SAF Wednesday E-Brief
Apr. 2, 2014

Pushed by SAF Members, Congress Moves to Take Action on Targeted ACA Fixes
By Mary Westbrook

Grassroots lobbying during SAF’s Congressional Action Days helped result in this week’s House vote on a bill to raise the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) definition of full-time employment from 30 to 40 hours a week. Shown: Toomie Farris, AAF, AIFD, (left), and Del Demaree and Laura Shinall, Syndicate Sales, with an aide from the office of Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.).

When Toomie Farris, AAF, AIFD, left Washington, D.C., last month after lobbying for industry’s issues during SAF’s 34th Annual Congressional Action Days (CAD), the once skeptical advocate-business owner had a good feeling that this year’s event would lead to real action. Turns out, his hunch was well founded.

The House of Representatives announced plans to vote April 3 on a bill to raise the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) definition of full-time employment from 30 to 40 hours a week. SAF is urging all SAF members to contact their representatives today and tell them to vote “yes” on H.R. 2575 on Thursday.

"It is easy to see how this 30-hour definition could become a defacto standard in other areas of the law like overtime," said SAF Senior Director of Government Relations Corey Connors." Fortunately, for businesses of all sizes, there's still time to act as the vote on H.R. 2575 is scheduled for tomorrow."

The change was a key talking point for nearly 80 SAF members at CAD, including Farris, who argued that the existing standard, 30 hours a week, is out of touch with industry practices.

The scheduled vote is a direct result of those efforts, Connors said. “Without SAF members asking for a vote [on H.R. 2575] during CAD, another delay was likely,” Connors said. “So the assertive lobbying by SAF members on this issue really did work.”

The fast action comes as a welcome sign of progress for business owners who feel frustrated by gridlock in the capital. “Slow decisions frustrate me,” said Farris, the owner of McNamara Florist in Fishers, Ind., to Floral Management magazine, and the inching-along-pace of politics nearly turned him off of CAD last year. This year, however, his experience was “completely different.”

“The lessons [and prep before the Capitol Hill meetings] helped me act like a salesperson,” he said. “I just went in with our agenda and our talking points and sold the need for our issues.”

Since CAD, Connors has also been in touch with lawmakers in the House and Senate about potential draft legislation to simplify the ACA’s regulations regarding the definition of seasonal workers, another top issue for industry members in March.

“Impressively, CAD attendees are the first and only group that has raised issues pertaining to the ACA and seasonal businesses and employees before Congress,” he said. “As a result of SAF members’ efforts, a broad coalition of groups interested in this issue — led by SAF — is working in a bipartisan way to introduce a bill in days, not weeks or months.”

The lesson? “CAD works — or rather our members participating in CAD work,” Connors said. “They are the ones who, through perseverance and persistence, have made a difference.”

Did you attend CAD? Don’t forget to send a thank-you email to lawmakers and staff members. It isn’t too late to invite them to visit your business — and keep SAF updated on your progress. Want to voice support for targeted adjustments to the ACA, including changes to the definition of full-time employment and seasonal workers? Now is the time to do it. Visit safnow.org or contact Brian Gamberini, bgamberini@safnow.org, to get started.More

Washington Florist Shares Flowers' Impact in Time of Tragedy
By Katie Hendrick

Following the March 22 Washington state mudslide, Sen. Patty Murray, left, visited Stacy Boulton and David Boulton, AAF, PFCI, of Flowers by George to show support and see how the business was faring.

Relief was the first reaction David Boulton, AAF, PFCI, had after the March 22 landslide, which happened mere miles from his Arlington, Wash., flower shop. The natural disaster killed a confirmed 28 people, with as many still missing, and occurred beside a major highway that Flowers by George delivery drivers travel on a daily basis.

That road is closed, making deliveries more time consuming, “but we’re just so grateful none of our employees were in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Boulton said.

After Boulton was sure that his whole team was safe and accounted for, sorrow for those not as fortunate sunk in, and soon he felt determined to make a tragic situation a little brighter.

“We know the area,” Boulton said when a news crew from Seattle’s King 5 news dropped in on March 26. “We grew up here. This is our town.”

The reporters showed up unannounced, looking for people with some connection to the landslide. “In times of tragedy,” they said on air, “they are some of the first to get the bad news. In Arlington, the town’s oldest florist is getting the call way too often — preparing flowers for those killed in the Oso landslide and their families.”

In the midst of designing a sympathy arrangement of carnations, gerberas and hydrangeas, Boulton talked about how his community recognized the comforting power of flowers.

“It’s too soon to know how many funerals we’ll do, but for now, people are sending flowers to the families,” including people who lost pets, Boulton said.

Since the segment aired, Boulton has received dozens of calls from people wanting to help. Among them: retired florists eager to volunteer their time and talents for the expected onslaught of funerals. Total strangers have also offered cash donations to help with funeral costs.

After the interview, Sen. Patty Murray (D) also stopped in the shop during a trip to see how Arlington was faring after the mudslide.

“She stopped in to know how we were doing, specifically, did we have enough resources to handle the number of orders,” Boulton said. “We told her we were and reinforced that we are one of the local businesses accepting cash donations, either for hospital expenses or funeral flowers, and that we’re one of the places people go for information.”More

SAF Members Host Fundraiser for Arkansas Senator
By Brian Gamberini

Loranne and Brock Atwill of Flower Shop Network in Pargould, Ark., present Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) a SAFPAC donation during their fundraiser earlier this week.

After a successful visit to Capitol Hill during SAF Congressional Action Days (CAD), Loranne and Brock Atwill continued their full court press on their lawmakers by hosting a fundraiser for Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) this week. The Atwills, owners of Flower Shop Network in Paragould, Ark., were part of a group of local constituents that hosted the small event for Pryor Monday evening.

"After meeting with Sen. Pryor's staff at CAD, having this time to follow up with him directly about the issues we brought up reiterated how important these issues are to our industry," Loranne said. Along with other attendees at the fundraiser, Loranne and Brock were able to present the senator with a contribution from SAF's Political Action Committee (SAFPAC).



Pryor has been a supporter of immigration reform, one of the issues CAD attendees lobbied for during CAD this year, and voted in favor of the Senate immigration bill last year.



"After attending CAD and having SAF remind us of how important building a relationship with our lawmakers is, we really see how events like this will benefit our business and our industry," Loranne said.



If you would like to host your lawmaker at your business, or if you would like to host a fundraiser — please let SAF know by contacting Brian Gamberini, bgamberini@safnow.org.More

Best Practices for a Seamless Holiday Delivery
By Katie Hendrick


Here’s a Murphy’s Law scenario no florist ever wants to encounter: a steady deluge of snow, starting in the evening hours of Feb. 13.

(Doesn’t take a huge stretch of imagination, does it, East Coasters?)

As florists from Maine to Georgia experienced this year, inclement weather occasionally intersects with the industry’s busiest day, making deliveries daunting, if not impossible.

Or so it would seem. With a little ingenuity and a lot of resolve, some florists manage to get every order to every customer no matter the obstacles — be it a Polar Vortex or an inundation of last-minute phone calls.

We pressed them for their secrets for handling holiday volume without losing their minds and learned some great practices for hiring, training and troubleshooting. With any luck, you won’t encounter any snowflakes next month for Mother’s Day; still, we’re confident you’ll want to give their advice a try.

Read the story, “How to Succeed in Holiday Business Without Really Crying,” in this month’s Floral Management.More

Consumer Spending, Personal Income Up in February
The Associated Press via USA Today
Americans spent slightly more in February but the gain still left consumer spending growing at a modest pace, held back by severe winter weather. Consumer spending rose 0.3 percent in February following a 0.2 percent rise in January, the Commerce Department reported recently. The spending increases would have been even weaker except for a surge in spending on utility bills. In February, spending on durable goods such as autos actually dropped as consumers stayed away from auto dealerships. Service spending, which covers utility payments, rose.More

Wisconsin Florists Cross Market to Get Huge Prom Press
By Katie Hendrick

A televised segment about prom showed viewers that flowers aren’t just for a wrist corsage anymore — even cellphones can use a little floral embellishment.

Talk about a smart start to the day: at 5:30 a.m., Tuesday, March 25, Susan Wilke, AAF, PFCI, was in Haven Salon & Day Spa in Muskego, Wis., applying corsages, head pieces and other body flowers to teenage models before the folks from Fox 6 News showed up.

A veteran guest on Fox 6, the sales rep for Karthauser and Sons Wholesale Florist in nearby Germantown knows that media coverage can mean big business, so she called the station in late February to discuss a fun, topical spot about getting ready for prom — which the news team happily jumped on.

Wilke has never encountered a reluctant reporter. “They’re always so appreciative when I pitch an idea,” she said. “They’re in search of an angle, plus they have to cover so much bad news that happy stories are a welcome change.”

To give the segment more “oomph” and marketing mileage, she recruited a local salon to host it. After all, hair and makeup rank awfully high in priority for prom goers. The salon advertised the segment both before and after it aired on social media, as did the teenage girls as they had their tresses teased and twirled.

“There was definitely a lot of marketing by the teens themselves,” Wilke said. “It was barely 6 a.m. and they were already posting on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram while they were sitting in the salon chair.”

Taking recommendations from friends at a local women’s club, Wilke selected three teens from three different high schools to serve as models. The girls sent her photos of their dresses, which they wore on the news, and she passed the images on to three of her retail customers, assigning a girl to each florist. She asked the florists to create four to five pieces that complemented the dress and showed off local florists’ ingenuity. They supplied her with all sorts of modern, striking designs, including a cymbidium necklace, an anthurium scepter, floral ponytail holders, floral garters and a rose and rhinestone cellphone cover.

During the segment, the girls showed off their fabulous floral accessories, and Wilke talked a little about some of the latest trends. After filming wrapped, the girls headed off to school — still gussied up and carrying stacks of florists’ business cards to share with anyone who inquired about their morning of glamour.

Check out the footage here.More

Five Marketing Lessons from Makeup Gurus
By Katie Hendrick

One way beauty subscription service, Birchbox, keeps its massive fan base captivated is by tailoring content to different types of social media. Purely visual posts, such as this manicure close-up, dominate Instagram.

Four years ago, Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna recognized that, as much as women love online shopping, they’re a little weary of ordering beauty products, especially those of the high-end variety, without trying them first. So the then-Harvard MBA students launched Birchbox, a subscription service that delivers about six sample-size goodies a month (handpicked based on the subscriber’s answers to an online survey). The company has more than 100,000 subscribers, in part, because Beauchamp and Barna filled a gap in the e-commerce market, but also because the duo knows how to captivate their audience on a daily basis.

With a massive following — 929,810 fans on Facebook, 121,000 on Twitter and 104,664 on Instagram — Birchbox caught the eye of Small Biz Technology, which shares a few pointers all retailers can learn from the makeup gurus. Spoiler alert: they’re deeper than how to contour cheekbones or apply smudge-proof mascara!

More

Newspapers Pick Up Photo of S.D. Florist Hard at Work
By Mary Westbrook

A photo of South Dakota florist Michelle Bezpaletz braving the cold ran in newspapers nationwide this week.

When a local photographer took a photo of Michelle Bezpaletz shoveling the sidewalk in front of her Rapid City, S.D., shop this week, there wasn’t much time to talk. In fact, Bezpaletz didn’t even realize the photographer was there until he asked for her name and business info.

“It was too cold to chitchat,” laughed Bezpaletz, who was clearing the walkway for the third time in two hours when the photographer, Benjamin Brayfield, of the Rapid City Journal, came by on Monday. The spring snowstorm shut down public schools, universities and government offices throughout the Upper Midwest — but not, as it turns out, Bezpaletz’s Forget-Me-Not Floral. “That’s why I was out there shoveling,” she said. “We stayed open for our customers.”

Using the Associated Press wire, newspapers far from Rapid City, including the San Francisco Chronicle, the (Albany, N.Y.) Times Union and the Washington Post, picked up the photo this week to illustrate the lingering winter. Bezpaletz is likely to be out shoveling again today: At press time, Rapid City was in the 20s, with a 90 percent chance for snow.

While the photo captured the mood of people fed up with a winter-that-won’t-quite-quit, it also presented Bezpaletz as a dedicated, customer service-oriented business owner. That’s a PR win florists in any state (and any climate) can appreciate. You never know when a reporter or a photographer might pop up: Use your downtime to dust up on your media skills. SAF has resources, including PR Boot Camps, talking points and press releases available for members at safnow.org.More

Festival of Flowers returning to Springfield Museums
By The Republican Entertainment Desk
The coming of spring also brings the return of the Springfield Museums’ annual Festival of Flowers on April 3-6.

This year’s celebration will feature over 50 objects from the art, history and science collections creatively interpreted by local florists, designers, and garden club members.

The festival, once a mainstay of the Springfield Museums calendar, returned last year to the delight of area flower fans, and this year’s event features even more floral arrangements inspired by some of the Museums’ signature collection items. More

The Fulfillment Option that Brings Customers Back
Chain Store Age
Cyber Monday? For the mobile minded, every day has the potential to be a cyber-shopping event, regardless of location or device. And that’s changing both consumer expectations as well as retailers’ business models. But the brand experience, regardless of available channels, still reigns supreme in the new omnichannel era. With the lines between e-commerce, mobile commerce, and brick-and-mortar retail blurring rapidly, retailers need technology that delivers seamless and satisfying experiences. And what an increasing number of consumers want now is to buy products online and pick them up in store.More

Instagram Usage In the US Surges 35% in 2013, Rivals Twitter
eMarketer
Just how many people in the U.S. use Instagram, the photo- and video-sharing service Facebook acquired in 2012? According to new figures from eMarketer, Instagram usage in the U.S. has ramped up rapidly and is already maturing, reaching regular usage levels nearly matching Twitter's, particularly on smartphones and among millennials and Gen Xers. Nearly 35 million people in the U.S. accessed Instagram at least once per month in 2013, according to eMarketer's latest forecast — representing double-digit but not spectacular growth over 2012. By the end of this year, almost 25 percent of U.S. smartphone users will snap a photo, slap on a filter and share their creations with friends on Instagram on a monthly basis (or, at least, sign in and check out what their friends are posting).More

How Loyal Are Millennials to Brands?
MarketingProfs
Some 64 percent of Millennials say they feel at least as much brand loyalty to their favorite brands as their parents do to their own favorite brands, according to a recent report from Adroit Digital. The survey of 2,000 US Millennials (defined as consumers age 18-33) found that 40 percent of them say they feel the same level of loyalty as their parents, and 24 percent say they feel more. Just under one-third (31 percent) say they feel less brand loyalty than their parents, and 5 percent say they feel none at all.More

Teleflora Awards New Ford Transit Connect to Minutella's Florist Inc.


Shop Owner Michelle Florio of Minutella’s Florist receives the keys to a brand new custom-wrapped floral delivery van. (Photo credit to: AP Images for Teleflora.)

Teleflora awarded Minutella’s Florist Inc., based in Brookhaven, Pa., a brand new Ford Transit Connect delivery van courtesy of Chapman Auto Group, according to a company press release. The prize giveaway is a result of Teleflora’s “Score Big & Win Bigger” member florist promotion. As part of the campaign, Teleflora member florists scored points for a series of tasks tied to the Valentine’s Day 2014 season. The new delivery van for Minutella’s Florist is custom-wrapped with personalized branding featuring the shop name and contact information.

“I couldn’t believe my ears when Teleflora contacted me to say we just won a brand new delivery van, all for free. My parents have passed away, but I couldn’t help but think our winning this van was a sign from them that despite some tough times with the business, we were going to be okay,” said Michelle Florio, third-generation owner and operator of Minutella’s Florist. “The new floral delivery van couldn’t come at a better time, as both of our vans are quite old and on their last legs. ”

“We are delighted to award a brand new delivery van...to a local florist that has been a Teleflora network member for over 20 years,” said Tom Butler, chairman of Teleflora. “We know how hard Teleflora’s members work every day to deliver floral beauty and joy to their local communities, so it’s with great appreciation and excitement when we can do the same for them.”More

AFE's Fundraising Dinner to Support Research, Educational Programs
By Suzanna McCloskey

Make a difference in the floral industry and show your support of the American Floral Endowment (AFE) by attending or sponsoring the 2014 annual fundraising dinner on Thursday, Aug. 14 at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort in Marco Island, Fla. The dinner is held in conjunction with SAF’s annual convention.

“The annual dinner is AFE’s biggest fundraising event and offers guests the perfect opportunity to learn about the latest Endowment efforts while simultaneously connecting with hundreds of floral industry professionals,” AFE Chairman Paul Bachman said. “By purchasing a dinner ticket or becoming a sponsor, you’re directly helping to support and expand AFE’s research and educational efforts to benefit all industry segments."

Past AFE research has led to the invention of the cold chain, techniques for extending the vase life of flowers, controlling powdery and downy mildews and much more.

At the dinner, the Endowment will unveil a new and updated website, announce new named funds, recognize donors reaching new giving levels and more.



Information is available online to purchase a dinner ticket ($175) or become a dinner sponsor, a great way to visibly support AFE even if you cannot attend the dinner. Tickets and sponsorships are also available by emailing AFE Executive Director Debi Aker or calling (703) 838-5211.

There are several sponsorship levels available, and all sponsors are recognized during the dinner, in print materials, on the website and in the AFE Bulletin, which reaches more than 10,000 industry members.

The success of the dinner would not be possible without the sponsors who lend their names and financial support to the event. Sponsorships help AFE offset dinner expenses, freeing more funding for research and grants.

At the 2013 dinner, 220-plus attendees raised more than $30,000 for the floriculture and environmental horticulture industry.More

Accent Decor Named Supplier Of The Year At Great Lakes Floral Expo
by The Michigan Floral Association
Accent Decor in Norcross, Ga., has been named Supplier of the Year by the Michigan Floral Association (MFA). The award was presented at the 2014 Great Lakes Floral Expo held at the Amway Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The company, founded in 1997, supplies containers, glassware and other accessories to the floral industry and is dedicated to finding new products that will keep their customers on the cutting edge of new trends.

Accent Decor has always been a loyal supporter of the Michigan Floral Association by participating and supplying merchandise whenever asked. Additionally, they are committed to various community projects both in the United States and overseas.

Among these projects are Camp Grace in Georgia, a summer camp program that inspires young children to achieve greatness through encouraging mentors and instruction and Program, Blueprint 58, which focuses on both fostering and mentoring relationships in local schools located throughout the United States.

Their greatest support has been for the Crocodile Rewards Program for the children of Kabala, South Africa. Accent Decor has partnered with a literacy advocate to print and provide the Kuranko Folktale story in three languages for children and teachers. Over 10,000 copies have been printed and distributed in the Sierra Leone, West Africa region.


Each year the MFA Awards and Nominations Committee is responsible for soliciting and reviewing award nominations. The committee sends all qualified nominations to a panel of independent judges who evaluate and complete an evaluation form for each nominee. The committee then totals the points received for each candidate nominated in a specific category and averages. The candidate receiving the highest average score in each category is then chosen to receive the award. More

Grower Direct Farms Obtains "A" on Sustainability through MPS certification

Grower Direct Farms recently earned MPS-ABC certification. The family-owned company in Somers, Conn., established in 1981 by Leonard van Wingerden, has grown to a total of 1.1 million square feet of indoor growing space and 8 acres of outdoor growing space.

Throughout the years Grower Direct Farms worked with sustainable practices, integrated in the growing activities. Some examples are:

Brent Monticue of Grower Direct Farms explains that the MPS-ABC certification gives the company data to measure the progress on sustainability efforts and make realistic plans to improve the sustainability of the production processes.

“With the achievement of the MPS-ABC certification we demonstrate that we are serious about reducing our impact on the environment and this sets an example for others growers to follow,” he said. “As a company in the green industry we have to be responsible managers of our natural resources if we want to be credible when presenting our products to our customers.”

Grower Direct Farms has gone through a rigorous one year certification process followed by a third party on-site audit in order to achieve their initial qualification for MPS-ABC.

The MPS-A qualification for Grower Direct Farms confirms the efforts and integration of sustainability in the daily practices at this quality grower and MPS would like to congratulate Grower Direct Farms with this excellent result.

MPS welcomes grower inquires in North America to the West Coast coordinator, Charlotte Smit at (805) 524-9685 or c.smit@usa.my-mps.com, or to the East Coast coordinator, John McCaslin at (828) 458-7231 or j.mccaslin@usa.my-mps.com. More

Tip of the Week: Market Stress Busters
By Katie Hendrick


Did you know April is National Stress Awareness Month? Chances are, every single one of your customers experiences some kind of stress on a semi-regular basis and, lucky for them, you specialize in a product scientifically known to boost emotional wellbeing. Draw attention for both the holiday and flowers’ mental health benefits, and then build promotions around the theme.

Try this:

More

Spotlight: Easter and Passover Web Banners



Whether your customers are preparing for Seder or Easter brunch, there’s room at the table for flowers. Take advantage of SAF’s Easter and Passover web graphics. They’re free, exclusively for SAF members. Download them from the SAF Web Banner library.More