Make the Choice to Stop Holding Yourself Back

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to not have any competition? You could just open your doors every morning and wait for customers to start rolling through. Unfortunately, you do have competition – and lots of it. Yet many shops are still just sitting back and waiting!

The way I see it, we as business owners have two choices:

  1. You can either wait for customers, hoping they find you or:

  2. You can figure out where your customers are going and BE THERE with a reason to buy from you!

You see, today 1-800-Flowers has set the bar for retailing in the floral industry. In my opinion, they do it best because they partner with name brands while building and using cutting-edge technology to connect with their customers.

Let’s face it, if there is a way to reach out and touch a customer or potential customer, 1-800-Flowers are doing it. Like them or not, you can’t overlook the experience – it’s all there.

So many consumers are let down and we as retail florists know that. When you fill their order and do it as well as you are capable of (which you should), you make their brand better. So the question is this…

WHY AREN’T YOU DOING IT FOR YOURSELF TOO?

There are no more excuses. Boomerang Solutions has EVERYTHING you need and can put you in touch with everything necessary to go out and get the business for yourself.

Here is a recent testimonial we received from Don Hotton of Jory’s in California:

“I fill a lot of orders and am happy to do so, but when I look around and see everywhere the big senders are, I realized I was not. I reached out to Art and the Boomerang team and next thing I know is my credit card and online transactions are growing along with profitability.”

We have many of those stories and I am personally glad to hear this. Just like you, I was getting frustrated over 10 years ago and realized, ‘if they could do it, so could I.’ I created a company called Beneva Solutions which has evolved into Boomerang Solutions.

Why the name change? The simple answer is retention. We focus so much on keeping customers coming back that we needed a better identity than one that was primarily known for just growing and getting orders. Our renewed focus is to keep your customers coming back, and we feel this new identity better reflects our service to our clients. From Pay-Per-Click to Surveys; you must measure all that you do especially when you invest in systems like we offer.

I’ll share a funny story with you before cutting this short…

A florist once came up to me and said they would like to try my services. They told me they only spend $20 a day on Pay-Per-Click advertising. The also said the person they currently used to help them ensured that they won’t let them spend more by turning them off when they reach their limit. I can’t help but laugh, though at the same time I feel sad.

I’ll explain. PPC is not like a traditional newspaper ad where you see it while reading the paper. You see, people searching to make a purchase are looking for YOU. It’s my job to get you front and center affordably. So if someone is looking to make a purchase, wouldn’t you want to be there, and if you are, shouldn’t you expect sales?

Think about it like this…

If your ad is costing you $20 and it gets turned off, why would you ever even turn it on? On the other hand, if your $20 ads brought you $80-100 worth of sales, why would you ever turn it off?

There is a very good reason why our slogan is “The Digital Advantage.” Call us anytime, we love sharing with others how we can help you take this industry back one order at a time. Boomerang Solutions helps you make it easy for your customers to shop LOCAL and shop with YOU!

-Art

Yes We Can

In today’s crowded retail market, consumers expect more than ever before. They’re smarter, they have more choices, and they demand better experiences than they may have tolerated in the past. With so many options available at the touch of a button, consumers aren’t shy about searching for something new if their satisfaction isn’t met.

This isn’t necessarily bad news for retailers, but it does require some work and a renewed focus on customer service. Reputation alone isn’t enough anymore, and low prices are great for getting customers in the door, but it won’t bring them back if the service and experience fail to meet expectations.

One thing we can control is customer service

There are obviously some areas where we can’t compete with the companies who ship flowers in boxes, but we can certainly refocus on areas where we do excel, starting with outstanding customer service.

In order to achieve outstanding service, we need to take a “YES WE CAN” approach to every transaction. We need a change in our industry. We need some fresh air. We need to understand people chose to buy flowers – they don’t have to buy flowers.

The goal of exceptional customer service is to answer every question with a positive option. The word “NO” must be removed from the conversation and instead replaced with options. Let the consumer decide where to draw the line by choosing how far they’re willing to go to get their need fulfilled instead of being told it is impossible under any circumstances.

Flowers at midnight?

Beneva Flowers delivered 24 hours a day. If you ordered after 4 p.m., it was an additional $10 on top of the regular delivery fee. If you ordered after 6 p.m., it was an additional $20. If you order after 8 p.m., it was an additional $50. If you ordered after midnight, an additional $100. Obviously at those rates you weren’t going to be making a lot of midnight deliveries, but you we’re still giving customers the option.

Why would you tell your customer “no” if they’re willing to pay the price? Ask a driver if they would deliver for those rates during those hours – you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Attitude is everything

Today’s savvy customers don’t want a rubber stamp one-size-fits-all fix to their problem, they want someone to see it their way and work with them to find a solution. No one expects this service for free. Name your price, but take a moment to improve your menu of offerings.

Great customer service takes understanding and awareness of their thoughts and feelings. In order to empathize with customers, we need to understand their emotions.

Take the time to listen with the mindset of making it right with a “YES WE CAN” attitude. If the customer takes the time to voice an opinion, we should take the time to listen and do everything we can to exceed their expectations. That’s what great customer service is all about.

–Art

Why Your Online Reputation Is More Important Than You Realize

Years ago (okay, over 15 years ago…yikes!), I was singing the praises of pay-per-click marketing. By the time the industry got a grasp on it, we had already evolved into social media marketing. What does that mean? Is it simply putting up a Facebook or Yelp page and getting “likes” or reviews? It may seem like everything you do online is nothing more just an extra expense, but in reality, that’s the farthest thing from the truth.

Tech marketing is not about “wait and see” – it’s about acting NOW and acting FASTER. People know how valuable their time is today. If you’re going to capture their time and attention, you need to give them a reason to want to be captured. It wasn’t too long ago when people didn’t mind giving out an email address – now they have junk email accounts set up just for marketers. Consumers have gotten smarter, the question is: “what are we doing to improve?”

The Evolution of Social Media

We’ve reached a point where social media is no longer just a toy for businesses to experiment with, but rather an essential element of day-to-day operations. No matter how large or small the company, I recommend that everyone have a dedicated team handle your social channels. Technology evolves so fast that every single day we’re sitting on the cusp of something new.

There is no such thing as waiting for it to all be figured out before you get started. If you don’t already at least have a solid social media presence, you’re way behind and have some work to do to catch up. The longer you put it off, the harder it is to catch up to your competition.

Consumers want to know everything they can about you these days, prior to making their purchasing decisions. They’re valuable and they know it, so just answering the phone isn’t enough. They want to be treated like gold, and if not, the rest of the world will hear about it.

A Partner You Can Trust

I’ve spent my entire career as a small business owner. I understand the struggles firsthand and I know that financial restraints often limit growth potential – especially when technology is involved. In most cases it just isn’t practical to pull your floral designers away from designing to work on marketing. Even if that were possible, you’re asking them to do a job that is probably well out of their scope of expertise.

That’s where Bloomerang Solutions fits in. Our dedicated team of online marketing professionals combine decades of experience with my 30 plus years of floral retailing knowledge to provide you with a unique resource that simply does not exist anywhere else in our industry. What sets us apart from everyone else is that we know the industry inside and out, and our marketing strategies have proven to be successful for florists across the country.

Partnering with companies that understand your business and work hard to not only get you where you want to be – but more importantly, ahead of where you think you need to be – are the partners you want to be in business with.

PLEASE take a minute to read this very informative article about online reputation and the damage you may be causing your business by neglecting your social media platforms. It paints a very real picture of the importance of social media to today’s business owners.

How ignoring online reputation can destroy your PPC campaign

Please let me know what you think of the article. I’ll be happy to discuss it with you and I would love to hear your thoughts and goals for your online reputation. Together we can form some custom strategies to help you achieve success. We’re here to help!

-Art

Are You Pricing Yourself Out of Business?

Nobody likes to see price increases, whether it’s at the gas pump or your favorite local florist. But the reality is, they are an inevitable part of doing business.

Why do you raise your prices? Two reasons:

1) Acquiring Transactions – You may be in a price war and need to adjust your prices to stay competitive.

2) Profit Margin – You may not be bringing in enough per transaction to maintain profitability (the answer here could be a series of thoughts from sales to operations to become profitable, but in this case we’ll focus on sales).

What can also happen – and does so more than any of us admit or even know – is that we raise our prices and in turn hand our customers off to the competition.

Here’s a true story I would like to share to explain how a company is adversely affected by pricing decisions:

I had been going to a new fresh juicing company in town. Everyone there was so nice, the product was exceptional, and the nutrients are unmatched. Being a small business owner myself in a community that I love, nothing makes me happier than the opportunity to support local businesses. I wanted so badly for this company to succeed because they’re doing everything right…except for the cost of their products!

They had a great selection of menu options available to suit everyone’s taste. The problem wais that each product came in a nice 12-ounce glass bottle that they sold for $13 – A BOTTLE! It would be hard to imagine that those prices would suit anyone’s taste!

I appreciate the fact that they use healthy, all natural ingredients, but it’s hard for most people to justify spending $13 on a 12 oz. bottle of juice. You can get a nice lunch at nearly every restaurant in town for those prices.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there’s a way to affordably form a new habit. At over $12.99 a bottle, they’ve effectively inspired me to start juicing on my own! On one hand I really would have liked to become a regular customer, but on the other, if I purchase least one bottle a day, it’s well over $60 a week with no break in sight! Customers expect to be rewarded for loyalty – especially if they feel the price is unrealistic. I found I can do the same thing myself for about $3 a bottle. I enjoy it and can get creative with it too. How much is it worth for the convenience of not having to do it yourself?

So What Can They Do to Retain Customers?

Rewards Club or Frequent Customer Discount Program

One great way to keep customers coming back is by offering a rewards club or frequent customer discount program, but the incentives have to be easy to obtain and the customers have to feel the value. In this case, the business does have a reward club, but the reward is so underwhelming that it doesn’t seem worth it to me. They offer $10 off after each $200 you spend – that’s not even enough for a free bottle of juice!

Recycling Incentives

I obviously like this product and I’m thinking about how I can get it more affordable so I can feel good about going there regularly and not break the bank. I asked if they had a recycling reward for bringing back my glass bottles. Their policy is that they will donate five cents for each bottle to a local charity. I liked the charity donation aspect, but five cents isn’t much of an incentive. It would probably take at least 50 cents or $1 to encourage me enough to bring in a glass bottle.

Bulk Pricing

Bulk pricing is often a good way to offer lower prices, so I inquired about a case price. They explained that it wasn’t possible since the product is made daily and would lose freshness if stored for too long.

Unique Freebies with Perceived Value

T-shirts are an excellent example. You could create a contest with different color shirts can only be obtained by achieving higher levels of loyalty – for example, everyone starts with a white shirt, but can earn a yellow shirt with $200 spent, a red shirt for $500 spent, and the exclusive blue shirt for $1000 spent. Not only is this a fun way to entice customers, but it’s free advertising for you when they’re out wearing your shirts around town.

The 3 most valuable points for business owners to take away from this story:

1) How could this go wrong? Understanding the numbers is critical. If you’re going to create an incentive or rewards or even a coupon, always ask yourself if you would be enticed to shop again because of your offer. If not, why would someone else? You must get customers excited for your incentive to serve its purpose.

2) Why would someone do this to them? Do what, leave? Although this is what I did, it wasn’t meant to hurt them, it was merely because I did not feel comfortable spending that much for a 12-ounce bottle of juice. Since it is my personal feeling, I don’t want to confront the owner (I will, but for this example, let’s leave it alone). You see, it’s worse now, because I have purchased my own juicer and no longer need their product. But the owner will never know why I didn’t return and never have a chance to make some changes to retain customers like me. It’s a shame because some kind of incentive could have kept me a customer for a long time. An aggressive incentive program would have kept me engaged. It’s important that I felt rewarded as I accelerated the purchases.

3) The biggest secret…Be Unique! Higher costs can often be offset without losing customers by making the transaction unique. This is very delicate but can be done. In the flower industry where I came from, I always made the point that if the product could be created in a competitor’s store or a supermarket, then it did not belong in my showroom. Make it cool and hip to shop in your store – add an item with perceived value like a free gift or chance to win a prize with each purchase.

Raising prices while also raising excitement

Nobody likes to see price increases; whether it’s at the gas pump or your favorite local store. But the reality is that they are an inevitable part of doing business. The good news is, we are always happy to try to help find unique solutions to make YOUR customers happy and keep them coming back for more. This is how this industry runs, and it’s my goal to always connect opportunities together with the talented team at Bloomerang – getting and keeping business and securing YOUR future in all that you do!

For the Retail Florist: One Thought Before You Start Your Day

Every morning after I arrived at the shop, one of the first things I did was taking a moment to remind myself that NO ONE NEEDS OUR PRODUCTS, they CHOOSE to use our industry and services in order to communicate through the language of flowers.

For example,

Someone is out too late the night before…

A Birthday is being celebrated…

New Baby arrival…

Just because….and so much more!

Our products convey a message with style and meaning. In most cases, the card message is more important than the actual bouquet. However, should you miss the delivery time or not be able to deliver, the value quickly goes to zero.

The point of this message is to drive home the fact that in most cases, the service supersedes the item ordered.

These days, we have Amazon, who has stretched the expectation of delivery and services to 7 days a week. I see an Amazon Prime vehicle almost every Sunday. This is a game changer happening before our eyes. It’s important that we recognize this and keep the expectations of the consumer satisfied by meeting the challenge of service expectations. The expectation is “I want it NOW.” We as an industry are faced with growing challenges from fuel surcharges to affordable products and now the potential of minimum wage going to $15 an hour. This is all becoming reality very quickly - what are we doing?

For 30 years I simply did what others wouldn’t. I was open 7 days a week for all 30 years, never missed a day, never had a delivery cutoff, and coined the phrase YES WE CAN in our shop. It was our motto and our goal to answer every request, “YES WE CAN.”

Committing to excellent service and a POS system called RTI, I was able to take my small family owned florist and turn it into an industry leader. I had no special education, just a passion to succeed. I was a floral designer too, but I was average at best, so I hired the best designers and shared my passion with them.

You see, as an owner, you have the chance to set the expectation by being the example. You will be surprised how staff will gravitate to you. Everyone wants to do well at their job but showing what it takes is important. Good employees will quickly realize how easy it is to be a Yes We Can florist the entire staff steps it up.

Today we are seeing great change ahead so it’s time to regroup, start planning, and prepare to tackle the challenges facing us ahead. The key is service and efficiency - are you ready?