Industry sector: Retail and wholesale

Florist: Customer profile

Your market

You might have several different types of customer, depending on the nature of your business. For example:

  • members of the public who make one-off or regular inexpensive purchases of 'off-the-shelf' or 'made-to-order' arrangements. A significant proportion of these may be ordered via a relay scheme like Interflora. (A relay scheme transaction involves two florists. The 'sending' florist who takes the order but doesn't do anything else other than send the order to the relay scheme and the 'executing' florist who makes up the arrangement. As the sending florist you'll keep around 25% of the value of the order and as the executing florist you'll receive around 70%. You can usually choose to be a full or just a sending member of a scheme)
  • members of the public arranging functions, weddings and funerals spending considerably more, usually on a one-off basis
  • churches
  • flower clubs
  • local colleges and private training providers who offer flower arranging courses
  • corporate clients, such as professional wedding planners, funeral directors, hotels, restaurants, banks and so on

Reasons people buy flowers

There are many reasons why people choose to buy flowers, such as:

  • for birthdays, anniversaries and new babies
  • as a 'thank you', a 'get well soon' or similar present
  • for a loved one on Valentine's Day or any other time in the year
  • for Mother's Day
  • for Christmas Day
  • for weddings and funerals
  • to decorate a dinner party table
  • as a regular purchase for domestic or business decoration
  • as a 'cheer myself up' purchase

Estimating the average 'spend'

When making your estimates, take into account the following:

  • the fluctuations in spending throughout the year. There are traditionally peak flower purchasing times during the year and these are: New Year's Day (1 January), Valentine's Day (14 February), Mother's Day (third Sunday before Easter) and Christmas Day. As well as those peaks, you should also take into account that the summer tends to be the quietest period for flower sellers, unless you cater for the wedding market
  • certain age groups tend to spend more on flowers than others. For example, consumers aged 55 and above tend to spend twice as much as consumers in the 16 - 33 age bracket
  • customers are generally prepared to spend more on flowers intended as gifts than they are on flowers for themselves that they buy on a regular basis. So the average spend for Valentine's Day may be around £20, but the average spend on day-to-day flowers may be half that figure or less
  • flower purchases for weddings and funerals are typically significant, running to several hundreds of pounds and sometimes more

You might decide to base your estimate of the average 'spend' on your own spending pattern and that of friends and relations. You could also observe closely in other florists the quantities that customers buy and the price they pay.

Trade sales

If you are planning to sell to trade customers, approach some as part of your market research and establish:

  • what range of products and services they would want
  • how frequently they would want them
  • the prices they expect to pay

This will help you to estimate your trade customers' average spend.

You are likely to offer your trade customers discounted prices, for example 10% or 20% off the normal retail price, as well as credit terms of, say, 30 days.

Advertising your business

Whoever your customers will be, it is essential that they know about you. An eye-catching window display will act as an incentive for customers to enter the shop. You could consider changing the display on a regular basis to reflect the stock that you have at that time. You may also decide to create displays picking up on the themes of the peak days detailed above. You could also use a board outside on the pavement to give details of prices and special offers.

There are a number of other things you can do to promote your business:

  • have leaflets printed outlining the products and services that you offer, possibly with some sample prices
  • advertise in your local newspaper and any other local publications and directories
  • try to establish links with other local retailers who would promote your business in exchange for you doing the same for them. For example, you could leave business cards in local bridal shops
  • try to establish links with local funeral directors. Although the funeral directors' code of conduct prohibits them from adding any commission to the cost of flowers, you may be able to establish yourself as their preferred florist simply by providing a good service
  • if you are a member of a relay scheme, such as eFlorist or Interflora, make sure that the scheme's logo is prominent
  • set up your own website including images of your displays. You could also offer an online ordering service
  • develop an effective social media strategy. For example, you could have your own Facebook page on which you post regular pictures of bespoke arrangements that you create for customers
  • make sure all your vehicles, packaging and other literature carries an eye-catching logo
  • if you have any awards or special qualifications, you could include details of these on your stationery and advertising material and on your website
  • put on flower arranging demonstrations at which customers can buy your products