Tracy Talks … on men, saucy knickers and buying tight


In all the years of running my shop (20 and counting!) I always found Valentine's Day to be the most profitable. Yes Sunday will make it trickier and there are some things to watch out (I'll talk about that later) but the key reason it makes money is that this is a man buying day and unlike Mother's Day – when the prime customer is women who have a pretty good idea on what they want to spend – men usually don't have a firm price point and are easier to up sell to; sorry chaps!!

tracy-talks-valentines-florist-flowers-manYou can also get away with a smaller range of flowers which means it's far easier to create a concise range of four or five designs within suitable price points for your clientele and lead your customers to order from that range. That in turn makes buying easier and reduces waste, is far more efficient on make-up time and so easier to plan staffing.

There is also scope to change the look and livery (packaging) so you don't look like everyone else with just red roses but give romantic twists to less obvious flower combinations. For example you could choose a naughty knickers look with purple cerise and black (both on the packaging and flower varieties) finished with a touch of black lace or maybe a more romantic-antique look using dusty pinks, mulberry shades and corals.

Of course red roses can be added in to the theme as a finishing touch but if you are clever with your choices you will be purchasing fewer roses and instead buying other flowers at a better price point which not only saves money but means any surplus can be used on the Monday without it looking obviously like Valentine left overs.

Think outside the bouquet!

You don't have to just sell flowers. One year we bagged up all the loose petals that had been removed whilst we conditioned and stripped down any less than perfect roses as well. All the petals were bagged, each one beautifully trimmed to match our designs and marketed as 'pillow petals', a theme we carried through to the window display. It may sound mad but we had customers ringing and travelling across town for their Valentine flowers and pillow petals and they were still asking for pillow petals three days after!

Come up with a special and promote, promote, promote! It could be anything but try to make it your Valentine USP. For example find an unusual accessory that you can add to every design – like a 'keep forever' hanging heart or pretty butterfly. And look in areas that aren't traditionally florist sundries; there are some lovely heart shaped Papier Mache boxes that can be decorated and filled with roses or rose petals.


Don't forget future marketing

I also found Valentine's Day was the very best occasion to showcase the quality of our product and our skill. I know everyone jumps on the band wagon to cash in but there really is no other flower delivery service that can compete with a really good florist.

Send out your very best work, spend time in advance carefully putting together your offer and make sure that, if for instance, there are three or four bouquets delivered to the same workplace from different florist/flower delivery services yours is the best and has the most impact. If you get this right every other boyfriend/husband will be told to go to your shop next time!

And don't forget that Mother's Day is just around the corner. Given the bulk of the recipients will be women (who remember do most of the flower buying at Mother's Day) it's the perfect chance to get your name in front of key buyers.

Send the gift out with a shop voucher or some sort of competition (maybe a 'win a bouquet for Mother's Day') and use it to drive traffic to your website or build up a data base of emails you can use for future marketing.

You need to make sure you put in a line getting them to give you permission to use their details but it is really important to make the most of these increased sales as a lot of recipients may never have been to your shop or website.

tracy-talks-valentines-florist-flowers-carnationsWhat price Sunday?

There is no doubt a Sunday Valentine's doesn't just prolong the event but can make it more tricky especially given most office workplace deliveries will be on the Friday. In my experience a large proportion of the customers want to make a public declaration of love (and so get the brownie points) by sending flowers to the workplace and will often choose to send flowers early when it falls on the weekend. However make sure you remind them this option exists ... never assume customers will know.

In terms of sales patterns, based on past years in my shop, Saturday should be steady and Sunday will be quite full on with walk ins for most of the day.

However I always designed a look each year which gave me quite a lot of scope with my flower selections so I actually pre-ordered very little unless it was for a specific request. When it came to roses I always ordered them based on previous sales less 30% and then bought more as orders picked up. Yes I probably had to pay a little bit more per rose but I would rather do that than overbuy and be left with stock that would cost me more overall.

However for a Sunday Valentines I would order 50% less simply because you'll have time to get a feel for how it's going in the run up to the weekend and can go to the wholesaler for more As I say, may cost a bit more but on 15th February – other than apology bouquets - a rose is virtually worthless.

And finally hold those nerves. Sunday will seem a long time coming and you will almost be doing it in two stages, Friday for workplace deliveries Saturday/Sunday for walk in's but it does work!