Spring is on the way! Along with the longer days we’re really enjoying seeing spring flowers starting to bloom. If the brighter weather and budding flowers are evoking the idea of fresh starts for you, you might find yourself day-dreaming about calling time on the 9-5 office life and opening a small local business. If we were doing that, one of the top ‘places to open’ on our list would be a cute neighbourhood florist. But as with all small businesses, there are lots of things to consider that may not be apparent at first fancy – here are some tips and truths about the quirks involved when you open a florist business.
The basics –
First things first – whilst you may not need any qualifications per se, it’s a good idea if you know your carnations from your chrysanthemums in the first place and can put a beautiful arrangement together. If you want to brush up your skills, it’s possible to gain an NVQ in Floristry, but don’t forget that the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies may have an active group in your local area, and other local colleges and groups may offer classes and courses throughout the year.
Putting your business head on –
It’s easy to imagine that running a small flower business is as simple as finding a shop-front, filling it with blooms and opening the doors, but sadly that’s not the case. You’ll need to sit down and really do your research on how the Floristry industry works.
Around 80% of florists belong to relay organisations (such as Interflora or Flowergram). These are networks that allow someone in one part of the country to send flowers from their local shop to a recipient living elsewhere (with that order being fulfilled by the recipient’s local business), and come with a number of benefits, such as help with marketing and allowing you to compete in an ever-changing market (such as the rise in supermarket sales and flower subscription services such as Fred’s Flowers). So that both parties are paid an account will be held with the relay organisation – the receiving florist will retain around 20% of the order price and sends the balance to the relay organisation, who then pass on the remainder to the florist completing the order.
There’s a lot to consider when joining a relay organisation – is there a subscription fee, or an exclusivity arrangement preventing you working with any other organisations? – so you really need to do your homework.
If you’re not selling to the public, think about who your market will be. Are you aiming to be a supplier for weddings, or corporate clients? Do you have an agile business plan that will allow you to pivot? For instance, during the 2020 lockdown many corporate traders turned to selling to the public, giving them an income when big events were closed down.
The financials –
Whilst being green fingered will get you a long way, it’s essential to have a good business head too, when it comes to market research and a business plan. You’ll also need to have a great accountant to help you: not only will they help you with the nuances of understanding your balance sheet, they’ll be able to help you set up the business in the first place. Your accountant will be able to help you decide on the best POS to use – floristry software could be an article in itself!