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  • Send it Right: A Pre-Holiday Wire Primer

    The Retail Florist

    With the many thousands of wire orders processed during the holiday season, the marvel is not how many go wrong but how many go right.

    Every day, recipients get their flowers on time and exactly as expected. Such successful transactions leave customers satisfied and help build business for both the sending and the filling shops.

    The remarkable wire order success rate is due in large part to the efforts of florists on both ends of the order. And it's a success rate that any shop can all but guarantee simply by following a few guidelines.

    1. Educate Your Customers.

    Up to 75 percent of a customer's eventual satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with an order is determined by the florist who sells it. Education can be the key to ensuring that satisfaction.

    It's impossible to overemphasize the importance of customer education. Find out exactly what they want. And let the customer know exactly what to expect when sending to a particular market.

    2. Know Your Markets.

    Manage customers' expectations based on your experience with particular markets. Take a few minutes occasionally throughout the year to quiz receiving shops. Find out what $35 will buy in their market. Ask about delivery charges.

    Compile the information you gather into a chart. Then, when customers call for deliveries to a particular area, you can easily let them know what their money will buy.

    3. Keep Orders Open-ended.

    Encourage customers to choose open orders or specify only the style of arrangements. Try to identify which aspect of an arrangement the customer is focused on, such as color harmony, a particular flower or a novelty item. Tell the customer the filling florist will strive to capture that special look or feel, not to duplicate the arrangement flower-for-flower. Noting these types of details will also help the person who fills the order.

    If a customer chooses an item based on a floral selection guide photograph, use the verbiage "similar to" when sending the order. Let the customer know that, while the arrangement will be similar, it will not necessarily be identical.

    At Conroy's Florist in Inglewood, Calif., owner Inna Waary has found that gently insisting on flexibility is most effective. Rather than taking an order for pink gerberas and white roses, for example, Waary might say, "Let's just write down 'pink and white,' and we'll let the florist do the best she can."

    4. Get a Backup.

    When appropriate, ask customers for a second-choice arrangement or style. For example, says Waary, "My crew knows that they cannot guarantee many rose colors. If a certain color is specified, the second or third choice must always be red."

    If a customer insists upon a particular flower or color, Waary will call the filling florist to see if that choice is available before confirming the order with the customer.

    5. Gather All the Information.

    Get the recipient's full name, address, home and work telephone numbers, and any special directions to the home or business. Waary has also found the recipient's postal code to be essential, especially when sending to larger markets.

    6. Dig a Little Deeper.

    Conroy's employees are careful to read back the spelling of the recipient's name, street and street number. "We always ask, 'Is this a home or a business?'" says Waary. "What's the name of the business? The name of the building? The suite number? What floor is it on?"

    Some deliveries require more information. For sympathy flower orders, learn the spelling of the deceased's name, as well as delivery times for viewing and services.

    Deliveries to busy offices, secured facilities, gated communities and hospitals might need a little help to get to their intended recipients. Get as much information as possible from the customer who places the order and convey it to the filling florist.

    Following these tips can help ensure your holiday wire orders go off without a hitch. Happy customers, appreciative recipients and healthy profits await!


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