I’m often asked about my subscription bouquet service, so it seems a good topic to write about this time around.  I’ve changed the name to Bouquet Club instead, because it seems a little more understandable for people.

Delivering flowers directly to people seemed like a good way to get more of a retail price for my flowers and a way to get rid of more flowers mid-week.  So I created a nice brochure, told about the farm, varieties, etc. and took it around to lots of different businesses (dentists, insurance agencies, realtors, etc.) along with little bouquets of short tulips in styrofoam cups.  I’d like to say they all called and signed up, but in fact not even one did.

I ended up getting most of my customers because of a man who owns a Mexican restaurant and is a great believer in supporting local growers.  He heard about me through a program called “Buy Fresh, Buy Local”, and called to sign up for a bouquet plus a mixed bucket of flowers every week to fill vases for his restaurant tables.

His wife owns a local coffee shop and he signed up for a weekly bouquet for her as well.  Allowing me to have my brochures in both places really got the ball rolling.  The fact that people could see the bouquets they would be getting answered one of the questions I was constantly asked when I went around businesses at first.  Anyway, with those brochures and by word of mouth, over the years I had anywhere from 30-40 deliveries a week.

I deliver two different days a week: Mondays for most businesses so they have fresh flowers through the week, and Wednesdays for the restaurant and homes so the flowers would be nice through the weekend.

On Mondays I deliver while I’m out on my florist route and on Wednesdays I deliver on my way out of town to a farmers’ market, so I’m not out making special trips just to deliver the club bouquets.

All the bouquets for each week are the same.  This makes life so much easier.  So, for example, if I have 10 bouquets to make I come up with a formula and multiply it out by 10.  That way I can do out to the field and cut, say, 30 snaps, 50 zinnias, 50 stems of filler, 30 lisianthus, etc.  Keeping track in a notebook as to which flowers and color I’ve used helps me always keep the bouquets different each week.  Also, if someone is gone on vacation or needs to skip a week, I have a way to keep track of that.

Bouquets are delivered in a case which is retrieved the next week when I deliver another bouquet.  Sometimes bouquets last longer than a week, so it does get hard to keep track of where all my vases are.  I buy them at my local thrift store and they cost me only fifty cents or a dollar, so I don’t worry too much if I don’t get them all back.

The struggle of what to charge was really hard, but I decided I was going to make it worth my while or not do it.  I came up with $15 a week, which still isn’t enough if you compare it to what a florist would get, but is higher than what anyone else I talked to in the ASCFG was charging.

Minimum sign-up is 4 weeks.  My season runs at least 15 weeks, starting in April with flowers from the hoophouse: tulips, anemones, snaps, dianthus, pennycress, lupines, etc.  My very loyal full-season customers keep going until the last possible flower can be cut and put in a vase.  With them, I just keep track in my notebook of how many weeks they go past the 15-week season and send an invoice after the last delivery.

One year I had a realtor come to me and sign up to have a bouquet delivered once a month, for 4 months, to 30 of her best customers.  That was an extra $1800 that year from just that one customer.  I did make these bouquets and deliver them separately in the late afternoon and early evening.

I don’t plant specifically for the Bouquet Club, I just plant lots of everything, and always seem to have a good variety.  There are weeks when I have lots of sunflowers or lilies, so it’s even easier to have just those in a vase with a little filler.

For those of you toying with the idea of doing this, I would encourage you to go ahead.  Even to offer a busy local coffee shop a free bouquet every week to able to have your brochures there for people to take is well worth it.  And don’t be afraid to charge what you and your flowers are worth.  I never had anyone tell me I should be charging less, or felt they weren’t getting their money’s worth.