A flower on the brim of a lady’s hat can tell you a lot about the hat wearer.  She is usually a cheerful, pleasant person that knows how to laugh.  She isn’t afraid to get up early on the weekend and head to the local farmers’ market with her shopping list, a list that probably has “flowers” at the top of the list, followed by tomatoes, cucumbers and corn.  She’s the customer chatting with the other customers as she makes her weekly purchases.
    
Some hats just look like they need a flower to complete the wardrobe.  If we see a customer at the market wearing an unadorned hat, we always offer to supply one and help put it in place. Like the “kid flowers” that we give to babies in strollers and toddlers,  hat flowers are always free.  This is a way to help someone remember you, and hopefully become a regular customer.  
    
We all know how important regular customers are to the success of a business. At the farmers’ market, we call our diehard customers—the ones who are there in the rain and snow— our “flower junkies.”  They need their flower fix to get them through their week.  Our retail florists that buy in volume are the ones that we count on to buy week after week, preferring our flowers to the offerings from the wholesaler.  If you don’t have regular, repeat customers, you may not last long in this, or any business.  Regular customers are the ones who pay your bills. Starbucks doesn’t survive on the occasional coffee drinker who stops by a couple times a year, they thrive on the millions of customers who stop in every day for a cup of caffeine.
    
The cut flower industry gets a lot of free, indirect promotion from Martha , HGTV, the Today Show and hundreds of other places that feature cut flowers.  This can be in a feature article about flowers, or indirectly by showing cut flowers on a magazine cover or the morning news set.  Even Lands’ End has fresh flowers on just about every page in the catalog.  We need to make the most of this free advertising. People who may have an interest in having flowers in their home because of what they have seen may become regular customers.  We have to offer exceptional product and exceptional service. It takes more effort to help a customer who is unsure of what he wants, but it is worth it in the long run.  A little positive reinforcement can go a long way when complimenting a customer on her flower selection. She may be the person who will be paying your phone or electric bill for the next few years.
    
We need more ladies with flowers in their hats, and on their kitchen tables.
    
I’ll see you in San Jose!