Well, we now know a bit about growing flowers, have some good equipment and a vehicle for transporting the flowers, but what if no one buys? Then all of our labor is wasted. So this time, let’s think about presentation. I see a lot of flowers at the market that are just set out in buckets, baskets and other containers, and buyers walk by and hardly notice them at all. If you want to attract bees, you need some honey, and if you want to attract buyers in this tight market, you need some “people honey”, or an “eye attractor”. Having a neat display is a great first step in catching the eye of potential buyers. But surely there is more that we can do.
Showmanship. Most of us are black dirt farmers and don’t consider ourselves in that category. Maybe we need to get over it! How about making a show, but making the flowers the center of the attention. Standing in front of the your stand with a handful of lilies or other showy blooms while arranging them is a great way to attract attention. People who see those flowers cannot avert their eyes from those beautiful blooms, and the desire to see them in their own homes will become very strong. They will also be attracted to the scene of you taking a mess of flowers and transforming it into a bouquet. And try to look professional! It makes a difference if people think that you know what you are doing.
Signage. Have your prices clearly displayed! Make sure that your name is visible and any information that will answer general questions is also clearly displayed, i.e. is “tax included”, where the flowers are grown, and any kind of specials that you may be offering. Customers love to see where their flowers come from, so display pictures of your gardens, workers in the fields, and any other relevant scene that will give them a feeling of your operation. Even some biographical information would be appropriate.
Generosity. People really appreciate getting a little something extra, even if it has little value. When people have picked out their own flowers, add a few stems of grass or other accompaniment to make them feel that you really do care about them and the flowers that they will be taking home. The returns to your business will be outstanding!
Be picky. A bad flower will leave a bad impression. It is a good idea to test any flower that you are unsure of to determine the vase life for your customers. People will appreciate the information if you tell them that a particular flower will last only for a few days rather than having them find out when they get it home. Give good instructions to your customers on the care of various flowers so that they can get the longest life out of them.
Friendliness. Get to know your repeat customers. Try to call them by name after they’ve been to your stand a few times. Try to remember details about them: what kind of flowers they like, do they have children, do they have health problems, what type of work do they do, etc. People who are just watching or overhearing will get the impression that you care about them and their satisfaction.
Warrantee. Give after-the-sale service. If someone has a problem with flowers they’ve bought, try to give some satisfaction. Try to define the problem, give a solution and replace the flowers if at all possible. A few extra stems here and there will bring in greater results. Do not be defensive or seem to blame the customer for the problems with the flowers, even if you think that it was their negligence that caused the problem.
Smile and be positive. It is contagious and happy people will be more receptive to buying things that are sparkly and happy. The same things could be said for selling to florists. My best ‘sales tool’ is to get them into the truck. Oohs and aahs follow. Many times I have heard “Things are slow and I really don’t need anything, but I would like to look.” and then they end up spending $50 plus. Let them know you understand that they have to make money in order for them to be able to buy your product.
Introductions are important when you are meeting new florists! I usually walk into a new floral shop with a handful of my most showy flowers. That not only tells them immediately who I am, but also that I am a serious supplier. I also give them the flowers that I have carried into the shop and always give a bit extra when they buy. Throw in a few stems of something else that they didn’t buy so that they can see how it enhances their arrangements. Try to be patient when you are dealing with the florists. Many times I have to wait while the florist is helping a customer. Remember, it is the customer who is ultimately paying for your flowers. Call your florists by name! Really work at remembering who is who and if you can remember details about them, ask questions about their life, business or family. It helps to build a relationship with them. You’ll know you’ve been successful when you hear “I was just thinking about you.”, or “ I was wondering when you were going to get here.” Guarantee your product. Be quick to replace product if there is ever a problem. Florists can buy your product only if they can make money with it. A bad product, not made right, will cost sales in the future.
One of the best compliments that I have received was when a florist said, “the arrangements that have your flowers in them are the first ones to sell.”
The trick to getting desperately needed summer rain in East