What are your flowers really worth?
The Business of Flowers
The Value of a Flower.
The Value of a Flower
Back in the way day, wholesalers used to carry flowers long distance in horse drawn carriages packed with flowers laden with ice packs, they’d take them directly to florists or sell them at the market.
Nowadays, you can walk into any grocery store and find inexpensive flowers right at your fingertips.
Any time you want!
I call these convenience flowers.
They're the gas station of the flower industry. You wouldn't go to the gas station to get a steak, right? No, you go to the gas station to get a day old hot dog.
The problem with convenience flowers is that when you’re used to purchasing flowers that cheap, it gives you the perception that flowers should be inexpensive.
However, most grocery stores actually take a loss on flower sales to incentivize you to purchase other items in their store. They may actually be losing money, especially on big flower holidays like Valentine's Day. You see they know that if you come in for a bouquet, you'll probably buy a bottle of wine, chocolate, and maybe grab a case of toilet paper. All of which could be marked up to two hundred percent!
It’s worth it to them to take a loss on the bouquet because they'll make it up with the other items you buy.
Here's why that hurts those of us in the floral industry
If you are getting married and want a florist to design your bouquets and wedding flowers, you’re going to reach out to a florist with the assumption that the value of your flowers is on par with what you're used to.
Trader Joe's might have peonies at one point and sell them for $2 a stem, logically that must mean a florist can get them for that price, right?
Depending on the season, a florist can find peonies anywhere from $3.50 to $12 a stem.
They also have labor, overhead, vases, ribbon, delivery, set up, and hours of back and forth emails to make sure your flowers look gorgeous and fit your vision.
All of these things need to be considered when you buy flowers for any occasion.
Unfortunately, because you are so used to convenience flowers, the real price tag of flowers seems outrageous.
Consider the flower's life...
It starts as a seed that needs to be collected, and then the seed is sold, planted, propagated, watered, grown, harvested, hydrated, transported, sold again to a wholesaler, and sold yet again to your wedding florist. The florist will “process” and hydrate the flower so it looks beautiful, then it’s added to your wedding bouquet, and finally it’s placed in your hands as you walk down the aisle.
Think of how many hands touched that flower before it ever reached you.
Think of all of the labor and hard work that went in to growing that flower.
So what is the value of a flower?
Florists cannot compete with the prices of Costco and Trader Joe's, but they shouldn't really have to. You're paying an artist to create something beautiful.
You wouldn’t expect an original Monet to be the same price as a replica.
Costco owns more shares with the major flower farms across the world than almost any other company.
Your local florist can't even purchase a fraction of that, but does that mean that Floristry is obsolete?
Just because you can go online and purchase your flowers yourself does not make designing a flower arrangement any easier. It's stressful, tedious, time consuming work, and your end result will not be anywhere near what a professional florist could create for you.
I don't care what YouTube says; you will not be able to design an expert bridal bouquet. I mean I'm sure it will look decent, but it won't be as fun and easy as you’re probably imagining.
Plus, anyone that understands the mechanics of floral design will be able to tell it’s not technically correct.
Going through a big online company to do your own flowers might seem like a logical move if you are on a tight budget, but only if you don't find time to be a valuable commodity.
It takes hours to find the right flowers in the color spectrum you want.
You need to determine the balance between your filler flowers, focals, lines, textures and greenery.
You have to find all the right vessels, wires, tape, ribbon and other hard-goods. Most of which a florist will find you for much cheaper than what you’ll end up paying.
Then you need to be available to receive the flowers.
You also need to expect delivery delays and last minute substitutions, because it happens!
Once you receive them, you'll need to process them all.
Clean the stems, pop the thorns, take off ugly petals, hydrate the flowers, keep them cold, and try not to kill them before the big day, and that's just the time you spent thinking about and receiving the flowers!
Arranging the flowers will take hours longer than someone trained in floral design.
A florist can do all of this for you, plus they'll deliver them to the venue, set them up, explain to you how to hold your bouquet, and take one major thing off your list of things to do on your wedding day.
How much is your time worth?
The value of a flower comes from all of these things.
I used a wedding as an example because that's where I see my florist clients having the most frustration. A bride comes to them wanting five bouquets, ten boutonnieres and corsages, centerpieces for fifteen tables, an arbor, and maybe a Garland somewhere, but they have a budget of $500. Their favorite flowers are peonies and garden roses plus they want tons of greenery.
Try more like $5,000.
That's a reasonable amount for what she's asking, but because we've developed a sense of what convenience flowers are worth, we have no concept of what high-end professional flowers actually cost.
Trust me, florists are not trying to rip you off. They have a skill and fortitude that, quite frankly, most of us do not possess.
The next time you’re thinking about getting flowers for an event, consider upping your budget and investing in the flowers.
They are absolutely worth it.
About the Author
- Casey Wagner
Boise's Newest Wholesale Flower Market
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Practical advice on pricing your floral designs and packages
What am I worth?
Practical advice on pricing your floral designs and packages
Too often, we see fellow florists undervaluing themselves by charging too little for their services. This not only affects their profit margin, but it also hurts the entire floral industry because it sets the bar for consumers. They see a low price and then they assume that all the other florists are overcharging. In reality, that “budget” florist is making very little profit or possibly even losing money trying to price their items to make their customers happy instead of pricing what their services are worth.
It’s not that these florists are intentionally trying to undercut their competition - at least I hope not! It is more likely that they’re pricing without factoring in all the other costs involved with building their arrangements.
The price that we propose to our clients involves so much more than the flowers. Each customer relationship we build involves endless emails about everything from aesthetic to budget to the flowers, and then there is the proposal itself that we carefully consider and tailor to meet their needs... and that’s all before any money has been exchanged!
Designing for weddings, as another example, requires hours of work emailing, creating mood boards, ordering flowers, ordering vases, visiting the venue, determining the mechanics for an installation, calculating transportation costs, hiring employees, adjusting the quote when someone has a change of heart, and the list goes on.
If you’re doing all of this and your margin is giving you what you need, not burning you out, and you feel the weddings you're booking are the right fit for you - then you're probably at the right pricing structure. However, if you’re feeling like you’re not making money or not making ends meet, it might be time to consider changing up your pricing structure.
When you are charging what you’re worth, you’ll be happier, more motivated, and ultimately work less because you’ll make enough to balance out the hours. Think of it as if you were a bodybuilder. Would you rather lift more weight with less repetition or more repetition at a lower weight? It’s the same with your clients. You could take 20 weddings for a minimum of $4,000 each or 40+ weddings for a minimum of $1,800 (while spending double the time negotiating with your budget bride).
So then, when it’s all said and done, how should you be pricing everything to make sure you are coming out ahead without scaring off your potential clients?
Everybody’s a little different when it comes to deciding on your pricing formula.
The industry standard says you should be marking up your products by at least 3X with a 2.5X markup for hard goods. This will be higher in more populated areas like Seattle or LA. You’ll also want to add 25 to 40 percent on top of that markup to cover things like labor, the pre-booking correspondence, sourcing flowers, designing and sketching, visiting the venue, meetings – and all the other costs associated with your time. Time is MONEY! In your proposal you would call this cost your “design fee”. There are some florists that prefer to list out the details of this fee and break it down by the cost of each item. That will be a personal preference, but if you choose to do this technique, it will take more time and consideration when writing each proposal.
Don’t forget that you should be charging for the flowers you’re buying, not just the flowers you’re USING. If you order anemones, you know some of them won’t open. If you charge for what you sourced, you won’t end up losing money for spoilage.
Some other fees to consider adding to your repertoire (if you choose to break down your design fee) would be a transportation or mileage fee (for long distances), a striking fee, delivery fee (don’t get greedy here – just charge what it actually costs), rental fee, and the most important fee – LABOR. What are you worth? If someone were to hire you off the street, what would your hourly rate be? Estimate your time to complete the arrangements and multiply by that number.
Another approach, at least for weddings, is to start building packages for a set amount and stop asking clients about their budget. This way you can avoid all the negotiations. A client will either be ok with it or walk away. You will know that you’re getting what you’re worth and valuing yourself and your time appropriately. If you choose to do this, make sure you have at least three options – one should be the minimum you’re willing to accept, your middle pack should be perfectly priced for your ideal client and the highest option should be just close enough to the medium price point so that you can easily upsell to potential customers.
You don’t want to be the most inexpensive florist in your area; that is a disservice to yourself and to the floral community. Instead, value yourself. Treat yourself kindly, and know that you’re worth more than the bare minimum, because you are.
Developing a Brand for your Floral Business
Let's be real, first impressions are one thing you never get back. There are so many cookie cutter florists out there with websites that look virtually identical. The only way a potential client can differentiate them is based on their price. As we all know, that's the last place we can afford to cut costs! If this sounds familiar, it's time to create, or reimagine, a brand for your business.
Here are five ways to create an authentic brand that's true to you and your unique style of floral design:
1. Visual representation of your work
This is necessary to either edit the background out of the photo later, or create a visually appealing aesthetic that matches the "feeling" you're trying to convey with your images. Every time you create something that just feels like you - that represents who you are as a floral designer - set up a photoshoot and keep that image to show potential clients or share on your social media profiles.
2. Design a stunning logo
3. Start a Blog
Begin creating content in a blog. Some of the most inspirational floral designers I've ever met were discovered through their blog. Can't think of anything to write? Just slowly post that portfolio you created earlier with all of your gorgeous designs.
4. Design a website
It is SO easy to get online nowadays. There's no excuse not to hop on the technology bandwagon and start creating an online presence. Connect your blog and start showcasing your work! A lot of my florist friends create standard arrangements that they always offer and allow their local customers to order those pieces for delivery. You'll be surprised at how easy it is if you use a site like WooCommerce or Squarespace. There are a ton of resources out there to help you figure out which platform will work best for you. Do your homework and choose the option that fits your budget and has an interface that you can understand.
5. Get social
We all start somewhere, but to compete with the DIY market and the FTD cookie cutter floral industry, it is crucial that your business stand out, otherwise you'll lose that millennial sale! The new generation wants a story, they want things to be visually appealing and easy to navigate without being too cluttered.Follow the steps we've outlined here and your flower business will benefit!
Inexpensive Tips to Appeal to your Customers
These days appearing professional is incredibly easy, even if you're just starting to branch out on your own. Follow this guide to give you the basics for creating professional appeal to captivate and lure your customers.
Not to get too basic here, but your domain is going to be the best way to generate sales so it needs to be memorable. If your company has already been established, and the domain is taken - try adding "floral design" or "Florist" to the end. You'll also want to find a .com - it shouldn't matter, but it does. Customers will make a mental note if you use .net. Keep it short, get creative, but above all remain memorable. If you're just starting out, find a business name that fits your brand identity (more on that later), and check godaddy.com for domain availability and namecheckr.com for social media username availability. Once you find the perfect business name, buy it!
Your high-end customers will not trust you if you're emailing them from a yahoo account. A great resource is G Suite, it's basically google for business. Starting around $5 a month you can get an email address with your personal domain (email@example.com). An added bonus is that you can also use your account to create shared documents with your employees and coworkers - this is a HUGE time saver when you're planning for valentines day!
You'll want to sign up for all the social media accounts you're going to use, and maybe even sites you don't think you're going to use. That way if a couple years down the line you decide to set up an account, your name hasn't been taken.
This might sound intimidating, but it isn't! There are many hosts out in the interwebs that have templates you can use immediately. For floral and photography businesses I recommend Squarespace for it's visual appealing artistic themes, WordPress for it's customizability and my personal favorite Shopify for it's web hosting, apps and customer service.
It's a little old fashioned, but I still think there is something classy about pulling out a business card when you're talking to potential clients about what you do. You never know who might need flowers in the future and they will remember you (or just never take the card out of their wallet). You can find business cards for almost FREE from Vistaprint or you can go really high-end and get a pack of sexy, modern cards from sites like Moo.com and RockDesign.
These five items are the basics for launching or redesigning your business. You'll instantly be more appealing and more professional to your customers and that will make it easier to get that sale! Good luck and happy selling!
- Casey Wagner