May I help? This guidance is essential if you are contemplating starting a florist business or purchasing an existing one.
Many, including myself, lost thousands of dollars in the learning process; please do not repeat these mistakes.
I started this website with the intention to help future and present flower entrepreneurs. I will share various flower stories for the purpose of learning from others and to inspire you to achieve your goal of being a successful floral entrepreneur wherever you are in the world.
Individuals who started successful florist businesses are welcome to e-mail their flower stories.
For all entrepreneurs considering to open a florist, party and events company or an artificial flowers and plants shop, I hope it helps reading on.
If you want to purchase one, you may consider buying a franchise or local florist. If you are looking to buy an existing one in South Florida I have a few friends who are considering selling their flower shops.
Many people purchase expensive study courses on line on how to become a florist. Before you invest a lot of money with online courses, I found "The Fab Job Guide to Become a Florist" contains some of the best business and career advice you could get to start a florist business. Priced below $40.00 is a great investement and less than most courses for the amount of knowledge you receive.
Another niche in the florist wedding business is the Wedding Planner Career and another great guide I suggest if you are considering thi business is: How to become a Wedding Planner Guide.
Many people take courses at a local community school or colleges as the first step in their education on becoming a florist. Professional floral organizations also offer classes in several towns and online.
At some point consider to have hands on experience and take a job at a local florist before buying one. Find out what you are getting into.
Many have become a florist because they "grew up in the business", because someone in their family had a flower shop, others have a love for plants and flowers which translated in opening a florist business.
Be careful of the false notions of the "Romance of owning a florist possess".
Because of the Internet, the world has changed the way anyone is doing business. With many florists closing; unable to compete with the big online flower ventures, or supermarkets, their businesses survival depends on how many orders they can draw from the internet, but few understand it or know how.
If you want to learn how to have a website able to generate income for you, please read my success story and tips of starting an internet flower business.
Since the florist future is uncertain, many floral businesses are born based on a particular niche such as: party and events only companies, wedding planners and orchids shops. If the florists are diminishing, other florists tend to pick up extra business.
For years to come florists will exist and "niche" flower businesses will spring forth.
Ever since I have worked in USA flower business 30 years ago, I have seen great changes and new realities emerging in the flower market place.
One of them is that the florists are disappearing at an alarming rate. Why?
The major reason is that in the past, the florist was the main venue for flowers and plants, but with big stores and supermarkets entering the market, many florists have gone out of business.
Finally, the Internet is switching the old parameters of flower commerce. Florists who depended on the flower services such as FTD, Teleflora, Mercury, 1800-Flowers to receive orders, realized that the high fees, keeping up with inventory specials, at the end did not produce much profit.
The wire services are more of an advertisement for your shop than a lucrative business partnership. You expect that by dropping the flowers with your business card, the client will order from you directly later and you will make a higher profit.
Worse of all, 1-800flowers and other wire services have been accused of starting online ventures "stealing costumers" from their own members.
Despite the validity of wire services in the past, the orders continue to decline and cause a lot of trouble with little returns.
Opening or buying a florist does not guarantee success, and dealing with perishable products, a labor intensive business.
Flowers have a magical mystical power! You might desire to be in this most beautiful business, but be careful.
It regards new owners as well as flower pros. Learn from our mistakes. Everyone who is considering starting a florist or purchasing one, should make a careful study of the venture.
Often, the desire to be a business owner, have a beautiful florist filled with fragrant flowers, I can do better attitude, might blind you to the most important factor.
Is it profitable or can you make it profitable?
Plus, the flowers are perishable and will not smell as good if you don't sell them.
The following are real cases which I have personally witnessed and share with you, although names and locations have been changed.
Lorraine's Dream: she is enamored with flowers and after selling her beauty salon business has a desire to start a new venture.
To learn the business, she takes part time jobs at a couple of local florists and after learning, starts looking for a florist business to purchase.
She reads the ad: "FLORIST FOR SALE". The florist is serving the resort town of Naples and surrounding wealthy areas.
Main street location, seen by thousands of cars daily.
Four years in business.
Teleflora and 1800 flower wire services, are in place.
Selling price: $26,000.00 Turn Key Operation. Easy growth.
Reason for selling; Wife and husband team want to move back home to South America.
Yearly Retail Sales approx $80,000.
Lorraine offers $21,000.00 and after a quick negotiation she buys it for the offer price.
Six months later, after the remodeling, the business is losing $3,000 monthly with 8,000 dollars average sales and she is not making a salary.
She did not imagine how labor intensive the flower business is.
She didn't realize that the wire services, with commission rates as high as 27% off the gross with maintenance fees do not leave much profit at the end.
Two years later, after losing almost $70,000.00, she is ready to sell it.
Lorraine is blessed because she was able to sell it for $25,000 dollars instead of closing down like most do.
George, a floral designer and veteran in the flower business, considers buying the existing florist described below.
BUSY FLORIST FOR SALE, Palm Beach County, since 1985, only $75,000 dollars. Wife can't handle it anymore due to illness...
Time to retire. Four Wire Services, 2 Web Sites. Unlimited growth potential... Gross sales over $200,000 yearly.
George spends a few weeks observing the florist operation . Orders are coming in, the driver is busy delivering flowers. Business appears very good.
George thinks that with his superior experience and skills will certainly double the business and make it more profitable.
George brings the price down to $50,000 dollars and takes it over.
Within three months realizes that he is losing thousands of dollars every month.
HOW? The sales pouring in are from pay per click (PPC) campaigns that the previous owner has contracted to. Floral keywords go as high as 10 dollars per click and George discovered that monthly fees were over $6,000 dollars.
The business produced sales of $10,000 to $12,000 in sales, not good enough to cover the expenses.
The orders also covered too large of a territory and a logistic nightmare. Realizing that he could not sustain losses, now at $4,000 monthly, he needs to give up.
At the end George lost $50,000. Ruined his credit and lost his confidence.
You must ask where are the sales coming from, a very important subject that you must understand before you buy.
There are two types of florist sales.
One generated from the house accounts and the other generated from the wire services the florist has opted to belong to. Profits differ greatly.
You must also understand the difference between wire incoming orders and outgoing orders. Profits are different in these 2 transactions.
In the outgoing orders (orders called by the florist to a fulfilling florist) you receive a 14-15% commission plus a small rebate.
In the incoming orders your wire service charges 25 to 28% of the gross and additional admin fees.
To buy a shop that is part of the prestigious 1800 flowers, Teleflora, FDT network, might sound great, but make the proper investigation on how the shop sales are generated and the costs involved.
If you consider buying a florist grossing $10,000 monthly (solely from incoming wires,) the cost of sales would be as follows:
Wire percentage fees $2,500 to $2,800 (for Incoming Orders)
Wire Admin Fees $500
Flowers and Containers: $3,000
Total around is $6,000 just for the flowers, containers and the wire fees. Add the designer, shop expenses and there will be little left
Do not start a florist business depending solely on wire services. A good friend of mine did just that. Opened a florist contracting all wire services. He was out of business in twelve months.
To conclude, because house accounts give the most profits, find out how many verifiable house accounts the florist has?
How many can be retained?
A flower shop based solely on wire services, to my opinion, will not survive or prosper much.
There are alternatives to the more pricey wire services and new options for a florist to have a website with the power to call reciprocating florists, while paying much less. The weakness of all these services is that they fail to provide the traffic needed to generate business, unless you ask me how a small florist can benefit from the power of the internet traffic.
So, be careful. Find out how the sales are generated.
A flower sales book containing hundred of pictures divided into wedding, everyday, sympathy and all facets of the flower business.
Member of a Global Florist Network.
Be part of their advertised specials.
Turn key websites for e-commerce (for a fee).
Receive a commission when orders are called out.
Receive and Send orders globally
Digital images for your website.
If you dont buy the special containers from the wire service you will not receive these orders. If you buy them, you will inevitably get stuck with the left over.
Often these specials are small and ugly...
You find out that your flower wire service is competing with you.
They build the business promising you their dedication, then you find out that they built their own fulfillment center and take over your town. (i.e. 1-800flowers, FDT etc.).
The turnkey websites provided by the wire service do not bring much business.
The fees are high and tracking that all the orders are paid requires an accurate bookkeeping.
This assumption is a little shop with one full time designer, the owner and one full time driver/worker, producing $10,000 monthly sales.
Total Monthly Expenses: $9,600
Florist Monthly Profit: +400
In this scenario there would be little profit for the owner in a typical month. If the owner can be the designer, the salary can make it up for the little profit.
Off course, mother's day week, Valentine's week, can bring in $20,000, and the Holiday season will raise the average monthly sales and hopefully make it profitable at the end of the year.
When the owner is the sole designer and the buyer, the delivery person after hour, bookkeeper, it can be cumbersome for most.