SAF Wednesday E-Brief
Sep. 5, 2012

Isaac Challenges Southeast Louisiana Florists
By Katie Hendrick
Hurricane Isaac, a category 1 storm, struck Louisiana’s southeast coast early morning Wed., Aug. 29, the seven-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and, though it has affected fewer people than did the 2005 disaster that hit New Orleans, florists just south of the city say Isaac created plenty of havoc, primarily with flooding and power outages, which have crippled business for many.

Jennifer Dodson, owner of The Potting Shed in Boutte, La., (in the St. Charles Parish) lost approximately $1,500 worth of fresh product in the cooler due to a power outage. Other than lost inventory, “our store made it through with minor damage —just some leaks in the roof,” she said, grateful she was spared the flooding that afflicted so many homes in nearby Laplace, in the St. John the Baptist Parish.

The biggest impact for Dodson was losing a week of business as her local wholesalers, Pike’s Peak, Greenleaf and St. Rose Floral, all shut down. After a week without flower deliveries, she had to close for the weekend of Aug. 31 and had to cancel her services for a bridal shower and a baby shower. (At press time, she expected to receive flowers late afternoon of Sept. 5.)

Dodson used the time to ban with fellow business owners to collect donations of clothing and non-perishable food items for those affected. Through Facebook posts and email blasts to customers, the businesses solicited enough items to fill two trucks so far.

“We’re a very small community and everybody knows somebody over in Laplace,” she said of her neighbors’ willingness to help.

In Metairie (in Jefferson Parish) and Covington (in St. Tammany Parish), Roger Villere, Jr., AAF, endured a slew of obstacles operating Villere’s Florist since the hurricane hit. Flooded streets made deliveries difficult and prevented some employees from getting to work. He’s also experienced spotty phone and Internet service following a two-day power outage. “Sales have been affected in a very negative way,” he said. “It is a struggle.”

Villere is no stranger to hurricane damage. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina blew the roof and refrigeration unit off his Metairie store. Both locations had no electricity for nearly two months. And employees drove an hour to Baton Rouge to get flowers, as their wholesalers were out of commission. Read “Still Standing” to learn how the business survived.More

AIFD Announces Certification Results, 35 Symposium Scholarships
By Katie Hendrick

Symposium attendees are exposed to some of the most innovative looks in floral design, such as this French-inspired bouquet by Ian Prosser, AAF, AIFD, NDSF, PFCI. AIFD hopes to increase interest for Symposium and the Professional Floral Designer Evaluation that immediately precedes it by offering a complimentary registration to 35 state and regional floral associations.

The results are in: Out of the 71 candidates who participated in the American Institute of Floral Designers’ (AIFD) Professional Floral Designer Evaluation (PFDE) session July 10 in Miami, 62 scored high enough to receive the Certified Floral Designer (CFD) designation. Among those, 12 created designs “so excellent in presentation” that they have been invited to become a member of AIFD, said AIFD President Ann Jordan. Those 12 will be inducted during ceremonies at the 2013 AIFD National Symposium “Passion” in Las Vegas, June 28-July 2, contingent upon their application, which includes letters of recommendation.

Becoming an accredited member of AIFD is the ultimate goal of PFDE testing. AIFD added the CFD designation two years ago to recognize a broader group of talented designers.

“The test to become AIFD certified can be extremely difficult and intimidating,” Sharon McGukin, AIFD, PFCI, told E-Brief editors in 2010, when she was president of the institute. “We feared that those who didn’t pass would become discouraged, never come back and we’d miss the opportunity to work with some very talented people.”

During PFDE testing, candidates must create five designs in four hours. A panel of AIFD members evaluates the designs on criteria such as mechanics, balance, color, theme and creativity. Candidates who score a 3.2 or higher received CFD honors. AIFD status requires a 4.0 or higher.

In 2011, 79 designers participated in PFDE testing. Seventy-six attained CFD status; twenty-one of these were inducted into AIFD this July in Miami.

To encourage more florists to pursue PFDE testing, which immediately precedes “Passion,” AIFD is offering 35 state and regional floral associations each one complimentary registration for the 2013 Symposium.

“It is AIFD’s hope that the various associations will use this gift to raise funds or to stimulate interest in attending an association-sponsored floral design education program,” said Jordan, who added that it is “AIFD’s mission to advance the art of professional floral design through education, service and leadership, and to recognize the achievement of excellence.”

Associations can award the registration in a design contest, raffle it off in a fundraiser, or sell it to the highest bidder, said Teleflora’s vice president of education, Marie Ackerman, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, a regional representative of AIFD. “The big idea: Get people talking about AIFD!” she said.

Ackerman said she hopes the scholarship program will expose more people within the industry to the wealth of resources at Symposium, which she readily rattled off: new sources for hard goods and perishable products, new techniques and ideas to “wow” consumers, and new contacts to keep inspiration flowing throughout the year.

“Once you attend one, you are changed forever,” she said. “Ideas come from everywhere — the stage, conversations at lunch, in hallways after programs have ended. Sometimes you don’t even realize all that you’ve learned until you get home.”More

Analyze This
By Katie Hendrick

Number crunching plus gut instinct equal record-high sales for Charles Booz of Chantilly Floral Boutique in Harleysville and Lansdale, Pa.

Consumers in the market for a stomach-sucking Spanx camisole might automatically think of a high-end department store, such as Nordstrom or Saks Fifth Avenue. But shoppers in Harleysville and Lansdale, Pa., know they can get their spandex and other fashion fixes at Chantilly Floral Boutique, a business owner Charles Booz has established as a hotspot for flowers and personal accessories. After thoroughly studying the demographics of his customers and his community, Booz branched into items like jewelry and purses from popular brands such as Brighton and Vera Bradley, as a way to increase sales. “Women spend more on themselves than they do on gifts,” he said. Read how he analyzes his decisions and adapts in “Charles Be Nimble, Charles Be Quick.”More

Saturday Night Stars and Surprises at SAF Palm Beach 2012

Look for industry luminaries at the Stars of the Industry Awards Party on Saturday, Sept. 22 in Palm Beach. The 2012 Floriculture Hall of Fame and other top award winners will be announced at the close of SAF’s 128th Annual Convention. Induction into the Hall of Fame, the industry’s greatest tribute, recognizes individuals who exemplify the highest standards of service and professional responsibility.

In addition to the honors highlighting the celebratory evening, John Stetson will be reading minds. The internationally-acclaimed intuitionist has astounded audiences including two U.S. presidents, the King of Sweden and Donald Trump; and appeared on CBS, PBS and the A&E Network.

SAF Palm Beach 2012 takes place Sept. 19-22 at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla. Online registration is open through Friday, Sept. 14. For those who prefer to register when they arrive, the convention desk opens at The Breakers in Palm Beach beginning at 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 19.

Visit the website, for details or contact Laura Weaver at 703-836-8700 or More

Brand-Building Tips for Small Businesses
By Mary Westbrook

A redesign that gave birth to distinctive but simple logo brought Butera the Florists’ outward image in line with its well-established brand as a high end florist.

You don’t need a six-figure budget to make your branding elements (name, logo, tagline) stand out. In fact, Catherine Kaputa, author of Breakthrough Branding, recently argued that, for small businesses, basic is better. Here are some of her favorite start-up branding stories:

Art on the cheap. Twitter’s iconic bird image has humble origins. The company purchased the original image from iPhotoStock for between $10 and $15. Today it’s a graphic that’s recognized by millions. Your logo needn’t be especially elaborate — just distinctive. “Find a visual something — a shape, a color, a logo, a design that signifies your brand and cuts through the clutter of today's marketplace,” Kaputa said.

Names that work. The photo-sharing app Instagram started off (and nearly tanked) as Burbn. And can you imagine a “Just Do It” campaign for a company called Blue Ribbon Sports? For 14 years, that was Nike, before a friend encouraged founder Phil Knight to rename the company. “You want to lock in your brand's identity with a name that resonates with customers and can travel well (on the Internet and in global markets),” Kaputa said. “It should be short, easy to spell, and easy to say.”

Focus your message. Don’t try to be all things to all people. The online eyeglass store Warby Parker recognizes its clients are vintage lovers. The company sells 50 variations of retro eyeglasses for $95 each. “To make it easy for customers, you can even ‘try’ on frames virtually by uploading your picture on the site and trying on the different styles; or you can have up to five pairs mailed to you (shipping is free).”

Want to read a branding success story within the industry? Learn how Vince Butera, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, refined his image with a refreshed logo and shop interior in “What a Difference a Year Makes.” More

'In Lieu of' Silence, Say This
By Katie Hendrick

A query about alternative phrases prompted Clay Atchison III to design a business card tailor-made for funeral directors.

Does the phrase “in lieu of flowers” stick in your craw? You’re not alone. But what can you do about it?

Victoria, Texas, florist H. Clay Atchison III doesn’t stew in frustration; the owner of McAdams Floral monitors his community’s obituaries daily and, when ‘in lieu of’ shows up excessively, he contacts funeral directors to explain that the line prevents families from receiving flowers, which are known to have a healing effect.

Atchison shared with Floral Management a watershed moment he had at an International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association Convention, when a funeral director asked how he could honor a family’s request for donations without cutting flowers out. Asked on the spot, Atchison said he “choked,” but later he pondered the question. Now, he carries a business-sized card with a list of flower and charity-friendly expressions that he distributes during informal conversations and visits to funeral homes.

Next time you see those four nasty words, don’t grumble—take a cue from Atchison and contact your funeral directors with alternative phrases, such as:
The family suggests memorial contributions be sent to …
Should friends desire, memorial contributions may be sent to …
Flowers are welcome. Contributions may be sent to …

Unsure how to start the conversation? Here’s a template for a letter you can customize for your area directors.More

Reduce the Impact of Inventory Costs
The Globe and Mail
Consumers are more demanding than ever. The days of discounting products to drive demand are quickly disappearing, leading more businesses to increase inventory to accommodate diverse customer preferences. Unfortunately inventory is an asset and as such can erode company profit if not managed effectively.More

Upgrade Customer Engagement
Chief Executive Magazine
Coming to grips with the rapidly evolving behavior of consumers and business customers is no small thing — so say Tom French, Laura LaBerge and Paul Magill, leaders in the marketing and sales practice at McKinsey & Co. Customers are increasingly selective about which brands they will use. They form impressions from every encounter and post withering online reviews. The authors of a McKinsey Quarterly article last year, say these rapidly changing touch points has made customer relations managers out of everyone.More

Prepare for Success with Intelligent Forecasting
Small Business Trends
It is easy, particularly for small businesses and startups, to focus on the excitement of the here and now. The future is an abstract concept for enterprise-level businesses, until it isn't. You have to focus on growth from the beginning. Success is not a pipe dream, but paradoxically it can destroy you if you aren't prepared for it.More

Fall's Color Forecast

Lisa Weddel, AIFD, PFCI, studies clothing catalogues to identify the nuanced changes from one year to the next.

Summer’s balmy temperatures are giving way to crisper, cooler days, which may have you reaching for the traditional choices (red, burgundy and orange) to give arrangements a fall feel.

Consider a break from the familiar.

This year, autumn’s “it” shades (selected by Pantone, which the fashion world regards as an authority on color) look like they were plucked from the jewelry box, rather than the apple orchard or pumpkin patch. We asked growers and wholesalers for their favorite cuts that match the season’s most popular hues. Check them out in “Gorgeous Jewel Tones.”

Want to appeal to brides who crave an of-the-moment color scheme? Highlands Ranch, Colo., designer Lisa Weddel, AIFD, PFCI, shares two bouquets inspired by Pantone’s palettes that you can replicate for your portfolio. Check them out here.More

5 Ways to Find Your Strengths to be an Exceptional Leader
American Express OPEN Forum
In order to become better leaders, people typically focus on improving their weaknesses. But now, research is showing that developing your strengths is actually more effective. John Zenger, Joseph R. Folkman, Robert Sherwin, Jr., and Barbara Steel — authors of the book How To Be Exceptional: Drive Leadership Success By Magnifying Your Strengths — believe that working on strengths dramatically improves one’s leadership skills and leads to more successful business interactions.More

What Employees Really Need at Work
In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow introduced the concept now known as "The Hierarchy of Needs" in which he outlined how people are motivated to fulfill certain basic needs — food, water, safety — before moving on to other, more advanced needs, such as creativity and self-actualization. If we use that lens to look at our businesses, what are the needs of the modern employee?More

4 Ways to Manage the Perils of 'Friend-ployees'
When starting a business, it can feel like you are living in the office. Having a team you trust is important, but with long hours and close working conditions, it’s easy to let the line between employee and friend blur. Reema Khan, CEO of s.h.a.p.e.s. Brow Bar, in Cerritos, Calif., who has had problems in the past with employees who got too “chummy,” is careful to keep her professional expectations clear. Here are her tips to prevent crossing the line between being a boss and a buddy.More

Show Off Your Color Expertise

Carol Caggiano, AIFD, PFCI, posted her thoughts about fall colors to Flower Factor.

Spread the word that you’re the go-to source for trendy floral arrangements in the hottest fall colors. Talk about how you’re using the latest fashion hues in designs and post pictures on your blog, Facebook page, etc. Steal a few home decor tips from to send with photos of fall arrangements to local newspaper editors, bloggers and community newsletters. Want to give your trend authority (and SEO) another boost? Whenever a local publication runs a fashion story, go to the online version and post a comment with a link to your website.More

Put SAF's Supply Guide on Your Smartphone

Looking for something? Put the industry’s most complete online resource for floral products in the palm of your hand. Go to the SAF Ultimate Floral Industry Supply Guide and click the “App Store” link.