SAF Wednesday E-Brief
Jul. 11, 2012

Florists Give "So-So" Rating to Q2 Business
By Ira Silvergleit

Source: SAF Economic Outlook Survey for Q2 2012 – preliminary results. Based on 270 retail florist responses. Launched July 6, 2012.

Retail florists showed less optimism in the second quarter than in the first, according to preliminary results of SAF’s 2012 Q2 Economic Outlook Survey.

More than half the retailers (53 percent) who have responded to SAF’s Second Quarter 2012 Economic Outlook Survey say that business is “OK,” up from 41 percent in the first quarter, an increase of 29 percent. However, there was a precipitous 39 percent drop in the percent saying business was “good” (from 41 percent to 25 percent). The percentage indicating business is “poor” jumped by 60 percent from the first to the second quarter, from 10 percent to 16 percent. Very few retailers — in single digit percentages — characterize business at the extremes, either as “excellent” or “terrible.”

Compared to the same quarter in 2011, 22 percent more florists see business as “OK” (53 percent vs. 44 percent), and the percent saying business was “poor” fell from 19 percent during the second quarter of 2011 to 16 percent this year.

Watch for additional results in future editions of EBrief. If you have not yet responded to the survey, SAF encourages retailers, wholesalers and growers to take five minutes to fill it out, here. The survey will remain open until July 16. More

Floral Industry Value Jumps 5 Percent
By Ira Silvergleit

Source: US Bureau of Economic Analysis; Personal Consumption Expenditures by Type of Product, Underlying Detail Table 2.4.5U; June 29, 2012 revision.

New data show the value of the U.S. floral industry grew to $32.1 billion in 2011, a gain of more than 5 percent over 2010, according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). That makes 2011 the second straight year of gains following two years of decline, including recession-plagued 2009, a year when the value fell by more than 10 percent. The value of the industry exceeded $34 billion in 2007.

The data represents the total value of all floral and related products sold at all types of outlets. In fact, the BEA titles the line for floral as “flowers, seeds and potted plants.” What specifically is contained in the category? As we reported in 2011, BEA won’t say, and will not explain in detail why it revised the value by more than 75 percent in 2009 from around $20 billion to more than $35 billion. Floral industry experts conjectured that the increase might partly have stemmed from the inclusion of bedding plants as a category in the value for the first time.

BEA revises the data quarterly and makes adjustments to previous years’ figures. It also revises data based on the US Economic Census, conducted once every five years. These current figures are based on BEA’s release dated June 29, 2012. Data from the just concluded 2011 Census has not been released, but will probably result in another revision of the size of the floral industry in the future.More

VaseOff! Voting Has Begun, Help it Go Viral
By Katie Hendrick

Help promote the VaseOff! Challenge by adding a VaseOff! badge to your website or blog promoting the latest news about the competition. Simply copy and paste the embedded HTML code (below) onto the backend of your website, where you would like the badge to appear. SAF will link the latest VaseOff! information to the badge.

<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="SAF Vase Off. Learn More" border="0"></a>

The latest installment of The VaseOff! Challenge, SAF's online floral design competition series, went live to the public this week, flaunting florists’ talent for matching flowers to recipients’ personalities.

On July 9, SAF posted the four entries, submitted by member florists, to, where consumers can vote until July 23, with a click of the “like” button next to their favorite design. The Challenge: Design an arrangement sure to delight a friend who loves the beach and can't get enough of the sun, surf and sand.

SAF’s public relations agency, Ogilvy PR Worldwide, selected the four contestants from SAF member applicants, based on their design experience and inspiration, as well as their level of social media activity. They include:

The VaseOff! Challenge is SAF’s latest public relations program designed to drive traffic to the blog and promote positive floral messages to consumers and the media.

“In this world that revolves so much around social media, consumers like interaction,” said Jennifer Sparks, SAF Vice President of Marketing. “This challenge provides a fun, interactive way to spread the good news about the benefits of flowers and the expertise of florists, with the capability of going viral very quickly.”

Individual floral businesses can benefit from the challenge, even if they do not directly compete in it, Sparks said. “Florists can give the VaseOff! Challenge a try for themselves by posting the link to the blog, as well as posting a photo of their own summer-inspired arrangements on their websites and social media vehicles,” she said.

For example, here a few sample messages you could post on your Facebook wall and Twitter page, followed by a link to the voting page:

Celebrate summer with the VaseOff! Challenge! Vote for your favorite arrangement, custom fit for the quintessential summer girl.

Florists can match flowers to any personality. Check out these four arrangements for a friend who can’t get enough of the sun, sand and surf!

Want to send flowers to a friend who loves the beach? Get inspired here:

Can’t get to the beach? We’re bringing it to you. Check it out:

Sparks also suggests that florists pin the VaseOff! Challenge to their Pinterest boards.

A fall challenge, the final one for 2012, will soon be in the works. It will be a holiday theme, Sparks said. Stay tuned to SAF publications for announcements of application deadlines.

VaseOff! is part of SAF’s 2012 Consumer Marketing Program, which uses public relations and social media to promote positive messages about flowers, plants and florists. SAF marketing programs are possible thanks to the SAF PR Fund, made up of retail member dues and voluntary contributions by wholesalers, suppliers, importers and growers. Since its inception in 2001, PR Fund programs have generated more than 1 billion consumer impressions, according to Ogilvy’s measurements.More

Out of the Ashes: Florists Share Disaster Tips
By Katie Hendrick

Learn how to evaluate your insurance policy and identify potential hot spots in this month’s feature story, “Your Loss, Your Gain.”

Wildfires, Tropical Storm Debby, the newest addition to every Mid-Atlantic resident’s vocabulary: derecho — the past month has provided ample evidence that scary, stressful events aren’t just hypothetical situations posed by insurance companies.

Arguably among the worst-case scenarios: Within minutes, a fire destroys the flower shop you’ve spent decades growing. In this month’s cover story of Floral Management, two florists — one in Michigan, the other in Florida — who’ve lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fires reveal what wish they’d known before the flames and what they’ve learned after the ashes. From evaluating your insurance policy to identifying potential fire hazards, prepare for the worst by reading, “Their Loss, Your Gain.” More

Small Business Hiring Up in June
The Associated Press via The Washington Post
The pace of small business hiring picked up in June, but still fell short of healthier levels set in the first few months of this year, according to a private survey released recently. ADP, the company that provides payroll services, reported that small businesses added 93,000 jobs during the month.More

Harvey Preuss: 1922-2012

Former Society of American Florists board member Harvey Preuss died July 6. He was 90. The long-time owner of Harvey O. Preuss Florist in Milwaukee, which closed in the 1990s, served on SAF’s board in the early 1980s. He is survived by his wife, Evelyn; daughter, Susan, and several nieces and nephews. The funeral service was held at 10 am on July 11 at Harder Funeral Home in Milwaukee.More

Juicy Choices (Fresh Squeezed!) at SAF Palm Beach 2012

If your goal is to get maximum juice out of every squeezed minute, bring a great big pitcher to SAF Palm Beach 2012. Every day is brimming with business-building options Sept. 19-22 at SAF’s 128th Annual Convention in Florida. We’ll be parsing them out in E-Brief over the next few weeks. Here’s the first installment:

  1. Soup up your socmed. Bring your tablet, smartphone or laptop to the hands-on Workshop: Social Media 2.0. Learn how to maximize the marketing potential of Facebook 2.0 and put all of the other social media apps to work for your business too.
  2. Find buried treasure. Dive deep into the six main cost centers of your business with Derrick Myers, CPA, CFP, of Crockett Myers & Associates. He’ll show you how to track, measure and adjust costs — and increase profits in ways you never thought possible during the session Treasure Hunt: Find Your Hidden Profits.
  3. Turn into a top attraction. If finding great employees is a challenge, you may not know where to look or underselling really great reasons to work in your business. Learn what today’s job hunters are looking for, and how to position your company in the most appealing ways at Turn Your Business Into a Top Talent Magnet.
  4. Be a mensch. It’s good for business. Make connections and help fund essential floral industry research and scholarship programs during the American Floral Endowment (AFE) Annual Fundraising Dinner on Thursday, September 20. For more than 50 years, AFE has funded vital scientific research, scholarships and educational development opportunities promoting the growth and improvement of the entire floral industry. Enjoy an evening with new and old friends; hear about the latest AFE projects your participation helps support. Purchase dinner tickets ($150 each) when you register for SAF Palm Beach 2012, or contact Debi Aker at (703) 838-5211,
For details, visit the website, download the brochure or contact Laura Weaver,, 800-336-4743. Already made up your mind? Why wait? Click here to register now.More

Strive to be the 'Where'd You Get That?' Florist
By Kate Penn

SAF Retail Growth Solutions speaker Tim Farrell shows how the addition of linear elements to an arrangement, shown at the left, adds impact and makes for a more memorable design presentation than the typical rounded design

Who can sell flowers these days? Just about anybody. And that’s why retailer Tim Farrell said it’s up to professional retail florists to use their design skills to differentiate themselves.

“What we do is different” than retailers selling a dozen roses for $9.99, Farrell told the 80 attendees at SAF’s recent Retail Growth Solutions Conference, during his “Profitable Design” session. “We do not sell flowers, we’re selling our design skills.”

Farrell showed several samples of arrangements exhibiting the power of linear design, compared to the more typical rounded arrangements. "You have the power to brand your business as the 'where'd you get that?' florist. "Send something to the hospital that's a little more linear. If that happens a couple of times, all of the sudden they stop having to ask who the florist is and they're saying, 'wow, I bet that came from X flower shop.'"

High style designs can — and should — be highly profitable, Farrell said. Not just because you can charge a lot for the materials used but because a high-end look can be accomplished with a minimal amount of labor. Farrell showed several pairs of high-style arrangements: both with a similar price point but one with a substantially higher profit margin, due to more effective use of flowers, which in effect results in fewer insertions.

See Farrell’s formulas and additional ideas for adding drama and profits to your designs, in the SAF Retail Grower Solutions group at If you haven’t signed onto the website, it’s easy! Click on MySAF and follow the prompts.More

Tips To Avoid Lowballing
By Katie Hendrick
“We have nice arrangements starting at $39.99.”

“You don’t want anything too big.”

If either of these lines have ever crossed your sales employees’ lips, you better check out this month’s “CSI: Flower Shop Confidential,” in which Tim Huckabee, founder and president of Floral Strategies, LLC, and the American Institute of Floral Sales Experts, critiques a Nebraskan florist who woefully undersold an order for flowers being purchased for a woman recovering from a car accident.

Read what Huckabee would say to the caller to capture a bigger sale. More

Request Reviews, Raise Your Prominence
By Katie Hendrick

Almost 80 percent of couples find their wedding vendors through online research. Make sure brides find yours by doing the right moves to elicit reviews.

This summer, vow to enhance your reputation by soliciting feedback.

Customer reviews build your credibility and help you appear on customers’ radar by making you prominent in online searches. Case in point: An influx of reviews (157) for Starbright Floral Design gets the shop’s Place Page to pop up when customers type the phrase, “Who is the best florist in New York City?” But such feedback is not automatic, said owner Nic Faitos; often, you need to take the time to fish for some praise.

Follow up with customers via email (you should always capture contact information for every customer) and ask them to write a review based on their experience with you. Let them know how their feedback benefits your shop.

Lori Kunian, CFD, puts it like this for customers: “The best way for people to select small businesses today is to read online how other people like or don’t like them.”

The owner of Affairs to Remember in Melrose, Mass., tells customers that a review “lets us know what you think and tells what we need to work on in terms of quality, style and service.”

This message has yielded dozens of comments on sites including Google, Yahoo, Citysearch, Yelp, hotfrog and WeddingWire, which have drawn in new customers, particularly those who are out of state and ordering funeral flowers, she said.

Reviews are especially important for attracting brides. Almost 80 percent of couples will find their vendors through online research, while only 60 percent will ask for recommendations from friends or family members, according to The Wedding Report’s 2012 U.S. Wedding Market Insight Report. Read what three florists do to elicit those reviews and keep bridal business coming their way in “’Til Online Reviews Do Us Part.”More

Use Pricing Strategy to Boost Sales
Harvard Business Review
What's the fastest way to profitably sell more of whatever it is your company sells? Think about how your company sets prices: Are you confident that your prices capture the value of your products and services? There are three reasons why "better pricing" should be your company's top priority.More

14 Ways to Handle Angry Customers Online
Small Business Trends
Decades ago, unhappy customers would have to write a letter to let a brand know how dissatisfied they were with a product they just purchased. It was a private matter between company and client, and a lack of response from a noteworthy name wouldn’t be unheard of. After all, letters in the mail do occasionally get lost.More

Measuring an Employee's Worth? Consider Influence
Fast Company
Today, your performance review is based on things like sales numbers or number of goals met. Tomorrow, though, it could be based on something that until now has remained ephemeral: organizational influence. The performance review of the future will include services like's Chatter and its Influencers feature, which measures how much weight you carry among your peers.More

Do Facebook Likes Translate to Actual Sales
American Express OPEN Forum
If a customer likes you on Facebook, how often (if ever) does that translate into a sale? Alchemy Social analyzed the link between clicking Like and actually visiting a business' online store when it managed a Facebook campaign for a telecommunications company. Alchemy tracked fans who were active on the brand's Facebook page, those who were fans but not active and those who were not fans of the business at all to see how often they visited the company's online store.More

How to Give Employees Independence Without Losing Control
Every business owner knows how to wear a lot of hats. When first striking out on your own, you have a hand in finances, marketing, product design and everything in between. But as your company grows, you need to empower your employees to feel that same sense of independence.More

Get on Holiday Fund Raising Radar

Now’s the time to reach out to religious congregations about fall holiday fundraising programs. Talk to church groups about selling wreathes, decorated Christmas trees, garlands; and find out about holiday bazaars, newsletter ads, etc. If your community has a large Jewish population, talk to the executive directors at synagogues and temples about offering flowers for Rosh Hashanah. The Jewish New Year begins at sundown on Sept. 16 and celebratory dinners are traditional. Another possibility is selling greens and flowers to decorate the family sukkah (pronounced “soo-kuh”) — a temporary shelter where meals are served during the weeklong Jewish harvest festival Sukkot (“soo-coat”) which begins on the evening of Sept. 30.More

Better Forecasting = Better Florists

In just 60 minutes, Paul Goodman, CPA, of Floral Finance Business Services, will show you how to nail down the most accurate sales forecast you can.

Have unpredictable sales left you over-staffed and with too much inventory? Learn how to reduce your costs, increase productivity and boost profits with SAF’s webinar DVD, Better Forecasts, Better Florists.

“The biggest problem with not forecasting sales is that you spend too much on payroll, and you buy too much product so your cost of goods sold is too high,” said floral industry financial advisor Paul Goodman, CPA, the program's presenter. By putting to use Goodman’s practical, easily digestible tips, you’ll be on your way to making sure that never happens.

Here’s a sample of what you’ll be able to do after watching this webinar.

To learn more and order the DVD, click here.More