As spring approaches, Florists throughout the country are looking to the coming year with a sense of trepidation, as they worry how the recession will impact on the ringing of their tills. Whilst flowers are a beautiful addition to any home, and for many offer the scent of horticultural imagination, they are of course the sort of cost that people can cut back on. It is true that in such times, and along with many other professions, downturns like the one we are experiencing can break small businesses.

Cash is king and Customers produce cash!

As a florist there are many different ways you can streamline your business, ensuring future prosperity and the longevity you require to reap those returns that make it all worthwhile.

It doesn't take someone like me to tell you the products you sell have to be of the highest quality and value that you can provide within your customers' budgets, but perhaps below there maybe one or two tips that you can either implement, or that will engage a different thought process that can help your business prosper.

  • Energy costs: like most businesses, energy costs form a large part of florists' monthly outgoings, and so it pays to shop around rather than just continuing to accept the charges that are levied. Lots of small businesses like yours pay their energy bills through their landlords, and recent reports show that serviced units and offices often pay a high premium for energy when buying in this manner - in short, the landlord puts his cut onto those bills enabling him to make a profit on the money they collect from tenants. This clearly is not the case for everyone nor is every landlord going to be profiteering from these charges, but if you fall into this category it is well worth asking the landlord to provide a breakdown of how your charges for energy are compiled and what rate you are being charged - at the very least it should allow you to impart some downward pressure on such charges. For comparisons check out www.makeitcheaper.com.
  • Banking: If you have a well run business that has a good track record with your bank, approaching your bank at this time to review your charges with a view to a reduction is well worth pursuing. We have all witnessed what has happened to banks over the last year or so, but they are now over the worst and so will refocus their efforts from survival to prosperity. This means they need customers, they don't just need new customers, they badly need to keep hold of the good ones they already have. I recently approached my bank about a reduction; after one email about how times were hard and I was therefore looking at my costs, and so would appreciate them taking a look at their charges with a view to a reduction, I was very surprised that they gave me a 20% cut in their fees. Whilst the tone of the email I wrote was cordial and professional, I made sure the bank knew I was looking around in the market place. Try this for yourself and let me know how you get on.
  • The professional look: portraying the right image to your customers can have a massive impact on your bottom line, and will drive business through your doors. From your signage, letterheads and business cards to how your shop looks inside, an uncluttered visual display focuses the mind in the direction of the goods on offer and will encourage customers to buy. Whether they return to your business or not depends on the quality of what you have sold them and the customer service, however this can be influenced by image; this is where I would recommend every customer leaves your shop with at least two business cards - one for them and one to give away when their friends and visitors comment on how lovely their flower display looks. Clearly you also want them to be telling friends that, not only do they look good but they have been like that for well over a week, which reflects the quality of product you are selling.

If they have one of your cards spare this will encourage them to pass it on to the person commenting on how good they look; it's simple but effective. To complete that feeling of quality it is vital that those business cards are not cheap and flimsy, but are printed in a professional manner. Check out www.betterprint.co.uk for a range of great business card designs for florists and many other professions. These cards are the best quality available on the net and are very sensibly priced. You can even upload your own customer business card designs.

The world's most famous flower show is a celebration of the highest quality horticulture and is a feast for your imagination, bursting with inspiration for you to take home. For more information on the up and coming shows throughout the UK go to www.rhs.org.uk.