Establishing a Relationship with a Floral Wholesaler

Establishing a Relationship with a Floral Wholesaler: 3 Tips To Make It Easier

Not quite sure where to start when it comes to establishing a relationship with a floral wholesaler? I'm here to help.

If you haven't been to the Sydney Flower Market, you need to make a plan to go. It's gotta be one of the most magical flowering places on the planet.

And the most stressful. (As a florist, it's kinda like walking onto the set of Mean Girls right in the middle of that scene where the jungle fight breaks out.)

It's super intimidating. Everyone walks around looking like they know what they're doing (and you feel like you're the only one wondering WTF is going on). In addition to all the pros lookin' like pros, the general public is allowed in and you're fighting for a parking space and elbow room just to get in the doors

The place is massive. There are more than 150 wholesalers spread out over a few acres of space. It's all set within a massive warehouse, filled with the season's best. Buckets are spilling out of every corner, ballooning with the best blooms. For us florists, it's the literal 'kid in a candy store' experience.

Yes, it is a sight to be seen.

But it also kinda makes you wanna run screaming in the other direction, questioning your life choices and wondering how the heck does a wanna-be-florist go about establishing a relationship with a floral wholesaler?

The worry is compounded when you count up the number of well-established florists who have been working with wholesalers for years and even decades. What's a girl to do? (Panic and run screaming in the opposite direction...heading straight back into the corporate world and back to a desk job??? Yes, I did contemplate that many, many times during the 3:30 am alarms.)

So, I thought it might be helpful to pull together my top three tips when it comes to establishing a relationship with a floral wholesaler.

If you're brand new, this blog post will give you an insider's scoop on the florist + wholesaler relationship.

If you've been in business for a few years and want to take your flower business to the next level, this blog post will give you a few unexpected surprises, spark new ideas and give you a few secrets to ensure you separate yourself from the competition.

Why Establishing A Relationship with a Floral Wholesaler Matters

In the world of cooking, one of the best principles to follow is "Start with good ingredients." The same thing goes for flowers.

You'll be so much happier with the end result of your flower arrangements if you start with fresh, high-quality ingredients. In fact, one of the ways we created a loyal customer base in our flower shop was to make sure we focused on offering the highest quality, longest-lasting flowers.

I remember one year when a woman came in to tell us that her Mother's Day flowers lastest three weeks. Now, that's certainly not the norm, but it's always stuck in my mind because when you source quality ingredients and educate your clients on how to care for their flowers, they'll be so happy they'll tell their friends. And that extra word of mouth helps to grow your business and your bottom line.

As a floral designer with grand ambitions, having access to – and building relationships with – growers and wholesalers who have high-quality products (and quality customer service) can make all the difference in your success.

Investing the time and energy into building relationships with your floral wholesaler takes time but it can be one of the magic bullets to building a loyal following and growing your bottom line.

PRO TIP: I remember one of my flower school teachers told me "Cheap flowers are cheap for a reason. Don't ever expect them to get better." That piece of advice has always stuck in my head and I truly believe when it comes to whoelsaler flowers, you do get what you pay for.

How to Approach Floral Wholesalers

Here's the most important thing to remember: your wholesalers are running a business. Their list of to-dos and sh*t to sort through is just as long as yours.

Even with that being said, never underestimate the power of being professional and polite. The art of great customer service is lost on so many business owners but it's one of the secrets to building any B2B relationship.

For example, you know how when you walk into a business and get a kind smile, a professional greeting and the staff actually make eye contact with you. Yeah, I mean that kinda "back to basics, treat humans as humans" sorta professionalism.

The same thing applies when it comes to establishing a relationship with a floral wholesaler. So, whether you've been working with your wholesaler for years or are just starting out, Rule #1: be kind to your wholesalers.

And yes, be kind, even if they don't give you the time of day.

Remember, it's totally normal for wholesalers to be working all hours of the night, not sleeping and running on empty. So don't be surprised if they can barely string two words together. Don't forget: your wholesalers are running a business and you are not their only customer or concern.

If I could go back and tell my old self one thing about establishing a relationship with a floral wholesaler, it would be this: no one knows who you are and that is your best secret weapon.

If you're anything like me and feel like a total imposter and fraud, walking into a busy wholesaler brings up all of our insecurities and 'who do you think you are' storylines.

But let's flip that story on its head. The fact that your wholesalers don't know who you are is a great advantage. It means you can be a total noob and no one is paying enough attention to remember you.

So you can go ahead and ask all the dumb questions, get embarrassed and get through all the awkward 'first day of school' tremors. Then come back again next week and do it all over again.

Remember, No One Was Born Knowing All The Things

Read that again...

Maybe even write it down somewhere you'll see it every day.

This one thought has served me so well when walking into super intimidating, scary, new situations.

Because yes, quite literally, no one was born knowing how to do anything. We've all had to learn stuff and make mistakes and ask heaps of questions to get to where we are today. That means you get to do the same thing.

In fact, when it comes to building relationships with wholesalers, I actually like to just go all in, be brave and default to asking wholesalers and growers heaps of questions.

I do this for two reasons: (1) they know a lot about flowers – like a lot a lot, way more than you and I could ever know and being able to glimpse just 1% of that information is super helpful for you and your business.

And (2) it gives you a taste of what their long term customer service is going to be like. Wholesalers who cannot be bothered to acknowledge you, answer a couple of questions and don't see you as a valuable, paying client...they may not be the kind of partner you want to have in your business in the long run.

I use the word 'partner' very intentionally. Your wholesalers and growers are your partners in crime. Choose them wisely and then invest the time and energy into building, growing and maintaining those relationships – you never know when you'll need them to come in and save the day.

PRO TIP – If you need help sorting out how much to order from your growers and wholesalers, be sure to check out this super helpful blog post: Learning How To Create A Floral Design Recipe

Don't Forget, Local Growers Are All Around You

Yes, bigger more established wholesalers are awesome. But so are the growing number of boutique flower farmers popping up all around us. It's very possible you have access to some of the best, freshest ingredients around – it might be a few KMs down the road or literally down the street.

Do some digging. Jump on Google. Search Instagram hashtags and see if any local growers pop up. You never know who you might be able to connect with and what sorts of magical ingredients are being grown in your neighbourhood. And it could be that you get exclusive access to something amazing and build a whole network of local growers who will grow alongside you.

For example, my most favourite dahlias growers set up their entire business about 3km from my house. I was astounded to see their operation and set-up and I loved being able to support their family-run business.

Plus their dahlias are unlike anything you've ever seen. In peak season, we'd be going through 50-60 bunches per week and it was so awesome to have access to this quality product.

I loved these dahlias. Our clients loved these days. It was so incredible!

Many times, these kinds of growers may not be able to work with the larger wholesalers because they don't have the volume to support their structure. But that makes it a perfect opportunity for you.

Again, don't be shy. Reach out. Make a connection. Be kind. Be professional and be polite. They won't bite. (Just remember their to-do list is just as long as yours is – probably even longer.)

More Tips To Help You Build A Better Relationship With Your Wholesalers (FREE resource)

In this week's podcast episode, I'm digging more into the world of wholesaler relationships.

I'm sharing a few funny stories about what it's really like to shop at the Sydney Flower Market, with all the famous florists as well as passing on my best tips for building better relationships with your floral wholesalers and local growers.

Inside This Week's Podcast Episode You'll Learn:

5 tips to help you build better relationships with your wholesalers, even if you're brand new

The three most important things to know when it comes to wholesaler and flower grower relationships

Why the relationship you have with your wholesalers matters so much

How to approach new wholesalers and growers and quickly win their trust (so you can get the best flowers!)

Listen to the full episode here


Full Episode Transcript

Enjoy the Show?

What are some good time management skills?

What are some good time management skills?

In our industry, time is money. Quite literally. We can see it in the industry-standard approach to pricing (wholesale x 3 + time). So it is a must for every florist to know and practise some time management skills.

And when we have staff, we see how quickly time converts into cash. This is particularly true in Australia where labour isn’t cheap. (Check out the relevant hourly wages here

It’s so easy for us, as business owners, to feel like we’re always reacting to what’s happening around us.

The phone rings. A customer walks in. We get a DM on Instagram. Online orders ping in our inbox. React.

When we’re stuck in this mode, we often feel like we don’t have enough time and aren’t making progress in our business. 

At the end of 2018, I remember looking back at my calendar and seeing how much time I wasted on wedding consultations. I spent hours and hours and hours with couples, talking about their dreams for the day and so many of those meetings went nowhere.

It was the definition of a waste of time.  Literally. $0 for hours invested.

That one year taught me so much about showing up differently in my business. 

I started being very protective of my time. Hyper aware of where and how I was spending my energy. I knew something had to change. 

Working On Your Business, Not Just In Your Business

One of the biggest mistakes I see flower business owners make is they make no time to work on their business.

They’re constantly reacting to what’s most urgent in front of them and are stuck in that cycle of reactivity – gotta do the next wedding quote, gotta get back to that customer about that special order, gotta sort out the next market order, gotta remember to find someone to cover that shift next Saturday.

It’s exhausting.

I know first-hand what it’s like to be stuck in that mode. To feel like you’re barely treading water and not moving forward.

To feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day and you’re never going to shift this business into the powerhouse flower empire you’re dreaming of.

Friend, I’m here to tell you it is entirely possible. But it does require you to think differently. To prioritize your time differently.

You've Got To Speed It Up. 

It sounds counterintuitive, doesn't it? The idea of slowing down when we all want to move at such a rapid pace.

But it works. The minute we step aside, give ourselves space away from the reactionary day-to-day of our flower business, the minute we take a deep breath.

Five minutes of reflection can literally change the trajectory of your business. I know it can.

Because it’s exactly what I did when things weren’t working for me.

I knew I had to change my approach. I was going to end up face down on a hospital bed really quickly if I kept doing what I was doing.

What did I do? I went for a walk and asked myself one of the most powerful questions we can ever consider: What would it look like if it was easy?

What would wedding consultations look like if it was easy? What would my market order look like if it was easy?

Hands down, this question provides me with so much clarity and really allows me to put my creativity to work.

It changed the game for me in 2019 and made me realise I could approach my business so differently. I approach time management so differently because of this one question.  

What Are Some Good Time Management Skills?

This week on the Thrive Podcast #ForFlorists I’m digging into four of my favourite time management skills for florists.

What are some good time management skills? It might surprise you to hear I don’t use a fancy calendar system, I don’t have a “to do” list and I don’t colour code my diary….well, I sort of do but it’s only because bright colours make me happy. 

When it comes to managing my time, I follow four super simple principles:

  1. You don’t manage time. You manage yourself in the time you have.
  2. Templates, systems and processes = time leverage
  3. Revenue first (i.e. paying clients, potential clients and then future focus)
  4. Time expands into the space provided (i.e. if you allocate one hour to do one email, it will take you an hour. If you allocate 3 minutes, it will take 3 minutes)

Check out this week’s podcast episode to hear more and get the inside scoop on good time management skills. 

Want Help With Your Flower Business?

Do you struggle with managing your time?

Are you dreaming of making more money in your flower business but feel like you’re stuck in reactionary mode all the time?

I can help 

I teach floral designers how to take charge of their business inside my Flower Boss Bootcamp. We dig into all things marketing and money and learn the ins and outs of running an empowering flower business.

The moral of the story: Flowers are fun. But so is making money.

My Flower Boss Bootcamp is the only program available to floral designers focused entirely on the business of flowers.

Yes, we talk about leveraging our time, I pass along all my favourite templates and tools and dig into the ins and outs of hiring a team.

Your time is your most valuable asset. Learn to focus your energy and efforts in the right areas to make more money. We talk about feeling confident with your pricing, learning to manage your costs, and growing your business.

This program will change the trajectory of your flower business. I promise.

Click here to learn more.

How much profit does a florist make?

How Much Profit Does a Florist Make?

Now, I’m not a financial advisor, tax guru or super fancy accountant so don’t go thinking I’ve got all the answers. I don’t. Definitely, talk to your financial peoples to get clarity on the specifics of profitability as it relates to your business. But I have been in the business for enough time to address the topic of how much profit a florist makes.

I know a lotta florists wanna know more about the ins and outs of profitability. This is why I thought it would be worth putting together a few notes and providing a super simple framework to help you understand profitability in your flower business.

I want to shed a little light on that super simple and powerful question: “How much profit does a florist make?”

What Is Profit?

First off, one of the most confusing things about learning money talk is that different people use different terms to refer to the same things.

It’s so confusing. So, before we jump into talking about profit margins and fancy ratios, let’s clear up a couple of language things and definitions.

What is profit? In its simplest form, it’s the difference between the amount earned and the amount spent in buying, operating, or producing something.

For us, it’s essentially your total sales minus your costs and expenses. The money that’s left is your profit.

You’ll also hear people refer to “net profit” (your profit minus your tax obligations) or “gross profit” (your profit not accounting for taxes owed).

Now, I’m all for simplicity. So I’ll just refer to profit as profit. And you can figure out your tax obligations with your accountant, OK?

Also, when I say “all your costs and expenses”, I mean everything. Rent, water, and electricity. Insurance, repairs and maintenance. Flowers, foliage and hard goods. Staff, taxes and mandatory contributions (if you have them in your state).

All of it.

And yeah, that list of expenses should also include your salary.

You read that right: there should still be money left in the bank after it’s all said and done.

This is where a lot of floral designers get led astray, assuming profit = personal income. Your salary, as a business owner, and your business’ profit are two different things entirely.

Yes ma’am.

Remember, your business is an entirely separate entity to you. Even if you are a sole trader/self-employed, your income is not your business’ income (even if you only do one tax return in the year).

Keeping them separate in your mind (and across bank accounts) is super helpful.

Here's One Key Business Lesson For You...

It’s important to understand that you need to have money to invest in your business to grow, reach new people, and elevate your brand.

Which is exactly where your profit comes into play. Your profit is what you’ll reinvest in your business to continue to expand your revenue and reach even more customers. Your business’ profit is the fuel for your business’ growth. 

With no profit, there is no growth.

How Much Profit Does A Florist Make?

The general rule of thumb I like to follow when we’re mapping out our costs and expenses is as follows:

  • Cost of Goods Sold: 20%
  • Operations: 20%
  • Labour: 20%
  • Taxes: 20%
  • Profit: 20%

Now, it’s by no means a hard and fast rule because the nuisances of your business will be different to mine. But when I’m looking at our business over 3 months (quarterly) or 12 months (annually), I find it a really helpful framework to follow. 

It’s simply a good guide. It allows me to keep things simple and make smart investment decisions.

It also gives us a general framework to follow to know to signal to us when we’re over-investing in staff, figuring out how much to allocate to rent or reviewing how much you’re spending on wholesale flowers.

Learning to manage our costs is an integral part of running a business. And every dollar we over-invest in advertising, product, rent or staffing is eating away at our profitability. And that means we’re limiting our growth potential. 

Not Meeting Your Profitability Targets As a Florist?

You’re not alone. It took me years to figure this out and I want to save you from the same headaches I created for myself.

Where to start? First things first. Review your pricing. 

I put this off for far too long. It’s one of the most important activities we can do in our business. Don’t wait till the next quarter or next financial year. Do it today.

(Check out this super helpful post to give you more detail on the ins and outs of pricing as a florist.)

Once you get your pricing sorted, the next task is to stay in touch with your costs.

I know learning the ins and outs of money can feel scary. But I’ve found it to be one of the most empowering experiences of my life.

When I let go of the judgement and started to just look at the data, I realised I was spending way too much on wholesale flowers and far too much on staffing. 

I paired it way back. I started to experiment. And so I limited my options and we rethought our staffing structure.

Then we started implementing changes slowly, started sorting through one piece of the puzzle at a time. And in a matter of weeks, I saw our bank balance begin to steadily increase. 

It didn’t take long to see that a change in our behaviour created a massive impact on profitability. And having access to more profit meant we could invest more back into the business and grow even further. 

It’s like a virtuous cycle. It’s so fun!

Shift Your Mindset - To Make Profit As a Florist

I work with floral designers around the world and know first hand, how easy it is to not make money as a floral designer.

There is a lot to learn when it comes to flowers + business and so little support for floral designers and flower farmers to learn the ins and outs of making money.

But it’s why I’m here. To help you move through the overwhelm and get focused on what matters most.

If you’re struggling to make money in your flower business, be sure to dig into this week’s podcast episode: #164 – I’m not in it for the money (and other such nonsense). Listen to the full episode at the bottom of the page.

Need Help Making Profit As A Florist?

I teach floral designers how to take charge of their business inside my Flower Boss Bootcamp. We dig into all things marketing and money and learn the ins and outs of running an empowering flower business.

The moral of the story: Flowers are fun. But so is making money.

My Flower Boss Bootcamp is the only program available to floral designers focused entirely on the business of flowers.

Yes, we talk about profitability. We talk about feeling confident with your pricing, learning to manage your costs, growing your business.

Inside my Flower Boss Bootcamp, I give you my exact marketing approach, we dig into getting crystal clear on your vision of success and surround you with like-minded business owners who are navigating similar challenges to you.

This program will change the trajectory of your flower business. I promise.

Click here to learn more.

LBB Blog Images -What is the markup on flowers?

What Is The Markup On Flowers?

What Is The Markup On Flowers?

One of the greatest blessings in our industry is that there is a go-to formula for sorting through pricing. So there is always a template available to know the markup on flowers.

It’s been tested by floral designers around the world and applies to every designer, regardless of qualifications and experience. And it applies whether you work from your kitchen counter, fancy garage studio or have a beautiful main street shop.

What is the markup on Flowers? Here’s the formula most florists follow.

Everyday Flowers: Wholesale x 3 + time

Weddings + Events: Wholesale x 3.5-4 + 30-50% 

Now, don’t be surprised if when you start using this formula for pricing your designs, you see your brain totally freak out.

That’s precisely my experience. 

I’m a traditionally trained florist. I’m fully qualified and have all the paperwork to show ya. But even with that, even having been taught by some of the most successful business owners in our industry, I still wasn’t convinced I could charge that much.

When you start to do the math, you see that the retail price adds up really quickly.

You end up in the 100s, 1000s and 10,000s before you even blink an eye.

But here’s the most important thing to remember: the formula works. It’s been tested by 1000s of designers in our industry around the world and it can easily be adopted by new and veteran florists alike. It can be used as the benchmark for pricing no matter your experience or expertise.

Of course, I know exactly what it’s like to think “I cannot charge that much.”

Do You Struggle With Pricing?

I struggled so much with my confidence in the early years of our flower business. I was convinced I could not charge full price; there was no way, little old me, was in the same league as those fancy big city designers. I also assumed my customers wouldn’t be willing to pay “that much.”

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. You’re definitely not the only floral designer who struggles with pricing. There are thousands of us scattered across the globe.

This is precisely why, on this week’s episode of the Thrive Podcast, I take a deep dive into confidence + pricing (check it out below).

Struggling With Confidence + Markup On Flowers

One of the biggest challenges we face in our industry is that no one talks about pricing. Pricing is a super secretive hush-hush aspect of our industry and we’re all afraid to step out and share our magic formula (except me!).

But that entire approach backfires. Because floral designers don’t openly talk about and share prices, we’re all left scratching our heads.

So then you see all these newbie florists popping up all over the place offering super cheap and heavily discounted prices.

Even more painful is to think about clients’ and customers’ experiences….have you tried digging up information on how much to budget for wedding flowers? It’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Or maybe even harder.

So many florists I know immediately turn around and get mad, wishing their clients came to them with more realistic budgets. In my experience though, if we’re not educating our clients on prices and what their money can get them, we’re not doing our job.

I've realised after a few years into this business that being open and talking about prices from day 1 is one of the most helpful things we can do for our customers. 

Being open and sharing budget and pricing information with my clients (on Instagram and on our website) has landed us so many amazing customers. And the process of going from enquiry to paid booking takes little to no effort.

All because we talk about pricing with our customers. A lot.

But I know it takes courage and confidence to do that. Gaining confidence with pricing does take practice. It takes reassurance that what you’re doing in terms of markup on flowers is the right approach. You also need a proven system for pricing like a boss...which is precisely what I teach you inside my Flower Boss Bootcamp.

Need Help With Markup on Flowers?

My Flower Boss Bootcamp is the only program available to floral designers focused entirely on the business of flowers.

Yes, we talk about pricing. We talk about feeling confident with your pricing and how to effortlessly attract clients, without having to second-guess your pricing.

Learning how to show up as the badass flower boss you’ve been dreaming of is entirely possible.  It’s not about having a shop front, more qualifications or gettin’ famous on the ‘Gram. 

Confidence is all about levelling up your mindset and learning how to shift your mindset and show up as your most badass self.

Inside my Flower Boss Bootcamp, I give you my exact approach to marketing, we dig into getting crystal clear on your vision of success and you’ll be surrounded by floral designers who are navigating similar challenges to you.

Click here to learn more. 

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