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SAF Wednesday E-Brief
May 13, 2015
E-Brief Links >   Past Issues      Contact UsFollow SAF on:   Share on Linkedin Twitter  Share on Facebook

In this issue ...
  • SAF Responds on Industry’s Behalf to Negative Holiday Ads, Reports
  • Washington Post Op-Ed Knocks Floral Industry, SAF Responds
  • Mother's Day 'Gut Check': For Many, a Healthy Holiday
  • SAF, AmericanHort to Government: Take Ralstonia Off 'Select Agent' List
  • Retail Sales Data May Show Which Gear the U.S. Economy Is In
  • Unravel the E-Commerce Maze at RGS
  • Newsmakers
  • Business Builders
  • Best Practices
  • Trends
  • Tip of the Week
  • Mark Your Calendar
  • Spotlight


    SAF Responds on Industry's Behalf to Negative Holiday Ads, Reports
    By Jenny Scala

    The main point of SAF’s response to negative publicity is to bring attention to the disparaging reference and ask advertisers, such as Beauty Brands, GoldBely and NRA, to promote products on their own merits, and ask editors from publications including MarketWatch to refrain from making unnecessary references to flowers.

    Mother’s Day seems to have brought positive sales results to many florists — and this year’s holiday also saw relatively few instances of negative ads.

    This year, SAF responded to 10 cases of harmful floral publicity. In 2014, SAF responded to 14 cases of negative publicity; eight cases in 2013; 10 in 2012; and 16 in 2011.

    Among the advertisers SAF contacted:
    • An Amazon e-mail read, “Flowers don’t last — Kindle does.”
    • Beauty Brands sent an email that read, “Forget the Flowers.”
    • A Capital Area Food Bank email read, “Food over flowers … Flowers fade and die away.”
    • A FitBit TV commercial said, “Moms get the same gift every year for Mother's Day. This year, give the gift that moves her,” and showed a vase of flowers being transformed into a FitBit, a wireless-enabled wearable activity tracker.
    • Goldbely, a curated marketplace for gourmet food and gifts, distributed an email that read, “Don’t Send Flowers, Send Food!”
    • In radio commercials, Halina European Day Spa & Salon in Texas said its services and products last longer than flowers.
    • NRA promoted a giveaway campaign on Facebook with, “Forget flowers this Mother’s Day.”
    The main point of SAF’s response is to bring attention to the disparaging floral statements and ask advertisers to promote products on their own merits.

    Sometimes members of the news media make negative floral references, and SAF responds to them, too.

    The financial information website MarketWatch published an article, “Why you shouldn’t buy mom flowers on Mother’s Day,” on May 5. Along with the negative headline, the article features a photo of a bouquet with a line through it and states, “Your mom doesn’t want flowers this Mother’s Day.” It cites a statistic from coupon site RetailMeNot that shows “only 8% of mothers surveyed said they would like flowers.”

    In an email to MarketWatch’s editor, SAF wrote:
      “While SAF understands and appreciates your need to provide readers with a variety of gift ideas, the negative floral headline and article (and offensive visual) seem unfair and unnecessary, as the gift suggestions can stand on their own. The negativity of the article is done at the expense of an industry made up of small business owners who work very hard to help people express their feelings. I hope you can understand why floral business owners may take offense to this approach.

      There is nothing like a gift of flowers to show love and appreciation, and despite what a survey by a coupon website (which, ironically promotes flowers), many people choose flowers to celebrate and pamper the moms in their lives. And for good reason.

      While many gifts can be options to express love and appreciation for Mother’s Day, science proves why flowers remain at the top of that list: Flowers are scientifically proven by Rutgers University to create instant delight and increase enjoyment and life satisfaction. Another Rutgers study shows flowers ease depression, inspire social networking and refresh memory as we age. And a behavioral research study conducted at Harvard Medical School reveals people feel more compassionate toward others, have less worry and anxiety, and feel less depressed when flowers are present in the home. For information about these studies, visit

      In addition, professional florists can customize the flowers to match mom’s personality — creating a truly unique floral gift.”
    An hour later, MarketWatch Editor Jeremy Olshan replied: “I doubt anything could hurt flowers’ preeminence of as a Mother’s Day gift, but some readers are always searching for alternatives. That said, we would be happy to consider an op-ed touring the benefits of flowers. And I would be interested in seeing those Rutgers studies.”

    The next day, SAF supplied an op-ed article with links to the Rutgers research penned by SAF President Shirley Lyons, AAF, PFCI, of Dandelions Flowers & Gifts, LLC, in Eugene, Oregon. At press time, MarketWatch had not published the op-ed.

    SAF also contacted RetailMeNot, the coupon website that distributed the press release touting the survey findings reported by MarketWatch. The RetailMeNot press release states: “While nearly 9 in 10 (88%) consumers will get their mom a Mother's Day gift this year, what consumers plan to get her, namely flowers (20%) or a nice meal (13%), may not be what she actually wants.”

    In an email to RetailMeNot’s media contacts, SAF wrote: “We are surprised to see flowers mentioned that way when your site promotes flowers as a Mother’s Day gift. … The floral industry has loads of positive scientific research about the positive impact of flowers on peoples’ emotional well being (, yet we choose to promote it in a positive way, rather than at the negative comparison to other gifts. We would hope that your company would choose the high road as well.”

    Brian Hoyt, RetailMeNot vice president of communications called: “I get your point and it’s a helpful reminder to us of how we talk about our third-party research results. … The floral industry is super important to us and we invest a lot of energy marketing your products and services.”

    SAF CEO Peter Moran also responded this week to an opinion piece in The Washington Post titled “Flowers may be nice for Mom, but they’re terrible for Mother Earth.” Read more.

    To report negative publicity, email

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    Business Consulting and Floral Accounting!

    Florists are always complaining to us that they have had to teach their accountants how to account for their business. We are a full service accounting firm that has specialized in the florist industry for 30 years. We developed our Floral Analysis Program™ to help our florist make more money. MORE

    Washington Post Op-Ed Knocks Floral Industry, SAF Responds
    By Mary Westbrook

    An opinion piece published in The Washington Post prior to Mother’s Day frustrated floral industry and non-floral industry readers alike.

    Belittled. Disappointed. Perplexed.

    Those are just some of the words floral industry members are using to describe an opinion piece that appeared in The Washington Post just days before Mother’s Day.

    The essay, written by Jennifer Grayson, an “environmental journalist,” asked readers not to buy flowers for Mother’s Day this year and was accompanied by a headline made for the viral age of clicking, sharing: “Flowers may be nice for Mom, but they’re terrible for Mother Earth.”

    In the piece, Grayson lays out her complaints against flowers and the international floral industry, including environmental concerns and workers’ rights. Unfortunately, wrote SAF CEO Peter Moran, in a letter to the Post following the publication of the essay, many of Grayson’s grievances are based on “blatant exaggeration and misinformation.”

    “Opinions are just that – opinions,” Moran wrote, “but [they] raise great concern when riddled with inaccuracies that are stated as fact.”

    Moran added that while Grayson did note some of the industry’s certification programs, including Florverde, and cite growing interest in domestically produced flowers, as promoted through efforts such as American Grown, many of her accusations were “outdated and unwarranted,” including the specific claim that growers rely on two pesticides that have not been used in Colombia or the U.S. for decades. Moran also extended an open invitation to connect Post editors and Grayson with industry members able to provide a more balanced and real-world perspective on some of the issues she tackled. (Read Moran’s full response to the essay.)  

    Many commenters on the Post website and social media platforms quickly shared their own concerns about the essay — including their dislike of its melodramatic tone and the questionable scientific backing of many of Grayson’s claims. “Wow, nothing like not getting the facts correct and vilifying an entire industry,” wrote Suzanne Smith, a floral designer in Southern California. Another commenter, Bailey Taylor, wondered if the essay hadn’t been meant for The Onion, a satirical news site.

    Nonetheless, there’s nothing funny about a national publication such as The Washington Post running a piece filled with inaccuracies right before a major holiday, said SAF President Shirley Lyons, AAF, PFCI, which is why the organization responded promptly. (At press time, Moran said a Post editor had responded they were considering the letter for publication.)

    “It was extremely disappointing and surprising to see a respected publication like the Washington Post run an opinion piece that was clearly intended for ‘shock value’ and based neither on current factual data nor research,” Lyons said. “The article contained inaccuracies, accusations and outdated information with the clear purpose to disparage the highly valued and also scientifically proven emotional impact of the gift of flowers for Mother’s Day.”

    Len Collins of Georgia State Floral Distributors Inc. in Augusta agreed. “The article made me feel belittled,” he explained, adding that he felt especially frustrated “that an industry that is so concerned about the quality of the environment was portrayed as worse than irresponsible — almost as if we are intentionally poisoning co-workers and the land.”

    Cindy Hanauer of Grand Central Floral in Jacksonville, Florida, one of many industry members to forward the essay to SAF headquarters, said she initially found the headline “perplexing.”

    “The article was built on sensationalism, instead of fact; darkness, instead of light and information disparagement instead of information nourishment,” she said. “The readers of The Washington Post deserve better.”

    A silver lining, according to Hanauer and other industry members who read the article (often while logging long hours leading up to Mother’s Day), may be found in the tenor of the many online commenters responding unfavorably to the essay. “Fortunately, the public has shown that they’re always wiser than the wisest critic, and can easily recognize flashy words that are substituted for facts,” Hanauer said. “The floral industry is strong and resilient…. and articles such as this one only serve to make us stronger.”

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    Mother's Day 'Gut Check': For Many, a Healthy Holiday
    By Mary Westbrook

    Source: 2015 Mother’s Day Gut Check survey. Emailed May 11 to all SAF member retailers. Based on 312 responses.

    Early indications are that Mother’s Day 2015 was pretty sweet for many retail florists.

    At least, that’s the initial overview of the holiday, as presented by SAF’s “Gut Check” survey, which found that 64 percent of respondents saw an increase in holiday sales this year.

    Meanwhile, 21 percent of respondents said sales were on par with 2014 returns and 15 percent saw a drop. One percent said they weren’t yet sure how sales compared. (Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.)

    The fairly positive report is in line with many retail analysts pre-holiday expectations: In April, the National Retail Federation predicted Americans would spend an average of $172.63 on mom this year, up nearly $10 from $162.94 last year and the highest amount in the survey’s 12-year history.

    While the survey provides only preliminary holiday findings, some of the write-in responses from respondents provide anecdotal trends and holiday insights. Among the stand-out comments:

    Better later than never? A number of commenters lamented the number of last-minute orders for the holiday — writing in some cases that it felt more like a Valentine’s Day crunch than a traditional Mother’s Day weeklong event.

    “The biggest problem [for us] is people waiting to place orders until Friday or Saturday when it’s too late to get delivered until Monday,” wrote one Colorado florist, who saw flat sales this year.

    In Halifax, Nova Scotia, another shop, with sales up between 1 percent and 5 percent, shared a similar lament: “People [want] an instant arrangement more than ever, and I think that because of the Internet, some assume availability is easier than it is. We are also seeing folks placing online orders very last minute, often too late, and then are upset [when] their flowers didn't take priority.”

    In western New York, a florist with flat sales agreed that the shop saw “very late ordering by consumers, [and] it seems to get later every year.”

    Source: 2015 Mother’s Day Gut Check survey. Emailed May 11 to all SAF member retailers. Based on 312 responses.

    A respondent from Minnesota said she saw a similar pattern and wondered if a generational shift might be to blame.

    “In the ‘80s, ‘90s and early 2000s, it was the 50-plus dads ordering, [and that] would last all week,” she said, noting her own holiday sales were up between 16 percent and 20 percent this year. “The last couple years, we've been watching a switch to Saturday or Sunday delivery with the week being slower. It's the now 30- to 40-year-olds ordering (the former kids of the 50-plus dads) and they are pushing the order until last minute. Not just using Internet more to order, but using next day mindset with orders...I need it tomorrow so I order today. It's clearly becoming a more condensed holiday.

    What a difference an internal change makes. When asked about what might have affected the holiday this year, many respondents pointed to internal procedures and challenges, including staffing tweaks and shifts in website or advertising strategies.

    In Washington, one florist found that having fewer specials with dedicated containers and flowers “made the holiday easier.”

    “We compensated by including a couple of our most popular everyday designs on the Mother's Day web page, which are sold by size and color,” explained the respondent, who saw sales rise between 1 percent and 5 percent. “It was popular and made everybody's job easier because they were already a part of our repertoire.”

    That florist found a kindred spirit in upstate New York, where a florist with a 1 percent to 5 percent increase in sales said she credited her success at least in part to a decision to narrow “selections on the web” as the holiday closed in.

    On the heels of a sales webinar, put on by Fitz Design, a New Jersey florist increased her base price for arrangements. To her surprise, “they all sold, with no one insisting on a lower price point,” reported the florist, who saw overall sales remain flat. “I did find more clients asking for higher price points than ever.”

    From Ontario, one respondent (with sales up 11 percent to 15 percent) said “creative marketing” that focused on fun rather than hard sales helped keep the business top of mind. (One example: ad copy that read “Yikes! It’s almost Mother’s Day").

    The same respondent noted that staying open longer leading up to the holiday also helped. “Folks’ schedules are so different than a decade ago with shift work, etc.,” she explained, making it important to her business to be open when those customers are able to shop. “The surprise is that the increase came on the day of and day before and we were actually trending down leading up to Mother’s Day.”

    In Tennessee, another florist summed up the frustration of many florists — during Mother’s Day, at all holidays and in some cases year-round — when he noted difficulty finding and keeping staff members.

    “Consumer demand was there,” the florist said (the business saw an increase of 1 percent to 5 percent), “but we cannot locate enough temporary design help to fill the excess capacity. Additionally, delivery drivers on a temp basis are becoming less reliable.”

    Trends galore: Pink is out. (No, it’s in!)

    Quite a few respondents weighed in with examples of how consumer preference on the holiday may be changing, when it comes to color, design style and gift selection. (In a more extensive post-holiday survey, SAF will take a deeper look at sales breakdown.) 

    A Texas florist with sales up 11 percent to 15 percent said that, unlike 2014, “baskets were a big seller this year,” and add-ons seemed more popular.

    Source: 2015 Mother’s Day Gut Check survey. Emailed May 11 to all SAF member retailers. Based on 312 responses.

    In Maryland, a respondent with increased sales in the 1-percent to 5-percent range, noted her holiday returns made Mother’s Day a “cut flower day.”

    “We normally sell more plants, however, everyone wanted a case arrangement,” she wrote.

    In Northern Virginia, another florist with sales up between 6 percent and 10 percent, called it a “great year, [with] lots of requests for local flowers — lilacs, peonies, etc. [We] didn’t sell many plants at all.”

    (Historically, most florists do experience higher cut flower sales on Mother’s Day, compared to other houseplant and garden plant options: Last year, respondents indicated that cut flowers represented about 78 percent of their sales.)

    Colors were a popular topic in the survey comments. “Normally, we would sell color schemes of soft pink, mauves, butter yellows, etc., [but] this year … we sold more vibrant colors like hot pinks, oranges, yellows, lime green, rich purples, etc.,” wrote another respondent from Ontario, who saw sales rise between 1 percent and 5 percent. “It was a little surprising to us.”

    A florist in Virginia, who saw sales jump more than 21 percent, wrote that “orange was more popular than I would have thought [while] pink was in less demand.”

    A Missouri florist with flat sales said the day was all about corsages while a florist in Illinois, who also experienced flat sales, said loose stems were all the rage.

    “[Those loose sales] really plowed through our inventory and increased our cost of goods,” she explained. “[I] don't know if this will be a trend or not … Next year we may need to make some up ahead of time and add labor to the custom bouquets.”

    Another florist, in Southeast Virginia, saw sales drop 16 percent to 20 percent and expressed surprise over the fact that the shop didn’t sell a longtime standard. “[It was] brunch or flowers [this year], not both,” she guessed. “Usually on Mother’s Day, it’s all about wrapped flowers on the way to brunch. This year, we did not [sell] one wrap.” In the end, the shop saw higher value orders, but fewer buyers.

    One respondent from New Hampshire (sales up 1 percent to 5 percent) said the shop saw customers embracing “higher priced and larger arrangements. Many [customers were] looking for less compact, ‘fluffier’ styles.”

    In Oklahoma, a florist with a 6 percent to 10 percent increase in sales, “bulked up on pastel roses,” only to have many left behind. “[They were] not in demand this year. Mixed, mixed, mixed! It was all about mixed [bouquets].

    Order-gatherers, wire services and online orders: the good, the bad, the neutral. Florists commenting on orders coming through the wire services and individual websites painted a varied picture. In Pittsburgh, a respondent whose returns were up 1 percent to 5 percent, captured the spirit of some people’s frustration when she complained of “low ball and cheap” orders coming from order-gatherers.

    “The consumer gets disappointed and the florist who filled the order gets a bad rap,” she wrote. “Product was tight in certain parts of the country. Many florists seemed to not be prepared, and had to shut off orders early because they did not have or could not get product. [That’s] not good for the industry.”

    A florist in Georgia, who saw sales drop between 6 percent and 10 percent, said the shop rejected a number of “under-value” and last-minute orders. The complaint that some wire orders are under value was repeated a number of times in the comments section. A California florist, with sales down between 11 percent and 15 percent, said simply that once these orders make their way to a filling florist “there is not enough money left” to fill or deliver them.

    In Nebraska, a florist with sales up between 1 percent and 5 percent agreed that underpriced orders are a problem, but also celebrated that its own website orders increased this year by 60 percent.

    And in Pennsylvania, a florist who saw a 6-percent to 10-percent spike, classified their team “as pleasantly surprised by the amount of wire and web site orders,” while another florist in Missouri, who saw sales rise more than 21 percent, said her wire-ins were “stronger than expected.” That [increase] “did become a bit trying, but we pulled through,” she wrote. “It can be like running two separate shops at times.”

    Representatives from both FTD and Teleflora said average order values are on the rise.

    “FTD’s average order value has continued to grow in 14 of the last 17 quarters to reach $71.39,” said Tom Moeller, executive vice president, florist segment. He credited FTD’s “good-better-best pricing strategy” for “growing the value of the orders that we send to florists in our FTD network.”

    For his part, David Dancer, executive vice president/head of marketing at Teleflora, called the holiday a “tremendous success” and noted that the average order value for Mother’s Day “increased by roughly 5 percent as compared to 2014.” He added that the company “continues to see holiday-over-holiday growth in orders over $50 with a decline in orders less than $50.”

    (Yanique Woodall, an executive vice president at, said that as “a publicly traded company, our policy does not allow us to speak about sales transactions.”)

    Expect much more holiday coverage in future issues of Ebrief and Floral Management magazine. And be on the lookout for SAF’s Mother’s Day survey, arriving in your inbox soon. Completing the survey helps all SAF members gain a big-picture perspective on the holiday, and adjust their own planning for next year.

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    Corinthian Bells® Hand-Tuned Windchimes

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    SAF, AmericanHort to Government: Take Ralstonia Off 'Select Agent' List
    By Drew Gruenburg

    While R3Bv2 can have a devastating impact on geranium, potato and tomato crops, “extensive research” has proven it does not belong on the government’s list of animal and plant diseases that can be misused as terrorist weapons, according to Lin Schmale, SAF’s senior director of government relations.

    SAF and AmericanHort joined together last week to submit formal comments on horticulture’s science-backed position that Ralstonia solanacearum, Race 3, Biovar 2 (R3Bv2) should be removed from a list of animal and plant diseases that the federal government has determined could be misused as terrorist weapons.

    Every two years, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) requests a public review of the “Select Agent” list, asking for comments on whether plant or animal diseases should be taken off the current list or added to it.

    In the floral industry, R3Bv2 can have a devastating impact on geranium (pelargonium) crops, according to SAF’s Lin Schmale, senior director of government relations, and both the potato and tomato industries also could be adversely affected by introduction of the disease. Years ago, however, SAF, working with growers, regulators and researchers, developed protocols for helping growers ensure disease-free geranium crops.

    SAF and AmericanHort’s comments stated in part that “the extensive research … has shown that the original reasons for including R3Bv2 on the list are not valid. Those reasons included its supposed survivability at cold temperatures, its supposed unique ability to infect potatoes at low temperatures, and its supposed ability to cause an economically damaging disease outbreak under North American climate conditions. All of those reasons have been disproved by subsequent research. Therefore, there is no longer any justification for keeping R3Bv2 on the list.”

    Read more about the issue and SAF’s longtime work alongside industry and government partners.

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    Retail Sales Data May Show Which Gear the US Economy Is In
    The payrolls report released last week suggested the U.S. economy is back on trend after a rocky first quarter, and upcoming data will give some sense of whether that’s the case. The key jobs report from the Labor Department showed 223,000 jobs added in April. That’s by no means terrific, but it looks pretty good compared to the 85,000 reading for March.   Read more.

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    Unravel the E-Commerce Maze at RGS
    By Shelley Estersohn

    SAF CIO Renato Sogueco is one of five speakers presenting practical ways for florists to boost sales and profits at SAF Retail Growth Solutions. The early-bird registration rate and the cut-off date for guaranteeing the SAF room rate at the conference hotel ends this Friday, May 15.

    Your website is the heart of your online presence. It’s where you make or break the sale — but converting online visitors into customers is far more complex than it was just a few years ago. Almost overnight, online shopping has jumped from the desktop into your customers’ hands. Using smartphones and tablets, people are making purchases on the go — prompted by searches, mobile apps, ads, videos, targeted content, social media, e-mail, instant messages and more.

    “E-commerce today is driven by a huge maze of customer interactions happening on dozens of online platforms using multiple inbound marketing tools,” SAF Chief Information Officer Renato Sogueco said. Florists have to attract prospects to their websites from a variety of external sources and then “provide a pleasant, relevant and easy shopping experience that moves them quickly through checkout,” he said. “If not, they’ll lose interest.”

    Sogueco will delve into the key elements of effective e-commerce and explain how they work together to drive online sales at SAF Retail Growth Solutions, June 7-8 in Hartford, Connecticut.

    During the session “E-Commerce 2.0 and Beyond,” Sogueco will walk florists through the basics of search engine optimization strategies for site structure, taxonomy, links, etc. They’ll also learn:
    • How to create “awesome, relevant content,” how much you need and how often to refresh it
    • The importance of creating consistent online references and monitoring reviews
    • What’s happening with mobile … and what’s coming down the pike
    Sogueco is one of five speakers presenting a mix of market insight and practical opportunities for florists over the course of the 36-hour mini-conference. For details, see the complete schedule or download the brochure.

    The early-bird registration rate and the cut-off date for guaranteeing the SAF room rate at the conference hotel ends this Friday, May 15. Register for Retail Growth Solutions and make travel plans.

    Special thanks to SAF’s 1-Day Profit Blast underwriting partner:

    Thanks also to SAF’s 1-Day Profit Blast promotional partners:

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    Florist in Same-Sex Wedding Lawsuit Pens Op-Ed
    By Mary Westbrook

    Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland, Washington, is at the center of an anti-discrimination lawsuit. She penned an opinion piece this week, “I’m a Florist but I Refused to Do Flowers for My Gay Friend’s Wedding” in the Washington Post.

    The florist involved in a Washington state lawsuit testing the limits of anti-discrimination laws against business owners’ rights to deny service based on personal religious convictions has penned an opinion piece in one of the country’s top newspapers.

    Earlier this year, a judge ruled that Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene's Flowers in Richland, Washington, broke the law when she told longtime customer Robert Ingersoll that she couldn’t provide services for his wedding to partner Curt Freed because of her religious beliefs. Stutzman, a Southern Baptist, is now asking the state Supreme Court to review her case.

    In her May 12 essay in The Washington Post, Stutzman argues that, “in Washington, Rob and Curt have the right to get a marriage license. But that doesn’t mean that the state should be able to force people in the creative professions like myself to create expression celebrating the ceremonies. We all have different viewpoints about how to live our lives.”

    SAF has reported on the lawsuit in past issues of EBrief and Floral Management magazine. Florists we interviewed, including Nic Faitos of Starbright Floral Design in New York City, disagreed with Stutzman’s position.

    “Sensitivities of any kind — political, religious, etc. — have no place in a business environment,” Faitos said. “What is most important for all to know is that they are welcome at Starbright Floral Design as we would be honored to help them celebrate their union regardless of persuasion, orientation or any other word that ends in ‘ion.’”

    Read more from Faitos on the topic.

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    Making it special: He's been delivering Mother's Day flowers 15 years
    By Regina Ford
    Ray Fleener gave away flowers to more than 200 women for Mother's Day this year, a tradition he's kept going for 15 years.

    Fleener, who celebrates his 81st birthday in June, delivers flowers for Camilot Flowers in Green Valley, and owner Mary Schmidt says, "He never misses the chance to give flowers during the holidays."

    Fleener has delivered thousands of floral arrangements throughout the years for every occasion from Christmas to Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day and all those "special days" in between – including birthdays and weddings.
       Read more.

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    The Blossom Shop Busy Before Mother's Day
    Charlotte Observer
    Debby Sacra, owner with her husband Ted Todd of The Blossom Shop, works on a Mother's Day arrangement at the store on Friday, May 8, 2015. The Blossom Shop is extremely busy on Friday and Saturday with flower orders for Mother's Day. "It's one of our two busiest days, along with Valentine's Day," said owner Ted Todd. Todd said the store increases the number of employees by 40 percent for Mother's Day and will make an estimated 550 deliveries on Friday and Saturday for Mother's Day in addition to deliveries for weddings, parties and other things going on. He said mixed spring flower arrangements are the most popular for Mother's Day, and roses are also popular.    Read more.

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    Online Ads Featuring Men Are Four Times More Effective than Ads with Women
    The Drum
    Consumers are four times more likely to respond positively to online ads featuring men than they are women, according to a new study. Online banners featuring men average 102 per cent higher conversion rates than those without a person in them compared to 25 per cent for women, revealed a Rocket Fuel study of 38,151 banner ads across 2,184 marketing initiatives over six months. Ads that feature both men and women together underperform, claimed the study, with a 15 per cent lower conversion rate.   Read more.

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    10 Types of Visual Social Media Posts that Get Shared Like Crazy
    Business 2 Community
    Do you want double your social engagement and get your content shared like crazy? For small businesses and brands everywhere, posting multiple images on social media has been proven to have massive traction It seems simple right? But if it was so easy wouldn’t everybody do it? Like most good things, in life — there’s a catch. And it isn’t not needing a huge budget or incredible graphic design skills.    Read more.

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    Breaking Bread Breeds Employee Satisfaction
    By Katie Hendrick
    In West Chester, Pa., the staff at Matlack Florist boasts camaraderie and topnotch communication skills.

    That’s due in large part to an annual dinner owners Bern Ebersole and Jen Matlack use to treat full- and part-time employees at a gourmet restaurant in a local inn. The sophisticated setting away from the shop is an apt place to recognize the team’s achievements and for colleagues to catch up with the people they don’t see on a daily basis.

    “It’s a night to celebrate each other, and what we’ve done, without any pressure to entertain other people (e.g. spouses and dates),” Kate Delaney, director of operations, told Floral Management contributing editor Mary Westbrook. “It’s fun to see each other out of the shop, and it’s a nice excuse to get dressed up.”

    For more details on how the dinners foster staff familiarity, check out the Hands On column in this month’s Floral Management. There you’ll also find:
    • A fun and easy promotion to generate graduation sales
    • Research on Father’s Day shopping trends and a tip to leverage it
    • How to hold a productive all-staff meeting

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    How Grandma Can Improve Your Customer Service

    When the inevitable last minute customer calls asking for “the impossible,” keep the grand matron, “Grandma,” in mind to avoid being snippy. One way to ensure your tone is polite and courteous is to apply the “grandma” test, said Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible” and a dozen other business books on sales, customer loyalty and personal development.

    The test is very simple: Practice how you communicate with customers by adding “Grandma” after everything you say. Like your dear grandmother, your customers want (and deserve!) your respect, and are apt to abandon your business if you withhold it.

    “There are lots of phrases you use every day that are irritating customers,” Gitomer said. “And you have no clue until you insert ‘Grandma’ at the end.”

    For instance:

    “Sorry, we’re closing. We can’t take your order today, Grandma.” If you answered the phone or opened the door, then you can take the order.

    “What’s this in reference to, Grandma?” How about: Absolutely! May I tell her who is calling?

    “That’s our policy, Grandma.” Don’t use the “p” word. Instead: This ensures that your floral gift will (insert whatever said policy accomplishes).

    “We’re swamped. That rush delivery will cost you, Grandma.” How about: Of course we can get it there. Your total, including the rush delivery, is...

    Cut the crass, and stick to phrases that would please your customers — and your grandmother: “Thanks for shopping with us and have a lovely day, Grandma.”

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    How to Beat Writer's Block with Blogs
    By Katie Hendrick
    Want to raise your visibility in search engine without ponying up extra money for advertisements?

    Time to start (or revisit) a blog.

    Blogging provides several distinct benefits for your online business, explains SAF Chief Information Officer Renato Sogueco: “First, you have the opportunity to highlight a certain aspect of your business like your wedding or event work,” he said. “You can essentially document the job through photos and a few lines of text.” Most important, though, a blog provides an opportunity to include an inbound link to your main website. “Because of this, blogs could potentially score you massive search engine optimization points,” Sogueco said.

    Those are the upsides of a blog. The downside: Writing a thoughtful post that will resonate with your readers is hard work. (editorial aside: Can I get an amen?)

    When writer’s block strikes, there is a methodology to beat the madness. Nicole Jenet, a writer with Scribewise, a content marketing and public relations firm, shares her process here.

    When you don’t know what to write about:

    Trouble coming up with content? “Hit up the Internet,” Jenet said.

    She recommends starting with “tried and true Google” with terms pertinent to your industry (“florist” “cut flowers” “wedding trends” “funeral trends” etc.). The trick to finding concrete ideas (and not just links to companies’ websites) is to search under “News.” (When you open your browser, look at the top of the screen. “News” is the second header from the left.)

    “News” results will show what kind of floral-related topics have appeared in local newspapers and magazines around the country. 

    Here are a few examples:
    • charities you support
    • care and handling tips
    • how to match flowers to a recipient and occasion
    • timelines for ordering before a holiday, dinner party or wedding
    You can also set up a Google alert to do this automatically every day. Click here for step-by-step instructions.

    After Google, head on over to Twitter, Jenet said. Start by searching hashtags related to the industry (#americangrown, #buylocal, #funwithflowers, #mothersday, #bouquets, etc.). “While you may stumble upon some of the same stories you found in your Google news search, you’ll see more headlines that may not have made it onto your first page of Google search results, in addition to what other people in your industry are talking and blogging about,” she said.

    Next, branch out from flowers. “Read what’s going on in your world,” Jenet said. “You may find a story that you can relate back to your industry, like when the finale of a very popular show has just aired.”

    Other times, you just need to stop thinking about the blog for a few minutes. “Sometimes when you’re on a walk, in the shower, cooking … any mundane, daily task, an idea for content could pop into your head,” Jenet said.

    When you don’t know what else to say:

    “This may be the more frustrating form of this affliction,” Jenet said. “You have the content perfectly planned out in your head, you start writing and then you simply cannot figure out what else to say. That completed content is just slightly out of reach.”

    When deadlines loom and panic starts to set in, Jenet takes a break. Getting some fresh air and a snack often bestows her with a fresh idea, she said. Then, when she returns to the keyboard, she sets a timer for five to 10 minutes and writes with abandon.

    “Pull open a new blank document or grab a pen and paper,” she said, “and for that set amount of time, write down everything you know about the topic and anything else that pops into your head. If things keep coming up in your mind that aren’t related to the topic you’re writing about, jotting them down may just get them out of your head and stop them from distracting you or, perhaps, causing your writer’s block.”

    Here’s the most important (and also very difficult) part: DO NOT WORRY ABOUT THE QUALITY OF YOUR POST. “Do you think Harper Lee sat down and wrote ‘How to Kill a Mockingbird’ from start to finish in one draft? Write it out, leave it, maybe do some research on the topic, and come back with a critical eye,” she said. Many journalism schools advise this “lousy first draft” method.

    If you’re still stuck after your break, enlist a friend or colleague to read what you have so far. “Request that they ask you open-ended questions about the topic,” Jenet said. “This will get you really thinking critically about the topic and help you come up with some points you may not have thought of before.”

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    Study: Loyalty Programs More Important Than Ever
    Retailing Today
    More and more consumers are motivated by loyalty programs than ever before, according to the 2015 Bond Brand Loyalty Report. Bond Brand Loyalty’s fifth annual study shows consumers overwhelmingly agree that loyalty programs are worth the effort. “While points and discounts drive behaviors, companies need to engage with consumers at a deeper level if they want to extend program loyalty into genuine brand loyalty,” said Scott Robinson, senior director of Loyalty Consulting & Solutions for Bond Brand Loyalty.    Read more.

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    15 Centerpieces You'll Want to Re-create
    The Knot
    You can't think about your reception décor without thinking about flowers. From over-the-top to simple yet chic, let some of our favorite centerpieces inspire you.   Read more.

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    Say Thanks to Mother's Day Customers, Workers
    By Katie Hendrick
    The heavy lifting may be over, but it’s not yet time to put Mother’s Day 2015 in the books.

    There’s one little, but very important task left to wrap up the holiday.

    Say thanks.

    While we in the industry know flowers to be the quintessential Mother’s Day gift, the truth is, customers have loads of options for spending their discretionary dollars. That’s why sales expert Tim Huckabee, AIFSE, president of FloralStrategies and Floral Management columnist, tells every client to end every sales call with the same two words: thank you. “They don’t have to shop with you, and it’s important they know they appreciate that they called you,” Huckabee said.

    Social media makes it easy to issue a blanket statement of gratitude. Head over to Facebook and Instagram and post something along the lines of this: “Thank you to all our customers who made Mother’s Day such as success. We really appreciate you allowing us to be a part of your celebration. We can’t wait to serve you more!”

    While you’re at it, don’t neglect your employees whose blood, sweat and tears helped everything smoothly. If you’d like a repeat performance next year (or, let’s say, February), a sign of appreciation is in order, whether it’s a celebratory ice cream sandwich, gift card to a spa, or staff field day. According to Dennis Snow, a Disney alum and customer service expert, recognition from the boss (or lack thereof) is the top reason employees stay or leave.

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    SAF Retail Growth Solutions
    June 7-8, 2015
    Hartford Marriott Farmington
    Hartford, Conn.

    SAF Amelia Island 2015 - 131st Annual Convention
    Sept. 9-12, 2015
    Ritz Carlton Amelia Island
    Amelia Island, Fla.


    Mobile Madness WebBlasts
    By Katie Hendrick
    The smartphone has all but eliminated many struggles of day-to-day life, from getting lost (thank you, Siri, for your navigational prowess) to getting bored (well hello there, Words With Friends!).

    Best of all, though, this little gadget has transformed the world of business, allowing flower shop owners to operate on the go. With your smartphone, you can stay on top of shop activity at any time from any place, capture great photos and videos (no heavy equipment required!), and shape your social media presence with the ease of uploading media and writing a post with a just one click.

    It’s easy! In Mobile Madness, a three-part series of online short courses, SAF Chief Information Officer Renato Sogueco spells out what you need to know, such as:
    • What wireless plan is right for your business
    • What apps improve productivity
    • How to capture, manage and edit media to upload to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
    SAF members can watch these WebBlasts for free. Check them out at

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