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  • How to Sell and Customer Satisfaction
    By Jim Morley, AIFD Fellow

    I was taught a long time ago that there is only one reason people buy flowers. That reason is "recognition". People live to be recognized, and to give recognition. Keep this wisdom in mind when you go after a sale.

    Also ask your customers questions about their order and listen closely to their replies. Their words tip you off to the kind of service they expect if they are going to be satisfied customers.

    Along this line, never ask customers how much they want to spend; tell them what you have to offer; their response will clue you in to what they want.

    "How to sell" and "customer satisfaction" are topics I'm frequently asked questions about. The following are samples of the inquiries I get.

    Q. How do I motivate my employees to "up-sell"?

    A. Post reminder signs around your shop. If your starting price for arrangements is $29.95, write $31.95 on a sign and post it above the telephone your salespeople use. In a couple of weeks change the sign to $34.95, and if that works, up the price again.

    Some sales persons have a mental block about "up-selling" because of their own financial habits. They may never spend a lot on flowers. Remind your staff never to use their spending ways to judge a customer's intentions.

    Q. How do I get more add-on sales?

    A. This is where the profit lies. Count up your monthly sales and add, say, $2.50 to each sale - that's a nice piece of change. Multiply that figure by twelve to get an annual figure.

    Set up an incentive program of some kind - cash works best. Take the figures from above and give your employee $.50 of that $2.50. This way, you both win. The amount will vary, of course, but it's extra money in your employee's pocket.

    You can also give an incentive bonus based on the item; so much for each candle, card, balloon, gift-wrapping, and vase sold. If your salesperson sells a crystal vase for $100 I believe that's worth a $5, or even a $10 commission. Think about incentive pay; you know your employees better than I do.

    Q. How do I handle complaints about flowers that the customer says didn't last?

    A. Your first response should be, "We will replace them." This reply calms the customer down. Now you can ask questions so the order can be found and the problem traced.

    This response also allows you time to find out from your staff the condition of the flowers when they were sent. In most cases just replace the flowers - it takes less money to hold on to a customer than it does to find a new one.

    Do keep a file on constant complainers, though. If every order you send to or for a particular person is rejected for one reason or another, it might be time to ask them to find another florist.

    Q. We do everything to ensure good customer relations. Tell us your ideas about holding on to customers.

    A. It's the little things that count. Do you remember their birthdays, anniversary, children's birthdays? Do you say thank you with flowers after ten orders? When their bill is more than $500 a month, does your driver deliver the statement with a bud vase? Do you have a party once a year to thank your best customers?

    In today's world, with almost every florist owning a computer, this information is easy to capture. Those files can be used to get more orders. Remind your customer that they sent flowers last year for that special birthday or anniversary.

    Q. Customers have asked me to give them lessons on flower arranging, but I've always heard that you shouldn't teach the consumer how to arrange flowers. What do you think?

    A. I've heard the same thing, but I don't believe it. First of all, I would charge them a fee for each class and a materials fee; you've made money.

    A great time to start a workshop is in the fall in preparation for Thanksgiving and the Christmas season. Each piece your customer makes in your workshop is one less centerpiece that you'll have to make during the holiday rush.

    One more thought: Though many customers enjoy learning the design process, they will not start making all their own pieces. They will still come to you when they need to send flowers or need a special arrangement, because you're the expert in their eyes.

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