduction of regional ambassadors, and affiliate schemes.
The post event survey showed that Vision had hit the spot in terms of content and delivery with more than one respondent saying the day was an inspirational and exciting leap into the future of floristry. As one delegate put it “I feel inspired as a florist business owner. It was wonderful to learn tips from presentations and other florists.”
Scroll down a little further to see some of the photos from over the weekend!
Paul Martin, HR4UK, Brian Wills-Pope, BFA, and Amanda Davis, HR4UK.
Anne Bricklebank, Chrysal, Jessica Watson and Jessica Lodge, Country Baskets, Amanda Canning, Flower and Plant Works, and Caroline Marshall-Foster, The Florist (editor).
Stacie Penrose, Amanda Macready and Jo Massam from Vivid Floral Design.
Paul Cook and Anne Bricklebank from Chrysal.
Brian Wills-Pope, BFA, and Gordon Freshwater, Mercedes-Benz Vans.
Sam Jenkins, from Flower Girl London, and Savannah Stalwagon and Emily Cameron from Florismart.