SAF Wednesday E-Brief
Nov. 21, 2013

SAF Brings Profit Blast to Baltimore
By Shelley Estersohn
SAF’s next One-Day Profit Blast is set for Sunday, January 26 in Baltimore, Md. “Our inaugural event on Oct. 16 in Atlanta was very well received by attendees,” said SAF's CEO Peter Moran.

Part of an ongoing SAF effort to make its high-level business training programs accessible to more members, sessions at the 8-hour Profit Blast emphasize practical, proven ways to increase the profitability of a retail florist shop. “It’s the same quality education offered at SAF’s annual convention, but within a shorter timeframe and at a lower price point,” Moran said.

The timing of SAF's second Profit Blast is the result of a recent survey SAF sent to its retail members, asking them for their most preferred months and days of the week to attend educational programming. January came out as the preferred month — picked as the first, second or third choice by more than 50 percent of the 394 survey participants. Sunday emerged as the clear winner for best day of the week, with 78 percent of respondents placing it among their top three favorites.

"We wanted to make sure we're hitting folks at the right time of year, and the best way to do that is to ask," said Moran. "This is great information that we'll use as we continue to develop SAF's growing educational offerings."

Details of the January 26 program are still being finalized. On the agenda so far:

The registration fee for the Profit Blast, is $139 for SAF members and $99 for additional employees who attend. For more information and to register, visit the website.More

Boehner Says 'No' to Immigration This Year
By Lin Schmale
Despite continued pleas by President Obama for action on immigration reform this year, House Speaker John Boehner (R-8-Ohio) last week said, “I’ll make it clear we have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate [immigration] bill,” thereby effectively pushing the fight into 2014. He did indicate that he continued to see immigration reform as a priority.

The Senate passed its broad immigration bill in late June, and the House has passed five "piecemeal" immigration bills in committees, but leadership has not announced any plans to bring any of those bills to the floor. Boehner noted that House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-6-VA) is working with Republican and Democratic lawmakers to develop “principles” to help navigate the topic. The continued piecemeal approach taken to date by the House would allow representatives to claim support of reform by voting for pieces they support (perhaps mandatory E-Verify or increased border security) while voting no on other components of reform, like a path to citizenship for the currently undocumented.

In a column in the Capitol Hill newspaper Politico, columnist Roger Simon pointed out that while some House Republicans want to spend $46 billion for security along the Mexico-U.S. border, border security for some is simply a ruse to kill immigration reform. Simon, noting the growing importance of the Hispanic vote in key states like Florida and Texas, quotes the President, who said Friday, “If the Republicans decided to pass [immigration reform] it would be to their political advantage to do it.”

Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) and a few other congressmen are asking all Republican members of Congress to join in a letter to Republican leadership urging the House "to take up immigration reform in any form this Congress."

SAF senior director of government relations Lin Schmale calls immigration reform the “defining issue of our time” and urges the floral industry to push Congress to act. “It would be a very good time to pick up the phone and call your representative, just saying that our country, and our agricultural economy, need immigration reform now.”

Contact Lin Schmale or Brian Gamberini for additional guidance on contacting legislators about immigration reform.More

Frustrated with Congress? Do Something About It, Urge CAD Vets
By Shelley Estersohn

Peggy Roth

Len Collins

Troy Lucht

Kate Delaney

Jeff Mast

Peggy Roth is pretty cynical about government these days. “I’m feeling the same frustration with Congress as a lot of people do right now,” said the owner of Sweet Pea Floral and Gifts in Parker, Colo. “It’s really tough out here. I’m not happy with Washington and I don’t see anything changing.”

Attending SAF Congressional Action Days for the first time in March 2013 “was a great experience,” but she recognizes that some may wonder whether participating makes a difference.

The response from several CAD vets was clear: speaking out is the only thing that can.

“We have to put a face on our frustrations,” said Len Collins of Georgia State Floral Distributors in Augusta. “Members of Congress are insulated from reality and inundated with information from second hand sources. Personal stories make an impression.”

The hard lines of party politics seem much softer in person, said Troy Lucht of Plant Source International and Malmborg’s, Inc. in Minneapolis. During individual conversations on Capitol Hill, “legislators don’t seem that far off from each other,” he said. “They’re afraid to be seen as the one who’s willing to reach across the aisle because they’ll be castigated.”

Telling his personal story helps lawmakers understand an issue without looking through the prism of politics. “Business people generally are not sitting on one end of the political spectrum or the other… we’re somewhere in the middle looking for solutions that are right for business,” Lucht said. “People in Congress need to hear that directly from us.”

Kate Delaney of Matlack Florist in West Chester, Pa., admits she’s frustrated with Congress sometimes, “but I’d rather be out there and have my voice heard,” she said. CAD has helped her understand industry issues with more than a retailer’s perspective and the importance of building rapport with lawmakers.

“What change comes from doing nothing?” asked Jeff Mast of Banner Greenhouses in Nebo, North Carolina. Mast sees the time and money spent going to CAD as part of his personal responsibility to make a difference. “You learn from the experience, have the opportunity to educate your legislators — and it sure beats the results you’ll see from staying at home and complaining.”

SAF Congressional Action Days takes place March 11-12 in Washington, D.C. Watch for more information and registration details in upcoming issues of E-Brief.More

10 Commandments of Retail Sales
Retailers could be in for a hard time this holiday season. According to Morgan Stanley, the American consumer is showing signs of being spent out and fatigued with uncertainty. Regardless of the holiday season predictions, retailers must be on top of their game. They are all experiencing intense competition for the consumer, shrinking margins and a shopping season that's five days shorter. If retailers want to be effective this holiday season, they must vow to serve the customer with these 10 retail commandments.More

Inexpensive Perks Keep Customers Merry
by Katie Hendrick
At Exotic Flowers in Boston, convenience and customer appreciation define the company's holiday marketing philosophy. We reached out to Rick Canale, owner of the 2008 Marketer of the Year-winning shop, for some tactics to get customers in the door and spending money, amidst all their other shopping activity.

Here are just a few of them:


Shopping, Before the Turkey Gets Cold
The New York Times
Teenagers and college students can spend only so much time cooped up with their families on a holiday like Thanksgiving. This year, some retailers are betting that this target spending group dashes out the door after dinner, perhaps dodging dishwashing or other duties, and in all likelihood ditching their parents. Destination: the mall. Happy to oblige, some major department stores like Macy’s and J. C. Penney are opening their doors at 8 p.m. on the holiday for the first time. Others that were already chipping away at Black Friday are opening a little earlier on Thanksgiving night. Target opens at 8 p.m., an hour earlier than last year. Toys “R” Us will be open at 5 p.m. And Tanger Outlets, which has malls in 26 states, starts at 10 p.m.More

Gallup: Holiday Spending to Dive
24/7 Wall St. via USA Today
In 2012, consumers spent an average of $786 on holiday gifts, but if the latest poll from Gallup is correct they'll be sitting on the wallets this year. Americans say they plan to spend an average of just $704 on holiday giving in 2013. Of course, American consumers last year said they planned to spend $770 and ended up spending more. Retailers can only hope that the pattern repeats itself this year.More

Proper Nutrition Yields the Prettiest Buds
By Katie Hendrick

Get tips for taking care of the specialty buds featured in SAF’s Outstanding Varieties competiton, in the November issue of Floral Management.

Did you get a little twinkly-eyed flipping through the pages of this month's Floral Management, which highlighted the show-stopping stems that earned blue ribbons at the 2013 SAF Outstanding Varieties Competition (You're not alone! So did the judges.)

Now while it's true that breeders and growers deserve a lot of credit for the beauty on display, there's another key reason the flowers looked as, well, outstanding as they did: proper processing.

In this month's Care and Handling column, contributing editor Mary Westbrook interviewed Gay Smith, technical consulting manager at Chrysal USA, who has worked with the on-site processing crew at SAF's annual competition for more than 20 years, to learn the secrets – so you can apply it to your own shop's inventory.

"Getting the results you want is pretty simple," Smith said. "You can actually distill what we do for the competition to three solutions."

Those solutions include:

Click here to read the full article, complete with a handy chart to help you source the solutions.More

Dig Deeper than the 'Like' Button
By Katie Hendrick
Visit any business, be it a boutique or a bodega, and you'll undoubtedly stumble across the following phrase on shop signage or the receipt: "Like us on Facebook."

The Facebook "like" has become ubiquitous and, ultimately, valueless, said Jeffrey Dobkin, an expert on sales and direct marketing, in an article for Multiview.

"When likes started, they seemed to be such a great idea: Google and other data collection sites could measure your popularity," he said. "The more likes, the more popular. Like high school, except you can be really geeky and still be at the top."

Then the world sunk to cyber groveling. "Pizza places promised free sodas if you 'liked' them," he said. "Gas stations cleaned their restrooms for your click." Firms hired people to like sites for two cents a click, and behemoth companies including Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Sony and McDonald's acquired troves of them.

"The Internet was bludgeoned under the weight of billions of worthless likes, sweeping over everything like sands on the beach in a hurricane," Dobkin said.

Rather than soliciting likes, ask for referrals.

"Here's the formula," Dobkin says. "1 referral = 10,000 likes."

It may not be as effortless as slapping a thumbs up icon on your page, but it doesn't have to be nuclear engineering. Here are Dobkin's tactics for requesting referrals:


How to Handle Negative Online Reviews
As a business owner putting your heart and soul into pursuing your passion, it's all too easy to act first in the face of negativity and have regrets later. Hold your tongue. Before you formulate a strategy for addressing criticism, you need to determine if the comment or review is true. Investigate before taking action.More

Proposal Planning is a New Trend in the Wedding Industry
The placement of rose petals, the glow of a fire, the perfect song. "It's about the details. That's what gives me goosebumps," Kristin Weis said. Weis, a St. Louis wedding planner, is used to helping brides dream up the perfect wedding. But for the first time, she's helping a groom create the perfect proposal. More

Ready-made Thanksgiving Posts for Your Facebook Page

Too busy to even think about what to put on Facebook this week? No worries. We’ve cooked up a few pre-Thanksgiving options for you. Post them with a flower photo and they’re sure to get noticed.


SAF Super Deal! Exclusively for SAF Members. Order by Nov. 30