As small businesses and cut flower growers we are always struggling to grow and be profitable selling what is basically a luxury product (a “want” vs. a “need”) in an economy that keeps folks pinching their pennies. So, I made a list of Seven Ways to Make More Money in 2014 to share here in my Regional Report.

1. Direct seed an extra row of late-season sunflowers. Go one or two weeks beyond your normal planting date. At most, you risk a few minutes behind the Earthway and $15-20 worth of ‘Pro Cut’ seed. If they make it, which mine often have (thanks, climate change!), it can bring in as much as $500-600 worth of extra income at a late market when sunflowers go like hotcakes.
2. Pick one market day every year, such as the third Saturday in July, when you have an abundance of summer annuals such as zinnias or sunflowers. Give away one small bunch with every purchase. Promote it for 2-3 weeks before to your Facebook followers and even through market signage. Even those who don’t take advantage will hear the buzz about your farm. Plus, non-flower-buying marketgoers may decide to grab some flowers that day, ideally creating a few new regulars.
3. Increase your prices by $0.50 per bunch, both wholesale and retail. Your customers won’t blink at the increase, but if you sell 1000 bunches per month, you’ll make an extra $500 per month.
4. Take your best customers to lunch, again both wholesale and retail. Ask them what they like, dislike (assure them you won’t be offended and then be sure you’re not) and what they would like to see more or less of. Then, really LISTEN and make a few changes accordingly.
5. Add a new perennial or woody crop that is a strong producer and a good seller. Ask other growers for ideas and sources. I put in twenty ‘Limelight’ hydrangeas several years ago, bought at 3-gallon size from a local wholesale nursery. At $12 per plant, I spent $240. By the first year I more than paid for the plants. In the second year, I sold an average of $550 per week for over 6 weeks from them. Returns might not be immediate but they’ll be exponential. Peonies, anyone? (BTW, I got HUGE roots from Swedish Touch peonies last year….instant gratification.)
6. Email at least five other growers in your off-season and ask them each five questions in areas you need help. Find out what works for others. Always offer your help in return. This is how beautiful friendships are made!
7. Attend the ASCFG Meeting in Rhode Island on November 3 & 4. Visit with other growers face-to-face, see what works so well at Robin Hollow Farm, and fine-tune your goal setting, marketing, crop planning, record keeping and so much more. Take it all back to your farm and apply it for awesome results.

Becky Devlin

Roost Flowers & Design

Becky Devlin Roost Flowers & Design [email protected]