Rick Rivers of Florist Bootcamp is a successful florist and popular speaker that FloristWare often sponsors at industry events (workshops, conferences, conventions, etc.). His specialty is marketing and he really delivers phenomenal content that florists can really use in this area.
This weekend, at the Maine Florists Association spring event, he is going to introduce some entirely new content that I’m really excited about and FloristWare is proud to sponsor. It tackles a topic that nobody else wants to talk about… in fact it seems like everybody else is promoting the exact opposite approach. This is incredibly dangerous, and it makes this new content very important.
What exactly is so dangerous? Many years ago, while working the phones at a high volume flower shop in New York City, Tim Huckabee started refining a unique order taking process that became the best and most sophisticated I have ever seen. This process is the foundation of his service, FloralStrategies.
The part of the process that gets people most interested is that it tends to lead to higher order values. Significantly higher – increases of $10-$20 are common.
But it’s not just about more very single time. At its core the system is about better sales and service, about not making common mistakes that lead to smaller orders, and listening carefully for situations where the customer would be better served by a larger order. The customer will probably spend more, but more importantly they’re going to be happier because they also received better service. Like I said it is incredibly sophisticated and effective and something all florists can benefit from.
The problem is that some consultants/coaches/trainers have started down a watered-down and much less sophisticated approach that is just about selling more all the time. They’re saying things that every order should be 20% more than the one that preceded it, and that the florist should be pushing for that aggressively.
It is an attractive message (who wouldn’t like the thought of sales growing at such a rate?) but there are serious problems with it.
The first is that it simply isn’t sustainable. Let’s say you have a good customer who orders four time a year and spends, on average, $60 per order.
The first time they call you’re going to try and bump them 20% to $72. You can probably get away with that. The next time that 20% bump is going to take them to about $86.
At this point the customer probably starts to get a little wary… they clearly remember that the last time they called they expected to spend $60 but went to $72, now they’re being told $86. It is a big jump.
Let’s say the really trust you and go for it. How are they rewarded? The next time they’re going to be pushed to over $100.
At some point they’re going to say no. But is that all that happens?
The real danger here is that this kind of selling can produce a short term spike in sales that leads store management to believe it is the right approach. Let’s say the new system goes into place and average order values immediately jump 15%? “Great! Don’t let off now! Keep pushing.” Short term success encourages them to double down on a strategy that will cost them far more in the long term.
This is real, and I can give you two personal, real world examples.
The first came from a friend that opened a flower store in the early 90’s. He purchased the store from a franchise I worked for and was ignoring the official training which dictated that every customer should be up-sold – better container, plush toy, chocolates, etc.
He hated that practice. Growing up his father had been a baker and prided himself on his salesmanship. He always told his son, my friend, to watch how he tried to make sure that nobody ever walked out without something extra. If they came for bread he tried to make sure they left with a cake as well.
But my friend and his mother knew from talking to other people in their neighbourhood that they were starting to avoid the store. They didn’t want a cake, they just wanted bread, and they didn’t like having it forced on them. They just went elsewhere. In the end my friend and his family were forced to try and trick the father into staying in the back of the bakery where he couldn’t annoy customers with his approach to sales.
Another example is more personal to me. Ever since I first realized I needed glasses I have been loyal to they same optometrist – they did every eye test I ever had and made every pair of glasses I ever owned.
I never assumed they were the cheapest. It was a beautiful office with state of the art equipment in a high-end building and you know you’re paying for that. But it was worth it because the facilities, staff and service were so great, And it was convenient – I could get there by car or subway, and never even had to step outside. I was prepared to pay something for that.
Over the next twelve years the prices, like most prices, kept creeping up. At first I put it down to inflation but soon realized the prices were outpacing that. Then I just kind of ignored it – yes, the already high prices were seeming much higher, but I really did like the service and convenience.
But last year something broke. After the eye exam and learning I needed new lenses I went to talk to the optician. The price she quoted? More than $1100.
I couldn’t ignore the nagging feeling anymore. I told her I’d think about it and get back to her (if there was ever code for “whoa - I need to shop around” this has to be it) and left the store. The first place I called was under $400 for the same lenses.
A sophisticated approach to order-taking like Tim Huckabee’s FloralStrategies method is a powerful tool. Just pushing for more on every single sale is a bad idea.
Nobody has been talking about this. Lots of people are promising the short-term riches that come with aggressive selling, but nobody has been talking about the long-term damage that comes along with it.
Until now. Rick has some amazing new material on this very topic. He’s going to show florists how to avoid alienating good customers and driving them to competitors. It is a very important topic and it is an honor for FloristWare to sponsor it.
It’s important to me because FloristWare, the most popular independent POS/CRM and shop management system for retail florists, includes tools that can help you or hurt you. If you just wanted to see the value of the last order and push for 20% more you could, but we hope that you would use all the tools and serve the customer better instead. Rather than just pushing for an extra 20% you’d look at their long term spending history as it relates to different recipients and events, focussing on them instead of just a number.