Three dos and don’ts for your new florist business

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Congratulations on starting a flower shop of your own! Running a florist can be a rewarding and creative venture, giving you the opportunity to brighten people’s days, help them celebrate anniversaries and holidays, and provide them with comfort during times of sickness or loss. It is about bringing a little beauty into the world.

However, running a florist business can also be a fiercely competitive business with demanding customers, tight margins and little room for error. Getting your marketing, customer service and processes right in the first few months of operation can go a long way towards ensuring the long-term viability of your shop.

Here are some of our top dos and don’ts for your florist shop:

  • Do #1: Find a profitable niche for your business
  • Don’t #1: Neglect winning new customers
  • Do #2: Join industry associations and networks
  • Don’t #2: Forget to build a digital presence of your own
  • Do #3: Focus on customer service 
  • Don’t #3: Lose sight of the rands and cents

Let’s explore these tips in more detail.

Do #1: Find a profitable niche for your florist

Flower shops today face competition from numerous sources – supermarkets, online florists, nurseries, gift shops, roadside hawkers and more. It can pay off to do a bit of research to understand the competition and to find niches that are underserviced in your area. For example, is there scope to specialise in flowers for corporate events? Or could you compete effectively in the wedding space?

Partnering can be a great way to take advantage of these niches. You could look to work with an established events company or wedding planner. Finding yourself a constant market like weddings or corporate events will help you keep busy in the quieter periods so you’re not feasting on Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day and experiencing famine for the rest of the year.

Don’t #1: Neglect winning new customers

With the exception of those located in a prime location like a busy hospital, florists cannot necessarily count on getting enough business from foot traffic through their retail store alone. Remember, many people are likely to grab a bunch of flowers for mom or their spouse from the local supermarket while they shop unless they are given a good reason to go out of their way to a flower shop.

So, get creative and look at ways to bring people to your florist. Host flower arranging workshops for people who would like to get creative. Use Instagram and other social media channels to show your majestic flower arrangements to the world. Take part in a wedding expo. If you have the budget, look at placing Google pay-per-click ads or ads in the local newspaper.

Do #2: Join industry associations and networks

The journey of an entrepreneur can be a lonely one. Joining a professional association like the South African Flower Union allows you to plug into a network of resources and likeminded people. It’s a great network for ongoing education, finding great suppliers and more. Most florists are also a member of a relay service like Interflora.

What this means is that you could get business from orders placed with other florists in other parts of the country, or on the Interflora website. You will also be able to earn commissions when a customer orders a bouquet from you for delivery elsewhere. The order will be fulfilled by an Interflora member near the recipient.

Don’t #2: Forget to build a digital presence of your own

Despite the benefits of joining a relay service, you should also take control of your own online presence. There are three key reasons for this. Firstly, more customers are searching and shopping online for floral arrangements rather than popping into their nearby flower shop. You don’t want to miss out on that potential business.

Secondly, when customers come directly to you, you won’t need to pay fees or commissions for the business. That means a fatter profit margin. Thirdly, a digital presence allows you to build a relationship with repeat customers. You can use e-mail and social media to stay in touch with them and prompt them to buy flowers for key events such as Mother’s Day, for example.

Getting started is much easier than you might imagine. GoDaddy’s Website Builder is a fully integrated tool that enables you to build a website and get it up-and-running in as little as an hour.

Read our step-by-step guide to find how you can buy a domain and build your own website.

Do #3: Focus on the customer experience

“A rose is a rose is a rose”, right? But it doesn’t have to be. Look for ways to set yourself apart from supermarkets and e-commerce competitors. You could, for example, pride yourself on rapid turnaround times or after-hours deliveries. Or offer particularly creative bespoke arrangements that customers cannot simply order from a mass market online florist. Other ideas include offering complementary products such as gifts as part of your service.

Don’t #3: Lose sight of the rands and cents

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the creative side of running your flower business, but it’s important to retain tight control over your finances. Watch out for seasonal fluctuations in your costs, keep checking that your mark-ups are high enough and ensure your record keeping is up to scratch. A good cloud-based accounting system can help you stay on top of inventory, profits and revenues, and to understand and forecast cash flow.

Setting yourself apart

Running a successful florist is not just about the basics, but understanding how you can respond to customers’ wants and needs better than anyone else. Start with the customer and ask why and when they purchase flowers and why they might choose one shop over another. This can help you differentiate yourself in the market and build a flower shop that truly blossoms.