Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Busy bees

This week Sally and I have been getting our fingers out and buzzing all over the place to let people know we are here. It is something we should have done 3 weeks ago.

When I began to sell from the house 2 years ago we had a very specific group of people who came each week - we were on the routine run between the Friday farmshop at France Farm and Killearn jumping beans. They were largely people that I knew socially through toddler groups and their friends.

A couple of weeks ago I began to notice that we no longer get this 11 am rush, so on Friday Sally and I sat down to think about the whys and wherefores, going through all the ex-11 am regulars. Some now come later on the way back from the afternoon school run - their children have simply outgrown toddlerhood. Others have returned to full time work and are not about at all on a Friday. Some have extended their maternity leaves, or returned to college, or taken up some arty non-paying job, they are down a wage and without cash to spend on flowers except for special occasions.

It all made me realise that I have been too complacent - we are always generally busy so I haven't been thinking about who our customers are and how we can continue to get them coming back. We have done a big effort on leafleting neighbouring villages to recruit a new generation of those toddler Mums and have our thinking caps on about how we can be more convenient for the rest.

I am very bad at this sort of thing, so it is a good job that I have Sally working with me. I would be the man with the better designed mousetrap waiting for people to beat a path to the door.


Gigibird said...

I guess repeat business is integral to flower selling. It’s good that you are analyzing your customer profile and thinking of different ways to attract people to buy your flowers. It’s true to say that cut flowers aren’t essential but like you have found in your own home they are a beautiful focus. But how to get people to develop the need for a ‘flower fix’ …..

Marie said...

Hi Jane,

I think that it is easy to get caught in the day to day running of a business and be so busy that you are almost on auto-pilot, going through the routine without stopping to think.

We all need repeat customers - as a new business, I know that this is going to take some time, but I intend to make a conscious effort to think about this after reading your post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Pondside said...

Hi Jane - just popping by to let you know how much I appreciated your poppy tips. I picked poppies on Saturday and followed your instructions - they have all partially open now and getting bigger by the hour. I'd never have believed that poppies could last more than a day or two.

Jane said...

Pondside - I am so glad that the poppies are working!

What I think I was trying to say in the post was that we were once convenient for a group of people but not our draconion opening hours have made us slip from their routine. We have to work on both getting the new generation of people who are about on Friday mornings and fitting back into the lives of people who were once regular and are now sporadic customers.


Alice C said...

I think that it is very interesting to examine your routines - I have to buy food and so I don't even think about that essential part of my life but other things come and go with different phases of my life. Sometimes things can slip without my even noticing it and I am glad when I remember to start doing it again. If I was in your area and no longer at playgroup I might welcome an invitation to a monthly coffee morning at the nursery which would give me a chance to catch up with friends and treat myself to some flowers. I am sure that there would be endless variations on this theme - guest craft stalls, plant or flower demonstrations, childrens craft activities.
I just wish I was in your area!

Fresh Floral Art said...

This is my struggle also. Let us know what works for you...Wish I lived close enough!

Samantha said...

Hi Jane,
I hope your advertising works and you get a new batch of customers.

I like Alice C's comment about demonstrations. Are there local groups that meet regularly, so that you could arrange to go to them with your flowers?


Jane said...

Thanks for all your suggestions - surreptitious questioning has thrown up that it is a move to full time work (now that children are at school) that has stopped Fridays being convenient.

I am considering doing a pre-order delivery service to very local addresses.