Preparing for V-Day
Updated: Jan 29
Valentine's Day is especially difficult for most of us in the floral industry, because we have one day to make it right, and there are only enough hours in the day to assure customers get their deliveries early. Unlike Mother's Day and other flower holidays, where deliveries are made over the course of several days, Valentine's Day is one day only.
For veteran florists, vendors and growers, Valentine's Day is considered to be the "floral Olympics" - months of planning, preparation and production for just a few fleeting moments. This year Valentine's Day falls on a Sunday, which is usually a boom for grocery stores and a bust for small retail florists. That said, as COVID halts many dinner plans and special outings for loved one, customers might be more apt to spend money having flowers delivered to their homes.
So how do we prepare for February 14th? Get in the mindset that this holiday might not be like others - so prepare yourself to be busier at the last minute. Here are some tips to help you prepare:
1. Order ahead and plan with your vendor. Pre-order what you would normally expect, but have a frank discussion with vendors on availability if you run out.
2. Keep marketing going on social media to get the word out about your offerings and deliveries. Many customers are working from home - so social media is your lifeline.
3. Make your service valuable. Typically men (sorry guys!) will wait until the last minute on Valentine's Day to order - so be prepared to accommodate them. It's not that they aren't thoughtful. They may be just too busy and forget to order ahead. For many years I tried to create incentives for early orders so I could better prepare, only to find it was futile. I finally smartened up and charged premium delivery fees if the customer ordered the day of - and delivery fees increased as the day went on. When some men waited until 3 p.m. to order and had to have it there by 5 p.m., they were willing to pay more to get the delivery there in time, rather than be met with an irate girlfriend, or disappointed spouse.
4. Green vases ahead of time. Have staff green vases a week in advance so they are ready to be finished with flowers and go the day of. A few days before Valentine's Day start rose arrangements so they can be tagged and ready to go out for delivery.
5. Prepare packaging ahead of time. Assemble and label your delivery boxes, fill water tubes, cut ribbons, etc. - streamlining any task that will save you time the morning of Valentine's Day.
5. Organize your workspace and cooler to accommodate additional room needed for arrangements.
6. Keep a watch over the forecast and make preparations for any snow storms that might hit that weekend. Weather in some areas is always an issue on Valentine's Day. Some customers may be willing to take deliveries early if they know the weather will be bad and their order might be delayed.
7. Hire plenty of extra drivers for that day. Consider paying extra drivers by the delivery rather than the hour, which incents them to perform. I had a steady stream of college kids and pizza delivery drivers to call upon that day and they were happy to get the extra income. Now that many colleges have gone virtual due to COVID, you might get students looking for extra cash.
8. Have one of your staff members responsible for all the order dispatching. I found that if we set up delivery routes ahead of time and organized orders into zones, we could expedite the delivery times and manage many more deliveries than on a normal day of business. You don't want to be delivering flowers at 10 p.m. on the holiday, so be prepared to hire more drivers than you need, so you can finish the day before 5 p.m.
With a little preparation, planning and an organized staff, you can get through the day without feeling overwhelmed or defeated.
“Flowers don’t tell, they show.”