Small Shops Optimistic, Despite Lackluster Sales
By Ira Silvergleit
Shop owners in the West were more likely than those from other regions to say business was “ok” (broad regional classifications adapted from the U.S. Census Bureau). They, along with Northeastern florists, are also more likely than those from other regions to anticipate sales improvements during the next six months. Florists in the Northeast were most likely to say future business would be worse, whereas owners in the Midwest and the South were more likely to reply “unsure” to the question about business expectations.
Florists from urban, rural and small towns were more likely to rate business as good or excellent than suburban florists. Suburban shop owners were also least likely to say their future sales would improve (33.6 percent).
For additional overview results, see the past two issues of EBrief by clicking here and here.
Arizona Florist Wins SAF's Summer VaseOff! Challenge
By Kate Penn
Visitor traffic to aboutflowersblog.com, SAF’s consumer blog, more than tripled during a recent two-week period, as beach-loving consumers, bloggers and florists cast their votes for their favorite arrangement custom designed for the quintessential summer girl, the latest segment in SAF’s VaseOff! Challenge.
With summer in full swing and consumers thinking about their vacations, SAF wanted to capture consumers’ attention with a timely topic that highlighted the breadth of florists’ talents and their panache for matching flowers to recipients’ personalities.
Four SAF member florists were challenged to “design an arrangement sure to delight a friend who loves the beach and can’t get enough of the sun, surf and sand.”
While each design attracted many votes, “Tranquil Motion,” by Tony Medlock, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, AzMF, got the most.
“Using cool blue and green colors, you can smell the breezy salt air,” said Medlock, president of PJ’s Flowers & Events in Phoenix, describing his design that features mini cymbidium orchids, century plant blossoms, hydrangea, lavender, pyres japonica and woven lily grass. “Adding a keepsake bento box, handmade starfish and flip flops will ensure this gift will last far beyond beach season.”
SAF Vice President of Marketing Jennifer Sparks points to the spike in visitor traffic as evidence that the VaseOff! Challenge resonated with the public.
“Our goal is to use social media to show consumers that professional florists can create arrangements perfect for any recipient or occasion,” said Sparks. “Thanks to the blog, as well as reach via Facebook, Twitter and other influential bloggers, consumers could easily share the news about flowers and the expertise of florists.” Sparks said the summer VaseOff! Challenge generated more than 464,000 consumer impressions.
SAF alerted consumers to the VaseOff! Challenge through its blog posts, Facebook status updates and tweets, as well as enlisting contestants and outside influential bloggers to promote the contest on their own social networks.
Partnering with influential bloggers helped SAF cast a net that extends far beyond its usual audience, such as fans of Celebrate Woman Today, Minted Life and Bonggamom Finds. These bloggers also helped SAF brainstorm a theme that would click with their readers, and, after the contest went live, they encouraged their readers to vote. Readers voted by clicking the Facebook “Like” button next to their favorite arrangement, which automatically posted an update on their Facebook Wall, so their friends would see a blurb about the challenge in their newsfeeds.
The entries received plenty of praise on aboutflowersblog.com.
About the winner, one commenter said, “Tranquil Motion reminds me of the beach and ocean, my favorite place, where I get to go sit for hours and just listen and relax.” Another posted: “I love how it seems to defy gravity by hanging sideways. It is beautiful.”
About “Bora Bora” by Lizzie Borches of Dr. Delphinium Designs & Events in Dallas, a visitor said: “It’s so bright and cheerful and full! You can’t imagine having this delivered to you and not being thrilled!”
This “gives an impression of the moving waves and breeze combined with the fun of walking in the sand. It would be so lovely as a beach party gift or centerpiece for my frequent barbeque gatherings,” said one commenter about “Barefoot With Waves” by Leanna Gearhert-Theye, CF, of Eastern Floral in Grand Rapids, Mich.
One commenter announced how much she identified with “Island Girl” by Robbin Yelverton, AAF, AIFD, CF, PFCI, of Blumz…by JR Designs in Detroit and Ferndale, Mich.: “I am an island girl … and this design best fits my style by representing the beach, water and seashore,” she wrote.
In response to consumers’ compliments, Sparks said, “We were thrilled with the florist contestants’ abilities to capture the beach spirit in their own ways and represent the true artistry of our industry.”
Of winning the challenge, Medlock said, “I think we’re all winners,” adding that he was honored just to be selected to compete. “Having so many people exposed to such high caliber design was very inspiring to me,” he said. “That’s really what it’s about — showing the world what floral artistry can be achieved.”
One more VaseOff! Challenge remains for 2012; it will be in the fall and will have a holiday theme. Stay tuned to SAF publications in early September for application information.
SAF’s VaseOff! program is possible thanks to the SAF Fund for Nationwide Public Relations. The PR Fund has generated more than 1 billion consumer impressions since 2001. Visit www.safnow.org/prfund.
Caliente: 'Party in the City Where the Heat is On'
By Katie Hendrick
“Caliente,” the 2012 National Symposium of the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD), July 12-16, drew a crowd of more than 600 to Miami to see some of the most sensational looks in floral design and learn tactics from some of the industry’s most talented artists.
Organized by SAF members Tina Coker, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, and Sylvia Bird, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, “Caliente” featured 19 education programs, covering topics such as color, light, texture, holiday trends and weddings, and included several lunches, dinners and entertainment programs that put floral décor in the spotlight.
“It was fabulous,” said attendee Laurel Quarberg, co-owner of The New Leaf in Norfolk, Va. “It helped to see new ideas, remember old ones and basically get an energy boost.”
Just before Caliente kicked off, 71 florists, applying for the coveted Certified Floral Designer (CFD) designation and/or an invitation to become a member of AIFD, participated in the annual Professional Floral Design Evaluation July 10. Candidates had four hours to make five designs, which a panel of AIFD members evaluated for creativity, mechanics, elements of design and use of floral products. Results will be announced in mid-August, said AIFD Executive Director Tom Shaner.
AIFD also installed its new officers during Caliente. They include: Ann Jordan, AAF, AIFD, of Naples, Maine, as president; John Kittinger, AIFD, of Lexington, Ky, as president-elect; Tim Farrell, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, of Drexel Hill, Pa., as vice president; Suzie Kostick, AIFD, MCF, PFCI, of Rio Rancho, N.M., as secretary; and Richard Salvaggio, AAF, AIFD, of Los Angeles as treasurer. Joyce Mason-Monheim, AIFD, of Tucson, Ariz., will continue to serve as the membership chairperson, and Tom Simmons, AIFD, of Three Bunch Palms Productions in Palm Springs, Calif., will serve as coordinator for AIFD’s 2013 Symposium, “Passion,” June 28-July 2 in Las Vegas.
On July 12, aspiring artists from 12 colleges and universities competed in the AIFD Student Design Competition; their designs were placed on display for Symposium attendees to view and vote for their favorites. The City College of San Francisco (CCSF) won the Overall School Award. Two students tied for the Overall Student Highest Score Award: Yumi Patricia Ota of CCSF, who also won the People’s Choice Award, and Rebecca Dryer of Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Ill. For a complete listing of 2012 Student Competition winners, please visit www.aifd.org.
On the evening of the first full day of education programs, AIFD presented “Ho’olaule’a,” its annual Awards and Induction Ceremony, which added 21 floral designers to the Institute. Award winners included: Chris Norwood, AIFD, of Little Rock, Ark., receiving the Award of Distinguished Service to AIFD; Ron Mulray, AIFD, of Philadelphia, Pa., receiving the AIFD Award of Special Service; Julie Puckett of Barberville, Fla., and NORCAL/California Association of Flower Growers & Shippers, both receiving the AIFD Award of Merit (Industry); and Grace Ormonde Wedding Style Magazine, receiving the AIFD Award of Merit (Non-Industry).
One of the most popular sessions, “Les saisons des fleurs de marriage” paired Tampa, Fla., designer Ian Prosser, AAF, AIFD, NDSF, PFCI, of Botanica International with Grace Ormonde, editor-in-chief of Wedding Style Magazine. More than 500 people attended the session that exhibited nearly 100 Parisian-inspired bridal bouquets and floral hats that flaunted flowers fashionable for each season, said Zoë Gallina, Botanica’s creative director. Both Gallina and Prosser will be featured at SAF Palm Beach 2012, leading a program on increasing event revenues.
On the final morning, Symposium participants delivered bouquets to more than 300 residents at various nursing homes around Miami, as part of AIFD’s community service program, “Blooms Over Miami.”
SAFPAC Golf Tournament Key Fundraiser in Election Year
No matter who’s in the White House next January, with the full House and a third of the Senate up for re-election in November, there should be a fair number of new faces on Capitol Hill. Funds raised through the SAFPAC Golf Tournament during SAF Palm Beach 2012 will help SAF’s government relations team bring them up to speed on industry concerns.
“SAFPAC funds create access to new members of Congress and their key staff, so we can educate them about the floral industry and the impact of their policy decisions on floral business owners,” said SAF Government Relations Chairman David Mitchell, AAF, owner of Mitchell’s Flowers in Orland Park, Ill.
This year’s SAFPAC tournament takes place in the heat of November elections — making participation particularly meaningful, Mitchell said: “We’ll spend the afternoon on the beautiful Breakers Ocean Course knowing that we’re making a real difference for our businesses and our industry.”
SAF’s 128th Annual Convention takes place Sept. 19-22 at The Breakers in Palm Beach Florida. The SAFPAC Golf Tournament is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 21. For information about SAFPAC and the tournament, visit safnow.org/safpac or contact Brian Gamberini at firstname.lastname@example.org, 800-336-4743.
Get complete convention details at safnow.org/annual-convention or download the brochure.
Small Retail Spending Outpaces US Retail Rate
Spending at small retailers increased at a faster pace in June than retail growth rate overall in the U.S., according to a recent survey. MasterCardAdvisors and Wells Fargo recently released its SpendingPulse for Small Business Report, which found spending at small retailers increased 8 percent in June, year-over-year. This compares to U.S. retail growth of 6.9 percent. Read more.
Great Service Takes More than a Friendly Smile
“The norm today is bad . . . and those businesses are in danger,” said retail trainer and former Disney exec Dennis Snow. Lackluster service leaves the door wide open for competitors with more customer-centric operations to snatch your business.
Is it time you took a long hard look at how you interact with your customers? There’s a lot more to it than having smiling, friendly employees, Snow said. Service quality involves every seemingly microscopic detail — such as the appearance of your parking lot or building exterior — that the customer encounters with an organization.
“What it feels like walking inside, how easy it is to find things....(these are) all part of the customer experience,” Snow said.
What you ultimately want to establish is the emotional connection that happens when someone feels truly valued. “When customers feel that (way), they’ll drive by your competitors to do business with you,” Snow said.
Industry members will learn more about Snow’s approach to exceptional service and how to build it into their organizations during his keynote address on Saturday, Sept. 20 at SAF Palm Beach 2012. Until then, take a peek at his video and jumpstart your super service brain cells by asking yourself the following questions:
Workday Productivity: Your Biggest Time Thief
Small Business Trends
Every day is a battle for productivity when you're a small business owner or consultant. And, if we're being honest, productivity can be especially hard to hold on to during these warm summer months when BBQs and beach daydreams wreak havoc on our day. If you've ever sat back and wondered what happened between 9-5, a new survey from the creators of OfficeTime may interest you. Read more.
Problem-Solving Trick: Ask the Right Question
When groups of people get stuck on a problem — whether over culture, systems, process, understanding, or something else — the best solutions can come from asking the right questions. Starting with this one: Is this an issue of heart, head, or hands? Read more.
Florist Featured at Press Conference Celebrating Marriage Equality
By Katie Hendrick
“To everyone involved with making this act happen, you have no idea what the positive impact has been on our city and our local businesses,” Faitos told the crowd of more than 100 members of the press, as well as dozens of bystanders, on July 24.
“With more couples marrying in New York, our business has seen a jump in the last 12 months,” he said, sharing that Starbright did about one same-sex wedding for every 12 heterosexual wedding last year (about 20 total). “From cab drivers to caterers — anyone who thrives because of weddings — this has been great for us.”
Faitos also touched upon the joy he feels helping same-sex couples pick out wedding flowers and watching couples "who’ve been together “30 or 40 years finally being able to tie the knot” — anecdotes that reinforced the role florists have in people’s most important life moments.
The press conference resulted in a full-page story, “Gay matri-money,” on page 10 of The New York Post, which included a quarter-page photo of Faitos in front of several hydrangea arrangements.
Bloomberg reported that 8,200 same-sex marriage licenses were issued in New York last year, and that the act generated an estimated $259 million in economic impact for New York City.
Exotic Flowers Designs for George W. Bush, Blogs
By Katie Hendrick
Following the Bush team’s request for “fun summer colors” to adorn tables and cocktail areas, the staff designed orange, pink, red and green centerpieces using peonies, mokara orchids, standard roses, spray roses and hydrangea.
“Many guests made sure to mention how spectacular the flowers were,” Canale said.
After the dinner, Canale wrote about it on his blog, using his “once in a lifetime opportunity” to illustrate the importance of professional floral design on people from all walks of life, including the Commander-in-Chief.
“No matter what your politics may be, designing flowers for the 43rd President of the United States is awesome,” he wrote. “Presidents have always been associated with flowers.” He followed this with a link to a previous blog post about the role of The White House Florist and a clip from the 1995 film, “The American President,” during which President Andrew Shepherd, played by Michael Douglas, talks about how he liked to buy flowers himself from a local flower shop because it showed his sincerity.
Facebook Testing New Shareable Ads
In the world of online advertising, companies like Google and Facebook are constantly updating their practices to meet the demands of all sorts of businesses, as well as improving interaction and usability to attempt to grab the attention of today's consumers. In keeping with such updates, Facebook has just begun testing a new feature that would allow businesses to make their online ads shareable on Facebook. Read more.
Buds Belong at Barbeques
Cash in on the trend toward cushy outdoor living spaces. Remind consumers that flowers are the perfect addition to any summertime gathering. Post SAF’s BBQ web graphic where shoppers look for you online. Link it to potted plants and popular summer arrangements.
Download the art in the size you need at SAF’s Banner Ad Library. It’s free – exclusively for SAF members.
Greenhouse Pesticide Safety Training
Train greenhouse staff to observe pesticide safety in the workplace and abide by the EPA Worker Protection Standards with SAF’s Greenhouse Pesticide Safety Video. A copy of the Greenhouse Pesticide Safety Booklet is included with the one-hour video as a guide. Both video and booklet are available in English or Spanish.
SAF members pay only $29.95 (49.95 non-member) for the video. Additional booklets can be purchased for $1.50 ($1.95 non-member) each. To order, visit the SAF Store and on the right side of the page click Educational Materials. Scroll down the page to see the listings. Scroll down more and you can order copies of Proceedings from the SAF Pest & Production Management Conference.
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