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  • Lesson 1: Preparing for the Sympathy Consultation

    The sensitive nature of sympathy consultations requires that the floral consultant be prepared and able to provide comfort during a family's difficult time. Since funeral services are usually held within three to four days of the death, the consultant must understand which flowers are currently available and which ones can be brought in from a local wholesaler or direct source on short notice.

    Set aside a private area in your shop for sympathy consultations. As particular flowers are discussed, the consultant can lead the family to flower choices that are both appropriate and available for the time of the service. Since many of the families who come to your shop will have little or no experience selecting sympathy tributes, be prepared to offer design style suggestions. Use selection guide or sympathy book photos to show design styles and floral combinations.

    The sympathy consultant is your key to a successful sympathy business. This individual will have a thorough understanding of tribute terminology, a knowledge of the various types of tributes used in different parts of the country, an understanding of the special requirements of the funeral director and will know the appropriate flowers for tributes and their special symbolism.

    Ideally, it is better to train one or more experienced employees to handle the sympathy consultation. However, it is equally important for your entire staff to be trained, so that your shop is prepared for sympathy business at all times.

    If a significant amount of your shop's sympathy work is with a particular ethnic or religious group, try to have a staff member from that group – or at least an employee who is very familiar with their traditions and customs.

    Train Your Staff Before the Meeting
    Create positive attitudes to help customers with their needs:

    • Review local and regional customs with your designers and sales staff.
    • Be certain your designers and sales staff have a clear understanding of how to comfort the family when taking their order.
    • Review respectful sympathy terminology with your staff.
    • Consider role playing during training to help staff understand their duties during the consultation.
    • Remind your staff that sympathy orders are a large part of your shop's business. Each order should be treated with care and respect.
    • Caution staff not to say, "Have a nice day" when the family leaves the shop after placing an order. Instead say, "We will take good care of your order. The flowers will be beautiful."


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