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  • My Way: Organizations — Getting Involved
    By Sam Viviano

    The Retail Florist

    Making a decision on whether to join an industry or community organization often presents a dilemma. Although a membership may be beneficial in some respects, it could also take up valuable time that could — or should — be spent running your shop.

    If you've been in this situation, you've probably asked yourself at least a few of the following questions:

    "Who will run the place when I'm not here?"
    "Would my time be better spent tending to the store?"
    "Where will I find the time to attend meetings?"
    "Will this be beneficial to the company?"
    "What is the best way to make my business grow?"

    I don't know all the answers, but I do believe that involvement in community and industry groups played a major role in my company's growth and helped sustain that growth during some rough economic times.

    Giving Back

    In my opinion, when you work in a community and industry that provide you with the opportunity to make a living, you have an obligation to give something back.

    When I moved to Toledo, I was a stranger to the city. I knew only the people involved with the shop I purchased.

    Because a flower shop is such a personal business, I knew I needed to meet people and join community organizations to succeed.

    A Good Fit

    I recommend that you join organizations you believe in. The duties of membership must also be things you find enjoyable. To reap any benefits from the association, you must be more than a member — you must get involved.

    I chose to join the local chamber of commerce, the Knights of Columbus and the Kiwanis. Looking back, I can honestly say I have never regretted the time I spent with any of these groups.

    I made long-lasting friendships and many business contacts. I also felt the joy and satisfaction that come from knowing I was helping people.

    To Good Use

    Many people fail to realize that it takes time for your business to benefit from your membership in organizations. To truly benefit, you must make contacts with other members and participate in a wide variety of activities over a period of years.

    Before I left Detroit and moved to Toledo, I was involved with the Michigan State Florists' Association. I worked in the background at shows. I learned a lot about the business from watching expert designers up close and talking with them between shows. I was eager to absorb anything I could about designing.

    Through this membership, I also had the opportunity to meet and listen to a number of industry leaders. It was a great education — an education I could never have received in school or by spending all my time tending the shop. And I always tried to bring back what I learned and use it in my business.

    However, as important as it is to get involved, the business comes first. You should never lose sight of that. My personal rule was to be involved in only one industry organization at a time. I also made sure things at the shop were well taken care of before I left to attend a conference or meeting.

    I've been involved in many organizations in different capacities throughout the years. Each time, I found the experience I gained and the friendships I made far outweighed the time I spent. Indeed, I always received far more than I ever could have given. 


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