Negative Publicity Update: SAF Responds to Chili's, Streamlight and Woman's Day
By Jenny Scala
What do chili, a flashlight and a women’s lifestyle magazine have in common? They’re among the marketers and editors trying to turn consumers away from flowers or florist shops for Mother’s Day. Tis the season for negative references to flowers in advertising, said SAF Director of Consumer Marketing Jenny Scala, who responded to the following national campaigns this week:
Flowers Near Top of Mother's Day Shopping List
By Ira Silvergleit
Flower buying has returned to pre-recession levels after falling off slightly in 2010 and 2011.
The average flower buyer will spend just over $27, according to NRF, the highest average in four years, with flower sales for the holiday expected to reach $2.195 billion, up from $1.931 last year. Men are more likely to buy flowers than women (73.0 percent to 60.1 percent) with purchases peaking among consumers 18 to 24 (73.7 percent) and 25 to 34 (74.1 percent) years of age. Midwesterners are the least likely to buy flowers (63.0 percent); Northeasterners are the most likely (69.6 percent). Southern and Western consumers fall in between.
Last year, consumers spent an average of $51.53 at retail florists for Mother’s Day, according to SAF’s post-holiday sales survey, down from $57.72 in 2010. Of the fresh product sales, 80 percent were cut flowers, 12 percent were green or flowering plants and 9 percent were bedding and garden plants.
Almost two-thirds of shops were open on Sunday for Mother’s Day; 25 percent were open part of the day; 34 percent open all day; and 4 percent had extended hours. They did about 14.5 percent of sales for the holiday on that one day. About three-quarters of shops employed extra staff for Mother’s Day.
Get Ready To Tell Consumers To #GrowSomething
By Katie Hendrick
“#GrowSomething Week,” May 14-18, seeks to alert consumers to the wonders of floriculture through industry members’ personal stories shared online.
“Do plants make you feel alive, happy, at peace? What do you love about them?” asks a video from Greenhouse Grower.
“Join us in taking over social media. Tell all your friends why you think plants are great and ask them to grow something.”
The video calls for your floral public displays of affection, designated with the hashtag #growsomething, on Facebook, Google +, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr and blogs.
“Participation is easy,” said Tambascio, who encourages floral industry retailers, wholesalers and growers to share articles about plants or flowers on Facebook or Twitter; post photos of floral designs or the shop on Flickr, Pinterest or Instagram; shoot a video for YouTube or write a blog post on what having plants and flowers in your life means to you.
“Social media is a powerful and personal way to spread the word about why we love plants and flowers,” said Tambascio. “If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, chances are good that you’re connected to at least one person who isn’t a gardener. Let’s tell them why they should get out in the garden this spring!”
Tambascio points to the average person’s social network (130 Facebook friends and 125 Twitter followers) to illustrate the potential reach of #Grow Something. “If 500 of us message and tweet and they all retweet and share with their Facebook friends, we’ve reached 16 million people,” she said. “We’re two degrees from 16 million people — that’s better than Kevin Bacon!”
The #GrowSomething effort dovetails with the Grow Initiative, a five-prong plan Greenhouse Grower launched last year “to put floriculture back into a position of long-term growth,” Tambascio said. “One of the pillars of the Grow Initiative is to cultivate new customers, [so we’re] reaching out to younger generations and to people who don’t consider themselves flower people.”
Not sure what to say? Borrow some great material from your peers, including Flower Factor blog posts and America in Bloom’s “Plants: They’re More Than Just Pretty” videos.
Help Grow Tomorrow's Floriculture Superstars. Host an AFE Intern
The American Floral Endowment (AFE) is seeking growers and retailers who can host college interns selected through the Vic & Margaret Ball and Mosmiller internship programs. "This is a great group of students ready to begin their internships in May or June," said AFE Executive Director Debi Aker. "It's a wonderful opportunity to share knowledge and help build the future of our industry." Internships range from three to six months. Hosts are needed in all states. If you are interested in becoming a host, please contact Debi Aker at (703) 838-5211 or visit AFE's website for more information.
What Price is Right?
By Katie Hendrick
Wondering if you’re charging the right amount for your designs? In this month’s cover story of Floral Management, two florists share their common goal — get more business from the flower lover, rather than the obligatory holiday buyer — with two drastically different approaches to achieve it. Randy Oberer markets $19.95 arrangements at Oberer’s Flowers; Charles Ingrum includes items priced as high as $800 on Dr. Delphinium’s online menu. Both strategies reap healthy profits.
Neither Oberer nor Ingrum professes to know “the secret to success,” but in their stories, each reveals how listening to customers and analyzing their habits reveals what customers want in an arrangement and what they can afford. But that was just the first step. Read, “High Prices, Low Prices: How to Make Them Just Right,” to learn what Oberer and Ingrum do to meet their customers’ expectations day in, day out.
A Mother's Day Alternative to Crowded Restaurants
By Christy O'Farrell
Ashley Smith, Big Apple’s sales and marketing director, said that when she and her mom were talking about how to celebrate Mother’s Day, her mom said it would be fun to do something other than go out to breakfast, lunch or dinner. They ruled out going to a movie or a show because you can’t talk to each other while “sitting in a dark room,” Smith said. Discussing what would “make Mother’s Day a little more special,” got her thinking back to her childhood, when the holiday’s activities often involved arts and crafts projects.
Thus was born the idea for a grown-up version, complete with mimosas and bloody marys. The floral design class, offered from 9 a.m. to noon or 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 13, costs $175 per person and also includes scones, muffins, bagels, coffee, and tea, plus materials to make a mixed coffee-table arrangement worth about $120, Smith said. Participants will have three main options, and can choose different flowers and colors if they like.
The class was priced as “an experience” and “a unique way to give the classic gift of flowers,” Smith said. “This special occasion will offer families the opportunity to take part in something spontaneous, fun, and different this Mother’s Day: a Sunday afternoon learning tricks and tips for creating stunning floral arrangements,” the shop’s press release says.
Each class can accommodate up to 18 people. Only “a few” have signed up so far, Smith said, speculating that people are still finalizing their plans. She’s getting word out through email blasts, Facebook, phone calls and the website.
Before her company agreed to the classes, the owners had to make sure they could manage them on one of the busiest days of the year, Smith said. Sparing a designer wasn’t the concern at the 30-employee business; space was. But with three floors, they decided they could work around the participants, who will gather in a large space on the ground floor with a walk-in cooler nearby.
Smith and the owners never considered holding the class on a different day because the whole point was that it be a Mother’s Day activity, she said. Attendees will learn the steps of making their own arrangements at home, how to select quality flowers, design concepts and basic arrangement techniques.
Big Apple holds classes every other month, sometimes with wine and cheese, but demand for them has fallen off lately, Smith said. She hopes providing a social event, where people can pick up a skill, will “get people excited about floral designing,” and promote the business at the same time. The mother-daughter or mother-son classes, aimed at young professionals, might also appeal to two friends who aren’t able to travel to celebrate with their mothers in person, she said. “This is a way to get the hype up.”
Join the buzz ... on MySAF
Do you provide perks, such as employee discounts or other special services, to your corporate accounts? Do you want to? There’s a new discussion in the MySAF community’s Marketing Edge group. “We’ve offered a 15 percent discount to employees on personal purchases,” posted Heather Waits of Bloomtastic Florist in North Arlington, Ohio. In Silver Spring, Md., Billy Hagerhorst, owner of Creative Floral Designs, replied: “We offer free delivery to the main corporate location and in some cases we offer a percentage discount for employees.”
Want to find out how other florists are adding value for their corporate customers? Join the conversation and share your approach or throw out an idea for feedback. MySAF group discussions are great place to brainstorm and collect fresh perspective from your fellow SAF members around the country.
Developing Mental Toughness in Leaders
Chief Learning Officer
Of all the competencies sought after by today's budding business leaders — critical thinking, emotional intelligence, the ability to influence and inspire a team, to name a few — perhaps the most valuable is one that isn't learned in a boardroom, but on a baseball or soccer field as children. Read more.
Summer Interns: Asset or 'Impediment'?
By Christy O'Farrell
Thinking of hiring a summer intern? They’re up on the latest software and social media tools and full of fresh ideas — think of all the projects you don’t have time for that an eager-to-learn student or recent graduate would tackle with zeal.
But before you jump at the first fresh-faced, home for the summer co-ed that comes your way, know what you’re getting into.
To pay or not to pay? Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, interns must be compensated, unless certain criteria are met. A quick review of said criteria reveals that taking on an unpaid intern is more an act of “giving back” than an easy way to get cheap help. The unpaid intern’s experience must be for the intern’s benefit, not the business’. And the boss must understand that an intern may occasionally “impede” operations.
On top of that, the criteria for unpaid internships require that interns not displace employees; that they work under staff supervision; and are not entitled to a job at the end of the fixed-duration internship. As far as what the intern actually does, the job should be an extension of the intern’s classroom experience if you want it to be exempt from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements. In other words, if they’re in a floriculture program, then the unpaid intern can do design, production and other typical floral business duties. Not so if they’re in, say, a business program; in that case, you’d need to pay them. Job shadowing, where the intern performs little or no actual work, counts as “a bona fide education experience” and can be unpaid.
Programs overseen by colleges or universities, in which students receive academic credit for their work, often meet at least some of the criteria for unpaid internships.
For a view of why it’s important to avoid running afoul of the law on unpaid internships, read about class action lawsuits against the “Charlie Rose” show, Hearst Corp. and Fox Searchlight Pictures.
Should paid interns be considered temporary employees? Yes, for internships less than one year, according to “Interns: A Basic Resource Guide for Employers,” written for Internships.com by a San Diego law firm, Paul, Plevin, Sullivan & Connaughton. The advantage is you generally don’t have to provide benefits to temporary employees. The guide answers other legal and human resources questions about internships, and includes sample offer letters for paid and unpaid interns.
Remember, though, if a temporary employee files for unemployment after finishing his or her work for you, it counts against your unemployment experience rating in some states. This means the reserve account you pay into is charged, or liable for, his compensation benefits if he is eligible. The majority of states require employers to provide unemployment insurance to paid interns unless several criteria are met, says the guide, which includes an overview of each state’s standards. Whether employers are required to provide unemployment insurance to unpaid interns depends on several factors, the guide says.
What if an intern gets hurt on the job? Doug Fick of Broadway Floral Home & Garden in Portland, Ore., avoids hiring interns, especially unpaid, he said, because if they work on premises, they’re not covered under workers’ compensation unless they’re on the payroll. Most interns he’s heard about in the industry work off premises on graphic design, website or similar projects, he said.
The Internships.com guide covers whether each state exempts employers from covering paid or unpaid interns, or “trainees,” under workers’ compensation.
Are you too busy for an intern? Training is the “hidden cost” of employment,” Fick said, so if you don’t have time to work directly with a “pretty green” intern, or can’t delegate the task to someone else, the intern may distract your employees.
What does the intern get out of the deal? An internship implies the employer’s commitment to mentor the intern. “This type of relationship takes time and energy,” said Soma Jurgensen, a Rasmussen College business management professor in Brooklyn Park, Minn., in a Small Business Trends article. Think through the tasks you will assign; make them challenging and a good fit; give consistent feedback, Jorgensen said. “In short, bring your authenticity to the relationship.”
What do you get out of the deal? As a small business owner, you likely know the value of finding a good mentor. Maybe you partially credit your success to those who fostered your career. “Here is your chance to give back to the community of entrepreneurs,” Jorgensen said.
If interns have a positive experience, they’ll spread the word that your business is a good place to work. If not, “your interns may take one look at the culture of chaos and despair around them and run for the hills — taking your 'Excellent Place to Work' reputation with them," said Elizabeth Hewitt-Gibson, career management director at the University of California-San Diego Extension, in an April 24 CBS Money Watch article.
Still have questions? SAF members can contact John Satagaj, a Washington, D.C., small business attorney who partners with SAF or call 202-639-8888.
Time to Fix Your LinkedIn Page
These days, just about every U.S. business owner has a LinkedIn profile — and more and more you see business relationships getting started on or nurtured through LinkedIn. It is also the de facto go-to resource to learn about a business contact. For better or worse, it's the place where snap judgments are made about people's business skills, experience and capabilities. Read more.
15 Big Things You Can Do in 15 Minutes
What could we do more effectively in short bursts of 15 minutes rather than dragging out over time, or even not making time for them at all? While slow and steady may sometimes win the race, at other times we need to condition ourselves to get more done in less time than we ever imagined possible. Here are 15 things you can scale to do in 15 minutes. Read more.
Boost Online Sales
By Shelley Estersohn
Here’s a sneak preview of some of the advice attendees will get from panelists and web developers Ryan Freeman of FlowerChat, Brandon Kirkland of epicFlowers, and Jamie Adams of the Flower Shop Network:
VaseOff! Challenge Applications Due
On the Horizon
Send Inspiration with Every Invoice
You’re stuffing statements anyway … why not add a sales-boosting message too? SAF’s eyecatching statement stuffers feature gorgeous custom photography on the front and a positive message about flowers on the back. Customize it with your shop’s information and a time-limited special offer to bring shoppers back soon. This month, try Daily Inspiration. The back reads: "Harvard University research shows that living with flowers strengthens compassion and decreases worry. Contact us today, and we'll help you send a dose of inspiration to yourself or someone special." There are more than a dozen statement stuffer designs in the SAF store. Why not send customers a new message every month?
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