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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. 

NEED HELP GROWING YOUR FLOWER BUSINESS?

It’s time to learn the secrets of successful florists – sign up for my {Free} Ultimate Guide to Building a Thriving Flower Business. CLICK HERE to get immediate access.

Are flower shops a dying business?

Are flower shops a dying business?

Almost every florist I’ve met once had a dream of running a beautiful flower shop.

It’s so easy to fall in love with the dream of a flower shop. To look at those perfectly posed photos on Pinterest and see the beauty of the abundance on display when flowers are so wonderfully presented at the front of a flower shop.

I also remember having hundreds of customers just swoon at the smell of flowers. They would always tell us they could smell the flowers before they could see them.

It really is magical. It’s a gift to all the humans in your area.

But it’s also really expensive.

Like really really expensive. Once you account for rent, electricity, internet, phone, the shop fit-out AND having to keep the shop staffed and well-stocked during normal business hours, it becomes a “thing”.

Running a flower shop isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. 

It’s not for everyone. And, in my experience, it’s no longer a “must” in terms of running a successful and profitable flower business.  

Do I Need A Flower Shop?

I realise now, the decision to have a shopfront is much more of an operational decision, rather than a marketing decision. 

I see so many florists make the commitment of opening a shopfront in hopes it will increase sales and drive revenue.

In addition to that, so many florists assume having a shop front will make them feel more legitimate. (That was totally me!)

2020 changed the game for florists. With so many customers not able to come into a physical shop space, the need to get your business online has become the only way to thrive as a florist.

No longer is having a shopfront required if you want to run a successful florist business.

In my experience, the vast majority (like 99% of our customers), never bought flowers on impulse. Of course, it happens now and then, but it’s so unpredictable and makes it a real challenge to maintain a sustainable revenue stream.

In reality, even if you have a shop front, having a strong online presence is mandatory. This is why I think having a shop front is as much an operational decision as it is a marketing decision.

Being able to have a place for efficient production and storage of your product is the most important thing to consider. And whether or not you want to offer a place for customer pick-up becomes the next decision. Socially distanced, of course.

Are Flower Shops A Dying Business?

Let’s cut to the chase: are flower shops a dying business? Hmmm…not necessarily. 

In the end, it’s totally worth doing the math. Look at the cost of running the shop front and the financial commitment of committing to a 3, 5, or even 10-year lease and see if you can make it work.

Having a strong digital marketing game is where the sales growth is going to come from. 

Right now, that is being eaten up by many of the relay networks and wire services. Yes, it’s the local florist who eventually receives the order, but with many relay services, they’re taking 25-30% of the revenue. Over time, and with the volume required to maintain our shop spaces, that percentage quickly erodes your profitability.

That’s precisely why we made the decision to create our own website. Yes, it was an undertaking. Yes, it took time, but that investment continues to pay off week after week after week.

During 2020 that same website still continues to generate a lot of revenue for the business. It’s the gift that keeps on giving and is way more reliable (and profitable) than having to worry about having a fully stocked and fully staffed shop front.  

2020 broke all kinds of sales records for so many florists – with people not able to be together and the continued uncertainty through 2021, being online is where your incredible sales revenue is going to come from. So, having a strong digital presence is mandatory for running a successful and sustainable flower business.

Let's Do A Little Bit Of Math, Shall We?

Grab your calculator and let’s do a little number crunching. Here’s what you’re going to want to look at, to decide if a flower shop is right for your business. Do some Googling and find a few bits of info:

  • Rent (in a location with great parking, and the right amount of space)
  • Insurance
  • Electricity, water, internet, phone
  • Shop fit-out (painting, counters, storage, flooring, lighting, cool room, signage)
  • Staffing (assume you need to pay at least one person to be on-site during opening hours)

Then, look at the numbers over a 12 month period. As well as 3 to 5 years. The length of the rental agreement or lease you sign varies but it’s always worth looking at the costs over the long term. It gives you a great deal of perspective.

Now, if you want to get a sense of the revenue required to cover that operation, take your 12 month total and multiply it by five. For example, if your operational costs listed above for a full year are about $100,000, then your mission is to generate at least  $500,000 in sales.

No, it’s not an exact approach but it helps paint a picture of the scale of the operation you need to create. You might want to talk to your accountant for further clarity. 

In the end, creating a successful flower business focused on daily flower deliveries is all about having the volume to sustain your business. In today’s world, that volume is going to come from being online and playing the right digital marketing game.

Need Help Getting Your Flower Business Online?

You’re not alone. 

It can be super confusing and overwhelming to understand the world of digital marketing.

And we’re here to make it easy. To show you exactly what you need to focus on when it comes to making more money in your flower business. We want to give you the exact tools you need to set up a successful online shop.

And it’s all waiting for you inside my Flower Boss Bootcamp.

My Flower Boss Bootcamp is the only program available to floral designers, flower lovers and farmer florists focused entirely on the business of flowers. The program is run entirely online, so you can join in no matter where in the world you’re located. It’s the perfect plan to help you transition your business online and make more money. 

Inside my Flower Boss Bootcamp, you get access to all my tools, templates and resources so you can build a flower business you love.

The program includes templates and training for everything you need to get your flower business set up online, including:

  • Making your website your #1 sales tool (we’ve even created a replica website for you to use as inspiration, giving you the exact roadmap to follow)
  • Sorting out your online catalogue (including a step by step guide to covering off all the details)

We even give you the exact approach to outlining your top marketing priorities including 

  1. Playing the Google game and understanding Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
  2. Step by step tutorial for setting up your Google Adwords campaigns
  3. How to use Instagram to successfully attract more customers

Peoples, we’re here to help you build a better flower business, to show you how to get more customers, make more money and show up with more confidence. It’s time to shortcut your way to success.

I feel so strongly about what we teach inside this program and all the resources we provide that we’ve even set up a money-back guarantee. This means you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Click here to learn more about my Flower Boss Bootcamp and I’ll see you on the inside. 

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