Preparing for a Busy Season

Have you seen all those statistics flying around on Instagram about how there’s going to be a record number of weddings in 2022? It’s time to talk about preparing for a busy season. (If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this NPR article which estimates 2.5 million weddings will happen next year).

This impending madness means, for many floral designers, we’re going to be double, triple and even quadruply booking our calendars. Plus, we’re used to having peak trading seasons around Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Christmas.

Preparing for a busy season is kind of a given if you’re a floral designer. We’re all trying to balance life, family and running a flower business.

But navigating the crazy in a way that doesn’t break the bank or break your back takes a shift in perspective and to plan ahead.

The truth is, a little bit of pre-planning makes a world of difference – it will help save your sanity, ensure you maximise profitability as well give you the space for recovery (before you dive into it all over again).

PREPARING FOR A BUSY SEASON

I learned these lessons the hard way – I’m a great case study on what not to do when it comes to managing busy seasons.

One year I said yes to 100 weddings. Which would be fine, but given I did the bulk of the work on my own and would manage multiple wedding weekends solo, it’s definitely not how I suggest any florist should set up their business. 

(I must give a giant shout out to my husband and business partner who took charge at our retail shop while I was off wedding-ing. No way one human can do it all but I’m too stubborn to ever learn that one.)

Of course, I’m all for making hay while the sun shines, but it’s also important to know your personal limits and possibly, just as important, get really clear on your own definition of success. 

I’m embarrassed to admit this but I said yes to so many weddings because I thought I “should”. That’s how our industry defines success.

But please take it from me: it was awful.

4 TIPS TO HELP SAVE YOUR SANITY AND PREPARE FOR A BUSY SEASON

TIP 1 – Plan With the End in Mind

More than a decade ago, when I used to work in advertising, we used to create timelines called “Workback Schedules”. Quite literally you start with the end product and you move through each stage of the process backwards until you get to the beginning of the project.

This approach is so helpful because it ensures you’ve thought through a lot of details before you even start. It makes it really easy to see where the hurdles come in and where the pressure points are.

Now, when I’m planning ahead, I like to fast forward to the day after the madness. If it’s Valentine’s Day, start from 15 February. For Mother’s Day, start with the Monday (or Tuesday) after the epic weekend. If you are doing a lot of weddings, start with your first recovery day.

Then trace backwards, going step by step and backtracking the to-dos. Take it one deliverable, one task at a time and write down everything you can think of until you get to today (or the start date of your project list).

When you approach it with the ned in mind, it forces you to also think about who is going to look after the kids and who else can look after dinner on the final few nights. Plus, it deters you from booking in anything new on the day after the craziness.

Your Workback Schedule doesn’t need to be anything fancy when you’re using it to prepare for a busy season. 

Just open a Google Doc or the notes app on your phone and start getting all the things out of your head and on to “paper”. 

I prefer to use an app because when you’re off getting something at the grocery store and you remember you need to also take the van in for service, you can make a note of it on your Workback Schedule. So good!

TIP 2 – Time Yourself

The first few years I was designing, I had no idea how long it took me to make a flower crown or wrist corsage. I had no idea how long a $300 arrangement would take, how long a $100 rose bouquet needed nor did I know how long I needed to make a full, luxurious archway.

So, the next time you’re making something (even if you’re not under time pressure), watch the clock.  Make a note of it. Then, when you get into full production mode, you can plan more accurately and map out your production schedule with more accuracy (avoiding those 2 am night-time design sessions)

The more you start to track your work, the easier it is for you to map out how long you need for hands-on production. 

Once you have a good library of production times, you’ll also be able to staff much more accurately and set a sales target that isn’t about just saying yes to everything that comes your way. You set a goal and you can manage your production to that goal. 

Tip 3 – Start Checkin’ Things Off Today

I know florists who prep all their sundries and hard goods for the full season before the season even starts. Every client is assigned a box and all their materials are allocated, labelled and organised before a single flower is even stripped.

The beautiful thing about a lot of what we need to prep and prepare is that it isn’t the fragile/short shelf-life blooms. Taking time to prepare hard goods and sundries is a game-changer. So is making dinner and putting it in the freezer.

Quite literally, in the weeks (or days) leading up to the craziness, the more stuff you prepared ahead of time, the more you will be able to experience the beauty of the design process. When you have 1297 things filling up your brain, it’s hard to take in the magic of your work.

Yes, go fill up the car with petrol. Yes, get that insurance paperwork done now. Yes, assign someone to deal with dinner and have a babysitter lined up for the kids and the pets. Whatever you can organise now, do it! This is the magic of pro-actively preparing for a busy season. Your future self will be so grateful you did.

Tip 4 – Active Recovery

When I say ‘active recovery I don’t mean “run a marathon or go to the gym”. I mean “intentional recovery time”. 

Whatever fuels your soul and gives you the reset you need to get back to work is what you get to prioritise in the period following the madness.

Don’t spend hours mindlessly scrolling Instagram. I mean intentional, active rest and recovery. That might be a funny movie with the kids, your favourite junky takeaway or the peace and quiet of staring out at the sky.

Of course, I am the first to want to dive into the champagne and chocolate but I also know it’s going to slow my recovery. As much as I don’t really love it, I will always lean into more water, more veggies, more nutrients because I feel 1000x better the next day than when I fill my exhausted body with sugar and booze.

Whatever it is that fuels you and gives you the physical rest you need, is what you need to prioritise. 

Give yourself time and space for this recovery as well. It takes me twice as many days to recover as the crazy period lasted. So if I’m doing 3-4 weddings in a 48-hour window, that means I won’t feel amazing until 96 hours later (just in time to do it again the following week).

Many florists choose to close up shop for specific dates, others block out their calendar entirely. This is your business and you get to decide what serves you best.

Make a plan for active recovery and outline it on your Workback Schedule. Pour back into you so you can pour yourself into your work again.

Want more practical tips to help you prepare for a busy season? Check out this blog post passing along more tips to help you navigate busy weeks in your flower business. 

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