Ben Franklin said, “Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.”
Florists often consider increasing sales the best path to profitability. Equally important is minding the pennies (and dollars) going out.
As the pace picks up during busy times, we sometimes become so focused on getting the work out that we forget to concentrate on profit margin.
Busy times or slow, if you can save $50 or $100 (or more) a week, you accumulate significantly more profit over a year. To assist you, here are 15 suggestions from Smithers-Oasis floral design directors
for saving money year-round that you can begin to apply now.
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1. Stick to a design menu
Create a flower menu before designing, then stick to your menu.
“Adding one more flower or accessory to a design because ‘it looks pretty’ eats away at profit,” shares Loann Burke AIFD, AAF, PFCI. “Building a flower menu on paper before the design is started ensures every flower, foam and foliage is costed out and nothing is given away.”
Frank Feysa AIFD, PFCI agrees. “Sticking to recipes can help you to anticipate purchasing price and needs.”
He suggests using pre-made market bunches as an efficient way to save time and control costs when making detailed recipes.
2. Buy in bulk
“Ask your wholesaler where the price breaks are when you buy fresh flowers or hard-goods in bulk,” suggests Kevin Ylvisaker AIFD, PFCI.
Frank also recommends buying in bulk to save money. “Ask for discounts,” he advises. “Worst case scenario is they will say no.”
3. Reduce delivery charges
Organize weekly orders and try to receive only one delivery per week if possible. “If you are paying delivery charges each time you receive product it can add up,” explains Kevin. “Try to condense your orders to get as few deliveries as possible and save on extra fees.”
4. Sort orders and inventory in advance
“Separate orders into easy-to-do rose vases, cut bouquets, custom designs, etc., and assign arrangements to designers by skill level,” suggests Neville MacKay CAFA, PFCI. “This helps to assess what’s to be done and appropriates flowers by designer.”
5. Make materials easily accessible
Making the proper flower buckets easily accessible to the designer helps to hasten the design process.
“Do an inventory of stock - tape, delivery tags, foam, vases, band-aids ... the whole works,” says Neville. Position necessary hard-goods in easily accessible areas in advance of hectic design days.
“Extra action, like every insertion, is money spent.”
6. Use flower food to save money
While this may seem counterintuitive, spending money on flower food saves money in the long run.
“Proper use of flower food can double the life of the flower, giving the florist longer to use the flowers and the consumer more time to enjoy them,” says Loann.
“Use properly mixed flower food in storage buckets, vases and in the soaking water of floral foam to help keep flowers healthy, promote full opening and ultimately reduce waste,” she advises.
7. Use automatic dosing
Laura Daluga AIFD agrees on using flower food and suggests going further.
“Save time and enjoy peace of mind with an automatic dosing system,” she adds. “We installed ours last year and saved a ton of time and guesswork by knowing we fed our beauties just the right amount.”
Overdosing not only wastes money, it can harm flowers. Automatic dosing systems help prevent both.
8. Don’t cut stems
Use a no-cut flower food, says Laura.
“Save on labor and stem length—buy a 60cm rose and sell a 60cm rose! Save hours of time and labor while processing dry packed flowers.”
FloraLife is a Smithers-Oasis company that makes no-cut FloraLife Express Universal 300
. Read the technical details here
9. Choose the right foam size
Save the time and frustration of piecing smaller foams together by using a larger-sized foam to create a secure mechanic, suggests Frank.
“Take advantage of larger foam sizes, such as Grande bricks
, that are appropriate for sizable designs.”
10. Keep pre-soaked foam on hand
Speaking of floral foam
, Neville reminds us that while it’s basic advice, a good reserve of pre-soaked foam is a time-saver.
11. Clean buckets to reduce waste
Also offering basic advice, Franks suggests that you “clean tools and buckets with DCD
to avoid bacteria build-up and keep aging flower waste down.”
12. Incorporate free space
I like to use linear materials like Midollino
, bear grass or line foliages to help incorporate empty space into a design and increase its perceived value.
A void is a linear material that connects the positive space—flowers—
with the negative space—space between flowers—
in a design. Use this technique to expand the salable space of a design without adding the cost of more flowers.
13. “Green” foam designs last
“When designing in foam, try greening the arrangement after flowering,” suggests Loann, “rather than greening the entire piece before adding flowers.”
This diminishes the amount of foliage needed to cover mechanics and allows you to strategically place the foliage as an integral part of the design.
14. “Green” vase designs first
For vase designs, Neville suggests greening in advance. “Time is our greatest resource and can be a huge money saver!”
“Prior to busy holidays or when racing against the clock for an event and waiting for the delivery truck that still hasn’t arrived, go ahead and prep your vases with greens and water so you can quickly add flowers at the last-minute.”
15. Convert floral trash to cash!
I like to suggest keeping small design bowls on your workstation to tuck in broken stems and loose buds of small flowers, creating miniature designs.
Sell these small and inexpensive arrangements from your cooler or sales counter as impulse buys rather than throwing those loose and small flower heads into the garbage.
Beware of little expenses
As one of our founding fathers said, beware of little costs.
In preparation for the upcoming busy spring season, analyze each department of your flower shop to see where these money-saving tips might be employed.
What money saving tips can you employ to hold onto more of your shop’s profits?