I was the speaker at the 2011 Metro Atlanta Floral Association’s Designer of the Year meeting. My sister works for a wholesale florist so I have had a kind of insiders view as to how the industry works and how it doesn’t. Florists are creative and hardworking folks but as a group, tend not to be very technical. The wire service organizations like FTD and Teleflora initially helped and then have hindered them along the way.
These online flower companies, started some time ago, were in a position to set up a big network for people to call in and order flowers to be sent anywhere. They had the technology and the marketing to grow to have a huge percentage of the floral industry. They needed local florists who could fill the orders and so offered a turnkey operation for these smaller shops across the country to receive the orders. They also offered the individual shops a website with a ready made database of the floral arrangements that they carry.
Florists who had been selling to their local area now were receiving orders called in by people all over the country. In the age before the widespread Internet explosion these florists had no way to get their names out across the county to capture these orders. This was a real boon for most of them. The problem is that now these florists could actually have their own online presence that reflects their own brands and specialties, but they have become reliant on those templated FTD and Teleflora websites and they have been able to stay relatively sheltered from having to get on the bandwagon with new technology.
Many florists are dropping out of these programs since they don’t like to sell the orders from FTD and Teleflora since their margins are so low. The page of Yahoo reviews I read when I wrote this were all negative. This is an example:
Order through your local florist
By Yahoo! Shopping User Dec 20, 2010 | 4 out of 4 found this Teleflora.com review helpful
Teleflora is a call center network that charges you to take your order, about $15, and then forwards it to a florist that gets only 73% of the money you paid as Teleflora keeps the difference as their fee. They make money by taking your order and cha…rging you to do so and skimming money off the order sent to the florist. Google a florist in the town where you want to send flowers and pay them directly by credit card. This way you will get 100% of what you pay and will be dealing with a business that is interested in keeping your business. Teleflora floral arrangement prices are higher than what most florist would charge you if they were to create a similar order. On the flip side, many florist have been dropping out of Teleflora and FTD because they are charged alot of bogus fees that put money into the networks hands, so it is getting harder and harder for a florist to send to another florist, through these networks, because of all of the florist fallout. When you talk with a florist directly then can tell you what specific flowers they have on hand, what they can and cannot do, and how quickly your arrangement will be delivered. Teleflora can tell you nothing regarding this. So why are you paying Teleflora to take your order? A million independent florists would like to know why you are not calling them directly.
Many independent florists prefer to create their own arrangements and to promote their special expertise. They like the more personal attention to their clients. They like to create flowers for weddings and other events and don’t really want to be selling the flowers from FTD and Telefora. In order to do this they have to create their own websites that reflect their brands and are not these cookie cutter online store type of sites.
There are so many bad florist sites that the florists that take the leap to learn how to promote their own businesses on the Internet and learn how to use Social Media have a huge advantage to these other businesses which are relying on these Teleflora/FTD sites. In fact anyone looking online in a particular city to send flowers through an Independent florist is most like not going to choose to call a florist that had a Teleflora/FTD site.
Candler Park Flowers, is a neighborhood flower business that that took the leap to design a WordPress site that they could maintain themselves and use it with Facebook and Twitter to intereact with their clients and drive more traffic to their site and to their store. The owners reported a large increase in business in less than a month of launching their new sites.
I put together some slides for my presentation. Here is a link to a post I wrote on ten social media steps you can take to grow your flower business or any business as the concept is the same. The thing is as you will see from my slides, before you can really effectively use social media, you have a have a polished, branded website that works as the hub of your social media efforts. A Facebook fan page that links back to a bad website is just a crying shame, when the shop could be posting recent events, beautiful wedding photos, creative event ideas on their own website and then having those posts automatically appear on the fan page. This type of website shows your prospect what you can really do, and creates a whole new level of “know, like and trust” that quickly converts visitors into customers.
Do you have a florist business or is this relevant to your industry? If so please tell us what your experience has been.