Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Buying and running a florists shop
Over the past few days my bedtime reading has been a newly published book on this subject by Alan Peck. It is interesting as it is written entirely from the point of view of financial bottom line, there is none of passion for flowers (or even, to be honest, an interest in them) that would tend to cloud most florists accounts. Peck and his wife Elizabeth owned 2 florist shops for 8 years until she died of cancer in 2004.
It has made me very glad that I work in the way that I do, that the flower business has developed from the need to grow things rather than the need to sell things. I am also so glad that I have my own flowers to draw on as much of the book is devoted to the need to pass off old stock to customers (as well as how to get them to add a helium balloon to their order!?) before it becomes wastage. I found that I was sad the weeks I sold out this year as there were no flowers to send to Crofatmie Nursery on the Monday.
Even worse is the compromises caused by his reliance on buying from the Dutch wholesalers.
Peck writes "When you purchase flowers from a wholesaler you do not know when they were cut. You do not know what sort of conditions they have been kept in since cutting. " Peck regards a £20 bunch of flowers as cheap (and frequently insinuates that it is insulting to the recipient!) - if I was spending £20 on flowers I would expect the vendor to know exactly when and where they were cut and how they had been treated since then.
The book is obviously aimed at would be florists and I suppose it is unlikely to be read by many flower buyers, - should they happen across it, however, they will become very cynical about flower shops.
One thing that I didn't know was the practice of relay selling - a company takes a flower order for say £40; it then passes it on as a £30 order to a local florist and it would then be the local florist who appears to be offering rubbish value for money while the relay company takes the profit. I was approached by a number of these firms as soon as I put my number into the Yellow Pages this year but felt that I wasn't enough of a conventional florist to be able to do remote orders - I like to know who is sending and who is receiving flowers and to make sure that the bouquet is going to suit. I like connection. It hadn't occured to me that it was a scam.