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  • Holiday Wrap-up

    Flowers and Profits®

    Frank and Mary Stanford, owners of Brouwer's Flower Shop in East Lyme, Conn., resist the urge to hibernate after the holidays. In their 14 years of operation, they have come to value the post-holiday slow-down as an opportunity to wrap-up loose ends and rev-up employee productivity.

    Setting the store to rights is the Stanford's first mission after the holidays. They embark on a clean-up effort that their customers will notice and that sets the shop apart from competitors. Frank and his staff wear their "get dirty" clothes and dust shelves, bleach floors, wash windows, organize stock and perform any other tidying tasks that will get the shop back in to shape.

    As soon as possible after the holiday, they break down the Christmas windows and floor displays. The goal of post-holiday cleaning is to present a well-organized, neat shopping environment to post-holiday customers — one that says Brouwer's is on top of things and ready to jump back into everyday orders and sales.

    Extending Holiday Cheer.

    Even with careful planning, Brouwer's usually has a few poinsettias, pine wreaths or fresh Christmas floral arrangements left over. The Stanfords put their business card in each of them and donate them to local nursing homes, hospitals, churches and other organizations and people who might need some holiday cheer. Their goal is to make someone's holidays brighter, but at the same time, this gesture gives the shop nice exposure.

    Offering Mark-Downs.

    Some florists believe that marking down merchandise after a holiday trains customers to wait until these items are on sale, rather than buying them at full price.

    However, by discounting leftover holiday merchandise, the Stanfords aim to get their customers into the store now, generate some sales during a slow time and avoid having to store holiday-specific items that will only become harder to sell as they age in storage.

    They enlist their team to help mark down any leftover holiday wrapping paper, ornaments or silk arrangements. A special sale corner is set aside at the front of the store to attract attention and draw customers into the shop.

    Taking Inventory.

    For most florists, inventory is at its lowest following Christmas. This is true at Brouwer's too. They take the opportunity to perform a full store inventory. As Valentine's Day is right around the corner, they determine what supplies or retail items need to be replenished in time for the next rush.

    The Stanfords assign employees to certain areas of the sales floor, asking them to count each item and record its retail price. They also inventory design room supplies. In particular, they pay attention to the stock of red accessories, ribbon and silk flowers because Valentine's Day is also a "red" holiday. Finally, they check vase and stock container supplies, as well as floral preservatives, card caddies and corsage supplies.

    Noting Progress.

    While the holiday experience is still fresh in their minds, the Stanfords compile a list of the buying trends they have observed and other information about this year's Christmas sales. If they had too many poinsettias left, they note to cut back on next year's order.

    They consider a variety of questions: Did they sell out of red carnations or any flowers too early? Were the designers able to keep up with the orders? Were wire orders up or down this year? Was there sufficient walk-in business? Did customers order early? What were the weather conditions?

    Were there any complaints, and if so, did they concern any specific area of operation or product? Employees are also asked for their input on such areas as customer satisfaction, operations and procedures.

    The Stanfords know that a detailed account of this year's holiday will make preparations easy for next year. In an effort to ensure advanced planning, they mark their calendar to remind them of things they should do during the summer, such as lining up extra help for the holidays if needed. When fall rolls around, they pull out the file again to start ordering holiday merchandise and to reassess procedures.

    "Preparation is the key to smooth, productive and profitable holidays," Frank says. "And for us, it starts the day after every holiday."

    Preparing for the Future.

    Staying busy after a major holiday is important not only to keep you prepared for the next rush, but also to keep the shop's momentum high. Like the Brouwer's Flower Shop team, you can establish a routine of steady productivity after every holiday so that your employees know what you expect from them when the holiday rush dies down.

    Follow these Stanford suggestions:

    • Keep your holiday energy going to prepare the shop for the new year.
    • Donate fresh holiday leftovers.
    • Have a markdown sale rather than storing seasonal items.
    • Record the season's successful strategies and note areas to improve.
    • Take inventory while merchandise and supplies are low.
    • Prepare for Valentine's Day in early January.


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