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Nov/Dec 2016

Royals

canadianfloristmag.com

the

COME TO VICTORIA

Wedding Trends for 2017 and Beyond

BAD HABITS

TO BANISH FOR

GOOD

inside

Incentives Made Easy Psychological Pricing 101 Photo Tips from a Pro

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the web host with the most.

eFlorist provides the most comprehensive web-hosting services including expert support. It reaches more customers across multiple devices and languages to increase online sales.

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To find out more ways we can grow your business, visit us at eFlorist4me.com or call 800.668.5770.

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Vol. 111 No. 6 • Nov/Dec 2016

18

20

COVER DESIGN BY JOSEPH DELARGE

08 departments

features 08

©2015 Teleflora EF4216M

Your life is the business. You are the owner. Your friends are your employees. As owner, you get to decide whom to hire to make your life better. If a friend fails in that position, it’s entirely your right (nay, duty!) to fire them. -Cavelle Martin

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20 24

A Royal Visit Behind the scenes preparing flowers for William and Kate Magical, Memorable Weddings for the New Year Mindsets of today’s brides and grooms Eliminate Personal Liabilities in 2017 One resolution to boost your wellbeing Psychological Pricing 101 How to justify premium prices

online Network with florists online

Have Your Say - Visit us online at CanadianFloristMag.com to share your comments on our articles, and be a part of the conversation.

10

Florist Spotlight

12

The Social Florist

18

By Design

22

Tech Tips

26

Rising to the Occasion

28

Care and Handling

30

Ask the SEO

34

On the Level with Neville

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www.canadianfloristmag.com

Reflecting on Another Year, Recalibrating For the Next by Katie Hendrick It’s a cliché but totally true: the older I get, the faster time seems to pass.

FROM THE

EDITOR

Recently, I pulled out a calendar to try to identify where 2016 went. I saw lots of high points. Among them: taking a trip to the Florida Everglades, reuniting with old friends at my 10-year college homecoming, winning a major writing award and participating in my first ever Canadian Florist Business Forum. I can’t help but smile remembering these experiences, times when I felt completely at ease, proud or filled with purpose.

Unfortunately, in between these high points, I spotted many weeks where I essentially had every hour mapped out. These exhausting periods, I regret to say, did not bring out the best in me. Way too often I turned conversations with my parents and my boyfriend into venting sessions. I berated myself when I made mistakes. I sacrificed precious hours of sleep agonizing over whether or not I had disappointed people. I bet I’m not alone. You might not have photographed any alligators, but surely, your year involved a fair amount of stress. Did you, like me, let it seep into your relationships and quality of life? Fortunately, the new year looms ahead of us like a blank slate. We have a chance to recalibrate our attitudes. So let’s take a deep breath, remember what’s really important, forgive ourselves for slipping up now and then (it’s inevitable!), and show more appreciation for the people who stand by us day in and day out. In this issue, we’ve devoted several articles to fresh starts. Cavelle Martin shares a New Year’s resolution that will have a profound impact on your mental wellness (p. 20), while Gay Smith discusses the outdated, ineffective and potentially harmful care and handling habits you need to ditch once and for all (p. 28). Eager to revamp your image in 2017? Abby Driver outlines simple ways to amass a collection of professional-looking photographs that will upgrade your website and social media presence (p. 22) and Mark Anderson reveals how to raise your perceived value and command higher prices (p. 24). You’ll also find plenty of seasonal tips, including how to prepare for the onslaught of newly engaged couples (p. 14), write a powerful holiday e-card (p. 12), give a meaningful end of year bonus (p. 26), and decorate customers’ homes for Christmas without losing your mind—or lunch (p. 34).

Vol. 111, No. 6 Editor Katie Hendrick khendrick@CanadianFloristMag.com 800-314-8895 ext 106 Advertising Manager advertising@CanadianFloristMag.com Publisher Ryan Freeman ryan@CanadianFloristMag.com Media Designer Ruby Coles Publication Mail Agreement #42919543 RETURN UNDELIVERABLE CANADIAN ADDRESSES TO Strider Media, 6-6150 Highway 7, Suite 400, Woodbridge, ON L4H 0R6 distribution@CanadianFloristMag.com Printed in Canada ISSN 1700-5043

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e-mail: distribution@CanadianFloristMag.com Tel: 800-314-8895 ext 2 Fax: 800-755-7032 Mail: 6-6150 Highway 7, Suite 400 Woodbridge, ON L4H 0R6

©2016 Smithers-Oasis. All rights reserved. OASIS® and VERTICAL BAR DESIGN® are registered trademarks of Smithers-Oasis.

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WWW.

Subscription Rates Canada - 1 Year $25.20 (includes GST) $27.12 (includes HST/QST) (HST - #840509202 RT0001) U.S.A. - 1 Year $ 40.00 Cdn Occasionally, Canadian Florist will mail information on behalf of industry-related groups whose products and services we believe may be of interest to you. If you prefer not to receive this information, please contact our circulation department in any of the four ways listed above. No part of the editorial content of this publication may be reprinted without the publisher’s written permission. ©2015 Strider Media. All rights reserved. Opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the editor or the publisher. No liability is assumed for errors or omissions. All advertising is subject to the publisher’s approval. Such approval does not imply any endorsement of the products or services advertised. Publisher reserves the right to refuse advertising that does not meet the standards of the publication.

Dedicated to the memory of Bill Martin, and all those who gave of their time and resources to build up our industry.

www.canadianfloristmag.com

We hope you enjoy it all and that new year brings you happiness, good health and prosperity.

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©2016 Smithers-Oasis. All rights reserved. OASIS® and VERTICAL BAR DESIGN® are registered trademarks of Smithers-Oasis.

My design captures the childlike wonder of the holidays.

The holidays are pure magic when seen through the eyes of a child. My playful centerpiece arrangement embodies this youthful anticipation with fun textures, brushed gold garlands, and the repetition of curled glitter sticks and sparkling ornaments. I also used red rose sprays and assorted pines to balance the design with natural, elegant beauty. Give your customers the gift of creativity this season, and get inspired at oasisfloralproducts.com/inspire.

Inspire florists worldwide! ‘Tis the season for thanking floral designer Shonda Cunningham from Ogden, UT, for this magical inspiration. Enter our Inspire Design Showcase on Facebook for the chance to have your design featured! Nov/Dec 2016 | CANADIAN Florist 5

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bloomin’

Photo By David Kesler, AIFD, PFCI, FDI, of the Floral Design Institute.

Canada Hosts 2016 Gateway to the Americas Cup

Canadian designers Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD, and Heather De Kok, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, hosted top floral designers from seven countries in North and South America Sept. 9-10 at United Floral Inc. in Burnaby, British Columbia, for the Gateway to the Americas Cup. The competition, founded by Gus and Debora De La Flor, AIFD, PFCI, serves to identify the most advanced floral designers in the Western hemisphere. Competitors qualified for the prestigious event by winning preliminary contests in their home countries. They created pieces in a variety of categories in a quest to be the grand champion.

The winners are as follows:

Photo By David Kesler, AIFD, PFCI, FDI, of the Floral Design Institute.

biz Brenna Quan, AIFD, of Burnaby, British Columbia took second place in the international competition.

Gordon Fulton, AIFD, CAFA, of Didsbury, Alberta, was among the Canadian competitors.

OVERALL First Place: Juliana Hames — Brazil Second Place: Brenna Quan, AIFD — Canada Third Place: Brooke Raulerson, AIFD — USA BRIDAL BOUQUET First Place: Jorge Uribe — Colombia Second Place: Juliana Hames — Brazil Third Place: Brenna Quan, AIFD — Canada TABLE CENTERPIECE First Place: Brooke Raulerson, AIFD — USA Second Place: Juliana Hames — Brazil Third Place: Doris Dvorak-Helfrich — USA INTERPRETIVE DESIGN First Place: Ian Whipple — USA Second Place: Aniko Kovacs, AIFD, EMC — Canada Third Place: Juliana Hames — Brazil GRAND OPENING DESIGN First Place: Brenna Quan, AIFD — Canada Second Place: Sue Tabbal-Yamaguchi, AIFD — USA Third Place: Brooke Raulerson, AIFD — USA FLORAL FASHION First Place: Brenna Quan, AIFD — Canada Second Place: Jorge Uribe — Colombia Third Place: Aniko Kovacs, AIFD, EMC — Canada

Aniko Kovacs, AIFD, EMC, of Vancouver, designed this floral fashion piece. Photo By David Kesler, AIFD, PFCI, FDI, of the Floral Design Institute.

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coast to

COAST

COMING

EVENTS

Ethiopian Rebels Burn Down Flower Farm Rebels attacked a flower farm in Ethiopia owned by Esmeralda Farms in late August. According to a statement on the company’s website, the rebels set the farm on fire and caused damage estimated in excess of 10 million euros.

the entire company of Esmeralda Farms in Ethiopia was set on fire “By a political demonstration, the entire company of Esmeralda Farms in Ethiopia was set on fire,” the statement read. The statement reported that there were soldiers on the farm when the attack happened, but they fled the very large group of rebels. Tensions have been brewing between the Ethiopian government and the population in the area for some time, but this is the first time flower farms had been targeted. Shortly after the attack, Esmeralda Farms shuttered its Dutch importing branch, which was in charge of European distribution. Up to 40 percent of the company’s stock came from Ethiopia.

JANUARY

29-February 2: Toronto Gift Fair Toronto, Ontario Cangift.org

FEBRUARY

26-March 1: Alberta Gift Fair Edmonton, Alberta Cangift.org

MARCH

3-5: Great Lakes Floral Expo Grand Rapids, Michigan Michiganfloral.org 10-19: Canada Blooms Toronto, Ontario Canadablooms.com 12-14: Vancouver Gift Expo Vancouver, British Columbia Vancouvergiftexpo.com 26-29: Quebec Gift Fair Montreal, Quebec Cangift.org

Organizing an upcoming event readers should know about? EMAIL khendrick@canadianfloristmag.com

A FULL EVENTS LISTING IS UPDATED REGULARLY AT www.canadianfloristmag.com.

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A

Royal R

Visit

When you walk into any of the three Brown’s The Florist locations in the greater Victoria area, you enter a secret garden buzzing with productivity. Apron-clad ladies look up from their work to offer a warm smile and word of welcome, then resume gathering and arranging stems with expert dexterity. Buckets of fresh British Columbia blooms make the shop feel like a giant bouquet, with a tasteful blend of modern and Victorian-era decor reminding you that you’re standing in a heritage business.

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Photo By Kathleen McLeod Brown’s the Florist provided flowers for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit to Victoria.

In late September, the company was selected to design three unique floral arrangements for the British Royal family’s visit to Canada: a welcome bouquet for the Duchess of Cambridge, a wreath for the Duke and Duchess to lay at the cenotaph of the B.C. Legislative Buildings to honour Canada’s veterans, and a farewell bouquet. Crowds of thousands gathered along the streets, local and international news crews had cameras focussed and ready to witness the presentation of each, but this was nothing new for the ladies of Brown’s. Since the first shop opened in 1912, the business has seen patronage from royalty, celebrities, dignitaries, politicians, and more. “We don’t flaunt or talk about it,” said owner Natasha Wasyliw Crawford of Brown’s prestigious clientele, “but I bet we know more about what goes on in Victoria than the local postmistress does. Being a professional florist means we didn’t spend too much time overthinking this order. We took the same pride in this design as we do every day for all our customers.” From start to finish, the royal flowers were a team effort from all three locations. The “downtown divas” worked hard to handle what turned out to be a very busy day with customers. The “Westshore wizards” came to the rescue just in time for the happy hour rush with arms full of bouquets they had made that morning and the “Sidney sweethearts” sent designer Courtney Hawkins to help balance the workload.

The Wreath

The Office of Protocol coordinated with downtown manager Tammy Candela via e-mail with simple parameters for the order. Other than the size of the wreath (a 24-inch hoop), Brown’s received

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Photo By Kathleen McLeod William and Kate present a wreath to honour Canada’s veterans.

creative freedom in terms of flowers, colours, and design. When designing the wreath, Candela considered the construction and mechanics carefully. The wreath had to be light enough for Kate Middleton to carry away from her body without strain, sturdy enough to hold together over time, and Candela could only hope that the colours would complement whatever the Duchess chose to wear that day. Once a simple and elegant sketch had been created, she handed the reins to one of the shop’s most experienced designers, Harriet Carter, to bring to life. Over the next six hours, the hoop slowly but surely became a wreath. Harriet meticulously wrapped Salal leaves around the foundation to ensure the wreath would look visually appealing from both front and back. The next step was to individually snip and pin leaves in a style that resembled a Roman Laurel. When finished, it truly looked regal. Carter chose 74 deep red roses from Eurosa Gardens in Brentwood Bay BC, knowing that roses always last a long time and open beautifully when cut short, especially in Victoria’s cool, misty autumn climate. Wispy lily grass looped in and out of the roses, held in place by pearl pins. Crawford expressed her hope that all passersby would pause to consider why the flowers were there in the first place: “to honour and cherish the freedom we have as Canadians and the sacrifices our men and women in uniform have made on our behalf.” When Candela saw the finished piece, she gasped with delight at seeing her vision so masterfully made real. Then she realized they had a problem. They didn’t have a container large enough to store and transport this delicate giant. With true artistic resourcefulness, she scavenged cardboard from the shop’s recycling and made a beautiful box to compliment the wreath—all in a day’s work at Brown’s The Florist.

The First Bouquet

Candela started the European hand-tied bouquet for the Duchess and finished within an hour. She was busy multitasking, helping customers and walking around with it as she normally would. In choosing the perfect blooms, she decided to arrange flowers in groups of fours to represent the Duke, Duchess and their two children. The final bouquet held cream dahlias grown locally at Mt. Newton Floral in North Saanich, cream and purple roses from Eurosa Gardens, mauve freesias, green button mums, and fountain grass all grown in the province. It was finished in soft pink tulle. “I wanted the bouquet to be soft and pretty, fit for a princess,” Candela said about her design process. “I wanted it to show up in photos and made sure I had big face flowers and not a whole bunch of little flowers that will look too fussy in a photo.”

The Farewell Bouquet

“Like so many others on September 24th, I was glued to my TV watching the Royals arrive in our beautiful city,” said Westshore manager, Amanda Lumley. “When they stepped off the plane and Prince George waved, I waved back to him.” She said it felt like “waiting for Christmas morning as a child” to see both the first bouquet and the wreath presented on national TV. Lumley was asked to create the final bouquet for the Royal Family. Her research for the design included watching what Kate Middleton wore all week, hoping she might somehow figure out what colours she would wear when she received this bouquet. “The flowers from our local growers were picture perfect as usual,” she said. “It never ceases to amaze us that nature can produce such perfect blooms and we have the pleasure of working with them. Their vibrancy matched our excitement.”

Once again, Eurosa Gardens provided the ‘Maritime’ roses and white mini roses that graced the farewell bouquet. Lumley chose to contrast colour and texture with BC-grown sedum and Fair Trade silver brunia for a pretty combination of fall flowers. When faced with the dilemma of how to properly wrap a bouquet for a princess, she asked her co-worker, Ashley Evans, for help.

Wrapping It Up

Lumley watched the local news channel once again as the Royal Family departed Victoria. She squealed with excitement to see her bouquet presented to the Duchess and thanked modern technology for the ability to rewind live TV so that she could watch it again. She said she couldn’t help but think how lucky they had been—lucky that the bouquet complemented the Duchess’s attire swimmingly, lucky that the moments with each set of flowers were caught on TV, and lucky to have such photos capturing the moment a young Princess took the time to smell the roses. When you hear Crawford and her team speak of flowers, it is easy to see how Brown’s has made it to 104 years of service in the competitive floral market of Victoria. Their product knowledge, creative talent, and passion for their work is evident in everything they do. But it’s more than that; it’s also a feeling you get when you walk through the doors. There is always a fun song on the radio, bright colours and fresh scents; each woman wears her own unique style and there’s never a shortage of laughter as they work. Even at the busiest of times, they are always willing to stop and lend a hand. In a world of everincreasing speed and disconnect, this flower shop is still connected to its roots: community. Katrina Crawshaw is marketing coordinator for Brown’s The Florist

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Florist Paints with a Stroke of Genius

FLORIST SPOTLIGHT

By Christy O’Farrell

Not every artist has an eye for colour and a head for business. Rosemary Jeffares, owner of Quince Flowers in Toronto, is that rare breed who combines an instinct for aesthetics with a knack for courting corporate clients or intuiting the next great marketing strategy. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in fine arts in painting and drawing and a Master’s in sociology of visual culture in England, Jeffares moved to Canada and taught herself business skills once she launched a company out of her own kitchen. She asked for help from other business owners and professionals, read business books and joined Verity, a women’s networking club in Toronto. Now she is equally comfortable assessing the minimum viable product when evaluating a new business venture or ordering buckets of celosia and skimmia. This spring, Jeffares will celebrate the 20th anniversary of her business, which includes a spinoff she launched about two years ago: a refrigerated flower truck that delivers flowers similar to a roving ice cream vendor. She named it Qt (‘Q’ for Quince Flowers and ‘t’ for truck). “Colloquially, when we talk about something ‘on the Qt’ we mean it’s a bit of a secret for those in the know, and if you say it fast you get a homophone, ‘cutie,’ which is, well, cute,” she explains on her website, qtflowers.com, complete with a short, jazzy video. With the truck, Jeffares reaches not just customers who need a florist with all the requisite expertise but also those who, when in a do-it-yourself mood, just want a bunch of fresh cut flowers. Qt’s tagline is “Flowers to the people!” “We’d like to see more people enjoying more flowers, more often!” the Qt site says. “Put fresh flowers on auto pilot.” Customers who order on the website by 2 p.m. receive same-day delivery. When the truck arrives, the driver can also accept walk-up business from others in the area. (Its whereabouts are broadcast on social media.) The model is attractive to some consumers because it saves them money by eliminating the middleman. Jeffares does not charge for delivery. The flowers are in their original packaging from the auction in Mississauga, where she orders them online. Jeffares said most Qt customers also patronize her shop, while many shop customers don’t need Qt at all. Her dream is to own several Quince trucks, and become the “Starbucks of flowers,” she says, provided it’s not at the expense of her shop. Jeffares, who writes daily in a journal for stress relief, has a way with words, reflected on her websites. For example, wedding and events manager Genevieve Bismonte is described as “Colour Curator” on her main website, quinceflowers.com, and general manager Valerie Marchand is known as the “Floral Oracle,” who views flowers as a “sculptural medium.” Jeffares herself possesses a “visual vocabulary to choose wonderful pairings.” “Our staff includes artists who continuously reinvent the art of arranging flowers, who don’t just follow trends, but help shape them,” her company profile says. Her witty web presence is but one of her business strengths. Quince Flowers has built its brand serving brides, yes, but also corporations, with the Toronto International Film Festival and the movie and television industries among the showiest.

her shop, including the basement gallery space normally reserved for wedding consultations, to a Mexican film production company. Her space will portray a Boston, Massachusetts flower shop. Jeffares has developed solutions to two common problems: responding to numerous, frequent requests for donations and charitable giving, and finding flexible ways to say “yes” to projects that seem impossible because of short lead times or not enough staff. With WonderBlooms, a $795 annual subscription for monthly flowers delivered the first Friday of the month, 10 percent goes to the charity of the buyer’s choice. Her staff will attend a charity’s event and sell subscriptions on its behalf. She usually also donates one subscription for the related silent auction. With Seed Money, a loyalty program, clients earn points based on a percentage of floral orders and receive quarterly statements. They can use points to pay their flower bills on future events. The program incentivizes clients to continue using Quince instead of “spreading the wealth,” as they might otherwise be inclined. Many florists, if asked to provide 1,200 boutonnieres for 5 percent of what it normally costs, would feel forced to say “no thank you.” That was exactly the task at hand for TIFF’s closing party with a prom theme. Jeffares met the challenge by asking nearby Seneca College, where she has an established relationship, if any floral design students would volunteer as part of their work placement. Ten students agreed and finished all the boutonnieres in one day. “It was like a quilting bee,” said Jeffares, who chose baby’s breath poufs because they wouldn’t need fixing and could be bound with paper-covered wire. She couldn’t tell one of her best clients no, she said, because if they turned to another florist, she might lose them forever. Early on in her career, before opening the doors to her current shop seven years ago, Jeffares opened outlets in an art gallery, furniture store, bakery and grocery store. She got the idea from her mentor, Lady Julia Hodgkin, the first florist she worked for in London, who ran a flower van, parked in the foyer of furniture store. She also often sought advice from Dufflet Rosenberg of Dufflet Pastries because she had been in business 50 years. “It’s hard to work in a vacuum as a small business,” Jeffares said. She relies heavily on counsel from a group that she belongs to within the Verity Club called MasterMIND, which meets monthly. Members from diverse backgrounds, including law, cosmetics and computer programming, advise each other on human resources issues, for example. She also serves on the board of the Business Improvement Area, where she helps improve the retail neighborhood, and got to know other business owners. “I’m not always working in the business; I’m often working on the business,” she said.

Quince provides flowers for TIFF’s pre-festival opening party, opening night, all green rooms, VIP rooms, the closing party and spinoff parties. Recently, with very little notice, Quince Flowers provided five massive arrangements for a funeral scene in a movie. The shop also provided all the flowers for the USA Network series, “Suits.” Soon, Jeffares will rent out

Christy O’Farrell is a freelance writer in Alexandria, Va.

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Take your business further.™ We’re in the business to help grow your business. With our worldwide florist network, technology systems, marketing tools and customer support, you can focus on what’s most important—delighting and inspiring your customers with handcrafted arrangements.

Visit FTDi.com/ftdadvantage to keep up with the comprehensive ways our partnership takes your business further. If you need anything, call us at 800.788.9000. ©2016

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Tis the Season for

Holiday E-Cards by Rachel Levy Sarfin

This is the time of year for goodwill and an easy way to show it is with an upbeat holiday message that’s more about relationships than sales. Maybe you’ve been sending out paper cards for years and are looking to do something different. Perhaps you’ve opened your flower shop fairly recently and want to send out some form of holiday greetings, but aren’t sure what to do. E-cards are an excellent solution in both of these situations. Read on to learn more about the ins and outs of sending holiday e-cards to your customers. Why E-Cards? E-cards have several advantages over traditional paper holiday cards. For a start, e-cards are environmentally friendly. No trees need suffer for card stock and envelopes. They reduce waste, too – can you remember the last holiday greeting card you saved? Your customers probably can’t, either. While we’re on the topic of waste, why spend good money on something that’s just going to be thrown away? The cost of postage is only going to go up, and with the possibility of a Canada Post strike looming, it might not get delivered on time, anyway. There’s a third reason e-cards are better than paper greetings, and it has to do with the “e” at the beginning of “e-card.” E-cards are an excellent digital marketing tool. You can see who opened the card (and who didn’t). Furthermore, you can include a link in the card, and you can see the click-through rate for that, too. Your recipients can share the card through their social media network or through their own email distribution list, which is a cost-free way to widen your reach and your customer base.

Merry Christmas! from ABC Flowers x

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Best Practices Now that it’s clear why you should send holiday e-cards, there are some important principles to keep in mind when you’re preparing these electronic greetings. First, it’s best only to contact people who are already on your email list. Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (known as CASL) is notoriously tough. You don’t want to be prosecuted and pay thousands of dollars in fines because you emailed someone who didn’t want to hear from you. Before you start choosing the design or thinking what message you want to include, clean up your email list to ensure you’re only sending the card to customers and to people who have opted in to receive electronic communications from you. Next, consider what device people will use to look at this e-card. Many people now use smartphones and tablets, meaning they’re staring at smaller screens than a desktop or

laptop. Furthermore, you don’t want your customers to use up their data plans loading a graphics-heavy e-card. Stick with static, “flat” designs that look good on any device and any screen. You’ll need to decide between a generic greeting, like “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings,” or a message with a Christian connotation, i.e., “Merry Christmas.” This will depend on your customer base. Is your florist business based in a suburban or urban area with a diverse population? “Happy holidays” might be the way to go, because it demonstrates inclusivity and respect for other traditions. But if, say, you’re located in a rural area where you know the vast majority of your customers celebrate Christmas, they might appreciate you spelling out their holiday of choice.

What To Write? There are two schools of thought about holiday e-cards. The first philosophy says that you shouldn’t include any kind of coupons or discounts with your e-cards. It’s a holiday greeting, not an advertisement for your business. The second viewpoint is that e-cards are, as mentioned earlier, a fantastic marketing tool. As such, you could take advantage of a captive audience and drive more traffic to your site or store. Not sure what’s the right move for you? Check out what your competition is doing and how customers have responded. Regardless of which path you choose, make sure to personalize the cards by addressing the customer by his or her first name (“Dear Jack,” “Dear Susan,” etc.).

When To Send? Just because you’re not relying upon the postal service to deliver your e-card doesn’t mean timing doesn’t matter. If you send e-cards too early, people will either ignore them or think that you are unfamiliar with the calendar. Send them too late, and people will criticize you for having missed the boat. The optimal time is the second week in December, before people go away on vacation or become too busy with holiday preparations.

Ready to Go Paperless This Holiday Season? Today’s florist can’t ignore digital marketing. Customers expect their favourite flower shop to take some kind of digital marketing initiative. Sending out holiday e-cards could be a good first step for florists just getting started with digital marketing. It doesn’t require a massive commitment, and software makes it easy and affordable to design and send e-cards. Remember to have fun and stay consistent with your brand – those are the two principles of digital marketing success. Rachel Levy Sarfin

is a Toronto-based freelancer who has written about technology for a variety of publications and blogs.

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Magical, Memorable Weddings for the New Year by Michelle Brisebois

For decades, the wedding industry has been fueled by trends. In the last five years, how many brides have you seen walk down the aisle in a strapless gown, carrying a bouquet of peonies, with “whimsical” details at the reception (cupcake trees, chalkboards with cutesy poems, photo booths, etc.)?

It’s important to clarify the distinction between trends and fads. Trends are long-term societal shifts, while fads are whatever is popular at a given moment in time. My brother-in-law’s ruffled tuxedo shirt from 1977 was a fad. It was, however, rooted in an emerging trend of grooms wanting to make a statement with their attire. That trend has continued through the following decades. The 70s was a period of transition for gender roles, with more women entering the workforce and men embracing things like style. As a major life ritual, a wedding will no doubt be an expression of the times. To connect with brides- and grooms-to-be, it pays to connect to societal themes. We talked to wedding experts to dish on what’s “hot” for 2017. They say trends are more “a state of mind” than a particular “look,” so with that in mind, here are some of the dominant mindsets right now.

GROOMS GIVE A HOOT

Therese DeGrace doesn’t encounter many Bridezillas. “The guys are very involved in all of the details,” said the executive chef of the Good Earth Food and Wine Co. in Beamsville, Ontario. “They’re especially interested in the food.”

Photo By Lori Waltenbury

Social media has driven people to carefully curate their lives so they seem as appealing as possible to others. Today’s couples are very tuned into what’s going on in the bridal world. Some will deliberately eschew what’s popular in an effort to be more individual; others will regard the photos prevalent on blogs and Pinterest as a standard they must achieve. In any case, your customers absolutely want their wedding to be an unforgettable experience.

Photo By Lori Waltenbury

A recent research study by Mintel mirrors DeGrace’s observations. In it, 39 percent of men reported that they picked the ceremony site, 25 percent picked bridal party gifts and—shockingly—19 percent said they chose the bride’s gown. Erica Couto, features editor of Grace Ormonde Wedding Style Magazine, is mindful of her increasingly male audience. “We know that 20 percent of our readership is male, so we make sure we include articles that will appeal to men as well as women.” Gender roles continue to be blurred with grooms opting for a “Best Woman” and brides appointing a “Dude of Honour.” It’s not the norm, by any means, but it happens enough for us to take notice. As the average couple marries at an older age than ever in history, it’s not uncommon that the bride and groom have close friends of the opposite gender. According to Theknot.com, almost 10 percent of today’s wedding parties include “unconventional gender choices.”

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GODDESS STYLE ENTERS THE FASHION ARENA Gowns have gotten less cookie cutter. Many brides are opting for simple, flowing gowns over crinoline skirts or long trains. “There’s definitely an ‘earth goddess’ style popular with our brides,” DeGrace said. “We’re seeing floral crowns instead of big veils and many brides getting married barefoot or in ballet flats adorned with ribbons or flowers.”

Grooms are dressing for the weather. “Wearing a heavy suit in August was torture so we’re seeing grooms in beautiful custom tailored linen suits,” DeGrace said. She has also seen a lot of brides walk down the aisle in colours other than white. Brides. com reports that the Pantone colours of the year (“rose quartz” and “serenity,” an icy blue) are strong alternatives to white and ivory. Don’t be surprised to see invitations requesting guests dress in a particular colour or theme, she said. It’s about inclusion; guests are participants, not just observers.

Waltenbury

Photo By Lori Waltenbury

COMMUNICATION GETS CREATIVE

The traditional script invitation has become somewhat of a relic. With an explosion of options available on the Internet, couples can customize their invitations to truly reflect their personalities. Many invitation graphics have a “vintage poster” look and come in very bold colours, DeGrace said. She has also seen couples make statements about sustainability by embedding flower seeds in their paper; the recipient can bury the paper and, when it decomposes, the seeds can grow. At the same time, there seems to be a return to oldschool etiquette. “We’re getting fewer thank yous via e mail and more and more lovely handwritten notes,” DeGrace said. Couples continue to blend traditional snail mail invitations with online responses to make it easy to keep track of who’s coming and to save money on paper.

WILD FLOWERS GET TAMED (SLIGHTLY)

As with many wedding elements, flower preferences are becoming a bit less rustic and more stylized. “Couples seem to be moving away from the garlands on the tables in favour of having the flowers fall naturally off of the chair-backs of the guests,” DeGrace said.

Photo By Maggie Sottero Designs

Brides who want a more formal tone to their nuptials are gravitating to form fitting dresses with plunging necklines, similar to what they’d see on Hollywood’s red carpet. Details such as big bows and three-dimensional flowers are also big, DeGrace said.

RUSTIC VENUES GIVE WAY TO GLAMOUR Destination weddings continue to be popular. And whether the ceremony is in an urban or rural setting, the tone is bespoke. If a wedding is held in a rural location, couples will choose elegant accessories “Burlap and mason jars are giving way to white linen and vintage crockery on the tables,” DeGrace said. Formal venues with character and fancy touches, such as crystal chandeliers, French windows, vintage light fixtures, grand staircases, and ornate floors have come into favour. Bouquets are getting smaller to be less cumbersome. Since dresses are more fitted, more diminutive designs don’t hide the silhouette. She’s seeing brides incorporate herbs and eucalyptus into their bouquets, blending the concept of food and flora. Likewise, edible flowers are a big part of her company’s menu. “We grow 13 varieties on property and I use them in salads and many of the dishes,” she said. “For guests who raise an eyebrow, we explain that lettuce and flowers are similar and that seems to help them go ahead and try it.”

CATERING TO THE MODERN COUPLE

So how do we prepare for wedding trends when the biggest trend of all is to be unique? The answer is to listen actively, ask questions, and learn their personal

story. DeGrace asks couples how they met, how they like to dine, what their most special meals have been and what part of their journey they wish to share with friends and family. One couple shared that their guilty pleasure was to eat Vachon Flakies together. DeGrace bought a box and dissected the treats to discover how she could replicate them in an upscale way. The vendors affiliated with Grace Ormonde excel at making personal connections like these. “They will meet with a couple numerous times,” Couto said. “The focus should be about the couple and what they enjoy and how to incorporate their travels and life’s adventures into a personalized wedding day or weekend.” Don’t live by a menu of arrangements; get ready to make a connection. What’s “hot” for 2017 weddings is personalization. What’s “not hot” is that eponymous list.

Michelle Brisebois specializes in retail strategies with experience in luxury goods, restaurants, financial services, and ecommerce. She currently manages Trius Winery and Direct to Consumer for Andrew Peller Limited in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario.

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design

Joseph Delarge started eco|stems, an eco-friendly flower shop, in the spring of 2009. As the owner and creative lead, he made sure eco|stems reflected his personal values of environmental and social sustainability without compromising the style and beauty of flowers. He has 15 years experience with floral design, plants and horticulture and is an award-winning floral designer. He has studied floral design at Seneca College and Horticulture at Niagara College and is now an instructor in the Seneca College Floral Design Program. Joseph is a member of the Canadian Academy of Floral Art (CAFA), is the chair of the Seneca College Floral Design Program Advisory Committee and a past Toronto Master Gardener. Here are a few of his favourite holiday designs, described in his own words.

“I thought of snow on the pine tree branches out on the farm where I pick so many of the things we include in our work throughout the year. Local amaryllis, ranunculus, skimmia and pine come together to evoke a wintery wonderland blanketed with fresh white snow. Fair trade phlox and dusty miller add finishing touches that complement the crackled silver sphere.”

“This vibrant seasonal combination takes inspiration from the Northern Lights. The local pink amaryllis and bright green orchids are the stars of the show in this rose gold vase. Local ranunculus, skimmia and pine finish this design.”

“This classic creation is meant to mimic a warm winter fire. The golden vase filled with local amaryllis, ilex, skimmia, pine and organic roses warms hearts during the coldest time of the year.”

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“Hellebores, also known as the Christmas rose, give any space a warm, contemporary feeling. I surrounded this winter blooming plant with local, wild picked birch bark to convey the forest floor erupting into bloom at the first signs of warmth.”

“White and silver twinkle like stars against rich blues and greens. I used local delphinium, star of Bethlehem, cedar, Newfoundland lichen branches and fair trade hydrangeas, dusty miller and eucalyptus to depict a cold winter night.”

“This festive flowering planter features amaryllis, pothos, hellebores, and Newfoundland lichen branches.”

design

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Eliminate Personal Liabilities in 2017 by Cavelle Martin

It’s no surprise that a new year is upon us. If you’re like me, you’re going through the familiar thought process that involves vows for personal improvement. This year I will lose weight. This year I will quit smoking. This year I will quit (insert unhealthy habit here). I want to shake up these cliché goals that only seem to stick around for about a week anyway and challenge you to embrace an alternative New Year’s resolution. This one doesn’t involve torturing yourself and it will have a profound impact on your wellbeing — and consequently those you interact with on a day-to-day basis.

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Think About Your Business No, I don’t mean the flower shop you are busy running. I am talking personal business. Consider your life a business. Evaluate it in concrete, unemotional terms; use numbers, as you would with your actual business. This will make seemingly difficult decisions much easier (I’ll explain more soon). Your life is the business. You are the owner. Your friends are your employees. As owner, you get to decide whom to hire to make your life better. If a friend fails in that position, it’s entirely your right (nay, duty!) to fire them. Your friends should show you love and support. They should be assets, generating positive experiences for you: laughter, smiles, moments of released tension. These are the jobs that keep your life running smoothly. Your friends also should not engage in risky behaviours or make cruel, incendiary comments, as these things all reflect poorly on you. See where I’m going with this? We all have a friend who sucks the life out of us. Your emotional (and perhaps literal!) bank account dwindles whenever you are around said friend. They’re never happy, nothing is their fault and they expect you to listen to their problems ad nauseam or clean up their mess at a moment’s notice without any reciprocration. These toxic friends bring us down again and again, yet we hang on to them because… “We’ve been friends for years.” Imagine if you were to apply this logic to your actual business. (“I can’t let Ruth go — even though she snaps at the customers — because she’s been here for

We all have a friend who sucks the life out of us. Your emotional (and perhaps literal!) bank account dwindles whenever you are around said friend.

When you start to see the good in yourself, anything harmful in your life will stand out. 40 years. It would devastate her!”). You would never issue this excuse, right? You would look at your sales numbers, see that she’d run off a substantial amount of business, and decide to release her without much regret. (“You are the weakest link. Goodbye!”) You would not hang on to a liability, because you know if you did, the business would fall apart. So why on earth are you keeping toxic friends (read: personal liabilities) in your life? The business that is YOU should be your top priority. After all, you can’t just declare bankruptcy and start over with a new life —not literally, anyway. If you’re reading this and nodding your head in agreement, then I trust you have run over your numbers and are prepared to do some auditing in 2017! I know for a fact, when you start to see the good in yourself, anything harmful in your life will stand out. Saboteurs will no longer be able to hide in the disguise of “friends.” You’ll see the blatant red on your life’s balance sheet. And seeing the problem is the first step. This year starts with YOU. No, really, I mean it. Don’t worry about the holiday weight, the credit card bill (well, maybe don’t completely ignore that one), or the 8-foot living wall you intended to install in your shop during the summer. Just focus on your wellbeing. What makes you feel good? Who makes you feel good? If you can’t put yourself on that list, then now is the perfect time to get acquainted with yourself, aka the boss of your life. Who knows? By the end of 2017 you could be your own BFF. From there, seek other quality relationships to build your social circle. Life, like business, is tough. The people we surround ourselves with can make it easier or harder. If you identify people who constantly erode your quality of life and don’t feel bad about it, cut them loose. Cavelle Martin is a former CSR in the wholesale floral industry who once helped renowned designer Kristine Kratt, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, during a design show. Since being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2014, she has become an advocate for fighting the stigma of mental illness.

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The Secrets of Stunning Studio Shots by Abby Driver

How useful would it be to have a selection of photographs of your beautiful arrangements on hand? Not only could you update your website, but they’d be perfect for promoting your business on social media too. Of course, in an ideal world we’d have a professional photographer provide us with a covetable inventory of images, but back in the real world that isn’t always possible.

IFD, PFCI,

id Kesler, A FDI

Setting Up The Shoot

Photo By Dav

The answer? Shoot them yourself! It might seem daunting, but we asked photo pro David Kesler, AIFD, PFCI, FDI, for basic tips that immediately make images more compelling. He’s the owner of the Floral Design Institute, one of the leading floral design schools in the world, and has taken tens of thousands of photographs of individual flowers and arrangements, so it’s fair to say he knows his stuff!

Before you start snapping away, you’ll need a little prep.

Kesler, AIFD, PFCI, FDI

If you’re lacking inspiration, head online to find images that appeal to you. Curate these images all in one place that you can easily reference when you get stuck again. (Pinterest is a handy tool for this.) Kesler emphasizes that you shouldn’t use other people’s images; simply take inspiration from them.

Photo By David

For starters, you need to decide where to take the photos and what sort of backdrop to use. If you’re shooting for your website, Kesler recommends a white background; use one cloth for the background and one for the table. If you’re shooting with social media in mind, you might want to jazz things up a bit. Seek out interesting spots that will make your arrangements pop. Kesler suggests things like a fence rail, windowsill, or concrete stairwell.

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You should also try different perspectives. “Try tight shots, cropping out all but the best detail,” Kesler said, explaining that different shots have different uses. Website photography is meant to drive online sales. Instagram is about artsy images tying flowers to a certain lifestyle. And Facebook is about brand promotion.

Kesler, AIFD, PF CI, Photo By David

Once your shoot is all set up, you need to decide how to capture it. Start by considering your angles. Kesler advises setting flowers on a 29-inch high table and shooting slightly downward from eye level. Thanks to the proliferation of digital software, however, it’s free to experiment with lots of different angles. Not only will this give you lots of options, but it will also serve as a learning process, Kesler said.

FDI

Technical Skills

You also need to make sure you have created balance in the frame. If you have design experience, you’re familiar with this concept. One way to create a sense of balance is to use the rule of thirds. Most modern cameras include features to help with this, but if not “create an imaginary tick-tack-toe grid in your frame,” Kesler said. “The most interesting points in the composition will be at the four line intersections.” Why Photography Matters You’ve probably heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, but why? “Humans have much greater recognition and retention of visual images compared to what they read or hear,” Kesler said. “Good flfloral photography for a florist not only sells flowers, but creates a strong positive image of the florist’s business.” In other words: studio shots are well worth the investment in time and equipment.

Essential Equipment for a Florist Photographer When we reached out to Kesler for his equipment recommendations, he was en route to Maui with 250 pounds of luggage, most of which was photography gear! But don’t let his obsession frighten you; he also takes a ton of pictures on his iPhone 6. In fact, he’d recently finished a professional shoot using nothing but his iPhone and a point-and-shoot camera. “The photography world is changing fast,” he said, adding that florists should never sell their old phones when you upgrade. “Remove the SIM card,” he said. “It’s now a small inexpensive camera and your new ‘shop phone.’”

IFD, PFCI,

id Kesler, A

Photo By Dav

Below is Kesler’s equipment list for a florist setting up a basic studio for under $500: • Smartphone manufactured within the last three years (“Now every florist has an excuse to buy the new iPhone 7,” he said.) • Tripod (try Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel Aluminium Alloy Tripod) • A smartphone grip to keep it stationary (try MeFOTO SideKick360 Plus Smartphone Tripod Adapter)

FDI

• Remote shutter (You can use your iPhone’s ear buds’ volume toggle for this.) • Inexpensive lighting kit (try Westcott uLite 2-Light Umbrella Kit 120VAC) • Inexpensive cloth backdrop kit (try Westcott X-Drop Kit) Make Photography a Habit If you want to have a stream of up-to-date high quality studio shoots, you need to take photographs habitually. “Always be ready to shoot just before delivery,” Kesler said. One way to achieve this is by setting up a photography station between the design room and the exit to your parking lot. This will make it second nature to have a short photo shoot before arrangements go out your door. “Take lots of pictures,” Kesler said. “I can’t say this enough. Just like floral design, photography improves through practice.”

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BIG How to Earn the BUCKS by Mark Anderson

The goal of pricing is to find the most profitable price for every customer. People who don’t place a high value on flowers can pay a lower, but still profitable price. At the other end of the spectrum, people who love flowers and fashionable design will gravitate towards high-end, higher margin options. Expecting customers to stream themselves in this way might seem crazy. Won’t everyone just choose the cheapest option? Not if you present your products and skills correctly. That is the magic of value or psychological pricing. The practice surrounds us.

much less for the standard versions. Each buyer is encouraged to spend as much as they are willing on a product that is essentially the same.

Promote Premium Offerings

How can florists offer higher margin “organic” or IMAX 3D versions of their products? The goal is to use relatively small enhancements to create different, higher margin versions that let the customer who is prepared to spend more do just that.

One of the most common techniques uses small and relatively inexpensive distinctions in product attributes to create slightly different versions with much higher profit margins. For example, the hardcore Marvel fan can opt to pay $20 to see the franchise’s latest film in IMAX 3D, and then pay $40 for the collector’s edition 3D Blu-Ray + DVD package a few months later. The casual fan can pay

The grocery store excels at this too. The organic section exists to serve people who are prepared to spend more money on food. For some people, price is not the primary consideration and the grocer is happy to offer them more profitable organic options. The merits of “organic” ketchup are debatable, but Heinz will happily sell it to you (along with reduced sugar and no-salt versions) at a premium price (about 35% higher than ordinary ketchup).

Do you have a greenhouse or work near your growers? “Locally sourced” is a very appealing phrase for a whole lot of customers, and when it comes to flowers, there doesn’t seem to be any official criteria

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for what it means. Labels such as, “sustainable,” “green” and “recycled” have similar allure and can work well with containers and packaging that fit that description. It’s best, however, to avoid the terms “organic” (unless you’re positive you meet the Canadian Organic Standards, adopted in 2009) and “fair trade” (which is an organized movement). Pump Up Your Prestige Another way to enhance your perceived value is to put those hard-earned designations to work. Do you have an AIFD or CAFA designer on staff? Or have any of them competed in the Sylvia Cup or the Gateway to the Americas Cup? People who really appreciate flower design will happily pay more for a premium arrangement prepared by designers of this calibre. But wait a second… Does anyone outside this industry have any idea what these acronyms mean or what these competitions are? Probably not but, if asked, it’s easy to put them in terms people

understand – they are the Heisman trophy finalists or Olympic medalists of the flower industry. But, and this is the best part, the truth is you’ll rarely have to have that conversation. People will instinctively know a couture design is of higher quality because it costs more. For many people, price is the single biggest indicator of quality. Charge more for an attribute and people will embrace it as better. The effect is profound. In one famous study, people sampled different wines while undergoing an MRI. The researchers lied to them, saying the cheap wines were expensive and vice versa. Predictably the subjects assumed and reported that the cheap wines were better, confirming an already well-documented phenomenon. Even more striking: the MRI readings showed their brains registered greater pleasure drinking the cheap wines that they believed to be expensive than when they actually got the good stuff. They didn’t just think the cheap wines were better—they actually experienced them as being better. Pricing is that powerful. Mark Anderson is a software developer, small business owner, creator of FloristWare, and an enthusiastic supporter of the floral industry.

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EFFECTIVE INCENTIVES by Tim Huckabee, AIFSE Money motivates; it’s a fact. I always tell the people I am training that even in New York City I will stop on the street to pick up a penny (yes, we still have them down here in the states!). Then the question follows, “How can I, as a small flower shop owner, start an incentive plan for my staff?”

each month to show an employee’s productivity — and what you need to pay out. Make sure to share a copy of that report (specific to performance) individually, so employees understand how they performed and what they are being paid for and become motivated to do better next month!

The short answer is that it’s VERY easy to implement incentives into the culture of your store and see everyone reap the rewards. Unfortunately, many florists think it’s a big, complicated process to compensate the staff above and beyond their regular pay, so they don’t bother.

Don’t forget your design and delivery departments. They will catch wind of what you’re offering the sales department and come looking for their incentives anyway, I promise!

Here are the common questions I hear: “Isn’t it an administrative nightmare to coordinate and track a programme like that?” NO, and I will show you how. “Should I offer a contest based on sales?” I don’t like contests and will explain why. “Do I do something for just sales or every department?” Use money as a motivator to get different improved performance from every staff member, regardless of his or her title. Sales incentives are probably the easiest to start with and the timing is perfect as we head into the busy holiday season. There really are no rules on how to run an incentive campaign but I will share some best practices that I have seen in shops over the past 20 years: • Consider offering your sales staff a set award, maybe 75¢ for every balloon or box of chocolates sold. Likewise, you could offer a loonie for every (non-funeral) design sold over a certain price point and then a toonie for any design $X higher again. For example, $1 for every sale over $125 and $2 for those over $150. • As I mentioned, I don’t like the idea of presenting this as a contest since most shops’ employees work on different schedules, thereby creating an uneven playing field. Instead, present this plan as a chance for each team member to challenge him- or herself to sell better. • The best way to track (and pay for this plan) is to let your software do the work. Every POS system I have worked with has some sort of employee performance tracking that will allow you to run one simple report

Let’s talk design first: • Base your incentives on what you want them to do better. Design more quickly? Cut waste? Make fewer mistakes? Whatever your goal, work backward from that to create a group incentive. For example, tell your design team that if you lower your waste by 5%, they will each get $X; a 10% reduction will earn them $Y etc. For delivery, think along the same lines. What do you want them to do better? Get fewer tickets? Miss fewer timed deliveries? Choose your goal and present an incentive tailored toward achieving that change in performance. For example, if complaints about missed delivery times drop below X, all earn $Y, etc. Finally, I want to share a great practice when it comes to Christmas bonuses. Of course you are entitled to not give any kind of a bonus BUT don’t be a Scrooge because a little can go a long way when done right! Every year a week before the holiday break, Gary, the owner of a New York City flower shop I used to work for, would handwrite a card to each of us with a personalized message of gratitude for something we did well to help the company grow and prosper. Rather than including a check or a few hundred dollar bills — which I would have blown that weekend! — Gary, cleverly, would say something along the lines of, “Tim, thanks for your hard work and dedication this year. In gratitude, please take two extra vacation days this summer. Happy Holidays!” Smart, right? It really did not cost him anything and it was a treat I had to look forward to and one I savoured much longer than money! I repeat, incentives are a smart way to improve performance and morale but it you are still hesitant, drop me a line at tim@floralstrategies.com and we can talk in further detail.

Tim Huckabee, AIFSE, was born, raised and educated in Connecticut and moved to New York City in 1993 to start working at a high-end flower shop called Surroundings, where he learned every aspect of the flower business such as handling telephone sales and customer service issues and dealing with walk-in customers. In his frequent conversations with florists, he realized there was a dire lack of sales and service education in the industry. That motivated him, in 1997, to launch, FloralStrategies, a company that trains florists in sales, customer service, and how to get the most out of their POS system. He visits 250 shops annually, hosts a monthly webinar series, speaks at floral conventions, and writes a monthly column for the Society of American Florists.

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What Do These Two Shops Have In Common?

Lilium

Butera The Florist

2015 Retail Florist Of The Year

2015 Marketer of the Year

Florists’ Review Magazine and WF&FSA

Floral Management Magazine and SAF

• Both were recognized by leading industry publications as the best at what they do. • Both are thriving, profitably doing the kind of work they enjoy and loving the flower business. • Both use FloristWare to manage their operations, generate more sales and larger order values, increase profitability, simplify accounting and reporting, improve customer service and much, much more.

For almost ten years FloristWare has been the choice of florists that want to be succesful and enjoy the flower business on their own terms. Florists that don’t want the high costs and complications that come with wire service systems. Florists that won’t settle for the limitations that come with other independent POS systems. Please call us at 888.531.3012 today.

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BANISH cARE & HANDLING BAD HABITS AND BOGUS BELIEFS ONCE AND FOR ALL!

Life offers bits of advice and information at every turn. Some of it’s sage; some of it’s ludicrous. That’s why it’s handy to develop a good filter, especially given the reams of questionable information on the Internet. A rational way to do this would be to accept researchproven reports over anecdotal commentary. But, alas, all too often it’s the goofy personal observations that beguile us — not fact-based material.

By: Gay Smith

Flower care and handling information is rife with anecdotal myths. It seems the more outlandish the cocktail or handling method, the more dearly folks embrace it. It wouldn’t be so bad if only the general public believed these old wives’ tales. But it is truly dismaying when floral “professionals” tout a splash of vodka as “the best” solution for tulips, or when they swear by a finishing spray of diluted Elmer’s glue. Recently, a floral manager told me not to waste my time with leaf shine, because rubbing foliage with mayonnaise worked much better. WHAT?! Seeing is Believing During a floral training session with a cutting-edge group of floral managers, one of the participants made it his mission to negate the information I was presenting about flower food being more effective than home brews, boiling stems and Grandma’s remedies. I tried to present a convincing platform (including: the tenets of flower physiology and the reality of reduced labor hours) to let him know why gerberas will last longer when displayed in a commercially formulated solution rather than in vinegar. Like all care and handling urban myths, there was a kernel of truth to the vinegar concept. Vinegar will lower the pH of tap water and science has long proven that flow in flower stems is more efficient in acidic water. Lowering pH stimulates flow in stems and dissolves air bubbles that block flow. Tap water has a neutral pH level (about pH 7). Flowers prefer a level closer to pH 4. OK, so I conceded that vinegar makes the water more acidic, optimizing flow inside flowers’ cells….but vinegar does nothing to check pollution. Pollution control is critical because bacteria also love acidic water! After bantering back and forth, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Well, I don’t care what science says, I learned from the best — my merchandiser!” Alas, sometimes you just can’t change someone’s mind. Thom David, a marketing manager of the Paul

Ecke Ranch, encounters many people convinced that poinsettias are poisonous. He resorts to a very no-nonsense, hands-on strategy to make them see the light. He grabs a few bracts and eats them. Bitter? Yes. Toxic? No. Get With the Times Can you imagine processing orders on a computer from the 1980s? We’d struggle mightily if we didn’t upgrade our operating systems regularly. Yet, there are plenty of 30-year-old flower care myths still in circulation. Some examples: using warm water when prepping solutions, cutting stems underwater, preparing a cocktail of aspirin, bleach and sugar rather than a commercial flower food, placing lilies in tap water instead of a formula specific to bulb crops, reaching for vodka to process tulips (or antifreeze for gerberas or alum for hydrangeas). The list of outdated methods is long! Let’s look at how science has busted each of these myths: Research has proven that cold water flows faster in most flower species than does warm. Although water temperature has nothing to do with ultimate vase longevity, getting blooms 100 percent hydrated in a timely manner limits the stress of dehydration. It’s an especially useful habit during holiday crunch time, when flowers are coming in at almost the same rate as they are being sold. How about underwater cutting? The concept is right, based on the fact that stem cells start callousing over as quickly as 10 to 15 seconds after being cut, but it falls apart in the execution. Why? The bacteria and organic juices released by a cut stem floating in the water reservoir pollute the system fast — real fast (bacteria colonies multiply exponentially every 20 minutes). Adding bleach or a hydration solution to the cutting reservoir would mitigate the pollution, but wreak havoc on cutting blades.

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Gay Smith is the technical consulting manager for Chrysal USA.

Homemade cocktails of bleach and 7Up do follow the strategies of commercial flower foods, which are to lower pH, suppress bacteria growth and provide energy for blooms to develop. The downside: if the ratio of ingredients is out of sync, bacteria explode in the sugar water, losing any chance for impressive longevity. Vodka for tulips? For starters, the cost of vodka vs. bulb flower food overrides any logic for using this blend. Who would use antifreeze for gerberas when slow-release gerbera pills are so simple, effective and sustainably disposable? Some florists swear that dipping hydrangea stems into alum powder keeps beautiful flower balls hydrated. To them, I say a simple comparison between alum and a hydration solution is in order. Hydrangeas love aluminum, which is what alum is. Aluminum sulfate is also an active ingredient in Chrysal Professional 1, which includes other hydrating ingredients. An alum powder dip prevents blooms from sagging for about 24 to 36 hours, whereas the hydration solution keeps them fresh for up to six days. Simple tests comparing treatments provides firsthand insight to the best solution choices. It’s also valuable to put pencil to paper and figure out costs. Remember to compare the cost of ready-to-use solutions, not concentrate costs. Consider, too, the labor hours saved when flowers are processed correctly. If you measure when mixing your solutions, all commercial products will stay clean, clear and flowing for four to six days (depending on temperature), which invalidates the “toss out and change solutions every other day” myth! Finally, how do you measure the “cost” of customer satisfaction? Under promising and over delivering will satisfy customers and build trust in the product. Product trust is the backbone to winning repeat flower sales! Nov/Dec 2016 | CANADIAN Florist 29

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Is Your Website Ready for Holiday Ecommerce?

Ask The SEO

BY: Ryan Freeman

Fail to prepare; prepare to fail. We’ve all heard the old adage and nowhere is this truer than in the world of SEO and e-commerce. As we approach the holiday gauntlet of Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Mother’s Day, it is imperative that you optimize your website for the spike in demand for flowers and gifts over the coming months. Here’s a handy checklist of things to help you to maximise the earning potential of these make-or-break months. Check the basics with Webmaster Tools The best place to start with your seasonal SEO campaign is your Google Webmaster Tools account. This will flag any technical issues you can address to improve the quality and quantity of your search engine traffic. Some particular things to look out for include: 1. Is there a significant amount of 404 errors on your site? If so, rectify by either making sure the pages are live or adding 301 redirects to relevant pages. 2. Do you have duplicate (or missing) meta data? If so, it might be worth editing these to attract more clicks. 3. Are pages missing unique title tags? If so, add or edit them right away. Audit/create seasonal landing pages Now is the time to ensure that your site is optimized with landing pages that target seasonal keywords such as “Christmas Wreaths”, “Valentine’s Roses”, and “Easter Flowers”. Create these pages now to give them chance to be indexed by Google Run your site through Google’s Keyword Planner (https://adwords. google.com/KeywordPlanner) to discover what terms are likely to drive traffic to your site. Audit the pages you already have to see if they include these terms. If they already exist and have been indexed by Google, update them rather than creating new landing pages, as these established pages will stand a better chance of ranking high than new pages. Once you have a list of these pages, check that keywords are included in the URL, meta data, on page copy, and image alt tags.

Cross sell/cross link pages Maximise your revenue and SEO potential by offering cross and up-sell opportunities for customers before they checkout. Look for opportunities to link from internal pages to other internal pages and categories. Start blogging Google loves sites with fresh, regularly-updated content and a blog is a great way to add this content. Create posts with themes around your keywords (for example: “The top 5 flowers for a festive Christmas bouquet”). Be sure to link within these posts to your seasonal landing pages. Also promote posts on your social media profiles to get as many clicks and links as possible. You could even offer to share your blog entries on other sites as “guest posts.” This is a great way of building links and also raising brand awareness. Build links Links are a virtual “thumbs up” for your pages and are essential for SEO success. In addition to the guest blog mentioned above, there are many ways of building links, including: • Competitions (giving away products is a great way to attract people to link to your pages) • Offering products to bloggers to review • Traditional PR activity (try and get a story covered by your local press and politely ask for a link in the published article) Schedule social media updates For many businesses, finding time to update social media is a year-round challenge but during the busiest time of year it is often overlooked, which means you’ll miss out on a golden opportunity to engage with customers and promote your seasonal offers and link to your landing pages. Luckily, there are a number of services to help you schedule updates ahead of time. Check out Hootsuite and Buffer, two of the most popular products on the market. Be patient SEO is a long-term process; there are no short cuts and no quick fixes. Most experts believe that results from an SEO campaign will take at least 6 months to bear fruit. Preparing early by implementing the above will give you a great head start. If implemented correctly, these recommendations will ensure that you are not only well placed to capitalize on traffic opportunities this holiday season, but also for many years to come.

Ryan Freeman is president of Strider Inc., founder of Florist 2.0, and publisher of Canadian Florist.

30 CANADIAN Florist | Nov/Dec 2016

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GLITZBLITZ FOR THE HOME!! by Neville MacKay

Well, it’s that time of year once again when seemingly every customer you’ve not seen since last Christmas magically reappears only to suck the very soul from your creativity with their “Can you come by on Christmas Eve and decorate my tree?” I so look forward to the disappointed looks on their faces when I tell them I’m already booked and, although I would love nothing more than to spend my downtime placing plastic elves and pinecones on their mantle, I simply ran out of time. Gosh, did that sound mean and bitter? It is a little better these days with social media helping us tell the masses that, if they’d like some professional help decorating for the holidays (and frankly, who wouldn’t?), they’d best book their florist in advance. We start this process early, calling the usual culprits with a heads up — always in a way that makes them feel important, of course. I highly recommend calling your regulars and offering them special dates. I’ve been decorating homes for many years now, so I had a hard time narrowing down the funniest, yet least controversial situations, but here are a few: Have you ever broken someone’s treasured ornament? Enough said on that fiasco... let’s just say that particular decorating gig was done with my compliments. I used to drag a length of garland up a 10-foot bannister and place a garland (out of the box from the previous year) on a mantel for a family who would line up on the stairs like the Von Trapps and solemnly watch my “artistry” every year. It was SO uncomfortable! I had another family who would gather in the living room and cheerfully sing carols and eat nibbles whilst I decked their halls and trimmed their tree. Thank goodness most clients are too busy to hang around while I work — what with all that love and family time of the holidays (and Pokémon to chase!). Here, though, is one for the books. Years ago, I had a dream customer come into the store one day and start pointing to everything she wanted delivered to the house. Her selections included a wreath, centrepieces, and a fully decorated tree (i.e.: $$$$$$)! Well, of course we offered to not only deliver it all, but to set it up too. Everything went in one room that we entered through French doors. It looked great. Darlings, the next year she got nothing, telling us she was going to be away. The following year she informed us that, although she would once again be away, there would be someone using her house for Christmas, so could we

please go “fluff” what she had purchased two years ago? Hmmm ... So, I got a key and away I went. I walked into a room full of dusty ornaments, melted candles, a bowl of what used to be peanuts, a dead poinsettia, and even two glasses that had congealed red wine in them, all left where it was when that door was shut 24 months ago. I nearly cried. And then I threw up. I have another place that I decorated for years and have gleefully passed on to dear unknowing Sarah at our store. This place has it all: every little fixture, knob, railing, and toilet top has some sort of holiday decor. But unlike some homes that actually make room for the added goodies, this place is already jammed with antique dolls, folk art birds, pressed glass, lamps, and “artfully” placd books and gloves. Like I told Sarah, if a surface can have a bauble or sprig on it, then make it so! And that’s just the inside. Sarah spent more than four hours one day decorating this client’s balcony! (And this ain’t a palatial mansion, by the way.) That’s another thing: be mindful of decorating the outside of people’s homes. We try to get that underway as early as possible, especially if it involves lots of greenery in planters, etc., because folks around here seem to think this has to happen on the coldest day on record or “it won’t feel right.” We tell customers to put out “winter foliage” as early as midOctober. Notice I didn’t mention the word “holiday.” This is deliberate; we can always add a little sparkle close to Christmas. Minimizing major outdoor projects reduces the chances of freezing our own special ornaments. This also gives us more time to do other things like eat cherry pound cake and sugar cookies. Remember, too, that with every installation comes the opportunity to upsell! Sometimes that ratty old ribbon needs to go far, far away. Bring some extra product along for people to upgrade their inventory. I always get a few sales when I go to a home. After all, this time of year, MORE is more! “Your home must be beautiful”: the five words I hate, but hear oh-so-often during the holiday season Come on! We work 12 to 18 hours seven days a week decorating. We’re gummy and gross from balsam and glue, and have glitter in places that only strippers would understand. (Even our poor cat has glitter on her.) As soon as we get home, the first thing we want to do is shower, not decorate some more. At our house, we keep it simple with greenery and a few decorations. When we want some sparkle, David has me spin around in the middle of the room while he points a flashlight on my glittered torso. Happy Holidays!

Neville MacKay, CAFA, PFCI, WFC, is owner of My Mother’s Bloomers in Halifax, Novia Scotia and a design director with Smithers-Oasis North America. He designed flowers for the 1988 Winter Olympics, as well as a long list of celebrities including Glen Close, Sir Elton John, and members of the British Royal Family. MacKay appears regularly on Canadian TV and travels internationally, giving presentations about the impact of flowers.

d 34 CANADIAN Florist | Nov/Dec 2016

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