It seems like only yesterday you could take an order and just “Make it nice.” The entire retail floral industry was built on that common request, and that’s all you had to do – fill to the value requested by the customer and “make it nice.”
Then the Internet came along and completely changed the expectations of our customers by showing images of what can be expected.
Now you can’t just “make it nice” anymore, you have to “make it look like the picture.” You need the flowers, containers, balloons and even a ribbon…that HAS to match!
Meanwhile, prices continue to drop lower and lower to the point where it’s impossible to make a profit anymore. Consequentially, local florists have been dropping like flies. Some smartened up and others sold or closed shop. The rest will soon have to make some important decisions – and big changes.
So now what?
You have two options to survive, but inevitably you’ll have to choose one.
Option #1 is to redesign your operations to maximize the opportunity to be a fulfillment florist. With this option, 1-800 Flowers gets you the orders and you fill them. You build the facility, you pay for all the containers and they send you the orders with 1-800 Flowers labels and branding all over them. You’ll stay busy because 1-800-Flowers will continue to get orders and take business and send them back to you with significant cuts. Are you laughing? It’s happening now.
Option #2 is to start marketing and realize that no one is going to hand you success. Marketing takes work on your part, but you still have allies that can help you out. One that comes to mind is Teleflora.
Teleflora is the only company out there competing for orders and NOT direct shipping flowers. I can honestly say, I have seen them at work and their focus is on florist to florist business, containers and technology for florists to use to compete. They’ve even gone so far as to fight against order gatherers by kicking Wesley Berry out of their ranks for deceptive business practices. They truly are the only company I see helping local florists, but they can only do so much – the rest is up to you.
How can I compete with the “big guys” for orders?
Google Pay-Per-Click marketing is the single most important thing you can do to compete for orders. Organic listings on Google will no longer net you a top listing – no matter how well your SEO efforts may be.
Below is a Google search for florists in Dallas, Texas – the fifth largest media market in the United States. Who is at the top? Four well known order gatherers that don’t even have brick-and-mortar shops anywhere in the country, let alone in Texas. Why are they there? Because they use Pay-Per-Click to be at the top – leapfrogging ahead of every local florist in the entire Metroplex.
In the second graphic, you can see that Beneva Flowers is the highest listed shop in Sarasota, Florida (ahead of Ava’s and other order gatherers) due to Pay-Per-Click marketing efforts. This is why it is so important to understand how PPC works. We are happy to help you with this as I grew my company using it since 1998.
The game has changed and our beloved industry is a completely different animal than it was even a few years ago. Local florists are being squeezed out of the industry at an alarming rate, but there will always be a place for flower shops as long as customers are able to find them; effective marketing is the key to survival.
What about the wire orders?
If you’ve made the decision to stay in the game and have no desire to become a fulfillment florist, you still face the issue of what to do with filling orders from other florists. There is nothing wrong with filling orders – it’s what makes our industry special and unique. It worked well in the past and can work very well again in the future if we can all agree on some guidelines and adjust expectations nationwide by all florists.
Today we are seeking more and more florists speaking from both sides of their mouths. On one hand, they say they don’t want to keep filling orders, yet when the next phone line rings and it’s for a $100 order, they’ll take it. In fact, many of the same florists who won’t spend 7-10 percent of their annual sales on advertising (because they think it’s too expensive) will turn around and give up 30% to fill orders.
There is only one way to fix this, but we all need to agree on the following:
That is how we can keep the wire order alive and well. We need the industry to come together. Will this happen? It’s up to you.
Do you agree? Are you already on our INSIDER list of shops we contact for advice? Are you just a spectator that is waiting for everyone else to do it?
Regardless, we need you. Our industry needs a movement to standardize and create an expectation for the industry to meet and/or exceed. The consequences are, we do it, or 1-800 Flowers will do it for us. They already are, Look around, it’s coming.
If you want an industry that works, share this and be sure to add your name to the list. I’m here to help you – please let me know what I can do.