We are excited to share with you an article by Kevin Vinicombe, co-owner of Monday Morning Flowers. Kevin was asked by Floral Management Magazine – a monthly publication of Society of American Florists – to be featured as the “Viewpoint” in the December 2013 issue.
Viewpoint by Kevin Vinicombe
A LOADED QUESTION
“What do I do for a living?” I hear this question at meetings, net-working events and parties. Being a proud entrepreneur, I raise my head high and say, “I’m a florist! My wife and I own Monday Morning Flower and Balloon Company in Princeton, N.J.”. If I’m feeling poetic, maybe I’ll add that I help people express their deepest feelings, or provide top-notch customer service, sometimes during life’s most emotionally charged moments, or that I help bring beauty into the everyday world. People are generally curious when I tell them about my work. Nevertheless, I wonder: Am I under-selling myself when I only say, “I’m a florist”?
1. Manufacturing. We take a raw material and convert it to a customized, hand-crafted product. In doing so, we put ourselves in direct competition with larger companies with deeper pockets, and so we have to be experts in costs, waste, labor, fashion and color trends, procurement and inventory management.
2. Retailing. Our industry is based on world-class service – the kind a customer might expect at Nordstrom, even if we have a staff of two. We have to effectively and imaginatively handle visual merchandising, seasonal purchasing, product rotation, customer relations, inventory and sales team training.
3. Consulting. When businesses need help, they turn to consultants for third-party advice. When a bride come to us for help transforming her dream wedding into a reality, or a grieving family hires us to honor a loved one, we’re also acting as consultants, called upon for our expertise. Most of us consult multiple people every day, shifting gears smoothly between joyful moments (“Super Sixteen” birthdays) and hard ones (sympathy arrangements).
4. Ecommerce/Online Shopping. To stay in the game, we know that we must have a functional, customer friendly, content-rich, ecommerce-ready website. That means we have to understand the strategy and backend of online marketing and transactions – and how to fix things quickly when problems arise.
5. Hospitality. We live for the moment when the wedding reception doors open and guests have that “jaw-dropping, magical” moment, but we also know the secret of great events: make them look effortless. For events, we join the ranks of seasoned caterers, hotel managers and event planners to create moments that are unforgettable and unique, but also in line with budgets and building codes.
6. Delivery/Transportation. When you consider the supply chain of cut flowers and plants, you begin to see all of the potential for mistakes. Getting the best product in house requires technical savvy, ongoing employee education and first-rate communication skills with growers, suppliers, whole-salers, transportation companies, and delivery drivers.
Independent, full-service retailers are never operating in just one area- we’re always straddling at least one line. The next time someone asks you about your job, think about your answer, Be creative and honest. You’re a florist, yes. But does the person really understand all that your job entails? Or do they have a romantic notion of the shop around the corner? Give a full answer, one that captures your expertise. With any luck, your answer will surprise them – and bring them into your store to find out more.