Starting a florist business is less challenging if you are knowledgeable of the product you are selling. It is not enough to love flowers, although that helps. You must be a businessperson who is willing to compete in a very competitive market against florist shop owners that have many years of experience and many established accounts. Your competition may even have a local monopoly with the area funeral homes. Once you have done some background checking to see if you have a viable market, there are some other things you'll need to do to get started.
Things You'll Need
- Business plan
- Source of flowers and florist material or wholesaler
- Dependable source of funds
- Client list
- High-traffic location
Write a business plan that includes the amount of money you expect to make and the costs involved, including salaries and taxes. Be very detailed because if you need a bank loan, a bank will want a detailed account of your business. Wholesale flowers are marked up 300 percent before selling retail. It seems like a big mark up, but you will have loss because you are selling a highly perishable product. Wholesale florist material such as vases and baskets have a markup of 250 percent. Be sure to define your market. For example, determine if you will specialize in weddings, funerals, cash and carry or have a product mix.
Find a high-traffic location where people see you every day. At some point these people will have an occasion to buy flowers. A big window that you can decorate for holidays and different seasons helps draw attention to your location. The location must have restrooms for customers and staff, room for a walk-in cooler and display cooler, room to work out of the way of customer traffic, a waiting area, an area for gifts or impulse items and an area to meet with customers who are deciding on wedding or funeral work.
Visit your floral wholesaler regularly so you can become familiar with the different kinds of flowers and their costs. You will have to make decisions every week on what kind of flowers to buy and how many to stay within your budget. Always pay upfront or COD for your orders and keep meticulous records. Florist wholesalers are notorious for bad record keeping. Never allow them to charge a credit or debit card whenever they wish. Also, the wholesaler will have regular seminars and training sessions you can attend to help develop your ideas and stay abreast of current trends.
Develop business by approaching other businesses such as hotels, hospitals and funeral homes to let them know what you are doing and your location and phone number. Leave business cards or brochures everywhere you can. This is free or low-cost advertising. Advertising in the local media may be expensive. If you advertise in local media, offer a coupon so you know if anyone is actually reading your ad.
Open your floral business on time every day and forward the phone to an answering service or your home when closed. People often need a florist immediately for funeral work or to make up after an argument. This will go a long way toward developing your business. Most successful florists rarely take time off.
Tips & Warnings
- Set up a website about your business and what you offer. This is very important for out-of-town customers who look at the Internet for florists in your town when they need funeral work and especially for Mother's day orders.
- Florist wire services are very expensive to participate in and will destroy your profit margin. They should be avoided if possible.
- Buy and listen to a police scanner often so you know when something happens locally that will bring floral work your way. For example, if a town leader dies on a Thursday, and the funeral is Sunday, you will need to obtain flowers for the funeral before the wholesaler closes on Friday.
- Have at least $10,000 in reserve for the slow periods, which are summer and after major holidays when you will have to continue paying labor and other expenses.
Types of Wholesalers
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