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  • How do you handle late orders from good customers for Valentine's Day?

    Be Prepared
    Advises Gerry Pfeiffer, AIFD, Old Greenwich Flower Shop, Old Greenwich, Conn.

    It happens all the time. And because we are in a service business, we have to be prepared for it, with extra staff on hand as well as plenty of product. I do make an extra effort for regular customers, and I make a point of taking a lot of the phone calls myself because I know their names.

    I notice that a lot of the last-minute calls come from people who say their regular florist couldn't or wouldn't handle their order. I feel that if you can't get yourself geared up for one of the busiest holidays of the year, then you shouldn't be in business.

    That said, if someone wants something very specific — like a request for a particular color that we may have on order but we're not really sure whether it's coming or not — I always take a second choice, just to keep us covered.

    Just Do It
    Advises Rob Knabb, George's Flowers & Gifts, Gas City, Ind.

    Basically, and especially if it's a good customer, you just do whatever you can for that customer. I have tried everything to get people to order early — coupons, discounts, incentives. But Valentine's Day is a last-minute holiday, and nothing is going to change that.

    You just have to plan for the orders to come in on that day and try to estimate the volume as best you can. I do try to accommodate those who order ahead. When people ask for timed deliveries, for example, I try to get a two-hour window, minimum, if they order by the day before. But on Valentine's Day itself, I tell them I have to be able to deliver any time during the day.

    For a regular customer, I'll go the extra mile. I have even ordered an entire bunch of 25 yellow roses, the day before Valentine's Day, for a customer who wanted six of them. For a good customer, you pretty much just have to bend over backwards.

    Education Pays Off
    Advises Jeanette Gardner, Absolutely Flowers, McDonough, Ga.

    We don't have that as much as we used to. But if customers do make a last-minute special request, we do our best to please them. If it's for a timed delivery, we let them know that there will be an extra delivery charge of $10. If they want to know why, we explain that we have to pull in one of our trucks and the driver and that is the cost of having to do that.

    If it's a request for a certain flower and we don't have it on hand, we explain that we would be glad to substitute something of equal value. And we do extend extra courtesy to our good customers who support us 12 months out of the year; I think that's only human nature.

    But really, we don't have as many last-minute requests as we did ten years ago. Maybe we have educated customers to know that if they want something special we can always fulfill their request, as long as they give us notice in advance.


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